When Mystic Barrier enters the battlefield or at the beginning of your upkeep, choose left or right.
Each player may attack only the opponent seated nearest him or her in the last chosen direction and planeswalkers controlled by that player.
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Mystic Barrier Discussion
3 months ago
Coward_Token To sort of cut to the chase of the whole "Pillow Fort vs. Non-Pillow Fort" discussion, I think a softer defense is totally valid.
Ghostly Prison still puts in work for me for most playgroups - but I do have one particular group that I mentioned above... skews very heavily toward a control meta, often getting no profit from attacking at all. In these scenarios, Prison is a dead card without forced attacks, and is not great even then, unless we just Alliance of Arms'd or Sylvan Offering'd the board. Even so, it still seems to make enough of a difference in most other games. I honestly never even thought to cut it.
Exploring this line of thought I would cut all "Deterrance" cards but Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist (provides other use besides pillow fort) and Mystic Barrier (because I still think the card is legitimately too much fun to cut).
In the place of these 6 cards I would probably add a couple more "active" defenses tutorable with Sunforger, like Comeuppance or Deflecting Palm, or even Master Warcraft again. Then with the remaining four slots I would add one or two more token producers, one more piece of removal (also Sunforger tutorable), and something for value like Evolutionary Leap or Growing Rites of Itlimoc Flip in the last vacancy.
Would probably run great. I most likely won't test this (too lazy at the moment), but I could see it working. It does change the philosophy of the deck a little, and would require some playtesting.
4 months ago
Marvell - I don't know if you've noticed, but I actually ditched Draught in the last update. It only really got good results about 1/5 casts that I drew it, so that's just not reliable enough. In its place I added Goblin Diplomats, as I recently joined a new playgroup with a heavy blue combo/control meta; people often refuse to attack - so I needed at least one more reliable source for forcing them.
Honestly, because Rector's effect is so unique you can really cut him in favor of anything - more forced attacks (Master Warcraft and the like), more ramp (Nature's Lore or a signet or something), more removal (Swords/Path, Song of the Dryads, etc), or even something spicy like Beastmaster Ascension. You're not going to get Rector's effect anywhere else so really anything goes.
If I had to cut Rector myself I'd add Mentor of the Meek back in, probably.
4 months ago
The dryad was certainly a welcome addition; as you might have inferred from my previous comments I've wanted to get rid of the Ant for a while. Here's some things I've been thinking of, hopefully they'll be new and noteworthy:
(Huatli, Radiant Champion) is kinda interesting since it's easy for the deck to get enough for the token-friendly draw power emblem in two turns, but good old Garruk, Primal Hunter can probably achieve similar results more reliably even if he's slightly more expensive.
Very questionable but ((The Immortal Sun)) provides a draw power alternative to Mirari's Wake. Obvious ramp-related worries here since I feel the deck doesn't cast enough spells per rotation to make the mana discount compare to the land enhancement. ((Regal Behemoth)) is an interesting middle ground with the bonus of also having a nice body, but misses out on the swarm-friendly anthem and more importantly paints a target on you, which leads to it having a parasitic relationship with all "Deterrence" cards, as well as some "Conflict Escalation" ones (especially anti-synergetic with Mystic Barrier since getting monarchy back could get really awkward). Finally, with 6 CMC and taking a rotation to actually start providing their draw power (maybe even more in the case of the Behemoth), both of them will probably come out too late too often. (Other Naya monarch cards are overall pretty lackluster IMO.)
A few non-Rivals cards:
I feel Warmonger Hellkite is too mana-demanding for what it gives, being in the second highest CMC category of the deck while also wanting you to spend 2 mana on its activated ability and having a drawback. I wonder if long-term Maybeboard resident Grenzo, Havoc Raiser can't do things more efficiently by providing a Basandra-like sniping ability with a defensive bonus outside of 1v1, but perhaps more intriguingly also providing an alternative source of pseudo-draw (although I realize it's pretty meta-dependent and requires you to gamble on holding back mana in case you get lucky) that also adds a slight control quality to the deck. (He also has some cute synergy with Duelist's Heritage.) Including Grenzo would probably also require switching in some more evasion, in which case I'd like to note my preference of Khenra Charioteer over the Primer-recommended Archetype of Aggression since I don't want to stop my opponents from trampling over each other (Monarchy-enabling Regal Behemoth will obviously want to stick with the Archetype though).
Really questionable but (Ulvenwald Mysteries) could complement Tireless Tracker, obvious problem is that the deck has few creatures that wants to die, and with the exception of Sad Robot they only want to die under the right circumstances. I guess it could EDH muppets like Reclamation Sage even more expendable though, esp. since Sun Titan is a thing. Also ((Tamiyo's Journal)) but it's even slower, esp. considering its cost and rather one-sided benefits.
5 months ago
It's weird to see a Phelddagrif deck that's the opposite of mine. I run an aura voltron deck that's the scourge of my play group with him as the commander. There's literally no reason for him to be the commander, but Phelddagrif was the card that got me into the game. My friends showed me this game had a winged hippo in it and I couldn't NOT play it after that.
Sorry, seeing other people play Phelddagrif makes me sentimental...
6 months ago
Very well, here's my latest jank for your consideration (take your time)
Orzhov Advokist: Boosts one of your creatures and tells you ahead of time whether or not someone is planning on attacking you. This potentially lets it both replace one card from Conflict Escalation and another from Deterrence, which would free up a slot for something else. On the downside, it takes a player turn cycle to become relevant and it's more about quality than quantity (although you could use things like Tetravus, Murder Investigation and/or Hangarback Walker to alleviate this, see also about Elemental Mastery below). Another problem is that it doesn't reward people for attacking each other and it's arguably anti-synergetic with Mystic Barrier.
Harvest Season/(Growing Rites of Itlimoc Flip): More powerful yet less reliable alternative to Cultivate. (Although instead of Itlimoc you could just spend hundreds of bucks on a Gaea's Cradle I guess)
(Thornscape Familiar): The only one in the cost reduction Familiar cycle which affects more than one of the colors in your commander's identity. Aside from Gahiji himself, it works for 33 out of the 99 cards in the current deck (assuming no shenanigans like Celestial Dawn or Feroz's Ban). I dunno if you cast those 33 cards frequently enough per turn to make the cost reduction worthwhile compared to land-based ramp, especially since you got some land matters cards like Mirari's Wake.
Continuing my quest of exhausting every possible card advantage option known to beast, god and man:
Elvish Harbinger: Complement or possibly even a replacement for Wood Elves. Ramps and elf Imperial Seal:s from a pretty diverse pool consisting of Rhys the Redeemed, Reclamation Sage, Wood Elves, Knight of the Reliquary, Mirror Entity, Selvala, Explorer Returned & Oracle of Mul Daya. Since it doesn't have flash, unplanned shuffling is my biggest reservation towards this one. (As an optional bonus, it can form the middle of a threefold creature tutor chain with either of the Recruiters and any elf.)
Green Sun's Zenith: Banned in modern and probably something you've already considered. Puts green critters directly onto the battlefield and is self-recurable. It can pick from a pretty diverse pool that includes (among other things) Den Protector, Oracle of Mul Day, Reclamation Sage, Tireless Tracker, Wood Elves, Knight of the Reliquary, Mirri, and Selvala.
Worldly Tutor: Creature Vampiric Tutor, might be a bit slow without an available draw source. (Congregation at Dawn) takes things further, but with the presence of other (shuffling) tutors and a lack of great draw power it seems questionable. Eladamri's Call is the Demonic Tutor equivalent, dunno if it can compete with Green Sun's.
(Evolutionary Leap): Unsure about this one, but could be nice with things that give a benefit upon death (be it naturally or trough Skullclamp with 2 or more toughness) and/or are disposable (especially cheap ETB creatures that can be recurred with Sun Titan).
(Defense of the Heart): Obviously very powerful if it goes off, but I assume that it's too conditional & vulnerable to removal to be worth it.
Magus of the Wheel: Complement to the classic wheel that's already present. I prefer the Magus over Wheel of Fate & Reforge the Soul due to not requiring you to have all the mana at once and/or because it's more predictable for something that discards your hand (although slower without haste). As a bonus, it's recurable with Sun Titan (and tutorable with either of the Recruiters).
Other misc. cards which you've probably already considered and rejected, but just in case:
(Luminarch Ascension): On one hand, Ant Queen on steroids. On the other, draws a lot of hate and/or takes at least four turns to become not-useless (assuming no helpful proliferation) which makes it more and more of a dead draw over time. (Sacred Mesa is a weird compromise.) There's also Emeria Angel/Retreat to Emeria for if you want to expand on the land subtheme, but it doesn't have the same explosive potential as the aforementioned manasinks (although Hazezon Tamar might be a decent compromise).
Elemental Mastery: Channels a quality creature (e.g. a beefed up Knight of the Reliquary or just Gahiji himself) into a quantity of tokens which better synergizes with Gahiji's ability. On the downside, since the tokens only lasts one turn you can't increase their power on the long term with e.g. Curse of Predation. The card also has the two usual problems associated with Auras in that it requires the presence of an appropriate creature to be useful and that single-target removal against said creature becomes a two-for-one deal (and this is further exasperated by the fact that you're encouraged to increase the power of the creature by e.g. putting counters on it). Also too expensive for Sun Titan. Dragon Throne of Tarkir gives somewhat similar quality-to-quantity conversion in a more resilient equipment form.
(Path of Ancestry) vs one of Temple of Abandon/Temple of Plenty/Temple of Triumph. Less reliable scry that only works with Gahiji & the changeling, but taps for all the relevant colors. Dunno how frequently this is relevant for you.
(Rith, the Awakener): Token generator alternative. I'm guessing you've rejected it because the tokens lack evasion and/or the token generation is too conditional. (But hey, at least it's a combat damage effect for Duelist's Heritage to interact with)
(Marton Stromgald): Potentially explosive token amplification but hard to keep alive.
Mass Hysteria: In case you're not getting enough haste from Slayers' Stronghold. Also works with the group slug aspect, but I dunno if it will backfire by e.g. letting powerful tap abilities come out of nowhere. (There's also Concordant Crossroads if you're not worried about it being replaced by another World Enchantment.) Samut, Voice of Dissent is another option that has quite a few other features as well, but I fear she'll come in a bit too late. Got similar feelings about (Urabrask the Hidden), who's also kinda detrimental to the group slug theme and/or will draw too much hate. ((Akroma's Memorial) is even worse in the lateness department.)
Mogg Infestation/(Settle the Wreckage)/Fell the Mighty/(Righteous Fury)/(Sunblast Angel)/(Angel of the Dire Hour): One of the Token Beatdown variants favors board wipes, but all of the listed cards have a tendency to kill your fatties and leave your opponent's weenies alive. In case you want a source of emergency non-targeted creature removal in the main deck and/or the variant, here's some additional options that can leave your own creatures alive, even if they're a bit more expensive than e.g. Wrath of God (or, in the case of Settle the Wreckage, potentially profitable for an opponent). Special mention to Mogg Infestation for still keeping the group slug going by being Beast Within on steroids & Angel of the Dire Hour for bypassing indestructible in addition to shroud, if that's relevant in your meta (although a plain (Arcane Lighthouse) might be better then).
(Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite): Saving the most prominently obvious card for last, I assume the reason you've rejected it is because it's not explosive enough to act as a 1v1 finisher, while being detrimental to the overall group slug strategy when there's more than one opponent alive.
6 months ago
Thank you for your patience, telling people to "optimize their fun" tends to (understandably) cause annoyance. It's interesting to hear that Mystic Barrier can be used with the commander as situational utility without compromising overall entertainment
As a side note, if anyone else wants to use the Mana Echoes idea, then I should probably point out that I forgot about the obvious mana sink/mana preserver Gemstone Array (there's also Upwelling I guess but that one seems more group hug:ish, with the typical risk of producing degenerate play when coming into contact with the wrong kind of opposing deck). Similarly, Primeval Bounty would probably work as a fun Academy Rector target if anyone wants to try making the aforementioned "3 or greater power" build.
6 months ago
@Coward_Token Again, very thoughtful analysis! I always like seeing discussion around this archetype.
Good points about Mana Echoes: it's potentially explosive and can fuel a nasty Kessig Wolf Run or Tempt with Vengeance. However, I think (even with all of the tribal synergy you outlined) it might just be a tad too inconsistent. For four mana that probably doesn't do anything the turn it comes out, it's possible that just straight up Skyshroud Claim would be better in the long run.
As for Mystic Barrier - it's definitely not for everyone, but it opens up new lines of play; I've rarely been disappointed to cast it, but it has to be a deliberate decision to cast - not just because it's on curve or because you have an Academy Rector trigger. You'll always be choosing to be attacked by the adjacent player with the least resources, and a pillow fort can usually stave off most of that attack. The kicker is, of course, always having a "forced attack" effect to play with Barrier - the synergy there is huge if you can keep Barrier on the field for multiple turns. I don't think I've met many Gahiji players that run Mystic Barrier, and it might just be a pure pet card for me, but I really enjoy it.
As a minor aside, if you know you're planning to cast Barrier at some point in the game, try to identify which adjacent player will be less aggro - then deliberately avoid giving them tokens. You want to start off with that player attacking in your direction, and you also want to make sure there's always a juicy target for the other players to attack.
6 months ago
Glad you could extract something useful from my questionable ramblings, have some more:
For the purpose of ramp, would you consider Mana Echoes? Now hold on, I know this isn't a tribal deck, but from what I can see there's a decent amount of overlap when it comes to the subtypes of the large quantities of creatures your cards can generate, either for yourself or others (it works in either case):
- Human: 8 creature cards
- Scout: 4 creature cards
- Cleric: 3 creature cards
- Cat, Shaman: 2 creature cards
Spider, Samurai, Angel, Troll, God, Advisor, Monk, Golem, Giant, Rogue (10): 1 creature card
Elf, Warrior: 5 creature card + tokens: on tap + X on 2 cards
- Insect: 3 creature card + tokens: active mana ability + damage provocation + on opponent casting + EoB
- Dragon: 2 + tokens on all upkeeps
- Spirit: 2 creature card + tokens: 1 land tapping + 1 card
- Goblin: 1 creature card + tokens on opponent step
- Ogre: 1 creature card + X tokens on hostile declared attacks
Beast, Knight: 1 creature card + token on 1 card (doubt you ever use Selesnya Charm for this purpose though)
Soldier: tokens: on upkeep + X on 1 card
- Elemental: tokens: on all upkeeps + X on 1 card
- Saproling: X tokens on 2 spells (maybe there's room for a minor Saproling subtheme somewhere by virtue of Psychotrope Thallid & Utopia Mycon?)
- Treefolk: tokens on 1 card
- Fairy: enemy tokens on 1 card (only works with changeling)
(Also Rhys' cloning, which is potentially massive even if it only works for your own tokens.)
Obviously the exact amount of mana you'll get will probably vary a lot between both different turns and games, but I think on average it will be pretty high. (If you do decide to get Mana Echoes, also switch Beast Within for Crib Swap. Less arms dealing but much more ramp. If you want to amplify ETBs I guess you could also include a championing changeling creature.) The fact that you'll get some extra mana during other people's phases might be a little awkward though, but you could maybe use some combination of Symbiotic Deployment, Carnage Altar, Slate of Ancestry, Book of Rass, (Mind's Eye) and Inheritance as card advantage mana sinks (in that category there's also Seer's Sundial, Mangara's Tome and your old friend Mentor of the Meek, although I don't think they're very reliable on turns other than your own). (On a related note, I assume you've already looked into Pursuit of Knowledge, Abundance and Sylvan Library?)
Finally, mandatory killjoy condescension: This might be a silly question, but is Mystic Barrier still giving you a net positive of enjoyment? The reason I'm asking is that while I can see why the card is fun from a broad perspective, it seems to me that it conflicts with the two main aspects of the deck, which I think would make things less fun since it limits the escalating purpose of the deck. (Man, do I sounds square right now.) First of all, one person is forced to attack only you, which conflicts with the pillow fort cards' point of encouraging the opponent to go for someone else, which also kinda means any tokens they've been given go to waste for the purpose inter-enemy damage. Second, escalating curses like Curse of Opulence become less powerful when they can't pain a target on someone, which both detracts from the previously mentioned inter-enemy damage, the relative deterrence of your pillow fort (why attack someone with Ghostly Prison if you can get Gold from a cursed player?) and your own ability to broadly benefit from such general chaos both directly and indirectly. I'm well aware the deck is more about entertainment than winning all day every day, so it's not irrational to keep the card if it's doing you more good than harm, but I think it's worth considering. (Also, since you've got Academy Rector you could potentially replace the Barrier with a single overcosted but powerful & fun enchantment that works in line with the deck, like Sandwurm Convergence, Zendikar Resurgent, Lurking Predators or even Vicious Shadows.)
That's all, hope reading that didn't take too much of your time and you'll be able to squeeze something good out of it, keep up the good work