trying to understand EDH as a 4-of casual player

User avatar
Ginuqu
Posts: 132
Joined: 2 months ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 53 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Post by Ginuqu » 1 month ago

I notice that casual discussion outside of Commander is not yet strong on this site so I'm thinking about going through the process of building my own EDH deck. I'll state the way I like to play the game and then ask a few questions about how that might be adapted to this kind of highlander format!

I'm a high-activity player and like to run lots of cheap permanents with activated abilities, not just for mana but things like Trading Post, or Cursed Scroll, or Bag of Holding are exactly the types of cards I understand how to play well and which fire my imagination. I love equipment and I love creatures like Piper of the Swarm and Combat Medic and Linessa, Zephyr Mage and anything which gives you options, especially if it lets you spend all your mana on an otherwise empty turn. So to make that possible, I tend to run fairly few instants, and no expensive instants. This is a tack that's worked for me at the multiplayer casual player for years and years but that scene seems to have dried up a lot.

I've got a decent collection of black-red cards, and I have a Badlands and its fetch, along with a few other lesser duals eg. Sulfurous Springs and I have a Mana Vault and a few other higher value cards that suit the colour pair and I'd really love to use them, so I'd be looking at making some kind of Rakdos deck full of creatures with abilities. Can anyone tell me if that's at all viable in EDH, and whether someone like Garna, the Bloodflame is a good pick to be a commander?

Secondly, how welcoming are your EDH playing groups to players who don't value winning all that much? Having played for years and years I've realised that I get more satisfaction out of having had an effect on the game than being the one who survives it - I'd probably be the one trying to extend the game and encourage interesting permanents to come out of the woodwork. I don't really get angry at being beaten although I can feel a little sore if it happens before I've done anything but play land. I've read a few discussions and threads for regulars here and people keep talking about "bad players", which can feel a little alienating, but maybe it's not meant in malice and you wouldn't mind a player of my standpoint at your table? Or maybe you'd hate that?

Thanks for responding! If I get some decent advice I will try to slowly construct a paper EDH deck and keep bugging you with more questions. :)
Expand Signature
o I'm writing a little about Magic every week, from my own peculiar perspective, trying to find a groove. Feedback would be appreciated!
Latest post: opening a set booster

User avatar
DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 1222
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 117 times
Been thanked: 260 times

Post by DirkGently » 1 month ago

There are non-rakdos commanders that might benefit better as activated-abilities-tribal - Zirda, the Dawnwaker and Samut, Voice of Dissent come to mind. But if you want to do Rakdos I'm sure it could work. Maybe consider Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, although garna's haste and wrath protection could also be useful.

I wouldn't ignore instants! Instants have excellent synergy with activated abilities. If you have a removal spell, for example, you can use it if necessary, but if you don't have to then you can use your activated abilities at the end of turn to get value from your otherwise unspent mana.

Most players will have absolutely no bias against "bad players"...because most commander players are bad players, if we're being honest. If someone says "hey, that's not a good play because X" then probably consider their opinion (you don't have to take their advice of course), but so long as you're not making plays arbitrarily I don't think hardly anyone would object. You've gotta make the play the makes the most sense to you.

My personal opinion - if you don't place much emphasis on winning, that's probably a good thing. But I do find it frustrating when players make deliberately poor plays (emphasis on deliberately - everyone makes poor plays on accident, it's part of the game), especially when it costs me the game. But I am a major tryhard, most likely people are your LGS won't have such a large stick up their butt.

User avatar
MeowZeDung
Posts: 823
Joined: 11 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 220 times
Been thanked: 199 times

Post by MeowZeDung » 1 month ago

If you do decide to dip your toes into Commander, given what you've described as your preference for activated abilities you could probably have a lot of fun with Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient.
Expand Signature

User avatar
Rumpy5897
Tuner of Jank
Posts: 1167
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 142 times
Been thanked: 272 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 month ago

I'm going to let you in on a little secret - people like winning. As such, if you're willingly giving up your share of victory pie, that's more triumphs to go around the rest of the table, which is likely to make you a welcome fixture at most any EDH table :P

The beauty of the format is you can sculpt just about anything you want. You want a Rakdos activated ability deck? Go nuts, make it happen. That said, I'd suggest you go with something Gx if you're worried about your first deck as you feel out the format. Green allows you to do just about anything, and you've got fantastic ramp/draw utility cards and even some solid removal. Plus, in terms of activated abilities, you've got Seedborn Muse. There's a very cool Samut primer here, maybe some of what the deck has going on will interest you?

User avatar
Candlemane
Posts: 85
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Post by Candlemane » 1 month ago

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent is my recommendation for you if your prefer politics. It will also help people get things into the table. However, if impossible to make you enemies, so maybe start with Olivia Voldaren.

As for Garna, she isn't bad, especially if you like playing low to the ground, as it were, like your said. That fact that gives haste is a real boon for a more aggressive deck. If you use her, I'd consider Aggravated Assault and either Erebos, Bleak-Heart or Erebos, God of the Dead as includes. All have activated abilities and help you win over the long haul. I can't let this go without suggesting War Cadence. You be surprised how often it works out for you, it is an activated ability, and you can use it to put the screws into someone else, too.
Expand Signature
Come watch commander games on my channel Durdle MTG. The focus is on the casual 12 turn style of commander. You can also find video links on Facebook and Twitter @DurdleMTG.

Paper EDH
Omnath, Locus of the Roil GUR
Yore-Tiller Nephilim WUBR
Niv-Mizzet Reborn WUBRG

User avatar
Ginuqu
Posts: 132
Joined: 2 months ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 53 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Post by Ginuqu » 1 month ago

That's a lot of good suggestions, thank you! I'm relieved that everyone thinks the idea is possible.

Green is usually the colour I avoid; to me I've always associated it with elves, lands and their fetching, enchantresses and clouds of feel-good enchantments whereas I'm all about playing more pointed cards. Nothing's further away from the feeling I want from Magic than topdecking a Rampant Growth when things are happining on the battlefield, so as tempting and as powerful as cards like Seedborn Muse and Samut seem I think I'll stick to what I do best.

This is just my first impression, but I get the feeling it wouldn't be good for a new EDH player to start with Grenzo, Dungeon Warden - the card's intimidating to read because there's so many ways to build it and I just know that I would totally concede the need to make decisions by pumping mana into him whenever I could, and although he seems amazing with activated ability creatures in one sense (Catalyst Elemental and Morgue Toad have abilities!) I think his presence on the board would probably supercede other options I had in play. It seems really hard not to just constantly spin the wheel!

Conversely, Kurkesh and Erebos are exactly my thing! I had no idea Kurkesh as a card even existed and that's a card that provides something magical, I'll definitely try to pick one up. Xantcha seems amazing but gimmicky and, again, I wanna run with the type of plan I already understand. Thank you for responding!

So, I think I wanna play about 40% land with lots of Dust Bowl and Kher Keep type options, and a few really good artifact mana bits like Sol Ring, Rakdos Signet and Darksteel Ingot? Or would you go higher on ramp and lower the land count?

edit: and I'll definitely check out the Samut article even if my preferences lie elsewhere.

on the "not caring about winning" subject, I wasn't meaning that I make intentionally bad or random decisions. I'm not a Puppet's Verdict player, just someone who wants to put their permanents on the board. I'm glad to be reassured on that!
Expand Signature
o I'm writing a little about Magic every week, from my own peculiar perspective, trying to find a groove. Feedback would be appreciated!
Latest post: opening a set booster

User avatar
Treamayne
Posts: 162
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 30 times

Post by Treamayne » 1 month ago

Welcome.

Before starting EDH a decade ago, I mostly played 60-card casual formats such as Tribal Legacy, Emperor, Rainbow Stairwell, Star (original, with blocking en passant) and 5 Moons. The transition wasn't very difficult (but then some of the formats I played were already highlander), and I do enjoy the challenge and variety of highlander formats and EDH specifically.

However, I have missed them. So, when able, I try to get some hybrid games as well (see links above for some examples of EDH versions of some formats). In fact, I would estimate 90-95% of my EDH decks are Tribal (creature type based original definition), even if I am the only person at the table playing tribal (the better to use Harsh Mercy, my dear).

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
I've read a few discussions and threads for regulars here and people keep talking about "bad players", which can feel a little alienating, but maybe it's not meant in malice and you wouldn't mind a player of my standpoint at your table? Or maybe you'd hate that?
I can't speak for others, but when I talk of a "bad player" I am not referencing basic MtG playing skill. I usually mean either:
- the pubstompers who can only get their kicks by bringing a Gatling gun to a knife fight (e.g. "I know you said this is a casual game, but my Memnarch/High Tide/Palinchron is nowhere near cEDH strength - so its casual..." - and yes, I had somebody say that to me, almost verbatim)
- the ragers - those players that rage target or quit as soon as you make any possible play they don't like - bring that up first please (e.g. "I'm attacking you because you played Uril, and I hate Uril. It doesn't matter that he is your only non-land permanent or that the Vorinclex player just dropped seedborne muse. I hate Uril." - not a quote, but a summary of turns 5-7 of a game)
- The grudgers - those players base game decisions only on if you helped or hurt them earlier/last game (e.g. "Terastodon blows up your plains because you disenchanted my Mind's eye last game- now you have no white sources.")
Expand Signature
V/R

Treamayne

User avatar
bobthefunny
Resident Plainswalker
Posts: 326
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 89 times
Contact:

Post by bobthefunny » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
I notice that casual discussion outside of Commander is not yet strong on this site so I'm thinking about going through the process of building my own EDH deck. I'll state the way I like to play the game and then ask a few questions about how that might be adapted to this kind of highlander format!
Whatever the reason, welcome to the format!

Commander has become so large now that it really encompasses a wide range of power levels and strategies. If you start off with one playgroup and it doesn't quite match your needs, don't despair! I guarantee that other groups will run the full range of play experiences, for 4 turn competitive games, to 1-2hr/15turn slugfests where combos are frowned upon (I personally play in the latter).
I'm a high-activity player and like to run lots of cheap permanents with activated abilities, not just for mana but things like Trading Post, or Cursed Scroll, or Bag of Holding are exactly the types of cards I understand how to play well and which fire my imagination. I love equipment and I love creatures like Piper of the Swarm and Combat Medic and Linessa, Zephyr Mage and anything which gives you options, especially if it lets you spend all your mana on an otherwise empty turn. So to make that possible, I tend to run fairly few instants, and no expensive instants. This is a tack that's worked for me at the multiplayer casual player for years and years but that scene seems to have dried up a lot.
EDH has certainly dried up a few other casual level circles. However, there's plenty of expression and deckbuilding challenges that go with Commander, which can make the deckbuilding process even more fun!

Do be aware though, some things you may take for granted in 60card4of will be quite different in Commander. To start with, games can go on quite a bit longer (unless you're in a competitive group). This means that certain mana-ramping and card draw strategies have a bit more power, since they can reap the rewards longer. Your typical threatening creatures will also be much larger. Curving 3/3's into 4/4's may get a few early hits in, but once the 6/6s drop, you'll be facing inequalities in card quality.

Overall, playing lots of cheap spells remains the overall better strategy, but be aware that you'll want at least a few haymakers in your decks. From your description here, I'd say you're probably looking to start in the solid middle pack "6 or 7" power level of decks.
I've got a decent collection of black-red cards, and I have a Badlands and its fetch, along with a few other lesser duals eg. Sulfurous Springs and I have a Mana Vault and a few other higher value cards that suit the colour pair and I'd really love to use them, so I'd be looking at making some kind of Rakdos deck full of creatures with abilities. Can anyone tell me if that's at all viable in EDH, and whether someone like Garna, the Bloodflame is a good pick to be a commander?
Those are wonderful cards! Original duals and fetches are absolutely great cards to have in this format, but are also not necessary unless you are playing at the highest level. You will find that it makes your mana base considerably smoother though. I'm not a huge fan of painlands unless I'm the deck I'm working on directly has that as part of it's strategy, but some people swear by all the etb untapped fixing lands. There are probably a few others I'd run before that one though.

The great part about EDH is that you can build any deck around any theme. Part of the fun is making your favorite combinations work! Garna, the Bloodflame looks to be an excellent Commander, with plenty of shenanigans to be had. A few things I note is that she brings back creatures put into the GY from anywhere - so discard strategies could be quite potent with her, as you could empty your hand to a Zombie Infestation, and then bring it all back! Since she has flash, you can also use her defensively instead, to protect against wrath effects. Or, you could pair her with your own wrath effects (preferably creature based, like Kagemaro, First to Suffer or Massacre Girl) for devilish power plays, or to resuse various ETB or dies triggers. I can see lots of fun ways to play her!
Secondly, how welcoming are your EDH playing groups to players who don't value winning all that much? Having played for years and years I've realised that I get more satisfaction out of having had an effect on the game than being the one who survives it - I'd probably be the one trying to extend the game and encourage interesting permanents to come out of the woodwork. I don't really get angry at being beaten although I can feel a little sore if it happens before I've done anything but play land. I've read a few discussions and threads for regulars here and people keep talking about "bad players", which can feel a little alienating, but maybe it's not meant in malice and you wouldn't mind a player of my standpoint at your table? Or maybe you'd hate that?

Thanks for responding! If I get some decent advice I will try to slowly construct a paper EDH deck and keep bugging you with more questions. :)
Plenty of people have more fun in the journey than the destination. In fact, valuing the journey is a core concept of some of EDH's founders. Of course, this can be taken to extreme. I personally am less fond of pure chaos, group hug, or kingmaker decks that don't even have a plan to win... but if it's more along the lines of - you're playing to with a general path to win, but are more interested in seeing how interesting you can make that path on the way there - that's absolutely cool.

Anyways, it sounds like Commander could be a great fit for your playstyle. I strongly encourage you to try it out. I know that it can be a bit harder to get into a playgroup these days, but there are a few methods of playing online that could be a decent fit, if you'd like to try!

User avatar
Ginuqu
Posts: 132
Joined: 2 months ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 53 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Post by Ginuqu » 1 month ago

Then thank you all for the warm welcomes! I think I will probably try to build Garna with a few other legendaries people have suggested in the main deck (Massacre Girl seems to go incredibly well with Garna!) I'm not entirely familiar with what 75% means but I sense it's the general power level people have gravitated to?

The idea of playing a handful of big end-game creatures is interesting, cos my collection is fairly berefet of them, but I have Noxious Gearhulk, Mortivore, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood; are those appropriate or underpowered for the groups you play in? I've always found Drana able to take over an entire board by herself at really late stages of a multiplayer game..

Now I have an etiquette question: how do you react when someone plays these cards against you? have they ever done that? are any of these taboo cards? Orcish Settlers; Mind Swords; Fulminator Mage; Mindslicer; Hammer Mage

I'm noticing so many of the really good Rakdosian utility creatures are mana restrictors and hand demolishers. And is there a distinction to be made between playing one Fulminator because you're worried about certain lands vs playing an entire suite of disrupting cards like this? I don't wanna be building a deck people would resent but still want to bring as many of my favourite cards as possible. I've met players who banned Ruination on sight and players who have packed four so maybe it's not a simple question to answer.

Thank you again for all the responses, I'm glad you all seem happy to share the love and tech.
Expand Signature
o I'm writing a little about Magic every week, from my own peculiar perspective, trying to find a groove. Feedback would be appreciated!
Latest post: opening a set booster

User avatar
frogchild
Posts: 42
Joined: 10 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Post by frogchild » 1 month ago

Drana is fine in a dedicated tribal or big mana deck, and Gearhulk is good in blink but neither of the others I would consider remotely playable. Mindslicer and Mind Swords might get a bit of salt but they are usually fine. Fulminator Mage is fine and maybe even underpowered. The other two probably aren't playable.

Just as an alternative, I've been having an incredibly fun time with Olivia Voldaren in a Rakdos control/Aristocrats list and she may be a better fit for an activated ability deck then Garna.

As for MLD, it really depends. Some people hate it, some love it - you just have to check with the people you are going to play with.
Expand Signature
Dedicated player of red and blue decks, sometimes with other colours. I love control decks and aggro. I'll make decklists eventually. Also, beans.

User avatar
Mookie
Posts: 1153
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 18
Pronoun: Unlisted
Location: the æthereal plane
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 155 times

Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

Welcome to the format!
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
I'm not entirely familiar with what 75% means but I sense it's the general power level people have gravitated to?
75% isn't particularly well-defined, but it's usually intended to refer to a deck that is 75% of the way to optimal - in other words, reasonably tuned, but still pretty far from CEDH. A 75% deck will function reasonably consistently, but isn't designed or intended to win every game.
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
<snip> I have Noxious Gearhulk, Mortivore, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood; are those appropriate or underpowered for the groups you play in?
Gearhulk is generally a reasonable creature. Mortivore is a bit underpowered - it's pretty hard for a creature with nothing but stats to be playable, especially if it lacks evasion. That said, Bonehoard is pretty sweet. Drana can be powerful in slower metas, but is also incredibly expensive to make full use of. I think Kazarov is too inefficient for his activated ability to be good, but the triggered ability can be scary if built around.
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
Orcish Settlers; Mind Swords; Fulminator Mage; Mindslicer; Hammer Mage
I've never seen Orcish Settlers, and now I'm tempted to test it out in Samut. (speaking of which, I'd plug that deck here, but I see someone else already did) If you use it to take a player out of the game, I'd expect a fair amount of salt... but it's obscure enough that I'd probably let it pass otherwise. The other cards are all completely reasonable in my book - annoying, but not inappropriately so.
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
I'm noticing so many of the really good Rakdosian utility creatures are mana restrictors and hand demolishers. And is there a distinction to be made between playing one Fulminator because you're worried about certain lands vs playing an entire suite of disrupting cards like this? I don't wanna be building a deck people would resent but still want to bring as many of my favourite cards as possible. I've met players who banned Ruination on sight and players who have packed four so maybe it's not a simple question to answer.
So, here's the thing: from a gameplay perspective, people generally dislike having their stuff messed with. If you're shredding hands and blowing up lands, your opponents are going to be annoyed, and respond by dealing with the offending cards. If you're okay with playing the villain and drawing hate, go for it. If you want to keep a lower profile and have your opponents leave you alone, then don't.

From a social perspective, it depends on the playgroup. I've run into playgroups where running removal was considered to be too competitive, and I've also run into playgroups where not running removal was considered irresponsible. I'd err on the side of caution re: MLD, but check with your playgroup. A major component of why it has such a bad reputation is that it tends to prolong games and stop people from meaningfully contributing to the game. If you do plan to make use of it, I'll advise having a plan to close out the game quickly.


As a side note, I'll call out Chainer, Nightmare Adept as another potential commander for a Rakdos activated ability deck. Haste is really, really useful if you're planning to make use of tap abilities, so comes down to whether you favor Chainer's flavor of recursion or Garna's.

User avatar
darrenhabib
Posts: 1204
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 120 times
Been thanked: 286 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by darrenhabib » 1 month ago

You've said you like equipment and you like options. I present to you Sunforger. OK so this is not Rakdos.

What I'm going to do is suggest cards that you might enjoy and this may help to hone in on a particular way to build the deck.

I think the transform artifacts that turn into lands might be something you'll like, especially as Rakdos does not have many land ramp options.
Treasure Map => Treasure Cove
Azor's Gateway => Sanctum of the Sun
Thaumatic Compass => Spires of Orazca
Conqueror's Galleon => Conqueror's Foothold

There are also enchantments that give cards advantages and then turn into lands as well;
Vance's Blasting Cannons => Spitfire Bastion
Arguel's Blood Fast => Temple of Aclazotz
Search for Azcanta => Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Mirage Mirror is an extremely underrated card in commander for doing all sorts of interesting stuff.
Mimic Vat is also a card that just gives you all sorts of options.
Umezawa's Jitte got plenty of modes.
Scroll Rack gives you a lot of fresh new options especially combined with shuffle effects.
Sensei's Divining Top with the same type of theory.

As far as creatures with utility; Deadeye Tracker, Cryptbreaker, Jaya Ballard, Task Mage, Goblin Engineer, Goblin Welder, Humble Defector, Goblin Cratermaker, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Rankle, Master of Pranks.

But when it comes to cheap utility creatures honestly blue (splashed) is just the best; Nin, the Pain Artist, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Dreamscape Artist, Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice, Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders, Urza, Lord High Artificer.

So given that I'd like to you think about perhaps Grixis or even Izzet for a longer term goal of having a deck that compliments your desires.

The "Guildmages" present multiple options on cards, although they lean towards building around them somewhat; Dimir Guildmage, Grixis Battlemage, House Guildmage, Izzet Guildmage, League Guildmage, Nivix Guildmage, Rakdos Guildmage, Shadow Guildmage.

As far as commanders if you went into Grixis then;
Mairsil, the Pretender is interesting and plenty of scope to build in your activated abilities.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager turns into Nicol Bolas, the Arisen which gives you a plethora of abilities which ties into your like of options.
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept + another partner to go with general artifacts that give you utility.

If you wanted to keep it more simple and go for Izzet instead then Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders or Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice could fit the bill.

Even further to this you can go for single colored commander.
Daretti, Scrap Savant works nicely with artifact theme and gives you a number of options at your disposal. Works particular well with cards you've already mentioned with Trading Post and Bag of Holding.
If you wanted to go straight blue, which you could easily then Emry, Lurker of the Loch is a great option.

Breya, Etherium Shaper has all the modes that work in with artifacts as well. Puts you into white as well, just saying Sunforger, putting that out there again :P

For the five color brew Kenrith, the Returned King is the ultimate in options, even giving opponents advantages if you feel so inclined.

If your heart is really set on Rakdos then unfortunately I don't really have any commander suggestions that have synergy with the elements you've mentioned :(

You might be thinking "cool story bro, how am I supposed to afford a three color land base (or more) or some of these cards!?".
Well admittedly it's not easy getting into commander on a budget, but that's not to say that you can't. If there is a direction you want to head, then we can absolutely help with suggestions on a budget.

User avatar
bobthefunny
Resident Plainswalker
Posts: 326
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 89 times
Contact:

Post by bobthefunny » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
Then thank you all for the warm welcomes! I think I will probably try to build Garna with a few other legendaries people have suggested in the main deck (Massacre Girl seems to go incredibly well with Garna!) I'm not entirely familiar with what 75% means but I sense it's the general power level people have gravitated to?

The idea of playing a handful of big end-game creatures is interesting, cos my collection is fairly berefet of them, but I have Noxious Gearhulk, Mortivore, Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood; are those appropriate or underpowered for the groups you play in? I've always found Drana able to take over an entire board by herself at really late stages of a multiplayer game..

Now I have an etiquette question: how do you react when someone plays these cards against you? have they ever done that? are any of these taboo cards? Orcish Settlers; Mind Swords; Fulminator Mage; Mindslicer; Hammer Mage
75% is a very loose term that indicates that you're playing a tuned deck, but not an optimal competitive turn4 combo deck. There's still a wide flex in the realm of 75%.

Each of those creatures can have pros and cons. Gearhulk is probably the most seen of those, as a repeatable removal option when paired with reanimation or blink strategies. Mortivore style creatures are usually seen in decks that intend to fling them (perhaps with Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord), I personally find that strategy less exciting, but it still sees play. There are some better options for that strategy these days though, but Mortivore can still work fine. Sometimes big and beefy is what you need. Drana used to be seen a lot a good while ago, again, repeatable removal when going for big mana with something like Cabal Coffers. Not as popular these days, but probably can still make a splash. Kazarov isn't too impressive alone, but if I was making a deck with Pestilence and Pyrohemia effects, I'd probably leave him in for consideration.

Etiquette will always be overwritten by your particular group. Some groups hate all combo, and some groups view any land destruction as sacrosanct. The general midline though is whether you are answering a player's threats, versus preventing them from playing the game. Fulminator Mage would typically be ok - taking out problematic powerful lands like Cabal Coffers and Maze of Ith is usually viewed as important - however, Armageddon is usually frowned upon, as you lock multiple people out of playing their game. Orcish Settlers then falls right on that line. If you use them to pop off several problematic lands - probably ok, if you're using them to reanimate them and repeatedly pump large amounts of mana into them to wreck other players manabases in order to put them off the game... perhaps less ok?

Discard effects are a strange one as well. I've seen dedicated discard decks, especially with Tinybones, Trinket Thief recently printed. Sometimes these can be met with a general acceptance, and even perceived as an interesting challenge, if the goal is to figure out how to work your hand management in order to overcome the discard effects, or if the discards are multiple singular effects which might be a challenge to answer. Some groups even find Myojin of Night's Reach acceptable. Having played a Chainer, Dementia Master deck that ran Mindslicer though, I can say that repeatedly ripping opponents hands apart to put the off the game (especially during the draw step) might not be taboo, but it definitely goes against that code of letting people play. It doesn't make a fun experience for anyone else involved. Hammer Mage and other mass destruction effects are completely fine.

Generally the question to ask is: "Am I answering and interacting with another player's threats? Or am I trying to prevent them from playing the game?"

User avatar
Ginuqu
Posts: 132
Joined: 2 months ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 53 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Post by Ginuqu » 1 month ago

Wow, lots of detailed replies! I'll be reading this for hours....

Some early observations:
- I don't want my commander to be the one with the activated abilities; I honed in on Garna after looking through all the legends I owned because she's perfect for protecting the first wave of creatures I play. Olivia Voldaren looks like a fantastic card whose inherent gameplan would overwrite the one I'd like to attempt. I like all the suggestions but thanks for understanding why I pick a more generically-good commander.

- darrenhabib's post went mostly over my head! a huge amount of detail lies within but I think it's too soon for anyone to draw back the format's curtain and tell me the best possible thing to play.

- If every single card in my deck is covered in modes and abilities then I'll never actually get much stuff on the board; thinking about what DirkGently said about instants in hand being great backup for abilities in play makes me realize that I want a number of simpler effects like Snuff Out and Reckless Air Strike. Some cards give virtual options even though they don't have stacks of actual ones, ie, a simple bit of equipment with Deathtouch on it can transform all your creatures with pinging abilities into something else entirely.

- Rakdos doesn't have great land-fetching but it's got Crypt Ghast[/card] and most of the best tutors... how well do people react to people playing tutors? I own a couple but totally understand that they break the flow of the game in some ways. At least you can't use Tainted Pact in a Coffers deck very reliably. How often do people accidentally blow themselves up with a Spoils of the Vault in EDH? How often do people play Mindcensor? Sorry for all the question marks.

- re: the feedback on LD, I think I'll stick to utility single-target stuff and not make myself so much of a menace.
Expand Signature
o I'm writing a little about Magic every week, from my own peculiar perspective, trying to find a groove. Feedback would be appreciated!
Latest post: opening a set booster

User avatar
Mookie
Posts: 1153
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 18
Pronoun: Unlisted
Location: the æthereal plane
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 155 times

Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
- Rakdos doesn't have great land-fetching but it's got Crypt Ghast[/card] and most of the best tutors... how well do people react to people playing tutors? I own a couple but totally understand that they break the flow of the game in some ways. At least you can't use Tainted Pact in a Coffers deck very reliably. How often do people accidentally blow themselves up with a Spoils of the Vault in EDH? How often do people play Mindcensor? Sorry for all the question marks.
Tutors see a lot of play, both because all the good ones are legal and because they help mitigate the format's variance. People are usually fine with them, although it depends somewhat on how competitively you're using them - if you're running a few tutors to fetch silver bullets, that's fine. If you're running 10+ tutors to assemble a combo, you're approaching CEDH territory. There are definitely people that avoid running too many tutors because they suck the variance out of the format, but I haven't encountered many people that impose that restriction on others.

I don't see Tainted Pact or Spoils of the Vault run that often - they're usually more of a CEDH thing.

Aven Mindcensor sees a bit of play, but not a ton. Usually in hatebears decks, which pop up from time to time. (meanwhile, Leonin Arbiter sees approximately zero play)

User avatar
Rumpy5897
Tuner of Jank
Posts: 1167
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 142 times
Been thanked: 272 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 month ago

A tutor is only as good as the deck it's in. Go nuts :P I'm a fan of solid utility holding up a garbage engine, and most playgroups are likely to let that sort of stuff fly. That said, the best tutors would be Vampiric/Demonic. In decks with high priority targets, I'm also jamming Grim. Also, Imperial Recruiter could be quite nice for you, depending on what stuff you could reach that isn't called Crypt Ghast. Plus timely masters set reprint will dent its price a little.

User avatar
bobthefunny
Resident Plainswalker
Posts: 326
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 89 times
Contact:

Post by bobthefunny » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
- If every single card in my deck is covered in modes and abilities then I'll never actually get much stuff on the board; thinking about what DirkGently said about instants in hand being great backup for abilities in play makes me realize that I want a number of simpler effects like Snuff Out and Reckless Air Strike. Some cards give virtual options even though they don't have stacks of actual ones, ie, a simple bit of equipment with Deathtouch on it can transform all your creatures with pinging abilities into something else entirely.
All good points. I would say try to have at least 10 removal/interaction spells. I usually aim for 2-3 single target creature removal (Tragic Slip), 2-3 artifact/enchantment removal (a bit harder in r/b), 2-3 'catch-all' (Chaos Warp), and 3-4 mass removal (Blasphemous Act, Massacre Girl).
- Rakdos doesn't have great land-fetching but it's got Crypt Ghast[/card] and most of the best tutors... how well do people react to people playing tutors? I own a couple but totally understand that they break the flow of the game in some ways. At least you can't use Tainted Pact in a Coffers deck very reliably. How often do people accidentally blow themselves up with a Spoils of the Vault in EDH? How often do people play Mindcensor? Sorry for all the question marks.
Tutors in general are fairly popular in the format. Many people, like me, avoid the general purpose tutors just out of personal preference, but no one really bats an eye about them. I've only seen Tainted Pact and Spoils of the Vault in combo lists, and only online. YMMV.

There's actually still a good amount of land ramp available in any color set, though some of it can get pricey, depending on your collection.

To start with, Burnished Hart and Solemn Simulacrum are both cheap, and pair well with black's reanimation and sacrifice themes. Add in some Undying Evil and Supernatural Stamina to double up on their use. Animate Dead also always pairs well, and can steal your opponents' ramp as well. Myriad Landscape is land ramp on a land. Yay!

Sword of the Animist has been going up in price, for generally good reason, but is quite an effective ramp tool. If you run tutors, this is a great pick. Many of the Ixalan transform lands can be quite good ramp as well. Dowsing Dagger // Lost Vale can give one player tokens, then flip against someone else. Treasure Map // Treasure Cove can take a while to flip, but when it does it not only ramps you a land, but also gives you a semi-ritual in the 3 treasure tokens you get. Arguel's Blood Fast // Temple of Aclazotz is just terrible though. Sorry. I also like Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison. It can act as an early blocker, a semi-sac outlet, and it can always fight something in front of someone's wrath effect to flip itself. Once flipped, it taps for two mana, and is token generator as well!

For hitting consistent land drops, Liliana of the Dark Realms and Liliana's Specter both fetch swamps.

On the pricier side, I love pairing Rings of Brighthearth with fetchlands, to turn every fetchland into a Rampant Growth. Since you seem to like activated abilities, Rings might be a good card overall, if you have one. Bit pricey if you don't. Crucible of Worlds also pairs well with fetch lands, to ensure consistent land drops.

Red can also use cards like Goblin Engineer and Goblin Welder to return Wayfarer's Bauble and Burnished Hart or Solemn Simulacrum for repeated profit. Note that the Bauble pairs well with Rings of Brighthearth. There are plenty of sources of artifact creatures for you to make and sacrifice as well.

Black has excellent card draw, and wants a lot of Swamps for coffers, so Terrain Generator can be very solid. Since you're (probably) running coffers, Deserted Temple works well with coffers, and can do some work with Terrain Generator as well, though that gets to be a heavy mana investment to ramp.

Don't forget mana rocks either. Fellwar Stone and even Charcoal Diamond can give solid turn 2 plays. Geth, Lord of the Vault can steal opponents' mana rocks or land ramp creatures from the grave as well.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

User avatar
darrenhabib
Posts: 1204
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 120 times
Been thanked: 286 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by darrenhabib » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
- darrenhabib's post went mostly over my head! a huge amount of detail lies within but I think it's too soon for anyone to draw back the format's curtain and tell me the best possible thing to play.

- If every single card in my deck is covered in modes and abilities then I'll never actually get much stuff on the board; thinking about what DirkGently said about instants in hand being great backup for abilities in play makes me realize that I want a number of simpler effects like Snuff Out and Reckless Air Strike. Some cards give virtual options even though they don't have stacks of actual ones, ie, a simple bit of equipment with Deathtouch on it can transform all your creatures with pinging abilities into something else entirely.
Understandably you're probably suffering from information overload.

I was just suggesting cards you might like to play based on your initial post about liking cards with multiple options and activated abilities.
They are no means the "best possible" things to play, but thought they might fall into your flavor.

But you are right you don't want every card in your deck to have a wall of text, otherwise you'll be overwhelmed with decisions and ultimately be frozen with indecision.

You've stated you want to play Garna, the Bloodflame and that is great. Establishing a commander can be one of the hardest things about getting into commander.

So to try and not overload you with information, I'll just reiterate some suggestions by me and others to help you focus in on a build.
As you've said you have Badlands and Mana Vault, what other good/expensive cards do you have? Wheel of Fortune by chance? Any further information on your existing collection is going to help with making a deck.

If you want to play Trading Post and Bag of Holding then I'd specifically recommend Faithless Looting, Jaya Ballard, Task Mage, Goblin Engineer, Goblin Welder, Daretti, Scrap Savant.

Echoing others suggestions; Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Sword of the Animist, Wayfarer's Bauble are solid staples for casual play.

Further solid cards you can look at for interaction in Rakdos are Abrade, Fire Covenant, Chaos Warp.

As far as a land count, 37 is a fine high number. As you stream line your deck in the future with more mana sources and draw, you'll find yourself going down to more like 35.
Rakdos doesn't have many ways to play additional lands per turn, so 37 is going to be the maximum you should play, otherwise you'll just get flooded eventually.
Super competitive decks play around 30 lands just to give you an idea of how the format becomes less about "big haymakers" and more like Legacy in terms of mana efficient plays. However this is not for you to be invested into thinking about, casual is what you are playing for :)

As far as synergy with Garna, the Bloodflame I like Archfiend of Ifnir and Living Death.
Archfiend of Ifnir you can cycle if casting Garna to get back into hand, plus it works well with discard elements you might be playing.
Living Death works very nicely if you have Garna die at some stage through the game (and leave in graveyard) and then cast Living Death to wipe the board. Because Garna will come into play from the graveyard, you'll get all the creatures that went into your graveyard from play back into your hand.

When building a deck you have to imagine play patterns as best as possible. So with playing Garna in general you eventually want to be holding up 3br during opponents turns so that you have access to casting it to get your creatures back if a sweeper occurs.
As you've pointed out "anything which gives you options, especially if it lets you spend all your mana on an otherwise empty turn", so you'll just want to make sure you play enough creatures/artifacts/enchantments/lands that you can sink your mana into in the case where opponents don't play a sweeper.

I want to try and avoid overwhelming you with options, but I feel its good to list out at least what I think are viable options, so that you have a referenece you can come back to in the future.
Further to this comprehensive list of creatures with activated abilities, I'll actually select some that I think are a cut above the rest or at least more in tune with your ideas. I personally like from this list; Deadeye Tracker, Dwarven Miner, Erebos, God of the Dead, Feldon of the Third Path, Gorilla Shaman, Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, Kiku, Night's Flower, Merchant of the Vale, Nezumi Graverobber.

Sure the medium and high end creatures are good if you get the luxury of a really late game and tons of mana, but unless you have a supporting "big mana" deck to this then it's unlikely that you'll get much value out of them most games.
By "big mana" I mean if you can play cards like Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and doublers like Crypt Ghast.

User avatar
Ginuqu
Posts: 132
Joined: 2 months ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 53 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Post by Ginuqu » 1 month ago

Great posts above. I took a few days off the internet but I've been dredging scryfall for ideas which work well with cards like Feldon/Welder/Engineer and the Ereboses. Got more of a plan in mind now;

the various Masticore cards suit me because they're fairly large, provide removal abilities and want to have deathtouch/lifelink equipment attached to them. (Does Feldon of the Third Path plus Lesser Masticore create a spare 1/1 Masticore token every turn? That's really fun!) and four of the five masticores improve when they are only sticking around for one turn, so cards like Coffin Queen or Scarecrone mix in nicely. Batterskull, Basilisk Collar and Shadowspear definitely wanna be in here and I was also thinking about Quicksmith Rebel, a really interesting card I don't remember seeing anyone play in casual. Hangarback Walker and Mindless Automaton and maybe the old-school Triskelion also slot into this general idea. With accessible 4/4 creatures in my deck I might be able to flip Golden Guardian, too. so I guess in one sense my idea is Masticore and utility tribal, all backed up by a huge Raise Dead commander.

More casually I'm a big proponent of Orcish Cannoneers and their variants like Sparksmith. They're great at removing utility stuff and if you get one of those equips on them they lose their disadvantages. Too silly? Dark Imposter and Myr Welder are really exciting cards to me and either of them can be used liberally or specifically to save a Masticore being exiled.

The Living Death idea is really exciting and I have one from Tempest, alongside a 3rd ed Wheel of Fortune I was surprised to see I owned. those big value cards just get locked in the vault when you become aware of the prices!

Kiku, Dwarven Miner and Viashino Heretic are independently good cards I'll definitely want to play. With lots of pinging in the deck, Starke of Rath becomes interesting as a removal spell and I think I'll be adding Squee, Goblin Nabob if I'm running Wheel and Masticore. so I think in one sense the deck's already running out of space!

thanks for all the help so far, I'll try and post a tentative decklist any day now.
Expand Signature
o I'm writing a little about Magic every week, from my own peculiar perspective, trying to find a groove. Feedback would be appreciated!
Latest post: opening a set booster

User avatar
bobthefunny
Resident Plainswalker
Posts: 326
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 89 times
Contact:

Post by bobthefunny » 1 month ago

Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
(Does Feldon of the Third Path plus Lesser Masticore create a spare 1/1 Masticore token every turn? That's really fun!)
Sadly, this will not work. While the tokens will trigger the persist, they will be removed from the GY and cease to exist as a SBA and will not return.
I was also thinking about Quicksmith Rebel, a really interesting card I don't remember seeing anyone play in casual.
Rebel is really fun with artifacts that untap themselves, like Basalt Monolith, Staff of Domination, or Retrofitter Foundry. Salvaging Station is also especially hilarious with it, but requires a significant deck slot involvement for the package. Note that Basalt Monolith can be part of infinite combos, depending on if you want to go that route.
Hangarback Walker and Mindless Automaton and maybe the old-school Triskelion also slot into this general idea. With accessible 4/4 creatures in my deck I might be able to flip Golden Guardian, too.
Hangerback and Triskellion are known combo cards, so be aware they may pull some hate. (Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, repectively).

Mindless Automaton is great with +1 counter themes (Animation Module, or proliferate) as well as ability copying, suck as Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient. Rings might be a bit mana intensive with him though. Illusionist's Bracers is especially hillarious on him, turning him into a serious powered draw engine. Also just a great card to make token copies of.
More casually I'm a big proponent of Orcish Cannoneers and their variants like Sparksmith. They're great at removing utility stuff and if you get one of those equips on them they lose their disadvantages. Too silly? Dark Imposter and Myr Welder are really exciting cards to me and either of them can be used liberally or specifically to save a Masticore being exiled.
Dark Imposter is fun removal that I have used in the past. A bit expensive manawise, but if your ramp is on point, you'll be fine.
With accessible 4/4 creatures in my deck I might be able to flip Golden Guardian, too. so I guess in one sense my idea is Masticore and utility tribal, all backed up by a huge Raise Dead commander.
Do note that you do NOT need to kill the Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison in the fight. Once he fights, that dies ability is a delayed trigger that stays until end of turn. If someone boardwipes, fight a 1/1 in response. If someone attacks with a large creature, block and fight a 1/1. Someone attacks with a 2/2 or 3/3, and you want it flipped? Fight something that's just the right size. Got a sac outlet? Fight a 1/1, then sac it. All good stuff.

User avatar
Treamayne
Posts: 162
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 30 times

Post by Treamayne » 1 month ago

@bobthefunny Ninja'd
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
Does Feldon of the Third Path plus Lesser Masticore create a spare 1/1 Masticore token every turn?
No, a token with Persist will still be removed from the graveyard as a state based action (since tokens can't exist outside the battlefield) before it can return with a -1/-1 counter. That said, you could potentially use Feldon to make a copy of the Lesser Masticore in your graveyard while the persist trigger is on the stack. You would then have a Manticore with a -1/-1 counter, and token Manticore without a counter
Ginuqu wrote:
1 month ago
More casually I'm a big proponent of Orcish Cannoneers and their variants like Sparksmith.
If you are a fan of Tims, have you considered Death Pits of Rath?
Expand Signature
V/R

Treamayne

User avatar
Dragoon
Posts: 105
Joined: 8 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 47 times
Been thanked: 28 times

Post by Dragoon » 1 month ago

If you're going to put lots of activated abilities in your deck. I'd suggest to take a look at Heartstone and Braid of Fire. Likewise, depending on how heavy you go in that theme, there is also Fires of Invention (but it will shut down Garna, the Bloodflame).

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic

Return to “Commander”