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|Commander / EDH||Legal|
|Commander: Rule 0||Legal|
Legendary Creature — Cat Warrior
: Attacking creatures you control get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of attacking creatures
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1 month ago
Hi all! There's an interesting question I've been pondering lately, and I thought I'd share some of my reflections on it and get input from all of you. In sixty card magic we have deck archetypes, namely aggro, control, midrange, combo, and tempo. In commander obviously things look pretty different, and several years ago on the Command Zone podcast they said that like in limited, there aren't really deck archetypes this way, just different flavors of midrange.
As the format has developed and changed a lot over the years I do think something like these archetypes exists in commander, they're just different. For those familiar with sixty card formats some of the hard and fast rules for those archetypes in sixty card magic do not apply, and there certainly is more fluidity on commander and other unique multiplayer strategies as well (ex. Group Hug). Nonetheless, I think the outline of most of these archetypes is still relevant. Here is how I think it plays out-
1) Aggro- I think something more like classic aggro has only become viable in commander in the past couple of years, but I think it is definitely a thing now. In sixty card magic, most creatures are in the one to three drop range, there is often no focus on card draw, and everything in the deck serves to get a single player to zero as quickly as possible. Obviously in commander we need raw engines, some ramp, and are going to play more powerful cards. That being said, I think strategies built around attacking with high value, low cmc creatures from the early game onwards characterizes aggro in commander. This wasn't viable a few years ago due to the lack of board state protection, and really only token pump decks and creature cheat decks tended to do well. But the printing of many premium white board state protection spells like Flawless Maneuver, Teferi's Protection, and Semester's End has changed up the formula a bit. Attacking low to the ground and early is a keystone of aggro strategies, but so are on attack triggers. We have so many of these now, and they incentivize keeping our force swinging every turn. Commanders like Akiri, Fearless Voyager and Trynn, Champion of Freedom incentivize attacking in order to draw cards, make tokens, or do other things the deck is going to want to do. Unlike sixty card magic, we will need to be able to draw cards, and play some removal and interaction, though we'll play fewer pieces of the latter here than in other decks since they compete with resources to keep up the attack. We also need to play one-sided board wipes wherever we have the option, because we can't afford to lose our own board state. We'll also need a way to get through for damage once our opponents' defenses are up, and as such things that give our creatures menace, landwalk, flying, deathtouch or indestructible are key as they help us keep up the assault. We're also very in favor of a few key pump spells to help us finish out the game like Jazal Goldmane or Coat of Arms.
2) Midrange- In sixty card magic midrange is characterized by playing some of the most powerful cards on every point in the curve, and play more removal than aggro decks. Oftentimes they are characterized as "the growing threat." A classic and famous example was the classic Modern Jund deck that Reid Duke piloted several years ago. One of its touchstones was playing Tarmogoyf on turn 2. The goyfs could attack or block where necessary, but they would grow more unstoppable as the game went on, until they were dropping haymakers like Liliana of the Veil. They would use cards like Dark Confidant to keep their hand full till they could inevitably win. In a way, these sorts of decks mirror something of what we see in all commander decks in that they play removal, draw, and powerful cards. Yet what I think sets them apart is this idea of the growing threat, and that they play more removal than aggro decks. One way in which I think some midrange commanders work is to have abilities that allow them to turn other cards into Tarmogoyf like threats. Ezuri, Claw of Progress and Giada, Font of Hope use +1/+1 counters to turn small evasive threates into significant ones. In this sense, I think a lot of counter decks fit well in the midrange categories. These decks will attack, but they don't have to like aggro decks, and are more willing to conserve resources and work on developing board state where feasible. They often have engines that benefit their board passively from the passage of time, and as such they can play more removal and let their board build itself. They still want to protect their board state, and some of the cards from aggro decks that do this or simply counterspells can help with this, and one-sided board wipes are usually th best kind for midrange decks as well.
3) Control- Control decks in sixty card magic are built on trying to shut down almost everything an opponent is trying to do via counterspells and removal until you can work towards a win con. This obviously is not possible in commander where you can not shut down three other players with just counterspells and removal alone, and isn't always necessary since opponents can also shut down each other. As such, controlling strategies fit into two categories: stax and regular control. With stax pieces that shut off lands and mana rocks, eEDH controlling strategies indeed can effectively shut down three other players, usually finding a way to work through it themselves in order to build towards a win con. In standard EDH, heavy land-based stax like that is frowned upon, but cards that disrupt play in other ways (ex. Blind Obedience as well as counterspells and removal are fair game. These decks are still building towards a win con by slowing opponents down, and will devote far more slots to disruption and removal than aggro and midrange decks. They may win with an infinite combo, a planeswalker, a few premium attacking creatures, or in other ways, but most of the deck is devoted to protecting themselves and disrupting opponents. Controlling decks are more likely to play reciprocal board wipes, and generally benefit from keeping the board clear of threats at most times.
4) Combo- Combo decks also exist along a spectrum in EDH, though this archetype is most similar to sixty card magic. The formula is almost unchanged for cEDH, where most of a deck is devoted to playing and protecting a single combo. Outside of cEDH, it is worth mentioning that infinite combos can be included in almost any archetype in the format as a backup win con when other plans go sideways. What makes it a combo deck is that the entire deck is focused on pulling out one of a variety of sometimes elaborate combos, and these decks are generally geared more towards Johnnies than Spikes. A good example would be combo decks built around Teysa, Orzhov Scion that can put together the Darkest Hour in a variety of ways, as well as play Reveillark + Karmic Guide and/or Sanguine Bond + Exquisite Blood in order to win. These decks play out as trying to put together a combo while fending off opponents with removal and interaction.
5) Tempo- Some might argue that there is no such thing as tempo decks in commander, but it's worth mentioning that they're pretty rare even in sixty card magic across formats. In sixty card magic tempo decks adopt a "disruptive aggro" philosophy, where they slowly chip away at an opponent's life total with small, cheap, evasive creatures, while always holding mana open to protect their board and disrupt threats. While "chipping away" life totals isn't much of a strategy in a multiplayer strategy, I do think there are decks that play out along the lines of this disruptive aggro strategy. As an example, Ranar the Ever-Watchful and Alela, Artful Provocateur can be played this way, where the flying tokens they generate are the main win con, and the rest of the deck is devoted to holding mana open to protect this main game plan and stop others from winning. Unlike in sixty card decks these may win all at once with token pump effects or other affects, but this is the main way.
What do you all think? Do you think there are deck archetypes like this in EDH? Why or why not? What qualifications would you add or take away about them if you do?
1 month ago
Hi Dazard! What a great question! I avoided aggro strategies for awhile for this reason, but as my sneaky combo strategies are hard for some groups I play with to decode, I decided to make some good old honest aggro decks, and I think I've figured out a good balance.
To begin with, don't play like in a 60 card, 1v1 format. In those games you have little incentive not to go for broke all the time, and to commit all of your resources right away. In EDH there are several key principles of good aggro play.
One of them is controlled growth. Even if you can commit all of your resources to powerful plays early you shouldn't do so. You need to make sure that you set up card draw engines and other things to keep your tank full in the long run. You should be attacking, but keep in mind you don't need to attack with everything. Chip away at peoples' life totals rather than hitting one person hard. Once you slam one person you will be the archenemy of all, so don't do that till you are a turn or two from winning or they will destroy you. Knocking out an opponent early doesn't necessarily help as that person is a target for someone else and can help keep someone else under control.
A second principle is try to win all at once via pump effects. Its almost better to keep your tokens as 1/1s as long as possible and then suddenly in a single turn make them gamewinning with Coat of Arms, Shared Animosity, Jazal Goldmane, or Mirror Entity. Don't play these cards early either! Your opponents will just kill them, so play them the turn that you can win. Surprise is one of the most powerful things in EDH. If they know you can kill them you are a threat, if they don't see it coming you will win.
Thirdly is politics via threat assessment, not deals. Sometimes people just think of politics as bribery, but its better to simply point out what other opponents are doing. "Hmm..he just played Ashnod's Altar. That's a combo piece. What's he up to?" is far more powerful than promising not to attack someone. This is self-interested, but it is also helping your opponents play better by noticing more than obvious threats. When I play against aggro I might have a board wipe, and yet hold off if I'm not afraid of imminently dying to let the aggro player do some of my dirty work for me and keep attention away from the combo I am putting together. My one friend who has been quite good at aggro has become adept at pointing out what I am doing and keeping things honest. It's also a good idea with early attacks to take turns attacking different opponents for only a small amount of damage, or even rolling the dice to see who you'll attack first. If your opponents wonder why you're holding back you can just say somewhat honestly that you're trying to spread the love around and keep blockers and critical pieces in play.
A fourth principle is board state protection. Others mentioned Unbreakable Formation and Teferi's Protection as helpful cards. Don't forget also about Make a Stand, Flawless Maneuver, and Cosmic Intervention. The latter won't save your tokens, but it will save other pieces. The same is true with Eerie Interlude and Semester's End which can also dodge even a Cyclonic Rift. Lapse of Certainty can also delay a board wipe for a turn and waste your opponents' investment, and is good tech as well. Eldrazi Monument is also a good card, because you'll have endless tokens to fuel it, and all of your stuff will be flying and indestructible, keeping your opponents from easily stopping you. One final way in your deck is just by making board wipes painful, which you can do with aristocrats. Blood Artist and Syr Konrad, the Grim will make your opponent think twice about wiping the board. Again, don't commit too many resources at once, and hold up mana for protection. This helps with controlled growth and helps you rest easy during your opponents' turns.
A fifth principle that is great is to always have a backup plane for when things go wrong. One way to do this is to have a single infinite combo to win out of nowhere when things are down. When you're playing aggro opponents are always looking at your board state, but they can be taken by surprise when you combo the win. For Markov the best one is probably Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond. If your opponents can win with this stuff then its only fair that you can in a pinch too! This also fulfills the old idea talked about on MtgGoldfish that you should always have a way to win out of nowhere. The other and more honest way to do this is just to have a way to recover your board state. Patriarch's Bidding and Haunting Voyage can help you recover all of your creatures in a single turn. Having these backup plans will make life easier.
Don't get discouraged, aggro is better than ever in EDH today due to new board protection and recovery tech Wizards has printed and reprinted in the past couple of years. All you need to do is master the playstyle and you'll have a lot more fun and success!
2 months ago
Sorry, some last minute thoughts:
2 months ago
Hi Switchfox! I've played Alela in brawl quite a bit, have long pondered building her in commander, and have a lot of experience with both faeries and token decks, so I think I can be of help here. I think the low cmc focus is great, especially as it will let you cast artifacts and enchantments while keeping mana open for control pieces, and I also think you are exercising good judgment in terms of your low creature count, as artifacts and enchantments will do your most work here! I also think the land count is good.
What I'd personally recommend cutting are the anthem effects like Intangible Virtue and the like. I used to play lots of these cards and found them underwhelming, and after testing in token decks I usually end up cutting almost all of them. The problem with them is that they raise your threat level incrementally, and keep your opponents' attention on you. In the meantime, they shut off great cards like Skullclamp as well as Welcoming Vampire and Mentor of the Meek, which would be good additional draw engines here. Instead, I find it far more impactful to win out of nowhere with Coat of Arms, which I can tutor out at instant speed with Whir of Invention, or Jazal Goldmane, who can be fetched with Search for Glory, or Mirror Entity, which can be grabbed with Recruiter of the Guard or any black tutor.
I am guessing you have a lot of pillow-fort elements here because they are enchantments and synergize with your theme, and you may be in a meta with a lot of aggro coming your way and don't want to always waste your tokens chump blocking. Still, I'd personally replace No Mercy with Sphere of Safety, which is the best pillow-fort card there is, and then use the money you save to pick up a strong universal tutor like Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Intent, or Grim Tutor.
Personally I'd also add Norn's Annex to replace Settle the Wreckage, which will add to your artifact count and give you another strong pillow-fort element that won't ramp your opponents and will be more permanent. I tried Settle in so many decks on account of fondness of it from when it was in standard and I never like it in EDH. You might be thinking of using Settle to ramp yourself by exiling your own tokens and that can work, but personally I found it less significantly helpful than I had hoped for.
4 months ago
Hi wideline1414! I've been playing Teysa for years, and have had at least three distinct variations of the deck. She's definitely one of my favorite commanders, and the version I'm playing now is very powerful whereas the second incarnation of the deck ended up playing terribly. I am working on writing a full primer for it, but I write very full and ambitious primers and I haven't quite got the time to commit to it yet. I think my biggest piece of advice is that Teysa can do a lot of things, but she can't do everything well, so you really need to focus on the way you want to play her. She can be a great honest token deck, an aggressive and powerful multi-combo deck, an aristocrats deck, or an orzhov goodstuff sort of deck, but she can only do one of these well.
The original version of the deck was a relaxed Orzhov control deck that focused mostly on generating white tokens and using Teysa's exile ability as a sort of threat to get people to leave me alone. I had the Darkest Hour in the deck as a way to win, but I didn't rush towards it, and I usually won via token pump cards like Jazal Goldmane and Mirror Entity. I also had lots of boardwipe and interaction that Orzhov is good with, as well as a bunch of token generating Elspeths, and it could grind out games real well. I really enjoyed the relaxed approach of the deck, but felt like I wasn't getting the most out of Teysa's ability since I didn't have a ton of black token generators, so I set about to rework it to get more value.
I started out well by adding Chittering Witch, Sengir Autocrat, Dreadhorde Invasion, and a bunch of other black token oriented cards. I still run these cards today. Where I went wrong was in stuffing way too many expensive good stuff cards like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. My mana curve became accordingly less palatable, and I just found the deck was trying to do too many things to really get anywhere.
Third time's a charm as they say, so I cut most of the good stuff and pretty much all of the token pump support to lean more heavily into combo-control with a life-gain subtheme. The great thing about the Darkest Hour combo is that there are so many cards that support it that are also good on their own, so I made sure to have lots of sac outlets, a few aristocrats, Blasting Station, and both Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar to make infinite mana to power mass drain spells like Debt to the Deathless, Exsanguinate, and Torment of Hailfire. I also put the Reveillark/Karmic Guide combo in for another combo route. The deck can win without these cards by just draining people out, possibly with mana generated by Smothering Tithe and Pitiless Plunderer, but combos are the thing to go to. My favorite part about all previous versions of the deck were abusing Bolas's Citadel and Necropotence, so I added in the soul sisters, Daxos, Blessed by the Sun, and some other lifegain stuff to support this. The deck as is getting to the point where I won't play it as often with my playgroup because the win rate is getting pretty high.
I like the current version of the deck best, but you should do what is good for you. I'd just focus. If you want to care about attacking with spirit tokens, then by all means play Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Jazal Goldmane, and others. Just try to keep your curve low and have lots of token generators and sac outlets. In my first version of the deck I played most of the Elspeths, and even in the current one I still play Elspeth Tirel and Elspeth, Sun's Champion and they rock the house. If you want to lean into combo or aristocrats, you might want to play fewer of the above cards.
If you are interested in my current list, you can find it here- https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/teysa-combo-with-superfriends/?cb=1645410923. Hopefully in the next month or so I'll finally get to the primer! Until then, happy magic, and enjoy the best Teysa!
4 months ago
Overall you need focus and tuning still. I think going away from enchantments can be beneficial however you lose the enchantress draw effects like Mesa Enchantress either way is fine just remember you are at your core and lifegain /weenies deck unless you want to change that. Cutting some on theme cards is necessary but I'd still keep in the more impactful ones.
Some cards seem like the underperform. A few Doomed Traveler Brave the Sands Call To Serve rather then pious Evangelion Suture Priest is both sides on 1. Also not sure evangelon is not black white identity because of back half tbh. Angelic Overseer Big beefy flyer sometimes. For 5 mana Lyra Dawnbringer would be better.
I'd recommend looking up edhrec for better ideas these are just off the top of my head.
I'll check your list again later when I'm on a computer.
Atm have scrapped and restarted remaking an old deck. It excites and scares me as cards have gotten better and my old list is lost. Jazal Goldmane is difficult to build around. But fun nonetheless.
9 months ago
I enjoy mono white equipment vultron in edh. I have run many over the years starting from the forged in stone starter edh deck and this deck reminds me I need to update my current brew (balan is at the helm).
Removal. This is gonna be meta dependent you seem kinda light on removal. Another boardwipe might be good only especially is kinda rough. I'd suggest something like Balancing ActOndu Inversion FlipTragic ArroganceDusk / Dawn or a power toughness based wipe that keeps your weenies. (Erase a better demystify)
Suntitan Nahiri, the Lithomancer or other recursion. I know you are trying to play the aggressive game but a long term plan is always good.
Meta dependent but running silence? Much better in1v1 unless you are using it to stop a combo or stop interaction with your combo.
1 year ago
Since this is a new deck and a work in progress, I am going to post a large maybeboard here of cards that I will likely try out.