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I think that once you get into the upper tier casual tables - the sorts of places you might be likely to see a Mana Crypt outside of cEDH - you are more likely to see more wrath effects like Wrath of God, Damnation, and Toxic Deluge than you typically do in cEDH. Removal cards like Beast Within too.
I think that in that sort of environment you might want to run the Crypt because Animar is likely to die a lot more often and the Crypt would help pay the commander tax to get Animar back. There's an argument there for just running Sol Ring instead though, especially if budget is a consideration. When the board is getting blown up more often, the colorless mana has more opportunities to be useful then it normally would.
That's just my experiences though. Every shop meta tends to be different.
June 23, 2018 12:41 a.m.
Hi kinematik, welcome to the discussion!
I used to run Birthing Pod in my list until very recently. You're right, there are a lot of fun interaction that it can enable. One of my favorites was to use it to sacrifice Glen Elendra Archmage to fetch up Zealous Conscripts to untap the pod, since the Archmage comes back due to Persist, I would then sac it again to fetch Kiki to combo off with the Conscripts.
Unfortunately, the cEDH meta is a little too quick for that line of play to be viable in most games. It's not that the Pod is bad, but the mana you have to dump into it makes it a bit too slow and clunky in Animar. There are enough cheaper tutor spells that Animar has access to that you don't need a card like Pod clogging up your early game hand.
Outside of cEDH though, where the games tend to be a bit slower and you can get away with running more mid-range cards, I think it is fine to include in the deck if you want to.
As for Mana Crypt, there are a few issues that it suffers from in Animar. Normally it is an auto-include in deck, but it doesn't help get Animar onto the board and since most of the creatures in the deck are low CMC the colorless mana that the Crypt provides quickly becomes unusable. Taking into consideration the amount of times that the card is actually useful, you would just get more value out of running a different card.
Again though, outside of cEDH the card would probably have a bit more relevance if you are running more non-creature spells and having to deal with more wrath effects. The cEDH meta is a bit of its own monster where making card choices with speed and consistency in mind is more important. Having to pass on some of the more powerful and explosive mid-range cards that are still viable at the higher end of the more powerful casual metas can be a bit of a downer, especially since Animar can help make some of that stuff hit the board super quick, but in cEDH you are competing with decks that can potentially kill everyone on the first turn. In the end, you have to trim some of the fun cards out of the deck to give yourself the best chance that you can.
June 22, 2018 11:02 p.m.
So I guess that M19 has given us a few options for Animar. We've mentioned Mistcaller, Dark-Dweller Oracle, and Runic Armasaur already, but I think that the last one that could possibly be considered is Dismissive Pyromancer.
Comparing the Oracle and the Pyromancer: The Oracle is potentially able to get you a card the turn it enters the battlefield as long as you have the mana to activate its ability, a creature to sacrifice (which could be itself), and as long as you have the mana to cast whatever card is exiled that turn. The upside is that the card may let you dig for multiple cards off the top of your library in one turn, but at the cost of creatures without actually putting a card in your hand.
The Pyromancer is much slower. You need to wait a turn to activate it, its ability is more mana restrictive, it can only filter you one card a turn, and can't put you up in card advantage. However, it's not costing you creatures on board and it can act as a potential removal for all the Stax creatures that tend to give Animar trouble. Still, you have to ask if the removal option makes it better than other looting creatures like Merfolk Looter that can loot without costing you a mana to do so.
The Armasaur has potential to be a good card draw engine in a format where everyone is running a ton of fetch lands. It doesn't do anything for Animar immediately though, which means that it doesn't help continue plays when Animar is trying to storm off. And I think that around half the time in cEDH, when a creature activates an ability it is usually part of a combo so Animar may not be seeing its next turn anyway. But hey, those few extra draws you get may snag you one of the few counterspells that you could use to disrupt the final part of your opponent's combo. So when Breakfast Hulk goes off with multiple activations from Nomads en-Kor, Animar may actually have a decent chance of hitting that Force of Will it needs to stop them.
I think that Armasaur would find a better home in a more reactive deck, but it's still a decent card draw engine in green and Animar would really benefit from having one more to go with the Library and Vizier.
June 22, 2018 7:14 p.m.
Huh. Strictly Better MtG on Youtube previewed a card called Mistcaller that could be a decent Animar meta choice to help fight Breakfast Hulk type decks. It's a 1/1 for just that you can sac for a Containment Priest type effect that lasts until the end of the turn.
June 19, 2018 5:56 a.m.
The odds on StC isn't really 1/3. It's less, "will I get this card?" and more, "Am I going to get the card I want or am I going to have to spend one more colored mana because I'll have to play a tutor creature first?" The 1/3 thing is less of an issue than one would think most of the time.
Chord of Calling is definitely obnoxious, but the worst part about it is that sometimes it is exactly what you need. There have been numerous times where I've considered not running it at all and going down the one tutor card, but when I start thinking that it somehow pulls through and manages to net me a win. It's annoying, but the fact that I would rather have one more tutor in the deck and I don't currently have a better one to replace it with is the tipping point for my decision to keep it in.
It is instant speed and can potentially be cast for free in a deck that spams creatures. Its cost isn't ideal, but the main framework of the deck is strong enough that it can support an odd card like Chord if it needs to. The card frustrates me, but it is still better than swapping it out for some of the other options I have available to me at the moment.
June 18, 2018 11:39 p.m.
There is enough redundancy in the deck that StC is pretty good at grabbing you something useful, with some cards being easier to tutor for than others. It's also nice that it is a tutor that puts the card in your hand as opposed to the top of your library. With the selection of tutor creatures like Recruiter that the deck runs, what I've found is that StC is better for finding the auxiliary win-con parts of our combos but has a rougher time with the core combo cards like Statue and Kiki. Like I've said before, those 4-5 CMC creature slots are kind of awkward to tutor up.
Ballista is easy to tutor up since you can pick it, Imperial Recruiter, and Trinket Mage as your choices. If either the recruiter or mage is already on the field then you can substitute the slot for Purphoros or Shrieking Drake.
Looking for a 6 CMC creature like an "Enchantress" creature or Eldrazi? Pick the one you want + Recruiter and Fierce Empath.
So in those cases, how lucky you are equates to how much colored mana you will end up spending to get the card you want. That's not necessarily a bad thing though because sometimes you want those tutor creatures on the board and extra counters on Animar for whatever play you are going for.
You are right about the Spellshaper + Ancestral Statue + Brutalizer Exarch package being the best option for just snagging the Statue. And yes, you will probably have to wait a turn to get the Statue if it isn't the one selected, but you would have also had to wait a turn if you had drawn a Worldly Tutor instead of StC anyway.
If you aren't concerned about hiding your primary combos, then depending on what is in your hand you could pick Statue + Kiki + either Recruiter (aiming for Kiki combo) or Spellshaper (aiming for Statue) or Brutalizer (to keep your options open). That selection is definitely a telegraph to your opponents regarding what you are up to though.
Your card options if you need some creature removal are a little limited. You tend to have to rely on Ballista as a tutor option. Recruiter, Mon-O'-War, Gilded Drake, Ballista, Trinket Mage (for Ballista), and Empath (for Ulamog) are your options to choose from.
Dealing with artifacts or enchantments is a little easier. Recruiter, Ainok, Caterpillar, Reclamation Sage, Brutalizer, and Empath (for Brutalizer or Ulamog) are your options.
The removal of Cloudstone Curio and Earthcraft from this list cuts a little bit into the versatility that StC could offer because having either of those already on the board would open up the creature options that would be worth selecting with StC. You would have been able to pick pieces from multiple combo lines and could just go with whichever line you got the support card card for.
So my overall opinion on the card is that I think it's usable, but not quite as good as the tutors that are already in the deck. Although, I suppose a Pros/Con argument could be made regarding Gamble VS StC, because both of them are situational in different ways. At the very least, StC doesn't annoy me as much as Chord of Calling does.
June 18, 2018 9:32 p.m.
That's true. The downside is that you only have that one turn to cast the card that is exiled instead of it going to your hand, plus the potential to whiff after already spending mana and resources. But you are right about how well it works with "top of library" tutors though.
We can keep hoping for a better option, but yeah, it's worth testing.
June 18, 2018 1:02 p.m.
I just saw the spoiler for that card. I don't think that it is exactly what we are looking for, but it has the potential for netting a few cards in exchange for sacrificing some unnecessary creatures. My initial impression is to rate it similar to Champion of Wits in terms of overall usability in Animar. It can gain long-term value but the mana requirement for its ability would really slow early-game plays down.
However, the card should find a nice home in the casual Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper deck that I've been intending to build for a while now. I like sacrifice and graveyard shenanigans.
June 18, 2018 11:58 a.m.
I definitely understand that need to tinker. It's fun to see if you can make something more efficient or if you can find a new way to apply it.
If you are currently considering Ainok Survivalist and Dream Stalker as flexible slots, I suppose that it could be a decent time to test out Phantasmal Image if you haven't already. From my experience:
Cons: Like any clone spell, its viability and power vary with whatever is on the battlefield. The Image is also a poor clone to use if you are looking to clone something that you expect to want to interact with. It has negative synergy with Cloudstone Curio.
Pros: It's cheap to cast, can double as a card-draw creature if you already have one out, is even better as an extra copy of a tutor creature, and has on multiple occasions allowed me to keep the storm train going by copying Peregrine Drake. Another thing worth noting is that the ETB triggers of Shrieking Drake, Dream Stalker, and Ancestral Statue don't target so you can actually use them to return the Image to your hand if you need to.
I'll admit that I miss the days when Legendary permanents destroyed each other when there were two of the same Legendary on the battlefield. Back then the Image could count as a kill spell for commanders and the Metamorph could destroy Umezawa's Jitte. Oh well, those are days long past.
My rough (and situational) priority list for Image targets is:
1) Tutor creatures.
3) "Enchantress" creatures like Primordial Sage
4) Card-draw creatures.
5) An opponent's hate bear creature like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben if there are fast combo decks that I want to hamper more.
I'm not hard-set on that priority listing though. I'll generally go with whichever of those categories happen to be on the board at the time. I'm not against just cloning a mana dork if it means putting a counter on Animar and putting my ramp for the next turn that much further ahead.
June 17, 2018 9:01 p.m.
I'd keep Phyrexian Metamorph in the deck. Although the Imperial Recruiter + Shrieking Drake + Phyrexian Metamorph combo is more for 1v1, there have been a lot of times where I've used it to pump out a quick eldrazi that was in my hand. Because the Metamorph will get to bounce the eldrazi back to your hand once, that's still drawing 8 cards or exiling 4 permanents. The metamorph has also been really helpful for netting more mana or cards for free while trying to storm off by copying a Mulldrifter or Peregrine Drake. I've used the card for so many different plays that I have a hard time picturing the deck without the versatility it offers.
Between Dream Stalker and Man-o'-War, I would be more inclined to cut the Stalker first. For this deck's purposes, its mostly just a slightly worse extra copy of Shrieking Drake. Man-O'-War has extra utility in that it can bounce a blocker, Recover Animar if someone stole it with Gilded Drake, and in my playtesting it is one more way to delay a Hermit Druid deck by a turn by bouncing the druid.
Regarding the card-draw creature options that you listed, It's hard for me to ignore that Whirlpool Warrior and Champion of Wits only let you filter cards. They don't net you any additional cards in hand, they don't even replace themselves as a card in hand. However, I like that the Warrior can mess with opponent's hands. The downside to it in comparison to the Champion is that the Warrior is useless if you already have one combo piece in hand and are trying to dig for another piece.
Slithermuse used to be an Animar staple years ago when the first competitive versions of the deck were floating around. I used to run it, but the fact that it isn't guaranteed to draw you cards and that its triggered ability is when it leaves play were hassles. The double blue mana to keep it on board was awkward, especially since you weren't getting immediate value out of it, and casting it for the Evoke cost meant that it wasn't going to stick around long enough for you to use bounce shenanigans to net a ton of value out of it. The card always seems to hover on that borderline of being playable, and I guess it would be worth it if your meta has a lot of control decks that like to keep their hands stocked with cards.
I was mulling over the pros and cons of Slithermuse vs Sandstone Oracle as replacements for Kozilek in low budget Animar builds last night but I didn't really put in enough thought about it to come to a conclusion.
Foul Emissary comes with the chance that it won't find a creature in the top four cards, but considering how many creatures are in the deck I think that the statistical chance of that happening is low enough that it is worth consideration anyway. If it doesn't hit anything that means that it probably filtered away a bunch of non-essential ramp and land cards, although there's a good chance that tutor spells will also get swept away by it's ability. I'll admit, I'd probably want to smack my head against the table if I was in a pinch and the Emissary filtered away a tutor that was on the top of my deck without netting me a creature.
So of the options you've listed, my priority choices for cards to take out would be:
1) Ainok Survivalist. 2) Dream Stalker. 3) Man-o'-war. 4) Phyrexian Metamorph.
And my priority list for card-draw creatures to put in would be:
1) Slithermuse (meta dependent). 2) Champion of Wits. 3) Whirlpool Warrior. 4) Foul Emissary.
June 17, 2018 12:33 a.m.
Hmm, even in my casual decks I grimace at playing spells that are higher than 6 CMC unless the effect they offer is very synergistic with the deck or I have a way to cheat them out. Considering that an artifact creature like Statue fits both conditions, I guess I would be willing to play a version of Statue that cost a max of 8 mana? At that cost though, it had better offer something more than just a vanilla body considering that the bounce effect is supposed to be an additional cost to use the card, not a benefit. And you are right, at least at that high of a CMC you could tutor it up with Fierce Empath, which would be very beneficial to the deck's lines of play. In fact, if we were to get another Statue type card I would probably take one that had a CMC of 6 over one with a CMC of 5 because of the interactions with the Empath. Although, the CMC of 5 would at least have the benefit of being easier to tutor out with Eldritch Evolution on top of just being the cheaper option of the two.
June 16, 2018 10:52 a.m.
More casual Animar decks are probably happy to see that green Colossal Majesty enchantment. It's pretty easy to have a 4 power creature around with an Animar deck. It's a decent budget EDH card for Green in general.
Meteor Golem is another budget EDH card for Black decks to deal with artifacts and enchantments, while Green can use it as creature removal. It can't be used with Cloudstone Curio, but I can still see a low budget Animar build running it.
June 16, 2018 2:30 a.m.
Red gets some fun spell names. Being able to say, "I finish you off with a gut shot," or, "Thud. You're dead," is sometimes all the reason you need to build some janky deck to include them in.
It's nice to see Reclamation Sage reprinted in an actual set. I consider that card an EDH staple at this point. Exclusion Mage was almost another Man-o'-War option for Animar, but of course they had to design it so that it couldn't bounce itself. It seems to be a trend with bounce abilities now, like with Guardians of Koilos. It makes we wonder if at some point someone on the design team had to play against an Animar deck.
Overall, I think the new set is looking pretty mediocre right now. There are a handful of interesting new cards and reprints for constructed, but nothing yet that would make me want to go buy a booster box. In draft though, I think I would almost always try to go mono-white weenie. The curve that the white creatures in the set offer is nuts, and that is JUST with common cards that you are pretty much guaranteed to see a lot of in every draft game.
June 15, 2018 7:03 p.m.
Actually, now that I think about it, the fact that I test against Flash Hulk so much is probably why I'm willing to argue for a card like Grapeshot. It gives me a way to kill an early Hermit Druid, can clear out mana dorks that can be used as blockers to buy time against Animar, and it provides one more line to potentially win on the 4th turn, upping the chance of pulling off a win before Flash Hulk does. I guess that puts it into the Meta Pick category for me.
June 15, 2018 1:48 a.m.
Oh, I'm not shy about casting Pact when I'm trying to combo off. I'll use it if there's a chance I'll net a win. I just find that it has to sit in my hand a lot instead of being viable to stop my opponents' combo plays. Like I said, I test a lot against Flash Hulk. Pact just isn't worth casting when the opponent is comboing off on turn 2. I have to lean pretty heavily on Scavenging Ooze whenever I can in that matchup.
Do you think that Protean Hulk will get banned again, or do you think the rules committee doesn't care enough about the competitive scene to bother trying to regulate it?
June 15, 2018 1:17 a.m.
My main thought behind Grapeshot was that one of the main goals of Spellseeker was to grab you a tutor to get Ancestral Statue. That is its primary purpose, with its secondary role being to grab counter magic if you are ready to combo.
I was looking to see if Spellseeker, after getting Statue, could pull double duty and get a win-con as well. I haven't done extensive testing yet (10-12 games thus far), and I've yet to play a game where I have drawn into Spellseeker. Heck, I somehow haven't drawn into Imperial Recruiter in any of those games either. So yeah, all I'm working from is basically initial impressions here.
I picked Pact of Negation out of the other two options because Spellseeker can't get FoW and Mental Misstep is more conditional than Pact. But almost every time I've had Pact in hand and am ready to combo off I've not had enough mana on board to actually pay the cost if my combo failed despite having the Pact in hand. I was never in the position to use the Pact to stop someone else from comboing off without losing on my next turn, and I was in an "all or nothing" position if I used the Pact to defend my combo. Am I just missing some sort of setup that other people do to make the card safer to play? It tends to sit in my hand a lot.
I playtest a lot against a Flash Hulk/Hermit Druid type deck, so I can certainly appreciate what some free counterspells can bring to Animar, but I can't seem to beat my horrible luck with those cards. Is Mental Misstep the better option to run?
June 14, 2018 11:23 p.m.
@ JMCraig lol, you sound so beleaguered in that last comment. You don't have to run it if you don't want too, I've just been in a mood for debate over the past few days and I thought the whole Grapeshot thing was worth discussing. Sorry if I've been a pain.
I'm putting my money where my mouth is and included Grapeshot in my own deck to test it out. Spellseeker isn't as great in my list because I don't own copies of Sylvan Tutor or Gamble. I took out Birthing Pod, Zealous Conscripts and an Island for Spellseeker, Grapeshot, and Pact of Negation just to see how things work out.
My current results are that I don't actually see Grapeshot much. I had it in an opening hand during one test, and it offered the possibility of sniping a couple mana dorks if I wanted to cast it early to slow opponents down. Choosing to hold on to it, it ended up being a backup win-con because having Ancient Ziggurat in play meant that I wasn't able to squeeze out both the Grapeshot and an Eldritch Evolution for Statue in the same turn. You could blame that on Grapeshot for not being a creature, but I've always had issues with Ancient Ziggurat due to those sorts of situations so I guess you could cast judgment either way.
Other than that though, I haven't actually drawn into Grapeshot in any of my tests thus far. It is the same thing like with all the other cards in the deck that aren't part of the usual tutor chains, they tend to end up in statistical limbo where they only seem to pop up on odd occasions unless you specifically tutor for them. On the upside, never drawing Grapeshot means that it is never a dead draw.
June 14, 2018 9:17 p.m.
Isn't having to wait that extra turn more of a hassle than the mana cost of Grapeshot? At 2 mana it still fits into a 4th turn win, and that's taking into account possibly failing to make a fourth land drop.
I'm purposefully not taking the enchantress effects into consideration because I'm trying to work out the plays that require the fewest cards. Bouncing and recasting Spellseeker to get Glimpse only works if I used a card other than Statue to bounce back Spellseeker. If I bounce Spellseeker back with the Statue, then the Statue is stuck on the battlefield and can't be used to draw cards.
And even if you were to tutor up a second 1 CMC tutor after recasting Spellseeker, if you wanted to draw that creature off your library on the same turn then you would need to cast a cantrip creature as well. So you are either having to wait a turn, risk discarding Ballista off of Gamble, or you'll need to have a cantrip creature in hand. A tutor and a cantrip creature would cost at least 2 colored mana, the same as if you had just tutored up Grapeshot, while also requiring an extra card for the whole process.
And in regards to Purphoros, yeah, it's a bit weird how it works out but the 4 CMC creatures are some of the most awkward ones in the deck to tutor for. And when you are tutoring for a 4 CMC creature, it's almost always Statue unless you are grabbing the Archmage for some protection. Purphoros and the Vizier exist in this weird limbo where I hardly ever see them because when I could tutor for them there is almost always something more important to get instead.
June 14, 2018 1:02 a.m.
Reckless Fireweaver only triggers off of an artifact entering the battlefield though, so it is only useful when you have Ancestral Statue. Sure, any of the tutors that can get creatures could get it, but it is only of any use in one particular situation. It's not even like Purphoros, God of the Forge, which can trigger off of any of your creatures entering the battlefield.
In comparison, Grapeshot also requires Ancestral to be a win-con, but still has utility on its own. The reason why I like it is because it gives you a line of inevitability off of just one tutor. The only other tutors in the deck that have that same inevitability are Imperial Recruiter and Survival of the Fittest.
Survival of the fittest: Discard a creature card for Statue, combo with Animar, then discard the Statue to get Walking Ballista for the win.
Imperial Recruiter: Get Kiki, copy the Recruiter, get Pestermite, combo with Kiki
With Grapeshot in the deck, Spellseeker gets the same sort of "either deal with this line of play or I win" factor, offering up the possibility of a turn 4 kill:
Turn 1) Land + mana dork. Turn 2) Land + Animar. Turn 3) Land + 1 drop creature + 1-2 drop creature + Spellseeker to get Worldly Tutor. You should have 1 land left to cast Worldly Tutor before the start of your next turn to put the Statue on top. Turn 4) Draw Statue, pay 1 to cast it, then cast it 120+ times for free. Use Statue to return Spellseeker, then recast Spellseeker to get Grapeshot and win.
If you are going to focus the deck on Ancestral Statue as your primary means of winning, I think that such a clean line of play is beneficial to the deck.
On the topic of Purphoros, with Earthcraft and Cloudstone Curio out of the deck he has kind of been relegated to a backup win-con in case Walking Ballista is rendered unavailable. There are less ways to tutor for him and in fringe cases he doesn't work as well as the Ballista because you can't do stuff like discard Statue to Survival of the Fittest to tutor for Purphoros and still win. You aren't likely to win a pod with just occasional damage from Purphoros, although him and Shrieking Drake can put pressure on an Ad Nauseam or Necropotence player.
June 13, 2018 6:33 p.m.
You know, I was just throwing the Grapeshot idea out there as a possibility, but I'm starting to think that it might actually be a reasonable option.
The strongest argument that I can think of at the moment is that by including Grapeshot in the deck you turn Spellseeker into a tutor that is capable of helping you get BOTH Ancestral Statue and a win-con, potentially even all in one turn if you also have a cantrip creature in hand.
With Animar in play with 3+ counters on it: Cast Spellseeker to get Worldly Tutor. ==> Cast Worldly tutor before the beginning of your next turn to put the Statue on top of your deck. ==> Draw the Statue and cast it 120+ times, then use the Statue to bounce the Spellseeker to your hand. ==> Cast Spellseeker to tutor for Grapeshot, then cast the Grapeshot for game.
With a cantrip creature in hand you can speed the whole process up by 1 turn. This is about the same as if you were to cast and activate Survival of the Fittest twice to discard two creatures and grab both the Statue and Walking Ballista.
Grapeshot would suffer from only having one card in the deck that can tutor for it, much like the issue with Cloudstone Curio. Unlike the Curio; Grapeshot it cheaper to cast, has utility on its own, deals with Hushwing Gryff even without any other spells cast that turn, and is part of a tutor chain that also includes tutoring for Ancestral Statue.
I think all of that at least makes it worth testing out.
June 13, 2018 4:05 a.m.
Commander / EDH
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Commander / EDH
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Commander / EDH
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