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|Shards of Alara (ALA)||Common|
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You gain life equal to target creature's power.
Soul's Grace Discussion
2 months ago
Doom Blade , Hero's Blade , Grafted Exoskeleton , Phyresis , Glistening Oil , Soul's Grace , Necropolis Regent , Eternal Thirst , Retribution of the Ancients , Mark of the Vampire , Unnatural Endurance , Essence Harvest , Unspeakable Symbol managathering.com
4 months ago
EDIT: Revised versions appear below after the initial iteration.
This idea bases around Ajani during the Shards of Alara story but not his rage mindset from Ajani Vengeant and instead focuses on his abilities to bring out aspects or avatars of the strengths of his allies.
Ajani has always kinda had this sort of behavior as we see in his planeswalker forms like;
These sort of abilities have primarily manifested themselves in +1/+1 counters and often as a board wide buff or targeting multiple creatures. It works relatively well with White Wheenie strategies of many low cost efficient creatures.
However Ajani have also been shown to have abilities that are more focused. I'm thinking in the lines of Soul's Grace , Soul's Fire , Soul's Majesty , and Soul's Might - all of which are cards from Shards of Alara. To some extend it is also shown in Titanic Ultimatum . These abilities are more aligned with Naya's design of big fat creatures. I have always been disappointed that Ajani have never again shown any such ability in his future planeswalker designs and felt wanting a version that reflected these abilities.
So here goes an attempt at creating a Naya related version of Ajani Goldmane.
Ajani, Soulforger Show
Legendary Planeswalker - Ajani
+2 Create a 0/1 white Avatar creature token with Soulbond and "As long as this creature is paired with a creature, it is a non-legendary copy of that creature with Soulbond and creatures paired with this creature cannot attack or block."
-1 Choose a creature you control. Create a red Aura enchantment token named Avatar of Flame attached to the chosen creature. The token has enchant creature and "Sacrifice Avatar of Flame: Avatar of Flame deals damage equal to enchanted creature's power to any target."
-3 Choose a permanent you control. Look at the top x cards of your library, where x is equal to the total power of creatures you control plus 3. You may exile a card from among them face down, then put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. When the chosen permanent leaves the battlefield, if the exiled card is a permanent you may put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise put it into your hand.
Sadly I couldn't get the Custom Card function to properly work.
Some issues I acknowledge right of the bat:
The abilities are rather lengthy and could be cut down to be less complicated at the expense of being less dynamic. For instance the +2 could be a static token that just copies the P/T at the time of creation. It's a lot less flavorful. So instead of manifesting a creature's soul and let that do the fighting and safeguard the actual creature, it would be more generic token creation, also with less limits. In the current wording you can in principle only have one avatar per creature but if the original creature gets removed, the magic of the avatar remains and can take on a new form whenever you have another creature enter the battlefield - which is something I like as an interaction.
Likewise the -1 could literally just be a Soul's Fire but it removes the ability to delay the damage to instant speed and the possibly to make the creature larger before blowing something up. It does however open the ability up to fizzling by removing the creature before the aura token is created.
The "ultimate" could be a fixed number of cards to look at. I was swaying a bit between a singular and a board wide application with more of an "ultimate feel" to it (obviously at a higher loyalty cost). However I figured this had a better application across formats and wouldn't be the typical EDH battle cruiser ability. It does however provide with some technical card advantage and can cheat out some powerful stuff, making it a risk removing permanents "enhanced" with a replacement. You are able to trigger it yourself but Ajani is also in colors that typically don't sacrifice their own permanents nor bounce them back to their hand. Well... green does have a slew of creatures that sacrifice themselves for lands or removal abilities, but in general these colors don't sacrifice their own. You can obviously utilize board wipes to facilitate their demise and secure you come out on top. It could be considered to change it so that you have to choose a non-artifact permanent, as many artifacts do sacrifice themselves.
I found it a bit more difficult than I imagined to create abilities that worked off of the Soul's X template that wouldn't just be incredibly powerful or incredibly bad, depending on cost and application. The concept is also heavily reliant on having creatures to be truly beneficial but I also think the abilities are strong enough to offset that drawback. The idea was to get away from the generic +1/+1 counters that in some terms signifies bringing out the power of the individual but is just so generic, boring, and done to death, and in that regard I consider this version successful.
The wording may need a helping hand, especially the +2 ability. In general tokens don't have abilities that grant them further abilities.
The flavor texts of all the Soul's X cards notes that Ajani sculpts these avatars (e.g. Soul's Majesty ) but it felt weird calling him Ajani, Soulsculptor... kinda running a bit too close to a certain other person of the Lorwyn-5.
Any feedback and suggestions are welcome.
Edit: I forgot to mention this before, but I figure this Ajani callback is destined for a supplemental product that doesn't go into Standard. First of all because he is quite powerful for typical Standard and more complex with ability keywords that is not explained directly on the card.
Ajani, Soulforger v2 Show
Legendary Planeswalker - Ajani
+2 Create a 0/1 white Avatar creature token with Soulbond and "As long as this creature is paired with a creature, it has power and toughness equal to that creature's power and toughness. It has Soulbond and "Creatures paired with this creature can't attack or block."
-1 Target creature you control deal damage equal to its power to any target.
-3 Look at the top 5 cards of your library, you may reveal a Creature, Enchantment, or Equipment from among them. If that card's converted mana cost is less than the greatest power among creatures you control, you may put it onto the battlefield. Otherwise put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
So, a revised version. I kept the +2 relatively intact for a couple reasons.
First to defend Ajani, the token is 0/1 by itself but is fully capable of chump-blocking.
Second the idea of making avatars out of your creatures to engage in combat is pseudo card-advantage although missing out on that creature's abilities (in the revised version). It also has the added benefit that if you attack with the Avatar and the Avatar dies, the original creature can block, effectively giving it Vigilance. However if the attacking creature is too big to die or gets through, the original creature cannot engage in combat - effectively making it "worse" on larger creatures. I find Vigilance on large creatures to be oppressive in terms of combat, more so than many other keywords.
Another benefit that befits red is that if the Avatar lingers unpaired, it can effectively grant Haste to new creatures.
Lastly I heavily want to avoid the "traditional Ajani pump", as that design is lazy and has been done to death.
-1 changed to straight Soul's Fire . It was the least original idea and was generally just there for a good ability that had a fair requirement.
-3 changed to a more static ability that provides some card advantage that Ajani has been known to be able to do previously; Ajani, Mentor of Heroes , Ajani Unyielding , and Ajani, Valiant Protector .
I traded Mentor of Heroes's ability to grab Planeswalkers for Equipment. Mostly because Equipment in general doesn't get much love, like Auras, but also because Ajani seems to have slumped down into a Superfriends booster segment, which I get with where his story goes after Shards of Alara but as this is set during Shards, I think it makes more sense that he favors Equipment. After all he used his dead brother's axe to make his iconic Twin Axe to seek revenge for his brother's murder.
As for the ability to cheat them onto the battlefield, remember that Ajani is 3 colors (the 3rd of that kind if we exclude the Commander planeswalkers), and it requires a creature with high power to gain a large swing from it. Ajani is also in colors that don't manipulate the top of their library... much... - looking at you Sylvan Library , Mirri's Guile , and Sensei's Divining Top .
Post scriptum; I just now noticed that all iterations of Ajani has something to do with life. Either straight life gain, lifelink or life total... Kinda breaking that format with this version.
Although I think life gain in general is a weak ability without the capabilities to utilize it as a benefactor, so in interest of keeping a 3-color Ajani relatively powerful, I'll break that trend.
5 months ago
VaalVanir First off Electrostatic Field is indeed a great addition is you feel like you've been falling back on to AoE damage as your main win condition. Let's say your play group runs a TON of artifact hate or something, than the damage you get from it is worth the card slot. the only reason I run Firebrand Archer instead is because she deals damage on more than just Instant and Sorcery cards being cast, so the little bit of damage helps.
Sentinel Tower is also a good addition as well, but I haven't gotten around to playtesting it. The main issue with it is that it ONLY works on your turn. But Feather, the Redeemed usually plays her cards on EVERY turn. Which means this card is only really working 1/4th of the time. Its effect is still strong tho, so we shall see.
And here is the reason I do not run any lifegain cards in my deck, I will try to explain as best as possible. Aetherflux Reservoir gives FAR more lifegain than we need. When it gets used, it either dies right away to removal (nothing you can do about that) or you pop off with it and win. I've never had it only go kinda halfway then peeter off, and here is why. The rest of the game I was preparing my boardstate for it, and not gaining life. When Aetherflux Reservoir and Paradox Engine aren't on the field, you'll want to be spending almost all your resources on getting several things; a bunch of mana rocks, 2-3 cantrip cards, and a field full of targetable creatures with either Mirrorwing Dragon or Zada, Hedron Grinder to back them up). If you spent that time gaining life here and there than you would have enough life to MAYBE kill someone right away if you were able to attack with enough guys. But if we are ready for Aetherflux Reservoir when it hits the field in a normal game, we can win that turn easily by cycling through our hand. It will get to the point easily where you are gaining 9-10 health a single spell without the need to attack.
Which also leads me to the second reason we do not run those cards, and it is their restrictions. I'll talk about each one individually. Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant are both ONLY good if you already have a token engine on the field, and at most they will then be gaining you only a little bit of life before we need to do other things with the board (maybe about 7-8 if we're lucky). Soul's Grace will really ONLY ever hit for 1 about 80% of the time, a 2 mana spell that only gains us one life is nowhere near good enough for us. Which means it is only SOMEWHAT decent with you have Zada, Hedron Grinder or Mirrorwing Dragon on the field, and cards that are completely useless without another in a 99 card deck are almost always a bad decision. Spirit Link , Spiritualize , and Take Heart all REQUIRE you to attack with something in order to be effective, and if you recall from earlier, attacking is almost always the way we dont play our deck. We will get maybe 1 solid attack with up to a dozen or so creatures before we either combo off with Aetherflux Reservoir or we eat a boardwipe and need to rebuild. Also Spiritualize is just WAY to heavily costed for a card that will be gaining us 1 life 80% of the time, it draws a card sure, but so do a TON of 1 mana spells in the deck. Student of Ojutai also falls under the WAY to heavily costed category, in fact, he is as expensive as our main win condition, so let us compare the two. Let's say we cast about 8-12 spells a turn when we get the ball rolling, I'll average it to 10 for simplicities sake. With Student of Ojutai on the field that means we will be gaining 20 life, not bad. But with Aetherflux Reservoir on the field that means we will be gaining 55 life, MUCH better. NOW let's say we DONT cast Student of Ojutai and instead use that mana for up to 4 more spells, since he costs 4 and we run a ton of 1 cost cards. Add that on to our already 10 cards cast and that's and extra 50 life! So investing in casting more small spells and cantrips instead of investing in Student of Ojutai is a lot better for our lifegain. Syndic of Tithes is just WAY too taxing on us. Almost all of what we do is 1-2 mana so his extort makes our spell twice as expensive, aka we will be doing half as much for only minimal returns. And you can ONLY use white mana for it, not colorless or red, and we are already stretched pretty thin for colored mana in our deck since many mana rocks tap for colorless. Tablet of the Guilds this one is probably the most "ok" of the lifegain cards so far, unfortunately tho the artifacts in our deck are all good because we can tutor for them a lot. And there is little to no circumstances where I will be tutoring for Tablet of the Guilds instead of something like Paradox Engine or Sunforger , but as a budget option Tablet of the Guilds isnt totally horrible, just not good enough to make the cut. And lastly we have Tandem Tactics for 2 mana it does very little, most of our cards do something, and raw us a card, this card does something and gains us a bit of life. That little bit of life is almost never worth the loss in card draw. Since card draw is afterall, one of Boros main weaknesses.
You also need to consider what you would have to give up for the lifegain cards. You could choose to cut into the Sunforger tools, but then you have no protection, or way to interact with the enemies board state. If you choose to cut into the tutoring creatures/cards then we no longer have any consistency in our deck, and our win percentage drops drastically. And if you cut into our card draw then we are back to square one in Boros EDH where we no longer have enough cards to win the game or combo off. In the end tho it all comes down to how unnecessary it is. Aetherflux Reservoir is more than enough for us, and cards that are being used to to its job but worse, would be better spent helping it do its job safely. "There aint no kill like overkill" is a very false statement in MTG, overkill is expensive and unsafe.
Hope that explained it well enough :)
5 months ago
As I see it the only way you can win faster is to have another source of life gain so that you can pop Aetherflux Reservoir the moment it resolves. Cards like Soul Warden , Soul's Attendant , and Soul's Grace come to mind. Since you're running Soul's Fire we can consider Spirit Link and Spiritualize
And/or add Sentinel Tower to do the damage directly to the player as you play the spells (Or anyone's spells for that matter, this just turned into a huge deterrence for players to cast on your turn | okay i just ordered this card too)
7 months ago
Ajani's Mantra - Too slow. Way too little impact. We don't have triggers off life gaining a lot so we can replace this.
Rise of the Hobgoblins - We aren't really interested in the effect towards our gameplan. The first strike can be nice. But not the best thing we can be looking at.
Scourge of the Nobilis - We don't have anything that we really benefit from putting this on. Brion already has lifeling, and his sacrifice ability is based on the sacrificed creatures power so we don't want to pump him either. Then putting it on a creature we want to sacrifice is setting ourselves up to loose out on cards by 2 for 1nning ourselves. There are some other enchantments that we may play that recur themselves but we will come back to those later.
Searing Meditation - I really want to like this card but it seems rather low damage for mana investment keeping 2 up all the time. However if we end up with a lot of ways to gain lots of individual triggers. Then this could be worth it.
A couple of these are just upgrade them but keep the same idea. These ones are all effects that we want but probably not this exact version. And we might want more of them.
Others should probably just be replaced, maybe with more version of the above effect.
Pact of the Titan - The free 4/4 with flash is pretty good. But unlikely to win you the game with it. It effectively costs you 5 mana for it and because it doesn't have Haste it isn't winning you the game before you have to pay for it.
Soul's Grace - A card that only gains you life in one burst is usually not worth it. If it did something else too then maybe. But not just life gain.
Giant's Ire - Just isn't worth it really. It doesn't do enough for the mana.
Feudkiller's Verdict - While this effectively could be a 6 mana 5/5 that gains you 10 life on enter. Which isn't bad, it could still sometimes be stuck in hand unable to make the 5/5. So while this can be decent, It can be bad.
We can afford to cut 2 or 3. I usually recommend 36-7 with around 10 nonland mana sources. Because this runs a lot of big guys, we want to consistantly hit our mana so we want 37.
Armillary Sphere - This doesn't actually ramp us it helps us hit out land drops though which is a good thing. However there are a couple of other cards which do similar while being repeatable or having other effects that go with it
Paradise Plume - We want mana ramp, this is possibly just too slow though. Rocks that tap for 1 colour are usually 2 mana. Our 4 mana rocks tap for multiple mana usually.
2 years ago
Any ramp that's in Potential Cuts is with the thinking that you can find more efficient ramp spells in Green. And I'm not certain how to value equipment yet, so I'm looking at the ones that seem weakest.
Potential Includes:- Eternal Witness- Sun Titan- Stoneforge Mystic- Birds of Paradise- Bloom Tender- Sakura-Tribe Elder- Farseek- Rampant Growth- Cultivate- Llanowar Elves- Elvish Mystic- Fyndhorn Elves- Path to Exile- Swords to Plowshares- Tooth and Nail- Chromatic Lantern- Selesnya Signet
2 years ago
or the ever classic soul sisters
2 years ago
Ooh, how could I have forgotten Blessed Reversal, This one of those cards that is very useful against heavy aggro decks.
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