My first crack at Commander / EDH after requests from a friend to build an EDH deck. I am going up against some very skilled MTG players and really need some help with this.
Cards that would be useful that I am considering OR do not own (and want to use but are too $$ expensive) are in the maybeboard. I don't own that many Bant cards.
Definitely needs work and every comment helps!!
Before I offer advice, I need a bit of information.
If you had to quantify your working budget, how much would you say you are willing to spend on this deck? How easy is it for you to trade for what you need?
What is the goal of the deck? Do you want a champion approach (victory through general damage) or more of a combo-control deck (which I consider to be more stable and powerful, but which also tends to cost a bit more)? Either approach is doable, so let me know which you prefer (it seems that you are going for a champion deck).
Are there any special conditions for this deck (I.e. house rules, personal preferences, etc.) that prevent you from including certain cards or using certain strategies? For example, infinite combos are eschewed by some groups and necessary for survival in others.
Right now, your deck seems a bit unfocused. Rafiq is a general which will probably get you a lot of attention from any playgroup, so you need to have a solid gameplan.
Your idea of 'defend until you can alpha strike' certainly seems like a doable strategy for Rafiq, but I think you need to go through and omit anything that doesn't build towards that plan. Also, I would go way up on the evasion so that Rafiq will be able to get through.
Some defensive cards I like:
Dueling Grounds - seems amazing with Rafiq!
1 - I would like to try and keep the budget to a minimum, if possible. I do actually have quite a large library of cards - I got divorced last year and spent way too much money acquiring different cards of sorts - so feel free to mention anything you think could be extremely useful to Rafiq. I own a lot of cards from Zendikar block onwards. I can manage costs for cards that aren't too high, but getting to $$ cards like Strip Mine , Wasteland , Land Tax , Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Doubling Season are a bit high for me. Just mention anything you feel is important, and let me know if there are any cheaper alternative cards.
2 - As for acquiring cards, there are a couple sites I typically order cards from, so acquisition usually isn't an issue. I have, however, had a lot of difficulty obtaining a card:Sensei's Divining Top, which I know would be useful. I really need to learn the trade system on this site one of these days...
3 - The goal of the deck is "defensive aggro," which sounds contradictory but is kind of consistent with an Exalted theme. I want to be able to hit hard but also not stick my neck out too far. This is while I am building up with mana ramp, card draw, and efficient creature cards for powerful board positioning, so that I can land a decisive strike at the most optimal moment and not be left exposed. If there are cards that synergize well with Rafiq and cater do a different strategy, however, feel free to mention them as well... I am not locked into a defensive aggro strat, it's just what I usually play.
I wanted to use blue and green as support colours, and exploit them for their most prominent features - land ramping/powerful creatures, and card draw/card control/counterspells. I may be trying to cram too much in to the deck by doing this.
4 - I am fine with either a champion or control/combo approach to the deck. I don't think I would try a champion approach because starting at 4 mana, he is not an ideal card that I would have to keep re-casting if I lost him. I have often felt compelled to change my Commander to Captain Sisay for utility purposes for this very reason, but haven't yet.
5 - There are no restrictions that I know of for infinite combos. I'm prepared to expect the worst. My meta in Kelowna, Canada is lots of wealthy people who have a large card knowledge and play extremely well. FNM's are much like playing at a pro tour where you play against the most expensive cards in Standard and Legacy, and the combined aura of arrogance at all of them is generally why none of my decks have any FNM stats.
Oh wow, those are all extremely good suggestions lol. Thank you for considering tactics that compliment Rafiq's abilities and the deck's aims. I know that it definitely does seem unfocused, I was just trying to fill it with versatile G/W/U staples to start.
I definitely want to include Ghostly Prison and Propaganda , possibly even card:Norn's Annex as well. I'm not sure how I missed Ghostly Prison XD. Crackdown and Dueling Grounds are awesome and there are other similar cards (i.e. Angelic Arbiter , Silent Arbiter , etc) but I worry that the global effects might draw too much attention in multiplayer. The same goes for Peacekeeper .
I really like the abilities of Ghostly Prison and Propaganda . Maybe a defensive deck would be best. I'm not sure how best to focus and coordinate this deck, but it seems that exalted cards (which was consistent with the Bant theme in Alara and Ravnica), added with some brutal colourless cards like Wurmcoil Engine , Batterskull and Steel Hellkite may be the way to go creature-wise.
My only concerns are running into an opponent's Moat or Magus of the Moat that I can't remove, a Kaalia of the Vast that dumps an Iona, Shield of Emeria on me t4, or some type of graveyard, mill or control strategy that hoses my deck and shuts it down.
Based on your analysis of your opposition, I would take the combo-control approach. However, based on your analysis of your financial situation, that may not be the best for you. Be aware that Bant is possibly one of the two best combo-control color bases possible in EDH (the other being BUG, which I play).
The defensive aggro theme is interesting (it's not the first time I've heard or seen the concept being attempted), but I'm not sure your board really caters to it. It looks like you're playing a few fatties and all of them want in on the attack step.
Would you like me to list all of the EDH-playable cards I know in Bant or limit the selection to your deck's theme?
Sure! I'm really open to whatever strategy and set of cards you feel would be most effective for Bant. Don't worry too much about $$, that can be worked out or worked around later. Just list ideal EDH-playable Bant cards and whatever changes you would make to the deck to support Rafiq. All that is really here right now are quick-glance cards that were selected for card advantage or combat purposes. I have no experience in EDH or what to expect, so I really am grateful for all of your help lol.
I know that at least three of the commanders i'll be up against in the playgroup are Kaalia of the Vast , Omnath, Locus of Mana and The Mimeoplasm . The only card I may know what to expect from is Kaalia because I am familiar with many angel, demon and dragon creatures.
Be warned that some of these are a bit pricey. Also, a lot of them are pieces to combo-control strategies.
Creatures: Silent Arbiter , Primeval Titan , Consecrated Sphinx , Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger + Palinchron (infinite mana), Aven Mindcensor (goodbye tutors), Seedborn Muse , Venser, Shaper Savant , Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir , Karmic Guide + Reveillark , Snapcaster Mage
Instants/Sorceries: Tooth and Nail , Enlightened Tutor , Idyllic Tutor , Worldly Tutor , Chord of Calling , card:Green Sun's Zenith , Natural Order , Path to Exile , card:Blue Sun's Zenith, Capsize , Bant Charm , Krosan Grip , Counterspell , Mindbreak Trap , Pact of Negation
Artifacts/Enchantments: Rhystic Study , Sol Ring , Thran Dynamo , Coalition Relic , Gilded Lotus , Prison Term , Survival of the Fittest , Leyline of Anticipation , Vedalken Orrery , card:Sensei's Divining Top, Burgeoning
Cards I would not include:
That's what I can think of off the top of my head. I will post more as I remember them.
It seems like the meta is highly general-centric. All of the ones you listed are legends that you build around, and tend to make their living in the red zone.
I would probably go with a nullification theme. I'd devote at least 15-20 cards to this. A remove/steal/hobble package is what I'm thinking.
Removal you have:
Swords to Plowshares - pretty solid staple, but doesn't do a lot more than delay
Beast Within - same but also gives them a 3/3 body
Intrepid Hero - seems really strong, and has the benefit of repeatability
Phyrexian Metamorph - kills generals just fine (except Mimeoplasm most of the time) and can copy a sweet artifact if need be
Clone - half as good as above
Oblivion Ring - nice, easily recurrable as well
Removal that would help:
Proteus Staff - serves as a nice anti-attack-you rattlesnake, lets you tuck problem generals, gets value out of your own creatures, etc..
Void Stalker - solid
Shapesharer - also rattlesnakes, can copy anything if need be, and can remove generals with incidental shapeshifters if you're lucky
Archon of Justice - same themes as above - note: Kaalia hates this guy
Steal you have:
Debt of Loyalty - this is a very interesting card, but seems a bit too situational
Steal that would help:
Beguiler of Wills - repeatable, incremental, and they don't get anything back by killing this
Thalakos Deceiver - very threatening card, and ideal for playing politics
Empress Galina - talk about targeted theft!
Take Possession - pricy, but split second is good
Memnarch - you definitely want big mana ith this guy, but then it becomes overwhelming
Hobble you have:
Snakeform - meh, might as well play a kill spell
Hobble that would help:
Equilibrium - repeatable bouncing, particularly if you get some flash stuff
Venser, Shaper Savant - pseudo counterspell or bounce tech
Capsize - save your mana, and you'll be strong
Ixidron - pseudo wrath in blue
Azorius Guildmage - very versatile
Lignify - hilarious, and makes their general a non-attacker
Wash Out - pick a color as needed
Vodalian Illusionist - Instant speed phasing is good - especially against Omnath
Soul Sculptor - I just picked a few of these up and I'm excited about the possibilities
The commander vows in your colors - i.e. Vow of Wildness - these keep generals away from you and hurt your opponents
Alright, I just threw a ton of stuff at you. That seems like enough for now.. lol
Hey guys, sorry for no reply for a few days, been very busy with some term papers.
I looked over every single card you both mentioned and placed a large order - everything included in the deck now is something that I can use.
So right now it looks like the list just needs to be narrowed down. Any suggestions? Thanks again for all of your help
Oh and forgot to mention, I did look up every card that you both mentioned when ordering, but many cards were unavailable on the two sites that I use / too expensive. I am also just realizing now that I forgot to order a few, like card:Akroma's Memorial and card:Eladamri's Call... sigh.