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Mind Twist Discussion
1 week ago
APPLE01DOJ - I don't know. Yesterday, I could have written you an essay; today, I'm facing down Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I know nothing until further testing. I have rushed to bring back two copies of Liliana of the Veil to the list since the unbans, a card I had eschewed very quickly in my original construction of the deck, since it hardly favours the player drawing an extra card a turn; however, with the advent of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace TMS, opponents are now likely to be able to keep up with the CA of Phyrexian Arena, and as such, Liliana of the Veil is likely to be good again (even if the format is being overrun by lots of Bloodghast, Hollow One, and Faithless Looting).
However, I can offer a breakdown of how the creatures function in non-blue matchups:
a. Pack Rat:
The deck started with the set of Pack Rat. But that all in-strategy was soon found to be suboptimal - drawing multiple Pack Rats was unnecessary and rarely served any purpose; not to mention the speed of Modern means turn 2 Pack Rat is often too slow. As sweepers, Detention Sphere, and Maelstrom Pulse became common, and as Hollow One and Death's Shadow and Tasigur, the Golden Fang started to surface, Pack Rat lost some of its luster.
The natural question, then, if Pack Rat is slow and vulnerable, why play him at all? The answer: Pack Rat is ten cards in one card. Backed up with any kind of disruption and removal, he takes over the board and ends the game, quickly and unstoppably. Two activations are more than enough to put away games, and trading spot removal for Rats is a losing proposition. So in this list, he's gone from being a windmill early slam, to a lategame engine that turns dead land drops and discard spells into an army of creatures. Barring Path to Exile before a single activation is possible, Liliana, the Last Hope can always buy him back - one copy of the Rat, therefore, is ample.
I've covered the virtues of this card in a post above - essentially, he's my Tarmogoyf, but he flies. Whether he functions as The Abyss or as a 6/6 unblockable, he ends games very quickly, and many a game against combo/Tron has been put away by disruption into disruption into Demon. Of the quick clocks available to black, he's one of the better ones. I believe the added utility to be well worth the extra two mana over Goyf (besides, far be it from me to argue against 6 6 fliers for four - speaking of which, Demon is almost always a strictly superior option to Abyssal Persecutor, since Persecutor requiring us to find an additional kill spell for our own demon while Phyrexian Arena ticks down/the burn opponent is topdecking is not a good feeling).
I cannot praise this card enough in any mono black midrange list. He exiles creatures, he gains life consistently, and he makes every removal spell in our deck a 2 for 1. Traditionally, efficient mono black removal has been weak to graveyard recursion such as Flamewake Phoenix, Bloodghast, Geralf's Messenger, Kitchen Finks, and so forth, since all these cards must be killed more than once, at no additional expense to the opponent. Thoughtseize and Phyrexian Arena is a painful combination, especially in a world of Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan's Command. Kalitas solves all of these issues beautifully, and with any removal spell stalls the board incredibly easily and well.
Okay, have you seen the art? If Drana were real, she'd totally be my Valentine.
Jokes aside, one of the issues I was frequently running into with the deck was the amount of time it took me to close out once I had stabilised. While all of my creature threats (Gray Merchant of Asphodel is basically a Corrupt, he doesn't count) end the game quite quickly, I just wasn't drawing them fast enough - my opponent would get the opportunity to find that Cryptic Command or Sphinx's Revelation, or get those last 2 Boros Charm. There is a delicate balance between disruption and pressure that must be maintained in all decks that are not pure control, and maintaining that balance required me to find another fast game-ending threat.
I considered running the fourth Desecration Demon, but the idea of another big dumb beater was not appealing. I wanted a powerful threat with intrinsic value attached to its kit, that could help deal with the board even when I was not drawing multiple cards a turn, and hopefully one that was either resilient, or dodged some of the common removal in the format (Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push - although I was open to playing four drops, since consistently having revolt to deal with a whole myriad of four drop threats is difficult). While black has plenty of value three drops, none of them offered this game ending power, or were too easily killed - Nightveil Specter and Lifebane Zombie, for instance, offer great card advantage in specific situations, but don't really pack the same punch as something like a Desecration Demon or Pack Rat army.
Finally, I settled on Drana. There are a lot of powerful five drops in black with value built in (Bloodgift Demon, for instance), but Drana does something none of the others do - she kills things, turn after turn, while being able to attack in the air for huge chunks. In a meta with Lingering Souls, Dark Confidant and Young Pyromancer, Drana seemed like an elegant solution, and so far, she has far exceeded my expectations. I do not think I should consider running multiples of her, since she is quite expensive and can be killed for no value the turn she comes into play, but untapping with her can feel a bit like untapping after a Supreme Verdict to an empty board.
No Geralf's Messenger, no Phyrexian Obliterator; only 2 Gray Merchant. I do not believe the all in devotion plan is likely to ever become Modern competitive, for sheer want of interactive capability and card advantage - if you are playing a midrange list in Modern, you need lots of early interaction in the form of hand disruption and removal, a proactive plan to end the game with efficient threats, and ways to pull ahead on cards after both players have been stripped down to limited resources. Gray Merchant is an extremely powerful card, as good as or better than Siege Rhino if it drains for upwards of five; it swings races, it ends games, it doesn't care about board stalls, and for all intents and purposes is basically a Modern legal Tendrils of Corruption (not my quote - blame LSV. Then again, that man also calls Disciple of Phenax Mind Twist, so take these statements with several grains of salt).
But despite his inherent power level, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a very high variance card, and can sometimes be Highway Robber. Removal in Modern is aplenty, and curving out into enough devotion for Gray Merchant to be good is not a reliable plan. Even when the traditional mono black lists do manage to implement their plan - Geralf's Messenger into Gray Merchant, for instance, after having gotten two or more of their creatures removed, despite being an overall drain for seven to nine, just lacks the power/speed to push through opposing Tarmogoyf, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Grim Flayer, Death's Shadow - not to mention blue decks with their Cryptic Command and board sweepers and Sphinx's Revelation.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my list is therefore a card I'll often be discarding to the various discard outlets in the early game; using either the second copy or Liliana, the Last Hope's minus two to drain the opponent out if necessary later on. His being a zombie means he can be sacrificed to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet either to simply grow the great vampire, or to be recursed with Liliana, as the situation calls.
I do not think running more than two of the card is likely to be feasible for Modern given the uncertainty of whether Merchant will be Corrupt or Highway Robber, and also given Merchant's relatively high mana cost; while it is possible that one is the correct number (and indeed, often in post board games, I do go down to one or no Merchant) at least in game 1, the proactive plan of discard, kill, kill, flier, smack, Merchant win is a very strong one. Having access to the second copy in case the first gets exiled and therefore cannot be returned with a future Liliana is also quite relevant against decks with Path to Exile and Pyxis of Pandemonium.
Despite Merchant's variance, I believe his power level and his ability to end the game on the spot through cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Witchbane Orb is not to be undervalued. In a deck with Phyrexian Arena and Ob Nixilis Reignited, every life point represents an extra card; while Highway Robber may be terrible, a five mana 2 4 that draws 4 cards on etb and drains the opponent for four is an absolutely phenomenal Magic card.
I would also like to point out the maindeck inclusion of incidental lifegain like Collective Brutality and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in conjunction with Gary makes most burn and aggro matchups extremely favourable.
While the creature suite has been carefully picked, and is constantly being chosen and rechosen and tweaked, the engine that enables this deck is Phyrexian Arena. Any interactive deck with reactive spells always runs the risk of its reactive measures not lining up well against the threats being deployed on the other side; Arena churning through the deck presents the critical mass of answers and threats to overwhelm the opponent, ensures land drops are made, and essentially in every regard dots the deck's i's and crosses its t's. With discard outlets like Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil to trade potentially dead cards for relevant spells early on, irksome draws with too many high cmc cards can still function smoothly and well.
1 month ago
1 month ago
I think Mind Twist is list text here not good enough. We have more powerful cards, that can result in a much more devastating game state (Puzzlebox ect.). The Scarab God seems to me very slow, i would like to here what your experience with that card is, same goes for Maze of Ith.
2 months ago
"it is possible you may like it" is not a very good argument to convince people. It is empty words. As I said previously, if you want to do this, be at least somewhat convincing, perhaps. Ok:
What does this provide that other formats do not? Very basic way to start out.
How does it differ from Noble or Australian Highlander?
Standard has on average 1500 cards. That is, 250 cards per color. every pack in every format has at least 2/3 of it that is draft chaff - cards unplayable outside of limited. That leaves about 80 cards per color. That is not a lot. It is incredibly shallow. How do you plan to provide depth to the format?
All in all, I have listed 4 problems that are never addressed. Answer some of the challenges with a substantial answer.
2 months ago
Some more potentially useful information now that I have a few hundred games completed with this deck across varying metas.
I feel that Toxic Deluge is more or less a mandatory addition. Stax is on the rise in the cEDH meta (or at least everywhere that I play this deck it keeps showing up) and the inclusion of this single card more than tripled my success against creature based stax decks. This card has saved me so many times from Yisan, Tana/Tymna, Brago, and various other decks that I have even contemplated the addition of Rolling Earthquake as a second copy (despite not being cast-able through a Gaddock Teeg).
I also added back in Natural State for the same reason as Toxic Deluge. Given how often I see Sphere of Resistances, Trinispheres, Null Rods, Back to Basics, Blood Moons, etc. in my meta, this was not difficult to justify.
I have said it before, but I will mention it again. I hate Winds of Change. When evaluating cards for inclusion in a deck, especially if I am not convinced of their value, I note times that they were bad/average/good in game. I had 45 times that it was bad compared to 6 that it was good and 15 that it was average. Although it is an easy win with Notion Thief and as you described, a spice inclusion, I cannot justify the inclusion myself. I am well aware that it is intended to be cast either with a Notion Thief in play or post Ad Nauseam to guarantee the win, but I had many times that my Notion Thief would be killed while it was on the stack and it would do little to nothing considering I would usually be low on cards in hand by the time I attempted the win. There are also just times where my hand was dead and I needed to use it to hopefully draw into a better one which seemed to without fail give an opponent a winning hand before it got back to my turn. This could be said of any Wheel of Fortune effect, but at least the other wheels in the deck are usually card advantage on their own, whereas Winds of Change is always card disadvantage without a Notion Thief in play. Also, it is incredibly rare that an Ad Nauseam resolving is not enough to win the game and feels almost entirely unnecessary to be casting this after Ad Nauseam.
Having run both Tormod's Crypt and Nihil Spellbomb for a significant amount of time in this deck, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Nihil Spellbomb is far superior for the deck. The ability to cycle it if it is not relevant or to use it to draw the card that was tutored for with an Imperial Seal effect greatly surpasses the incremental value gained from it costing one less mana.
Oh, and a funny story, I actually found a backup backup win con for this deck. I somehow survived a Sadistic Sacrament stealing all of my win-cons by already having Paradox Engine, Isochron Scepter and Timetwister in hand when they cast it. (Swan Song and Nihil Spellbomb were exiled by a Rest in Peace earlier that game).
Despite knowing that I had no win cons left, I proceeded to make infinite mana with Paradox Engine/Isochron Scepter/Pyroblast/. I drew my library with Thrasios and with nothing better to do, overloaded Cyclonic Rift, followed with Notion Thief and Timetwister to Mind Twist my opponents hands away. From here I cast Chain of Vapor to return my Isochron Scepter to hand and recast it imprinting a Mana Drain. I cast Vial Smasher and all of the mana dorks in my library and in the most janky possible manner slowly killed all of my opponents with small creature beats while Mana Draining anything they cast.
2 months ago
As the banned lists for EDH and German Highland quite different, I don't think that this is fixing the problem. So just look at the difference...
Banned in EDH and German Highlander (13)
- Ancestral Recall
- Black Lotus
- Gifts Ungiven
- Library of Alexandria
- Mox Emerald
- Mox Jet
- Mox Pearl
- Mox Ruby
- Mox Sapphire
- Time Vault
- Time Walk
Legal in EDH not in German Highland (17)
- Birthing Pod
- Chaos Orb
- Falling Star
- Mana Crypt
- Mana Vault
- Mind Twist
- Mystical Tutor
- Natural Order
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Sol Ring
- Strip Mine
- Survival of the Fittest
- Umezawa's Jitte
- Vampiric Tutor
Legal in German Highland not in EDH (25)
- Braids, Cabal Minion
- Coalition Victory
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
- Leovold, Emissary of Trest
- Limited Resources
- Painter's Servant
- Panoptic Mirror
- Primeval Titan
- Prophet of Kruphix
- Recurring Nightmare
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
- Sway of the Stars
- Sundering Titan
- Sylvan Primordial
- Tolarian Academy
- Trade Secrets
- Yawgmoth's Bargain
2 months ago
Hey there. I've been working on Breya for a while, so I do have some suggestions for you. My experience will be coming from this list: Breya's Party Pants.
Bomberman is your strongest, easiest way to win. It is hands down faster than Ironworks + Deathmantle + Breya as you win with only 4W (if LED is in hand too) or 5WW if LED is in the graveyard, because you don't even need Breya on field to use it. Worldgorger is the close second combo. Keeping a third in case you're unsure of discarding your hand/exiling your board state is fine: I use Notion Thief + wheel for mine (which is why I'd recommend it to you: I've literally never lost a game after doing that, commonly winning the same turn with all the fast mana I draw), but I don't see many cases where Impact Tremors, Disciple of the Vault, or Reckless Fireweaver would be that beneficial. I'm fairly certain they're only required for Sharuum's combo, which is literally your slowest (worst) combo- even the Deathmantle one only takes 9-10 mana (Altar vs Ironworks), but at least in that circumstance one of those cards is in the Command Zone. Once you have infinite colorless mana and tokens, you just Lightning Bolt everyone to death using Breya's ability (same as you'd do with infinite colored mana, honestly). You could easily drop 2 of those damage effects for Windfall and Winds of Change, which is a combo with Notion Thief that will Mind Twist your opponents and draw you 20+ cards, commonly right into a win condition.
Hell, a few weeks ago I had an opener where I had Winds of Change in hand with Vampiric Tutor, Reanimate, Lotus Petal, Faithless Looting, and 2 lands. I spent turn 1 Vampiric Tutoring Notion Thief to the top of my library, played Petal and cracked it for Looting, discarding the Thief. Next turn, I played Reanimate, then Winds of Change, and each opponent shuffled their 6-7 cards in, I drew over 20 cards, played Mana Crypt, Mox Diamond, then Frantic Search, discarding Worldgorger Dragon, then played Dance of the Dead with the two lands I untapped and won the game right there because my second land was Gemstone Mine.
A t2 or t3 Notion Thief easily ends games due to how much you'll draw, lol, and I see you're running the Thief, but not the wheels. So definitely look into the wheels to enable him, yourself. And feel free to look at my Breya build too if you need ideas. I kind of went all-in on Bomberman/Gorger combo, but that's not for everyone and I get that.