Najeela's Hulk Pod Project (cEDH Primer)

Commander / EDH Winterblast

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Commander Change: Najeela > Ramos —June 4, 2018

With Battlebond I’ve decided to exchange Ramos for Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. The reasons for this change are already given in the deck description and people who have known the deck before will understand that Ramos was just the best available commander until now but didn’t actually do much for the strategy itself other than bashing people on a staxed out table if nothing else worked anymore.

With Najeela the deck needs only a few changes, most of which are irrelevant to how the deck plays but which are important to enable the backup combat combos with the commander. One change is to replace Deceiver Exarch with Derevi, Empyrial Tactician so that the cmc 3 slot for Pod also acts as a combo piece for Najeela. Priest of Titania is cut for Bloom Tender because that’s another enabler for Najeela. Finally, Druids' Repository is added because it’s a combo with the commander and also useful to bypass nonbasic hate such as blood moon or b2b.

What I’m currently testing is Mindblade Render, Tymna the Weaver, Azra Oddsmaker and Skullclamp. This would replace the Notion Thief/3 wheels package, which is also a draw engine but not part of the deck’s core. The argument for keeping thief/wheels is obvious – we’ve got red for all 3 good wheels anyway and who doesn’t want to have 28 cards? – but on the other hand it feels more like yet another combo in the deck instead of being reliable and unconditional draw that works towards the actual goal of the deck (which is already a layered combo of pod, hulk and razaketh and the commander as a backup). So, the argument for the exchange is that Mindblade Render and Azra Oddsmaker are warriors, which means they produce tokens with Najeela and Tymna the Weaver and Skullclamp profit from these tokens.

What I’m not yet sure of is what the reasonable cuts besides the thief/wheel package would be. Without thief there needs to be another cmc 4 creature as alternative target for pod, to ensure that pod can go up to 5 (where the reanimators are) even if Felidar is not in the library for some reason. Adding that creature requires another slot that needs to be freed besides thief/3 wheels. This could be Faithless Looting for example but I might run short of options for discarding when needed. In my paper deck I still have Bazaar of Baghdad (haven’t switched to Najeela yet and it’s in the slot for druid’s repository) and I might just keep it there to have that uncounterable discard outlet. The cut could also be Qasali Pridemage since the 3 additional creatures would also be starting points for the pod combo and with Spellseeker in the deck I have one more tutor to possibly find removal for stuff that stops my plans. Qasali would be a fetchable removal for Torpor Orb, which is a piece that I can’t remove with a resolved Hulk trigger (unlike Cursed Totem, see deck description)…so that’s that. Actually, it could be anything that isn’t a vital part for the combo lines or a staple tutor/draw/removal. The other question is what the cmc 4 creature instead of thief should be. It could be another hatebear, most likely Linvala, Keeper of Silence or another piece that fits in the already existing combo lines, such as Body Snatcher or Academy Rector. Rector would probably require Pattern of Rebirth to be added as well, so there we are again at stuffing too much into one deck…

If you have some ideas for the cmc 4 creature or opinions on the proposed thief/wheel cut in general, please leave a comment! Help with finding cuttable slots is appreciated – please keep in mind what the core of the deck is though.

Btw, I’ve started goldfishing with the new commander and after around 30 tests the average kill is on turn 3.15 which I think is reasonably fast for an adaptive combo deck like this. In practice I could only grab a few games with the new commander but the first impression is that I play Najeela more often than Ramos (obviously) and that the backup combo is a real plan. I didn’t need it in most games but I’ve managed to pull it off at least twice so far. Derevi is the big offender there.

As a frame of reference, what turn do you usually win buy? And is there anything that you would recommend for people making budget versions of this deck to keep it competitive?

February 24, 2018 11:10 p.m.

Winterblast says... #2

Chainsawbear in goldfished games it's turn 2-5,depending on how aggressive the opening hand is. The fastest way is of course to tutor for Flash and hulk, but often you would rather drop some hate pieces and then go for buried alive/entomb or the birthing pod combo. In stax/control matchups I find myself using JVP more, even Ramos to set up a winning turn with lots of mana...that's usually when notion thief plays a role.

As for budget, you could probably cut some of the more expensive lands. You could cut the turbo thief approach and throw out twister and wheel and replace that all with brainstorm, ponder, preordain...I don't do much top sorting, mostly tutor, draw/discard and wheel but on a budget I wouldn't recommend that. You might not be able to play razaketh with LED either, that's also an expensive one.

February 25, 2018 4:10 a.m.

Kiyomei says... #3

For just those few red lines I still feel like the "Relic Seeker Raza Hulk" is way more consistent as you really don't need to add redundancies with red that just slow you down and focus more on winning the game when someone already won before you did...

Don't really think this commander adds what is necessary really for 5c hulk but can serve as a good test until something actually good comes out.

May 27, 2018 10:55 a.m.

Winterblast says... #4

It's not "a few red lines" but the overlapping pieces of an instant speed kill (flash or necromancy hulk) and a grindy pod game that turns random hatebears into the very same combo. Now with a commander that uses pieces that are already there for possible infinite combat phases...it has to be noted that this alternative bypasses the weaknesses of the main plan.

I mean if you want to play with 4c there are plenty of different strategies, but in 5c you want to use the 5th color and the overlapping pod and hulk lines are the most reasonable way to make good use of having all colours. I'm also rather fond of Meltdown, which blows out quite a few decks I'm frequently facing (arcum, teferi for example...artifact heavy stuff) and gets rid of all the hate that stops me at once.

In my meta chances are high that games end up being a staxy puzzle and the different ways of using the same key cards for winning have helped me a lot so far. I see what you mean with redundancy but the thing is it doesn't take dead slots to add the redundancy here with all colours. It's basically trading a more secure post-hulk-death line (like anything involving grand abolisher would be) for a better adaptability and resilience in turns 3+.

May 27, 2018 11:35 a.m.

Kiyomei says... #5

then it is definitely aiming for the end of mid to late game more so than other hulk decks plan to do which is fine! Just seems like a lot of hoops to go through to get where you want to be without really too much protection (very disruptable and very all in late game), to be honest...

But yeah in your meta it might be better to aim for that with all the staxy decks

May 27, 2018 1:34 p.m.

Winterblast says... #6

Kiyomei I wouldn't say it's aiming at the mid/late game at all, just that it gets stronger there compared to hulk decks that try to go all in with early game kill attempts. Since xmage has already implemented Battlebond I've tried my new commander in a few games and had one t2 hulk kill and 2 other wins with birthing pod. I've started to take notes on my game results a while ago and I want to calculate my average win turn in practice when I've got some more data...I'm pretty sure that I've got some t2 and t3 noted there but on average it's probably between 4 and 7 I guess. In goldfished games it's more between 2 and 4 but that's obviously without interaction.

I've even thought about adding a grand abolisher line (would even be possible with spellseeker for reanimate, abolsiher, sac outlet - the place of abolisher would now take gilded drake or leonin relic warder in anti-totem/linvala-lines) to the deck because it's appealing that people can't do anything after the first hulk search. However, it would again take one slot and I haven't seen much reactions to a resolved flash or necromancy in practice. Most often the attempts are stopped before hulk eters play and dies, not afterwards. Abolisher is a bit hard to cast with WW but would be also a starting point for the pod combo...it could be included if you feel like you need it. it's definitely not that important here compared to builds that blow out their whole library in the kill attempt because I won't die to my own gameplan if I get stopped. My only problem then is that someone else might win before I can reload and try again but at least I'm not in such a vulnerable spot as a milled breakfast hulk deck that has been faerie macabred. If these decks didn't have the post-hulk-protection they would not be worth the risk.

May 28, 2018 7:28 a.m.

Kiyomei says... #7

wouldn't really agree with stronger right now but sure... as early as it is without any real playtesting apart from you (Like try goldfish 100 games and write down the turn you would win on honestly) and even then it will still be pretty good at "tier 2" if you believe in fiction.

Memory's journey and timetwister battle very well with faerie macabre in actual hulk decks. But yeah if your hulk line is open after you have let it die you are at a pretty bad spot to still eat something you normally wouldn't with abolisher so deffo try that out!

Not trying to bash your ideas at all, just challenging you to take it perhaps a step further :)

May 28, 2018 12:06 p.m.

Winterblast says... #8

What I meant is that it's not that important to protect the hulk lines if the combo doesn't get you in a spot where you would lose if people prevent your next few actions. Like, if my hulk line gets stopped, I don't need to get cards back in my library again to avoid losing, so dedicating slots to make the post-flash game 100% safe is a sort of waste here.

The deck isn't new btw, I've played it since the Hulk unbanning first with Sliver Queen, then with Ramos and now the only change is that the Commander actively helps the deck. So, there's no lack of actual playtesting on my side, even had the chance to take it to 2nd place in a tournament last year. What needs to be tested now is how and when to use the commander and if the cards I use for the alternative win are working as planned. That's something I obviously didn't have the chance to explore in the 3 or 4 games I managed to play yesterday.

Btw, if you want to watch us play, my playgroup is trying to set up a stream of our edh evening on Wednesday...I just don't know yet where it can be watched then

May 28, 2018 1:06 p.m.

Kiyomei says... #9

well second doesn't mean anything, it still needs very strong statistics and an overall good performance with a proper playgroup (which is unknown to us for now :) ) and highly doubt they are all CEDH players playing 100% optimized decks, But anyhow still pretty sure it needs a good ton of playtesting before anything certain can be said. would deffo love to see it in action if the group is somewhat on a proper level :)

Just don't take tier list serious as it's all personal opinion and nothing more really. keep up the great work and keep me updated on the stream if you can!

May 28, 2018 2:23 p.m.

Winterblast says... #10

We usually have at least 3 competitive decks at a table, occasionally a troll or meme deck if someone feels like it or maybe we have someone visiting who isn't fully competitive...our core group currently has a few decks per person and the ones I face most often are Teferi, Arcum, Thrasios/Tymna Scepter+Bomberman, Gitrog and BUG Sidisi. But it's important to test against rogue decks too...in that most recent online torunament there must have been 3 Godos and a Jodah deck has won the final round, lol.

May 28, 2018 3:35 p.m.

TzickyT says... #11

would love to see a more budget version of the deck if that would be possible. otherwise nice solid deck u have here

May 29, 2018 6:05 a.m.

Winterblast says... #12

TzickyT the 5 colour manabase is what is expensive here. If you replace all duals with shocks you save several hundred bucks. Another cut would be the notion thief/3 wheels package if you want to leave out timetwister.

May 29, 2018 6:23 a.m.

TzickyT says... #13

for me the mox and the lions eye are the worst cards in my opinion that i have to deal whit stil i could change one of them int o a lotus petal but the other one i wouldn't even know what ot change it to

also as u said a timetwister is also not in my bucket list to get the rest i already have tbh

May 29, 2018 6:57 a.m.

Winterblast says... #14

You can probably leave them out completely. I'm missing Elvish Mystic in my list, so you could add that one instead. Just note that LED opens up a lot of mana efficient options for Razaketh. Without LED you can still play him but he's going to be a lot weaker especially in situations when you are short on mana and creatures...I would exchange Razaketh with Jin-Gitaxias then. Loyal Retainers also isn't that important if Razaketh isn't that strong anymore, so you could cut them too.

May 29, 2018 7:17 a.m.

TzickyT says... #15

am building my version of the deck poorly enough these are the cards i am kicking out of the deck

  • Dark Confidant
  • Chrome Mox
  • Lion's Eye Diamond
  • Mox Diamond
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Timetwister
  • Mana Drain
  • Imperial Seal

becous i don't have the money for them what would u suggest to change them into ( my budget is lesser then 100 dollar a card basicly)

May 31, 2018 1:38 p.m.

Winterblast says... #16

I'm getting back to you on discord, real time chat is easier for that.

May 31, 2018 3:26 p.m.

GregariousG says... #17

Great deck, first of all. I ended up making the switch to Najeela from Ramos as well for my 5 color Kiki-chord deck. Najeela provides plenty of utility and Ramos costs to much. However, did you remove Tymna the Weaver? I would think that Najeela and Tymna had excellent synergy. Is there a particular reason why she was removed? Have a good one.

June 1, 2018 12:15 p.m.

Winterblast says... #18

GregariousG Yeah I have removed Tymna but that was already before Najeela was spoiled. My issue with her was that she didn't often felt like the best play when she just comes up randomly with the draws. She might be better now with the new commander though.

Another problem I have is that being able to damage multiple opponents is often not possible because it's often one player that has no defense, two at best and one or two have creatures you just can't get past. Maybe the warrior tokens solve that issue because I wouldn't care about losing these as long as one gets past blockers.

June 1, 2018 12:34 p.m.