Whenever you gain life, target opponent loses that much life.
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|Commander / EDH||Legal|
|Commander: Rule 0||Legal|
Latest Decks as Commander
Sanguine Bond Discussion
6 days 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 week ago
The other approach is to win with combos or alternate win cons. A favorite combo is Sanguine Bond/Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose + Exquisite Blood to drain everyone's life totals. A second way is to flash out Test of Endurance or Felidar Sovereign on your opponents' end step with Leyline of Anticipation or Vedalken Orrery and win with an alternate win con. A third way is to cast and quickly re-draw into Approach of the Second Sun and win that way. Along the way you can hold up mana for counterspells to protect your win cons from disruption.
Of course, these approaches can be combined as well! It's just about getting the right shell, finding which win con approach wins for you, and building your deck with that in mind. If you want to connect with some other veteran Oloro players, ladypickleton has been playing for some time, could definitely give you some advice, and you can check out their decklist here- Life: Gains & Pains. You could also reference one of the top primers on Oloro over the years on tappedout here- The Immortal King: The Fable of Oloro [cEDH]. This primer is more geared towards cEDH and a higher budget, but it hasn't always been that way, and it is a great guide that should help out as well.
1 week ago
Hi ladypickleton! This looks like fun! Oloro is what drew me into commander, and I always envisioned myself building him, though strangely I never did! Since you're running Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood I am guessing you aren't averse to combos. I know you've run this for awhile, so maybe you tried flashing out Test of Endurance or Felidar Guardian with Leyline of Anticipation, Vedalken Orrery, or, in the latter case, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. I always thought that would be a fun alternative win con. I'd also think that Propaganda and Norn's Annex could be good complements to Crawlspace and Ghostly Prison if you need more pillowfort elements. Beyond that Teferi's Ageless Insight and Alhammarret's Archive can be good draw more pieces, and Sigarda's Splendor and Cosmos Elixir, while pricey in mana, can be great draw engines in a lifegain deck.
1 week ago
win conditions include Tainted Remedy, Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose or Sanguine Bond and kenriths ability to give people 5 life. this get better combinded with Seedborn Muse and Training Grounds effects.
1 week 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!
1 week ago
I have a friend that ran Markov who had a similar problem. Due to the nature of the deck you drop all of your creatures and kill one player. His solution was to transition to a mid-range strategy. Simply put he would cast early game threats to put pressure on other players, but they didn't win him the game or kill a player, so that he could win the game on later turns. Since I don't know how you are losing I'll put forward a few ways players stop Markov decks and how to counter those strategies.
First, are players killing you when all of you creatures are tapped down? Keep some of your creatures back as blockers, this is obvious and the strategy goes against how agro players operate in most formats but is needed in multiplayer environments. Along the same lines are white spells that can untap all of your creatures on other players turns like Battle Cry and Call to Glory leading to fun combat tricks to kill off important creatures and more importantly save your life total.
Second, are players board wiping constantly to knock down your board state? This was the problem my friend had and after two board wipes he would be out of cards in hand with no board state top decking hoping for some sort of Windfall. There are a few ways to counter this which can be focused on individually or can be mixed for similar results. Making it so your creatures don't die is one method featuring spells like Boros Charm and Teferi's Protection. Another is mass reanimation spells like Faith's Reward, Patriarch's Bidding and Living Death. Finally are flexible spells that essentially replace the creatures you lost. Those being Reprocess, Plumb the Forbidden or Village Rites.
Third, playing politics. Like you said there is not much stopping the rest of the table from ganging up on you, you can however influence other players decisions based on how you play and how others at your table play as well. Hold back threats, it's tempting to dump your hand and start swinging but as you mentioned this makes you a huge target. Instead put down a Coat of Arms or another value spell and hold the rest of your mana open for interaction, which leads to my next point interaction. You have some of the best removal spells in the game in your colors like Fracture,Dreadbore, Anguished Unmaking and Swords to Plowshares all of which are great bargaining chips to use as favors for other players, as well as being useful to take care of things causing problems for you. Last of all are less card choices but more how you address the table, having a good pokerface helps a lot with this. At the start of the game address the commanders others are playing and talk to the group about the powerful synergies they employ. Whenever an important combo or synergy price is played by an opponent point it out to the other players and if it's very strong stress it needs to be dealt with, which may incline the other players to use spells on it, reducing what they can use against you and making it so you don't have to deal with the problem. When a Tutor is cast discuss what spell the player could be gettng, this will draw attention to them and away from you. Finally when players address your board shift focus away from it, point out another player with the winning board state or the deck that won the last game. Downplay that you are a threat until you are ready to win the game. Keep in mind you are still an agro deck, so you can always lean into dumping your hand to kill a player fast if the game match up calls for it.
This final section is just general deck construction. Vampire selection: make sure you vampires are doing more that entering the battlefield to create an extra Vampire through eminence. Things like Blood Artist and Viscera Seer give value when opponents interact with the board and thing like Twilight Prophet draws cards. There are also the vampire lords that buff all of your vampires and tokens. Things that have synergy with your strategy are good includes too like Sanguine Bond, Impact Tremors or Goblin Bombardment and go a long way. Finally is "normal" card advantage that doesn't rely on you having vampires out and will shine in the early game as well as add value late game, Greed, Phyrexian Arena and Wheel of Misfortune.
I hope some of my thoughts help you work out a good game plan.
2 weeks ago
I appreciate the feedback!
I've only been playing Magic for a month so love getting advice on how to better optimise my decks :)
I agree with Thrull Parasite, definitely seems like a better fit for the same mana cost.
I'll most likely readjust Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose & Sanguine Bond, the main reason was money irl as I can't seem to find Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose for a good price, but will make sure to balance those cards out in future.
Infernal Grasp is cool, not seen that card before and I guess would be better than Revitalize, I liked the idea of boosting by 3 life, when Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose or Sanguine Bond were out to chip away at opponent's HP, also giving me a card draw. But I see where you're coming from.
Unearth makes sense given the general low mana cost of my creatures so will look to work that in.
Sorin's Vengeance could probably be ditched, is there a good replacement for it or do you suggest adding more creatures in that gap? The reason I went for it was if I had Vito's ability active then it's pretty sweet, but I agree it is high cost and difficult to play in this deck.
The angle I was going for with this deck was to give myself a few avenues so I'm not dependent on X card as I seem to have screwed myself over in a few games that way. This is my first custom deck hence putting it under Unknown, I still don't actually understand the different Game Types, so maybe could do with focussing on one to better streamline the deck.
I appreciate your comment :)
3 weeks ago
i don’t see how a game is ever going long enough for you to be able to cast Sorin's Vengeance. I would suggest ditching it.
Revitalize doesn’t really do much here, i would suggest ditching it for some interaction - you currently have no way to stop your opponent doing what they want. Infernal Grasp would go a long way here.
I would suggest running the full playset of Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose and just running 2x Sanguine Bond. You need to get Vito online early to make use of the lifegain. Conversely, Sanguine Bond has a huge mana cost for modern, and you don’t really want to be drawing into more than one of these.
Sideboards are meant to have a collection of cards that help you in bad matchups (i.e answers for graveyards, combo, aggro, control etc), but yours currently appears to be “extra stuff not good enough for mainboard”. I’d suggest reworking your sideboard entirely.