Semester's End

Instant

Exile any number of target creatures and/or planeswalkers you control. At the beginning of the next end step, return each of them to the battlefield under its owner's control. Each of them enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it if it's a creature and an additional loyalty counter on it if it's a planeswalker.

Guerric on Justice League

1 week ago

I haven't played Atraxa, but I do play a Superfriends deck helmed by Aminatou, the Fateshifter, so I could give a bit of advice from my experience that might be helpful to yours. The first is that board wipes rock. In most decks I am down to two to three now, but in Superfriends they are a great way to protect our planeswalkers, and since creatures aren't the biggest deal for us they don't set us back too much. Semester's End is also a really great way to protect them. It also resets them and they start with an extra counter, which is a plus! I'm also surprised you aren't playing Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, and Norn's Annex, as these cards are great protection. Even Sphere of Safety can be playable. Pillowfort cards like this take the pressure off of our walkers and blockers. I will also say, I never thought of playing Rings of Brighthearth in a superfriends deck, but that is a great idea! I've always wanted to play that card, so now I'll pick it up for my PW deck. Great idea!

Also, this is just a flavor thing, but since a Phyrexian is helming this deck and many of the PWs are villains, wouldn't The Injustice Leage be a better name? Great work!

Yesterday on Giada, Font of Hope + …

2 weeks ago

No worries, and you basically already have this so you can ignore this if you want but I'll put it down for posterity.

Cosmic Intervention causes a replacement effect for each permanent you control that would be sent from the battlefield to the graveyard. Then it sets up a delayed triggered ability ("At the beginning of the next end step") for each. They're separate triggers because the way its worded applies to each permanent individually ("If a permanent ... return it to the battlefield"). Because they're separate triggers and you control them all (assuming you didn't control any creatures you didn't own), you get to order them all on the stack as you like.

Eerie Interlude is similar to this except it exiles them all at once, and has only one trigger that returns all the exiled creatures to the battlefield at the same time. Semester's End is the same except it also applies to planeswalkers and has a replacement effect for how they all enter the battlefield (entering with an additional counter).

You're right too that creatures entering the battlefield simultaneously absolutely do see each other entering the battlefield. So for something like Soul of the Harvest entering the battlefield at the same time 5 other nontoken creatures, you'd get to draw 5 times. However the replacement effect of Giada, Font of Hope (which to be clear is the "enters with" part, like with Semester's End or Ugin's Conjurant) seems to be dependant on creatures already being on the battlefield that the creatures entering the battlefield need to see. And creatures entering the battlefield simultaneously don't get to see each other already on the battlefield for replacement effects that depend on those creatures being on the battlefield – as the replacement effects basically happen while the creatures are entering the battlefield, though the effects aren't usually applicable until the permanent finishing entering.

Sorry I'm getting kinda sleepy, hope that all made sense.

Guerric on Giada, Font of Hope + …

2 weeks ago

Yesterday

Having followed rules and discussion around Cosmic Intervention and Giada specifically the general consensus was that with Intervention the ETBs happen as separate events, allowing you to re-order, whereas with Eerie Interlude they all happen at once. This could be of course, because Intervention creates separate events initially and that affects the resolution, but that was my reference point, and may not apply to Semester's End, which is more similar to this card.

Now I will say that creatures ETB'ing simultaneously definitely do see each other. I've played enough ETB decks and read enough rules forums to know that! Giada's ability stipulates already as a replacement effect, as you say, so if she isn't on the battlefield before they ETB then nothing happens, hence why after Eerie Interlude creatures may be spared but lose all their counters, whereas Intervention allows her to enter first and repopulate them as one chooses. I honestly haven't researched Semester's End with Giada too much, I mostly play it in my planeswalker deck to save them from attackers, so I could definitely be wrong in that card! In that case I'll take your word for it that the angels enter separately despite the each trigger in which case, yes, they would only get the +1/+1. Thanks for the clarification!

Guerric on Deck Archetypes in EDH

2 weeks 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?

Guerric on Giada, Font of Hope + …

2 weeks ago

Since we have "each" and "up to" in the rulings, these triggers are separated out as three separate events. Similarly, they would resolve this way as well. This means that the ETBS would be separate triggered events as well (hence entering one at a time), allowing Giada to add progressively more counters to each of the three angels. This is the consistent way similar cards with "each" and "any number" triggers such as Semester's End work as well.

Guerric on Dealing with politics as an …

3 weeks 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!

Guerric on Avacyn, Angel of Boardwipes

1 month ago

Just a recommendation, but I might recommend putting Avacyn, Angel of Hope in the 99 and making the newly spoiled Giada, Font of Hope the new commander. You can still play Avacyn most games, who you can tutor with Search for Glory and Thalia's Lancers, but your opponents won't know when she is coming, which will make her more powerful than if they know that she is your commander. Giada also will help ramp Avacyn and your other angels out, and make each of them far more powerful, and will come out on turn two every game. It might also allow you to play fewer board wipes and more angels, which could be a more fun playstyle for both you and your opponents.

Whether you do the above or not, Avacyn has a weakness when it comes to mass exile or bounce effects like Cyclonic Rift or Descend upon the Sinful, and anthem killers like Black Sun's Zenith. One way to avoid this is with mass blink cards like Cosmic Intervention, Eerie Interlude, and Semester's End, which can dodge any removal or board wipe while keeping your team available for blocking.

Since you have some life-gain matters cards, I'd lean more into it with spells that draw cards off of life-gain like Well of Lost Dreams, Dawn of Hope, and Cosmos Elixir. White needs all the draw it can get!

My deck isn't done yet (though the first version will be out in a few days when I get the cards). Nonetheless, here it is if you want ideas-Giada Angels Tribal I don't have Avacyn yet because I need a Christmas gift or store credit to swing it, but she will eventually go in!

Polaris on Interaction between Volrath's Shapeshifter and …

1 month ago

This isn't leaving play, any more than discarding Wormfang Manta and having Volrath's Shapeshifter becoming a copy of it is a Wormfang Manta entering play. Your Shapeshifter is in play the entire time.

You could however use something like Semester's End in response to the second Volrath's Shapeshifter activation (once you've activated the ability, but before it resolves and you discard) to get your Shapeshifter to leave play.

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