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The Golgari are kind of on Bolas's side at the moment. Vraska had been hired by Bolas to find the Eternal Sun on Ixalan in exchange for Bolas helping her become the leader of the Golgari. However, through the story Vraska and Jace became friends. At the end, Bolas's plan is discovered and Vraska was really upset that she was working to help a plan that would lead to her home being destroyed. Jace saw this as an opportunity though. He and Vraska worked out a plan where Jace would seal away some of Vraska's memories of what happened on Ixalan so that she would continue being a pawn of Bolas and could hide the fact that Jace now knew Bolas's plan. The idea is that Jace will unlock Vraska's memories at a crucial moment to hopefully take Bolas down.

The Golgari was probably a good pick for Bolas to get influence over because that was the guild that could drag his zombie army underground and rot them away. It's probably the same reason that Bolas set his sights on ensnaring Liliana; if you plan on fighting with an army of zombies then you probably want one of the most powerful necromancer planeswalkers working for you to help control and maintain them as opposed to potentially having that planeswalker fighting against you.

The whole Vraska thing is why I think there is potential for the story to go: Set 1) Bolas invades and makes a bit impact. Set 2) Vraska switches sides at a critical moment and the guilds come together to make the fight anyone's game. I would like to think that the guilds still wouldn't be complete pushovers in the first set though. Jace knows what is coming, so he can use his role as the living guildpact to get the guilds at least partially organized ahead of time. He also knows that Bolas has some influence over Vraska, so he can plan ahead and limit the damage that they cause before Vraska betrays Bolas.

And as a faint hope for this block, I want to see new Nephilim cards printed as legendary creatures. We need more 4 color Commanders. In the original Ravnica block the Nephilim escaped and ate a dragon corpse to grow huge before going on a rampage. I wonder how Bolas would react to having to face the sudden appearance of ancient dragon-eaters that were venerated as symbols of Old Ravnica?

August 17, 2018 6:49 p.m.

I would like to see the battle between Ravnica and Bolas's army actually be a tense one. We are talking about a world where most of it is covered in city, which requires a really impressive level of cooperation and development to not only achieve but also maintain. And all of that is done despite the bickering and fighting between the guilds. The whole "putting aside differences to fight a common enemy" trope has been done to death, but I would really like to see all the structure and organization that made Ravnica what it is pull itself together and give Bolas stiff competition.

Don't let Bolas just trample over everything, and don't have the guild operate as separate entities for too long so that they can be picked off one by one. There is a reason that Bolas needed an army and acted to put in agents acting for him among the guilds. I think that having the guilds presented in a way where they actually have a good chance of winning the fight would be kind of refreshing after all the stories where it always seemed like the protagonists needed a miracle or Dues ex Machina to possibly win. And after all this buildup that Wizards has given Bolas's character, I think that it is the right way to take the story. A young Bolas was faced with the mortality of dragons and the threat that a united group of humans could present. Now, Bolas faces his own mortality as he seeks to regain the original nature of his spark while taking on a plane designed around the principle of multiple groups working together to help maintain the whole. Make it a fight with enough tension that even Bolas sweats. I can see the first set of the block having the guilds be separate because Bolas's agents would be doing their work to prevent the guilds from unifying, but for the second set I want to see the guilds really come together.

August 17, 2018 2:48 a.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...


If you mean Loyal Drake, then no, I haven't sat down and tested it yet. Honestly, my initial evaluation of the card rated it as pretty mediocre. I've also been fishing around for other people's opinions on it, because I would be more than happy to be proven wrong and find out it actually is good in Animar. I just see it as too slow, and in terms of draw power I keep evaluating it against Brainstorm. Playing brainstorm and then cracking a fetch land to shuffle strikes me as about the same amount of card draw power that I might get out of the drake, but I would get it all in one turn instead of spread out over several. Brainstorm isn't straight up additional cards in hand like the Drake can provide, but they should be comparable in terms of how much of your deck they let you see.

And yeah, one of things that I really enjoy about commander is seeing the unique card inclusions that people make in their decks. MtG is an excuse for me to be social, and I like getting to know a bit about people through their card choices.

In my mind, having opportunities to be a little hard to predict is a benefit to decks that are fairly linear like Animar, like when you change your attack mix-ups in a fighting game so that the opponent doesn't necessarily know what the best sequence to use to block is. If I see a quick and clear kill I'll take it, predictable or not, but having some flexibility to fall back on is something I appreciate. At the very least, having options means you can force opponents to try and guess if they need to leave mana up for a Vapor Snag, Swords to Plowshares, or Nature's Claim to deal with what you are going to try next. Them guessing wrong is as good as having a free counterspell in hand.

August 15, 2018 12:42 a.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...


While I agree that Imperial Recruiter's primary job now is to help facilitate the Kiki combo, I've still found some uses for the Phyrexian Metamorph line. I don't often use it as a way to get Animar to lethal, but instead I use it as an emergency recovery button.

So lets say that I've cast the recruiter to fetch Kiki. I play Kiki and activate it to copy the recruiter. There are a few decisions that the opponent can make here, but lets say they kill Kiki in response to the activation. If you think you have the time, you can use the recruiter copy to get Eternal Witness to get back Kiki and try again later. But if your opponents are putting on a lot of pressure, you may not have the time to go that route. So this is where the option of pivoting into the metamorph comes in, assuming you have that blue mana that you were going to use for casting Pestermite and one green mana available. You don't need to use the line to max out Animar; you just want to get him up to 9 counters, fetch Fierce Empath by cloning recruiter, and cast it to get an Eldrazi that you can cast for free to either exile the two most pressing cards on the board or to try and draw into more gas. If you don't have that green mana, the line can still grab you Walking Ballista, which can sit around on the board with a handful of counters and threaten to kill off cards like Laboratory Maniac if you think one of your opponents will be looking to combo off that way on their next turn.

All of that is only if one of your opponents is a bit trigger happy though. Usually the best option for them is to either kill the recruiter in response to the Kiki activation or at least wait to see what you tutor up first. However, if they kill the recruiter then you still have a Kiki for combo and value potential. If they wait, it gives you the option of tutoring up Spellseeker and casting it to get Worldly Tutor. Worldly tutor now gives you a bunch of options for how you might combo off next turn, since you can still get Pestermite or you can just go for Ancestral Statue. Kiki on the field can act as protection from removal for the statue by being able to make a copy to bounce the original back to your hand at instant speed.

The metamorph line is one of the faster (non-ancestral statue) ways to get an Eldrazi out if it is already in your hand, and in this situation the metamorph will allow you to either cast the Eldrazi twice or allow you to cast the eldrazi and hold back the metamorph to copy the recruiter again later. An early Ulamog is usually a good way to bait out removal like Swords to Plowshares while also possibly exiling lands to put an opponent off of one of their colors.

So yeah, I like the options that the metamorph offers, but I understand the argument for its exclusion from an efficiency perspective. It's just a quirk of my play style that I enjoy having a couple of versatile cards in my deck that can keep my opponents guessing and possibly give me a way to squirm out of a tight situation.

August 14, 2018 10:47 p.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...


How often do games go into a grindy late game for you? This may just be may significantly lower game time in cEDH metas talking, but from the experience I do have I've found that someone usually wins by the end of their eighth turn at the latest.

Conceptually, I understand that most cEDH decks only have a small selection of win-cons that the deck is focused around, so if each deck gets its first serious attempt at a win stopped then it might take the game a while before someone else is in a position to try to win again. I just find that with all the tutors that fly around it still doesn't take too long to be ready for a second attempt.

Am I just overestimating cEDH deck consistency, of perhaps I'm underestimating the amount of removal and counters that get used in a game?

August 13, 2018 11:58 p.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...


The more cEDH builds, even if they are weakened a little for less competitive play, will probably still have a higher than average win ratios due to their lower mana curves and more focused deck design. But it's also possible for a cEDH deck to get tripped up in other metas due to having to contend with some cards that they normally don't consider an option from a cEDH perspective. I played one game where my opponent kept a sub-optimal hand just because it had Imprisoned in the Moon, which went a long way to hindering my Animar that game.

I think something that may increase a cEDH deck's odds against less competitive decks is that less competitive metas tend to not run as many cheap, instant speed interaction and removal spells, which gives cEDH decks a higher average chance of going off without interruption. But even cEDH decks need to be somewhat wary if the game manages to drag on to the point where everyone has 6+ mana available to them. cEDH decks shine in the early turns, but that advantage drops a bit if the less competitive decks live long enough to play their own flashy spells. I mean, instant speed removal is still instant speed removal, even if its 3 mana for a Beast Within instead of just one mana for a Swords to Plowshares.

August 13, 2018 10:38 p.m.

Said on Ancestral Animar...


@JMCraig On the topic of card draw, I've been meaning to ask how your testing with Loyal Drake went.

And yeah, the value of particular cards can really depend on how many people are running full cEDH lists or just strong pub-stomp decks. Toxic Deluge is played reasonably often in the cEDH meta, and most blue decks run Cyclonic Rift in case the game actually goes long, but other wraths are pretty scarce. I occasionally also see Fire Covenant pop up in some lists. It's hard to justify playing a 4+ cmc wrath spell in cEDH because most decks don't play a lot of creatures and cEDH decks can often threaten to just win the game on turn 4 instead of spending that mana on wrathing the board.

Have any cEDH focused groups like the Lab Maniacs or people on the cEDH Reddit written an article detailing how cEDH differs from a strong pub-stomp meta? That would be an interesting discussion to have because the cEDH meta really is a unique beast when it comes to EDH. The difference is kind of like the difference between the Modern and Vintage formats, and you can see it in how cards like Mental Misstep are actually a viable option to run in cEDH due to the low CMC cards that are usually run. Mental Misstep would be a complete waste of a card slot in less competitive metas because its range of possible targets would be too narrow. Faerie Macabre is another one of those cEDH meta cards that you aren't likely to see in other metas. There are enough degenerate graveyard interactions in cEDH that being able to get the faerie's free removal ability at instant speed from hand can make it a reasonable deck inclusion depending on the decks your group runs, but in other EDH metas the overall game impact that the card has probably wouldn't be enough for it to stay in a deck for very long. It would be really neat to read a comprehensive article that digs into the different deck-building philosophies that define cEDH.

August 13, 2018 8:03 p.m.

@berryjon Being sick sucks. I hope everything goes well and that you recover in time to have a good time at that convention.

August 6, 2018 9:10 p.m.

Thinking about it a bit more though, a group of interplanar thieves would be a good way to draw a planewalker back into a conflict on a plane that they had previously thought they could just run away from. A planewalker gets into trouble, planeswalks away and thinks there won't be any more issues, then the thieves show up and steal something important to the planeswalker and forces them to return to the previous plane. The Consortium would be a good narrative device for that sort of plot, but I'm not sure that it would qualify them for any sort of Villain of the Year award.

What if there was a plane where a powerful group existed that knew about planeswalkers but didn't have the ability to planeswalk themselves? So what the group does is catch and force planewalkers that come to their plane to work for them by whatever means necessary, maybe enforced with some sort of demon contract? The captured planeswalkers are periodically sent out to lure more planeswalkers back to the plane to also be captured.

August 6, 2018 10:51 a.m.

I haven't read Agents of Artifice, so I only know the wiki entry details about the Infinite Consortium. But having more human-level opponents that can cross the planes does seem like a more engaging antagonistic force than the current Big Bads. If they are only ever portrayed as an organization though, that would be a bit lack-luster. An organization is a good opponent for a protagonist to test their individual strength against but the portrayal of an organization can sometime come across as abstract, just a bunch of moving parts that happen to be people. An organization that functions like a machine has its villainous appeal, like with the Borg, but the New Phyrexians kind of already cover that sort of characterization.

If the Infinite Consortium was still around I think that most of its villainous impact would hinge on Tezzeret as the person at the head of the organization, unless some more distinct individuals were also written into the group. Tezzeret's personal goals would be needed to build up more dynamic conflicts with the protagonists, otherwise you just end up with repeat cases of the Consortium stealing something that the protagonists need so the protagonists have to fight to get it back.

August 6, 2018 10:31 a.m.

I think that expanding the setting of MtG from Dominaria to the whole multiverse made writing compelling villains for MtG more difficult. Dynamic conflicts need context. You can create that conflict through the interaction between two or more characters but it often helps to have a setting that gives weight to the consequences of that conflict. Unless the conflict is between two or more planeswalkers, any issues that crop up can be ignored by just jumping to another plane. I mean, how would your sins in one plane follow you to another? If the character isn't invested in a plane and can just escape to another one whenever they wish, then there is no narrative tension.

Bolas, the Eldrazi, and the Phyrexians are threats that have the motivations to move across planes, although the Phyrexian Oil currently lacks the means to do so without someone to help spread it. Of the three, Bolas is the only one who can somewhat justify the expansion of the setting because his plan requires pieces that cannot be collected in just one plane and looks to effect changes on a universal scale.

But none of those three antagonists are easy to establish some sort of intimate conflict with. Like berryjon already said, the Eldrazi are essentially a force of nature and the Phyrexians are a disease so it's hard to establish a dynamic mutual conflict between them and a protagonist. The Eldrazi and Phyrexians do what they are basically programmed to do, so it is just a matter of the Protagonist surviving them. And while the current story is trying to characterize Bolas in a manner that would make mutual conflict possible, as a ancient and powerful mastermind character Bolas is generally so far above the level of the Jacetus League that he may as well also be a force of nature in comparison to them. In trying to create antagonists that can continue to be a threat beyond the limits of a particular plane, WotC has created antagonists that are almost too ... Large? Expansive? Too beyond the scale of the protagonists for an effective mutual conflict to be established.

It's kind of funny, but if you go back to some of the oldest mtg stories and anthologies you can actually find an answer to the issue of why planeswalkers should establish an investment in the planes they visit. In those stories they properly incorporated the idea of mana being drawn from memories and connections to the land, so planewalkers fought over the rights to draw power from particular planes. If that idea had been carried over to the current setting it would have created a narrative mechanism that guaranteed continued conflict beyond the boundary of a plane. It's all fine and dandy if a planeswalker can escape danger by planeswalking away, but what if their mana base could be weakened if the nature of the land that their memories are tied to changed? Running away from conflict means that they run the risk of letting themselves be weakened in the face of other potential conflicts. It would have added a risk factor to planeswalking, which currently is pretty much a consequence free "get out of jail" card. Particular planeswalkers' emotional ties to their home planes and a desire to stick their nose into trouble are all that WotC is currently leveraging to try and keep the current story moving.

August 6, 2018 3:03 a.m.


Thrasher 4C combo

Commander / EDH SaberTech


Mad World Rising

Commander / EDH SaberTech


Grimgrin's Dinner Plans

Commander / EDH SaberTech


Finished Decks 93
Prototype Decks 65
Drafts 2
Avg. deck rating 3.00
T/O Rank 70
Helper Rank None yet
Favorite formats Commander / EDH
Last activity 1 day
Joined 6 years