- 1x Birds of Paradise
- 1x Caustic Caterpillar
- 1x Creakwood Liege
- 1x Dark Confidant
- 1x Deathrite Shaman
- 1x Elves of Deep Shadow
- 1x Elvish Mystic
- 1x Eternal Witness
- 1x Fauna Shaman
- 1x Fleshbag Marauder
- 1x Fyndhorn Elves
- 1x Grim Haruspex
- 1x Liliana's Specter
- 1x Llanowar Elves
- 1x Manglehorn
- 1x Merciless Executioner
- 1x Mindslicer
- 1x Minister of Pain
- 1x Ophiomancer
- 1x Phyrexian Revoker
- 1x Reclamation Sage
- 1x Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1x Shriekmaw
- 1x Viridian Zealot
- 1x Ancient Tomb
- 1x Bayou
- 1x Bloodstained Mire
- 1x Bojuka Bog
- 1x City of Brass
- 1x Command Tower
- 6x Forest
- 1x Gaea's Cradle
- 1x High Market
- 1x Llanowar Wastes
- 1x Mana Confluence
- 1x Marsh Flats
- 1x Misty Rainforest
- 1x Overgrown Tomb
- 1x Phyrexian Tower
- 1x Polluted Delta
- 3x Swamp
- 1x Tainted Wood
- 1x Twilight Mire
- 1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- 1x Verdant Catacombs
- 1x Windswept Heath
- 1x Wooded Foothills
- 1x Woodland Cemetery
- 1x Abrupt Decay
- 1x Beast Within
- 1x Crop Rotation
- 1x Dismember
- 1x Entomb
- 1x Nature's Claim
- 1x Vampiric Tutor
- 1x Worldly Tutor
- 1x Birthing Pod
- 1x Chalice of the Void
- 1x Chrome Mox
- 1x Damping Matrix
- 1x Mana Crypt
- 1x Null Rod
- 1x Skullclamp
- 1x Sol Ring
- 1x Sphere of Resistance
- 1x Tangle Wire
- 1x Thorn of Amethyst
- 1x Trinisphere
- 1x Umezawa's Jitte
- 1x Winter Orb
+1 for the description, damn. i can see the blood, sweat, and beers put into this deck. have you considered adding a similar description to this site?
August 31, 2017 7:31 p.m.
I just read your primer. +1 for your level of detail (although my head hurts, even after skipping some portions).
Question for you. You mention Chains of Mephistopheles in your primer but I don't see it here, why is that?
Moreover, Blood Funnel seems pretty weak (although it might be powerful in this build and I just can't see it). What has your experience with this card been?
How do you deal with planeswalkers? You only have Beast Within and Maelstrom Pulse. Hero's Downfall or Never can help with that if you find that to be an issue (maybe people will play them more/less given the new legendary rule for planeswalkers).
September 1, 2017 1:21 a.m.
I plan to make a more elaborate "Primer" here, but it will take some time to get the writing finished and everything formatted. It probably won't happen for a few weeks yet, but keep an eye out!
The primer text is in need of a major update - a lot of it was written a few months ago, before many of the more recent changes. So, my apologies that some of the references may not be up-to-date with the actual decklist!
Chains of Mephistopheles is strong against the right lists, but not universally so - it can be a good situational pick in the right metagame and nothing does the same job better. However, an early Chains doesn't accelerate your board position and typically doesn't universally impair your opponents the same way an early Sphere of Resistance would. The lack of my inclusion doesn't mean you shouldn't play it, just that it might not be the best choice when approaching a new and unknown meta.
I haven't come across Blood Funnel that many times in testing but I have actually been quite impressed with it so far. The "downside" of sacrificing a creature is actually often helpful since the list tends to be a bit low on sacrifice outlets, and making noncreature spells 2cmc cheaper really puts you ahead in T3+ (letting you play multiple spells per turn when otherwise you couldn't). It's not a guaranteed include but so far I've been decently surprised with it... and as far as I know I'm the only person running it in a Meren list and it's a definite hidden gem, I encourage you to give it a shot.
I don't run Smokestack anymore, it is just too slow to keep up, even with acceleration ( CMC AND waiting a full turn before any payout is just not acceptable). And, I find I often don't have trouble feeding Contamination, so I prefer to devote slots to utility creatures rather than creatures that don't have much utility outside of feeding the engine (which doesn't actually get online that often anyway).
Re: Planeswalkers - first, they just aren't that common at competitive tables, so devoting slots solely to that problem is not all that necessary. Additionally, this list tends to have more creatures than others, so planeswalkers can often be dealt with simply by attacking them!
Grim Tutor and Yawg's Will are both sort of in the same boat - the effects are very powerful, but there are rarely turns where we are lacking something to do and can afford to spend CMC like this. It's possible one or both may get in here eventually (I tend to make rather large/sweeping changes as you've seen!), but right now I'm pretty pleased without them and don't know where in the turn-tempo they would smoothly slot in.
Re: Lands - hitting your colors in turns 1-4 is simply so important that any lands which tap for colorless mana MUST have exemplary and oft-used effects. I used to run both Port and Strip Mine, but (a) the lack of color production can literally lose you the game in an opening hand, (b) I didn't actually use their utility effects very often, and (c) using them on another player requires making sacrifices of your own - the rest of the table nets advantage while two people (including yourself) fall behind.
September 1, 2017 2:31 a.m.
Very detailed response. Please inform me when you have an updated primer. I would love to take another look at your deck with a fresh eye. Love the deck and thought process that goes into it
September 1, 2017 5:23 p.m.
How well do you find that Umezawa's Jitte works for you? I'm thinking about throwing it into my own Meren build, but I'm curious how your usage of it typically goes.
September 7, 2017 12:52 p.m.
On luck-of-the-draw I actually haven't seen Umezawa's Jitte all that often, but the times I have it's been very good and I've been impressed with it. It basically does everything we need:
In some sense it's the Cryptic Command of equipments and the versatility provided at such a cheap cost is what makes it so good. That said, it is not a card I will typically spend a tutor on (lockdown or the Living Plane combo is almost always the better find). Topdecked however, it is usually quite strong! I recommend giving it a try if you haven't already.
I've more or less migrated everything here, so go ahead and take a look! There are some sections I plan to add in the coming weeks, but the bulk of the material is now here.
September 7, 2017 2:58 p.m.
Could Ramunap Excavator or Life from the Loam be useful or are you looking to win before it would be relevant?
September 7, 2017 6:27 p.m.
September 7, 2017 6:54 p.m.
We don't really run any combos around Ramunap Excavator or Life from the Loam so we can't really max out their potential. Typically the creatures I'm trying to find room for are those that either accelerate us out of the gates (high-value mana dork), or offer some way to oppress our opponents more quickly/reliably (or in a new/different way). These do neither, so although I think they could be useful in a vacuum, I don't know how well they would actually help secure a win outside of some niche situations.
Good call on the Sylvan Safekeeper! It has been on my "Maybe's" list for a long time (though I didn't put it up here), but I haven't yet been convinced on it. It does protect Meren, but in many cases I'd rather her just die than sacrifice our own lands. Since we stall out the game pretty hard, opponents using removal (aka turns, under Winter Orb or the like) on Meren means (a) they aren't actively advancing their own win condition, and (b) we have more time to advance the rest of our boardstate. I'm hesitant to sacrifice lands to protect her since we operate quite well without her and lands are arguably even more important. Plus, with many mana dorks, stax effects, and tutorable Gaea's Cradle, we typically curve out faster than our opponents (we can't recast her indefinitely, but recasting her once or twice is much better than losing one or two lands and giving up the competitive edge).
Check out my section on "Win Conditions"! Minister of Pain combos with Living Plane for a powerful one-sided Armageddon. At other times, there are enough utility creatures running around (mana dorks, Dark Confidant, tokens, etc.) that he is still useful as a mini-boardwipe. I was unsure about the inclusion at first because -1/-1 seems subpar in theory. But in practice I have been surprised at his effectiveness, often tutoring him up even without the combo ready since the wipe is very useful. And, if the combo does land, that usually means it's Game Over.
Compare this to the popular Necrotic Ooze + Phyrexian Devourer + Triskelion combo that relies on cards with no real play value except the combo itself... they still see play despite being useless without the assembled trio! Minister of Pain is very useful on his own AND fits nicely with our combo, so he fits quite naturally in the list.
Viscera Seer is OK, but only once you have some sort of boardstate established. If we had a few extra slots then maybe it'd be here, not sure. But as it stands, I prefer to devote 1-cmc to mana dorks to accelerate hard, then 2-3 cmc to stax pieces to ensure our threat density is high enough to actually stop our opponents from winning immediately T3. Opening-hand Viscera Seer doesn't really do either of these for us!
September 7, 2017 9:56 p.m.
I'm new to stax, and somewhat new to EDH, please don't think my suggestion is dumb... But would Pestilence be an acceptable inclusion to this list?
September 7, 2017 10:42 p.m.
Well, you've convinced me to try out Jitte. I'll see how it works in my own playgroup!
September 7, 2017 11:36 p.m.
Not a dumb suggestion at all! In fact I used to run Pestilence in this very list, but found it was a little too slow for what I needed (my Changelog is one of the few things I haven't had a chance to add to the main post quite yet). Ultimately, Yahenni's Expertise ended up taking that slot - I found that a very efficient one-time wipe with a free spell tacked on was so much faster and more efficient than having the option to continuously wipe the board. Also consider that the first wipe for -3/-3 ultimately costs 7 mana on Pestilence! So, I don't run it anymore, but you might give it a shot to see if you have similar experiences to me (test it out against things like Yahenni's Expertise and Infest to see what gives you the best results).
Best of luck :)
September 8, 2017 12:45 a.m.
What about Cryptolith Rite? It turns all your creatures into rainbow dorks and is only two CMC. Also, why no Fatal Push or Tragic Slip? I would think that that would be very useful to this deck. Finally, what would you recommend about enemy Planeswalkers? My playgroup often uses them, and I'm only really seeing one possible answer to them.
September 8, 2017 9:27 a.m.
I recently cut Earthcraft which is, in most cases, a better Cryptolith Rite (Earthcraft effectively bypasses summoning sickness to all your creatures!). I've recently removed it, but I'm not sure yet whether I'll put it back. Two things I was considering at the time: (a) I run a lot more dorks than I used to, and for those creatures it offers no benefit since they already tap for mana; and (b) I was in need of additional fast spot removal. Earthcraft / Cryptolith Rite are very strong, just a bit slow, so I'm not sure yet on whether one will come back! I will make an update post if I do.
I'm running Dismember over Fatal Push and Tragic Slip for two reasons: (a) it's less restrictive on colors (usually we're tight on so conserving them where possible is helpful), and (b) a little more flexible on valid targets (permanents dying or leaving the battlefield can be restrictive, especially if trying to do this as a combat trick). These two are definitely in consideration! Just haven't decided whether I need more creature spot removal yet - my playgroup tends to run a lot of noncreature combo, so Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse, Beast Within, etc. are serving me well there. Don't forget that the board is typically wiped pretty clean between all the symmetric sacrifice effects (like Merciless Executioner) so spot removal is usually only needed for the most troublesome or worrisome creatures.
Re: Planeswalkers - I mention it in an above comment, but in short, combat damage. We keep field wiped pretty clean of enemy creatures so simply attacking into planeswalkers is the easy way to go and I've never found myself needing PW-specific removal. Planeswalkers are also pretty uncommon in CEDH in general so it's not something I pay a lot of specific attention to. If your opponent has planeswalkers and lots of defenders out, then something went wrong earlier in the game and that's where you should direct your attention/tuning (as opposed to putting in PW removal).
I only run ~8 ETB effects! There are lots of creatures but not many are actually triggered on ETB. Panharmonicon is fairly slow & high-CMC, but most of all, it relies on other cards to have any effect at all - which is a big risk to take when our goal is to take over the game by T3 (and therefore can't afford to draw any duds in opening hand). I think it might have a better place if we were running a lot of degenerate creature combos here, but for the same cost we could just cast 1-2 other spells and have a guaranteed immediate effect instead! So in summary, it's less what Panharmonicon can do for us, and more about what we have to give up for that card slot and 4 mana.
September 8, 2017 11:03 p.m.
Why no Damnation, or Dark Depths / Vampire Hexmage combo, or Sidisi, Undead Vizier? Also no Sylvan Tutor,Buried Alive, Corpse Connoisseur Traverse the Ulvenwald, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, Thief of BloodRune-Scarred Demon,The Abyss, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Earthcraft, Bane of Progress, Krosan Grip, Yawgmoth's Will...
Missing an alarming amount of meren staples and combos for a meren list.. :/
September 9, 2017 12:10 a.m.
Long story short, that's because this deck is alarmingly different from the herd and that is the whole reason I've gone about writing this primer :)
Virtually every other Meren primer is some blend of midrange / goodstuff with most of what you've listed. I've tested and tried out all of those options and I just don't think this is the strongest way to build her... it results in a slow and slogging list without much potential to tango with fast combo. But, Meren can be so much faster and more potent if you are willing to step out of the comfort zone of "normal" and try this list out!
In regards to the recommendations - most of those options are just not fast enough. Turns 1-4 are where CEDH games are largely set, and focusing on accelerating hard, locking down those turns, and transitioning reliably out of them, is what I've found to win games - much more than goodstuff. The "standard" Meren staples (Bane of Progress, Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, etc) are strong in theory but they just don't land quickly enough and you simply lose a lot of games because of it. Even The Abyss falls into this category - it hurt me to unsleeve it, but at this point the CEDH format and the rest of this list outpaces it so much that it's just not worth the 4cmc and long payoff period. Regarding Damnation specifically, it isn't there because Yahenni's Expertise is often the more efficient choice vs. the lists I see (i.e. Yisan swarm, etc).
Typical Meren lists are lucky to break an average 3.5 CMC, or 3.0 if they're lucky. Compare this to fast combo in CEDH which often hovers right around 2.0 or even lower - it's no wonder conventional Meren lists have a hard time keeping up! With the list in this Primer we're hovering right around 2.2, which means we're actually fast enough to keep pace with combo but still have the card quality and value engines to give us great control in the mid to late game.
It looks different because it is, I encourage you to give it a shot!
September 9, 2017 3:57 a.m.
So you're saying a turn 2 marit lage isnt fast? I play meren stax with the above cards as well as most of thia list, and my meren deck is very fast, not to mention, the creatures may be 5+ cmc but the entire point of meren is to cast them for FREE. Its very easy to get 9 loyalty counters before turn 9 and reanimate a sheoldred, damnation is 100x better than black sun, and you're missing the "fastest" combo in the deck.
Turn 1 Dark Depths
You say the cards are slow but meren has never cared about creature cmc since he gets them for free, and you're missing most of the "fast" combos
Stax isnt fast. The entire point of stax is group slug and slowing the game down by denying your opponents.
If you want to build him different thats fine, but i dont really see any wincon just removal and mana dorks, and what a primer is is a guide on how to play the deck as its intended, so running a "different" build automatically negates the point of a primer.
You can build it any way you want, but if you want to tag it as a primer it needs to be built the way it is supposed to, if the build isnt 100% optimal or maximized, calling it a primer is false advertising. So i would recommend changing the name because this is not even close to a primer :/
Build it strictly worse than its potential if you like, just don't advertise a primer if you dont understand how to use his ability, when you have 15 loyalty counters by like turn 6, reanimating a 1-3 cmc creature is extremely weak when you could be reanimating a Blightsteel Colossus or Sheoldred, Whispering One for free, but its a stax list, being fast is absolute lowest on your priority list.
Best of luck.
September 9, 2017 8:56 a.m.
I came here looking for ideas on my stax list, and the only one i found is Living Plane, for a budgetless primer thats relatively disappointing :/
September 9, 2017 9:23 a.m.
But if your meta is turn 2 combo based i guess i can see why they're too slow, i feel like you can easily get enough loyalty to cast the creatures for free before midgame, but you do have to make it that far in the first place, That much is True
Jeez my playgroup must be slow as hell if i can run those effectively than -.-
September 9, 2017 9:33 a.m.
Think you're going a little overboard here, I'm not trying to offend you if you play Meren differently, it just looks like there are a few things we disagree on is all.
This is a "Primer" specifically because no one else builds Meren this way, and thus it deserves some extended discussion on construction and play. The whole point of making this a Primer is to show why it is different than the norm - not to do more of the same! If I were running largely the same build as everyone else, there would be no reason to make a Primer, there are enough of those already for midrange Meren. But since this is more or less completely different, I've taken the time to explain and share it with everyone.
Beyond that, the best way to judge the list is via actual playtesting - I've played plenty of games with "standard" Meren and plenty with the list here. If you (or anyone else) is on the fence about which to pick, theorycrafting is not the way to go. Proxy & sleeve up both versions and see for yourself which you like better!
On Speed: Stax may not win quickly, but it must still be fast. You need to start locking the game at T2-T3, and then consistently be causing more oppression in the subsequent turns if you don't want your opponents to just play through it and win anyway. There isn't time to durdle around placing a bunch of counters on Meren and not locking the game - if you do this, someone will just win in the meantime. Consider even your Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths combo - in a 4 player game, that's a 6-turn clock at best to deal 120 damage - assuming no chump blockers, no exile removal, no bounce, etc. (and 6 turns is an eternity). So even though the combo "lands" quickly, even at its best it (a) doesn't actually win the game quickly, (b) doesn't accelerate your boardstate, and (c) doesn't lock the other players out. That's why I'm not playing it! In my meta, if you are not interacting, then there is almost a guaranteed combo win T2-T5 (unless there's an atypically unlucky draw). Such is the pace of CEDH combo and there is no room for 6+ cmc fatties in an opening hand if you want to remain relevant.
As to the rest, all I can say is that I think you should try the list before you criticize it how you have. I think you will find that it's much stronger and more oppressive than the "norm" you are referring to! Good luck!
September 9, 2017 1:12 p.m.
Thanks, and sorry if I was rude
Yea, I think i disagreed/misunderstood because of a different playgroup, I did get a bit ahead of myself there. I only have 2 or 3 opponents and its not always tier 1 games, and I am aware that stax needs to pull ahead before it can start group slug or it will suffer from it as much as the rest of the table
Thanks for the patience and logical explanations of your reasoning, ill use this as reference for upgrading my deck.
September 9, 2017 1:26 p.m.
September 9, 2017 4:24 p.m.
Thanks for the kind words Paladin_11111 :)
I used to run Smokestack, but took it out - I discuss it a bit in my "Individual Card Selections & Notable Exclusions" section under the "Stax" heading, but long story short waiting a full turn cycle for it to turn on PLUS costing 4 is what drove me away. I think if it cost 2-3 with the wait clause, or cost 4 but started immediately with a counter, it would probably be here, since it would be quick enough to really be running smoothly. I'm not totally convinced yet that cutting it was the right choice considering how much acceleration we have (so it can land T3 pretty regularly), but so far I haven't been missing it too much and it's made for a lot less clunky early hands!
...Fingers crossed they someday unban Braids, Cabal Minion (at least in the 99), since it's exactly what we'd want from Smokestack... starts working immediately (instead of waiting a full turn), very tutorable as a creature, and easily recycled with Meren!
September 9, 2017 4:55 p.m.
FireStorm4056 would you check my ATRAXA deck out? Peace.
September 9, 2017 6:34 p.m.
Winding Constrictor would be perfect in this deck
September 11, 2017 12:52 a.m.
I love stax and hate making friends!!I run a mono white stax hokuri deck so I'm def used to putting down my commander and people saying I don't wanna play against that.
September 13, 2017 7:13 p.m.
I will take a look! I do not really have experience building Atraxa however, so not sure how helpful I will be.
It does at first! However since we're running so lean, it turns out that we only need 2-3 counters anyway for Meren to "turn on" for us. Which means, she gets there pretty quickly anyway! So I think it might be a stronger advantage to focus that slot on ramp or lockdown.
Good luck my friend, if you like Hokori then I suspect you'll like this! Hope you enjoy it :)
September 15, 2017 12:46 p.m.
how come no Blood Artist, Black Market, Bontu the Glorified, Lotleth Troll, Spore Frog, Mesmeric Orb, Pox, Deadbridge Chant, Deathreap Ritual and Westvale Abbey Flip all of these are cheap and super strong in meren with the exception of 2 deadbridge and black market are both really good though.
September 15, 2017 7:48 p.m.
Of those, Pox is the one on my "Maybe's" list, and I'm seriously looking for a way to fit it in because it's just so good! As for the rest, they generally fall into the following categories:
Too slow and/or too expensive: Blood Artist (no combo in the deck, doesn't affect the battlefield at all), Black Market, Bontu the Glorified (tries to do too many things, but does none of them very well), Lotleth Troll, Deadbridge Chant, Deathreap Ritual
Re: Westvale Abbey Flip - colors are too important the first few turns, so we can't really afford any colorless lands unless their activation rate is extremely high or utility is essential to deck function. The distinction is NOT whether a land is good, but rather whether it's necessary to win. I've lost a lot of games being stuck on colorless lands that were "good" but only that.
September 15, 2017 8:47 p.m.
Hey FireStorm4056. I gotta say, I really appreciate the time and effort that has been put into this primer! It's so great to see a fresh, different approach to Meren (meaning not seeing the "typical" Lord of Extinction + Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord combo, Sheoldred, Whispering One etc....).
I was hoping that you would take a look at my Meren deck Graveyard Shenanigans (sorry, it doesn't want to link) and help me with thinning out the deck. It's extremely creature heavy, my thought process has been to control the board with creatures until I can set up a win with something unconventional like Dance of Shadows. I'm finding that it is entirely too slow, or I just can't slog through all the creatures to get what I want. I'd love your eyes on it, I feel like I have a fun different shell and want to figure out a way to make it work. I really liked your explanation on Minister of Pain. I had seen him in other builds, but had never thought about his one-sided use with Meren. I actually was just wrecked by a Yisan deck the other night, and really could have used the Minister to shut him down. He's exactly what I needed, and I didn't even know it.
For any suggestions you may have on my deck, please keep in mind that I'm on a budget. I do not currently have the funds for expensive shit.
September 16, 2017 3:59 p.m.
I concure with your thoughts on Blood Artist, Black Market and Bontu the Glorified. However, Spor Frog is and has been awesome in my list. It is something my table has to deal with and they do waste a lot of mana effort and turns getting rid of that little one green mana card. Eitherway I come out far ahead. I do agree that if they leave him be, they have potential to develope faster in the early game than I, but the rest of the game plan is either ramp or stax anyway right?
I am thrilled to see an alt wincon combo! Can Living Plane do work before you draw into / tutor Minister of Pain, or is it a dead card?
September 17, 2017 3:11 a.m.
I think the question with Spore Frog is: what is the problem we encounter that this seeks to solve, and is it worth spending our Meren triggers bringing this tool back over the alternatives? By spending resources recurring Spore Frog, it means we aren't utilizing a Reclamation Sage, Fleshbag Marauder, etc. so we should be sure it's the right choice.
Spore Frog seems to shine best as an anti-aggro strategy against a single aggro deck (since he can't protect you from multiple). The price paid is your Meren trigger each turn. If your meta is such that this gives you the space to win the game, I think there is nothing wrong with the choice - but keep in mind that Spore Frog doesn't deal with problems permanently and requires a continuous stream of resources (Meren triggers) to maintain. So, it is worth examining whether Spore Frog handles the problem better or worse than simply adding more removal (either that which is already in the list above, or alternatives like Infest, Drown in Sorrow, Fatal Push, Snuff Out, Go for the Throat, etc)
Yes! Living Plane has benefits outside of the combo. Off the top of my head:
September 20, 2017 1:30 a.m.
I run a more traditional mid range Meren. I've been torn on liliana Heretical healer. You yourself said you don't run that many sac outlets and I am concerned about the consistency of flipping her. How have you found this card?
September 20, 2017 10:10 p.m.
Liliana, Heretical Healer Flip is on my watch list and at or near the top of my potential options for being cut. From luck of the draw I unfortunately just haven't seen her that much in my games so my sample size with her is pretty small so far (hence my lack of a good, straightforward answer). She's objectively slower than I'd like, though I'm torn because of the strength of her flip side. However I'd say that she is one of the cards most likely to be cut in a future revision due to her tempo - just waiting on a few data points to confirm this. Good catch!
September 20, 2017 11:07 p.m.
Yeah, liliana, heretical Healer is SO close to being really really good.
Here are a couple cards I use in Meren that aren't on typical lists you might find interesting.
Helm of Possession - I fully understand that this card is not suited for CEDH, But i find it a very good utility card that is very underplayed.
Withering Boon - being able to counter a commander or important creature can come out of the blue and be very effective. This card has tension within the deck though because Meren doesn't typically like to leave mana open. You want to be curving out and spending all your mana on your turns to put pressure on the board, however I still find theupside worthwhile.
September 21, 2017 10:10 a.m.
Agreed! I will be testing Phyrexian Revoker in place of Lili #2 for now - I think this provides us with a powerful new tool to answer combo, and one which is easily tutored, casted, and recovered. Good suggestion!
September 22, 2017 1:22 a.m.
I just played 2 games with this deck against this one: Super Cascading Engine and lost both times, due to Ramos, Dragon Engine resolving and getting a massive buff from Maelstrom Archangel. Also, early game you lost many of your best creatures to Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver's +2. How would you counter that in this deck?
September 22, 2017 8:47 a.m.
In full disclosure I've never played against that list or one quite like it - but typically the crux of Meren's power is how you choose to mulligan and which lines of play you seek out in your first few turns. In other words, a generic "good hand" and luck of the draw will often not serve you well, as opposed to thinking very critically about your opponents' weaknesses and proactively seeking out the best ways to address their individual strategies.
For example, some games against certain lists I ignore all else and look for Null Rod ASAP, because the disproportionate advantage it provides vs. artifact combo / ramp (i.e. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter combo) is simply so strong that every other line of play is just not worth it in comparison. On the other hand, against something like Yisan, the Wanderer Bard it is usually crucial to find removal or a boardwipe as soon as possible. So, your opening hand / mulligans / early tutors should reflect the line of play you believe is most likely to win you the game (again, a generic "good" hand will usually be the incorrect choice - it needs to be "good" for the specific matchup)
Initial impressions looking at the Ramos list:
In summary, we are much faster than this list and it at least appears to me that bogging him down in the opening turns of the game would give us plenty of time to setup a lock or establish fantastic board advantage.
Was this a 1v1 game or multiplayer? If multiplayer, did the rest of the table not use any removal?
September 22, 2017 1:03 p.m.
Thank you for your detailed response! I probably didn't pilot this deck as well as I should have, so I'm going to blame the first two losses on that :) I was playing a 1v1 game against the deck, and since then I've played again, netting a solid few wins following your advice. I had managed to get the Living Plane + Minister of Pain combo out and the games ended fairly quickly after that, for all intents and purposes. The last part of this is a question regarding the new Sorcerous Spyglass out. Would you consider that over Pithing Needle or no? I personally like the hand peek built in, but the needle is a possible T1. What would you say?
September 26, 2017 5:27 p.m.
Welcome back! Glad to hear you've been having some success with it!! :)
Re: Sorcerous Spyglass vs. Pithing Needle - Full disclosure, I have no experience yet with the Spyglass yet, so I can only offer some theorycrafting on how to choose between the two... hopefully it is helpful!
In my mind, it all comes down to how much information you have vs. how much information you need. If you have the information you need, Needle is better; if you don't, Spyglass is better.
September 27, 2017 12:02 a.m.
Deckbuilding and Playing1) What does slot selection look like for tutors vs. draw utility?2) What are your per turn aims for your game, e.g. on turn 1 I try to do this, and on turn 2 this, and on turn 3 this...?
September 29, 2017 11:51 a.m.
Firestorm4056 I really like what you have done here with your decklist to make Meren Stacks competitive. I run a much more casual version of Meren Stacks which is here http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/plunder-the-graves-upgrade-30-stax/ I am finding that in my meta most players just build their boardstate until around turn 5-8 which is when things really start happening however there are some competitive players that are now running some crazy turn 3-4 mill combo decks that will obliterate a player's library and take them out of the game early, as well as a couple tron decks that are now doing turn 4 and 5 kills...so my question is how can I speed this deck up? I love the flavor of Meren and would like to take her more zombie themed but I have already invested almost $600 in this deck and don't want to have to start over to be more competitive. I would however like to make some changes to speed things up as it takes a while for this deck to really get going.
October 13, 2017 12:24 a.m.
Not to worry! There are a lot of ways to speed things up. Looking at your list, here are a few things that I recommend:
This is something I plan to address, but haven't had the time to write up quite yet. Some of the answers you're looking for are in the replies I've made in the comments - I will add a section like this soon enough.
October 13, 2017 3:45 a.m.
Thank you for such a detailed description as well as the speed of your reply.... There are some things in here I will surely play test with thanks to your suggestions. As far as how opponents are setting up mill so fast is a very interesting and frighteningly consistent design. The key pieces they are using are all about making a ton of mana and throwing it into cards like Mind Grind, and Increasing Confusion while supporting them with other cards like Brain Freeze, Traumatize, Mind Funeral, Mind Sculpt, and a bunch of Tutors and graveyard recursion for these spells. Setup usually has some sort of mana ramp such as Cabal Coffers + Crypt Ghast + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or can use some basic mana rocks like Gilded Lotus, Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Thran Dynamo. By roughly turn 4 or 5 these decks are producing around 8-10 mana....and 10 mana thrown into a Mind Grind is a bad day. Most of the time they don't even worry about getting their commanders out but I have seem use of Dralnu, Lich Lord, and Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker in the most potent versions. These reasons are why I have Bitter Ordeal currently as nothing kills combo faster than removing it's pieces. Once I slow them down its a better fight but still one I haven't been able to win. I really like your idea of Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst for this situation. I had thought about the thorn before but when the time came I put in tanglewire instead. Your comments have gave me a lot to think about as well as to playtest with and for that I have to say thank you. I will have to keep you informed on my changes and how well they fare!
October 13, 2017 6:09 a.m.
A faster clock should help solve a lot of your problems! And based on what you said, I think you'll be well on your way to outpacing them per the suggestions above.
Spell-based mill like this usually falls flat without big mana, and big mana is usually very weak to one-off targeted removal (because it leans on mana doublers, big mana rocks, etc). A few well-placed removal spells (Nature's Claim, Abrupt Decay) paired with Null Rod and Phyrexian Revoker (naming a key mana-producing piece so they can't tap for mana) could really put them off their game. These kind of decks usually rely on momentum to win so if you can crush a key piece of the plan, it should put you in good waters. Looking at the example you gave - Crypt Ghast + Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth are fantastic if they can all be assembled together, but that usually requires a number of turns and a lot of investment (tutors) on your opponent's part. Then, if you can snipe the Crypt Ghast with a single 1-cmc Dismember, that really shuts down a huge part of their mana production (CC + Urborg alone don't make huge mana until the land counts get higher)
Personally I think that if you can get your speed/tempo up and increase your density of targeted removal, you will solve a lot of problems before they actually become problems. So, you don't have to deal with the Mind Grind directly - you can just gut their ramp strategy to make the Mind Grind a non-viable play in the first place.
Since it's easy to miss, note that Null Rod completely shuts off mana rocks, because they have "Tap" as an activation cost. So landing a fast Null Rod can totally blow out entire mana ramp strategies. I spend my first fast tutor on Null Rod in probably 30-50% of my games just because it's so strong at shutting down artifact-based ramp and combo. Then, if you can land a Winter Orb shortly thereafter (with mana dorks on the board), you're well on your way to locking everything down.
Keep us updated on how things go!
October 13, 2017 4:35 p.m.
So to give you an update I did run a small 3 way game tonight with some changes done to my Meren deck against Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith and Phenax, God of Deception It came down to what I feel was a bad call where Nazahn was equipted with a bunch of equipment at the same time and I missed being able to activate my Icy Manipulator to keep it from attacking for 22 points of commander damage with Myriad which won the game. The person playing it had equipped Swiftfoot Boots as part of it's equiptment along with 4 other pieces of equiptment at the same time so it had Shroud and I couldn't tap it. Normally I would have been able to tap it in response to the equipment being equipped but due to a timing snafu and how the payer equipped everything at once I just let it go but I gotta admint I'm a little salty about it..Phenax on the other hand was completely shut out and was just collecting mana and watching the battle between me and Nazahn. The deck definately plays a lot different than it use to with the changes I made however I am still missing some of the key pieces I want to have in it to make it really speed up. I didn't get a single mana dork as a drop or Cryptolith Rite and found that the biggest amount of damage I was doing was by using Entomb + Eternal Witness + Phyrexian Altar and was constantly pulling things into my graveyard to pull them back with Meren. I was constantly running some sort of - counters to kill indestructible creatures this way which kept things at a stalemate for roughly 4 hours...for 1 match..I was just getting things really under control and could have pulled ahead within the next few rounds as I started cycling Army of the Damned + Dictate of Erebos + Phyrexian Altar and was keeping the board whiped clean...In fact I was going to tron myslef with Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger who was in my graveyard and would have been put into the battlefield on my next turn. Instead of being a tool about it though I just told the other player that next time they equip a bunch of things all a once they should instead equip them one at a time and ask if they resolve or if there are responses at each stage as a courtesy. But anyhow that was tonight's showing and I will have to continue with the changes and let you know how it evolves....I gotta say though it still seems a little clunky to me...and like it's always fighting from behind against faster decks...but maybe its just that I'm not playing it right or that it just needs more streamlining from where it is now...Here is the current list. http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/plunder-the-graves-upgrade-30-stax/
October 14, 2017 4:59 a.m.
It will probably take some time to find the right balance. For what it's worth, looking at my (offline) changelog my current Meren decklist is on its 30th iteration. Some of those changes were small (a card or two) and some were large (10-15+ cards), but in stax/control it's all about how they work together and it can take some time to get the recipe right!
Re: Icy Manipulator - it's always seemed a little expensive up-front to me. Do you usually use it against creatures? What about something like Meekstone or Ensnaring Bridge instead? Unfortunately Bridge is creeping up in price (hopefully it will be reprinted in the next Masters set). Meekstone doesn't stop attacks but dropping one at the right time (creatures already tapped) can be great for protecting you until you can solve / lock out the board, then destroy it yourself and swing in for the win. Alternatively there are more removal options like Lignify which solve Commanders extremely well (effectively removal which doesn't even let them be recasted)
Also, keep in mind that there are just some games you can't do anything about - so always try to get a few games in before you draw any major conclusions. For example, if you don't see mana dorks in a single game, it may just be luck of the draw - but if you're consistently not seeing them early enough across many games, chances are you might need to up your dork count to hit the consistency you're looking for.
October 14, 2017 5:35 p.m.
I agree that this iteration I am currently playing is going to take a little bit to get use to as it plays quite different. I also agree that luck of the draw and different match-ups will play quite differently from time to time and it is just going to take me a little bit to get use to this variant. It is however playing better and I see a potential in it that is quite exciting. I am going to make a few more changes by adding in a few more mana dorks to get better odds of setting up that mana base early. As far as Icy Manipulator I have found it quite invaluable. Especially if you get it to combo off as in Icy Manipulator + Winter Orb Tapping your own Winter orb with it on your opponents end step right before your turn is completely devastating to them as it tempos the rest of the playing field except for you. Icy Manipulator + Winter Orb was always a big thing back in the day when I was playing 4th edition but I guess it went away for a while...with the version of winter orb in eternal masters however it's text as well as it's oracle text on the gatherer says "As long as Winter Orb is untapped, players can't untap more than one land during their untap steps." and they even use an example of tapping it with Glare of Subdual so it must be legal again.
October 20, 2017 12:02 a.m.
November 4, 2017 5:11 p.m.
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|Date added||6 months|
|Last updated||1 month|
This deck is Commander / EDH legal.
|Tokens||3/3 Beast, 1/1 Worm, Experience|
|Folders||cEDH, EDH, Helpful Decks, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, maybe edhs, Commander Ideas, EDH, cEDH deck refs, Competitive EDH , Intresse, See all 34|
|Top rank||#1 on 2017-09-16|