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4C Rashmi - Curious Control

Commander / EDH UBRG

LabManiac_Sigi sickrobot

Maybeboard


Hey guys, Sigi and Sickrobot here with a shiny new control brew! 4c Rashmi is a control deck that takes influence from Paradox Scepter Thrasios and MAN style decks, which makes it less of a pure control deck, and more of a slower adaptive combo deck that works to accumulate advantage over time and take a win easily once it is far enough ahead using one of its compact win conditions.

The primary motivation for the creation of 4c Rashmi was the dominance of Tymna decks in the current meta, and two strategies that performed well into it. The first of these was the ability of red Consult decks like Kess that could grind creature/Tymna decks to a halt with Pyroclasm s, targeted stax pieces, and early countermagic, then take advantage of that opening to win with a compact combo. The second influence on 4c Rashmi was witnessing game after game of artifact combo decks like Paradox Scepter Thrasios pulling ahead in the late game of faster pods after more fragile decks failed to win, due to its superior card quality and natural synergy with mana generation. By mixing the ideas of these decks in a solid shell that has a natural ability to counter Tymna decks, we came up with a deck that thrives at neutering their ability to keep up in card and mana advantage, stopping their win attempts, and then pulling ahead in the late game with high card quality and efficient wincons.

The core of 4c Rashmi’s gameplan comes from an idea of how cEDH decks view their objectives inside of the game. Most decks in cEDH are heavily focused on winning the game early, and will happily trade resources that won’t matter to them if they win, such as life total and card advantage, to that end. What those decks are ignoring, are potential smaller early game objectives such as generating card advantage or setting up a mana engine to solidify their late game presence. The 4c Rashmi strategy is to abuse that focus on winning the game early to pull ahead in small advantages, so that going into the mid and late game,it is in a dominant position to take control of the game. By continuously deploying these intermediate strategic objectives, we force our opponents into a Catch-22. On one hand, they don’t want to get run over by card advantage, on the other, they need to save their interaction for bigger strategic objectives[1].

The major practical application of this idea is to use the early game turns not to set up for a win, but to stick an early value engine to start pulling ahead in card draw, and starting the development of a solid mana advantage to have the mana to cast all of those extra cards. This is a departure from previous control strategies, which didn’t necessarily use repeating sources of card draw as their main source of refueling, but rather one-shot card draw effects like Blue Sun's Zenith to catch up in cards in one burst. 4c Rashmi is more focused on keeping up step-for-step with other decks at the table, by using recurring sources of card advantage, which lets us have a tighter lock on the game, and less countermagic downtime. The implications of this swap over to permanent-based card draw are actually fairly major on the early turns of the game, where a lot of the time, instead of having countermagic to hold up on turn 2, we now have to tap out to stick that engine. This is where you have to become comfortable with tapping out as a control deck, which yes, we know, sounds terrible, but bear with us here. The main use for 4c Rashmi is to punish greedily-built creature based decks, and the best thing about these decks for us, is that they all come with countermagic! This means that we can actually fairly consistently use other people’s countermagic as our own countermagic! Now yes, you won’t always be able to tap out on turn 2 or 3, and you will need to hold up interaction sometimes, but you would be surprised at how often somebody else will have a blue mana available, which gives you a bit of license to spend turns to develop our own board. We call this the Onus of Interaction, and it is a huge part of playing {4c Rashmi} effectively; the ability to shift the onus of interaction onto someone else at the table for a turn in order to progress your own goals is a crucial part of staying relevant in the game. We’ve all seen the Baral deck at the table get stuck holding up countermagic turn after turn, and getting left behind in the dirt, this is what we are trying to avoid.

Now, going to the exact opposite side of tapping out, we have another concept which is hugely important to playing 4c Rashmi, which is the idea of Bluffing Interaction. A lot of the time, the threat of countermagic is just as effective as actually having it, and this can carry you through a lot of scenarios where you haven’t had time to dig enough cards deep to find a real counterspell yet, or you are just lighter in interaction than it might look. When bluffing, just remember that once your cover is blown on this, you can’t really get it back, so use this when necessary.


(1) For further reading on strategic objectives, we recommend Stephen Menendian’s “Understanding Gush - Strategies and Tactics”, pp. 76-78, Chapters 5-6

No Ad Nauseam or Necropotence

These two cards have a timer on them. They’re more effective the earlier you use them, and as the game goes on, their strength diminishes drastically for two reasons. First, there is a lot of incidental life loss and damage from things like Mana Crypt , Lands, taking Tymna hits, and various other sources. While this is less of an issue in White decks that get access to Angel's Grace , which turns Ad Nauseam into a card that is useful during any stage of the game, we don’t have that luxury, if the game goes longer, it will just continue to get worse and worse as our opponents draw into more ways of dealing with it. Harkening back to our point about strategic objectives in the Strategy section, players tend to understand Ad Nauseam and Necropotence as strategic objectives that will end the game very quickly after being deployed, where the type of strategic objective this deck is looking to utilize is of a more immediate nature.


No Spell Pierce or Mana Leak

These two counterspells are similar to Ad Nauseam and Necropotence in the sense that there is a timer on them. They’re great in the earlier stages of the game when people don’t have enough mana to pay for them, but once we reach the mid game, paying an extra two or three mana is usually not an issue. We already have enough interaction (and two other players at the table) to deal with early game threats, so we can afford to focus on interactive cards that are going to be useful early and late. Expansion/Explosion is an example of such a card. We don’t have to worry about CMC for Ad Nauseam, and the copy effect on Expansion will often function as another counterspell, removal, or even tutor. The back half of Expansion/Explosion can be used as win outlet in niche situations or as a payoff for our mana engines.


Board Wipes and 3-toughness Creatures

The board wipes we focus on in this deck are ones that kill creatures with a toughness of two or less or are otherwise asymmetrical (see Fire Covenant ). The reason behind this is quite simple: This kills the Tymna. And the Najeela. And the mana dork. Two is the magic number here, as the deck is built around having creatures with three or more toughness. In effect, this lets us cut our opponents off various ways of grinding into the late game; We cut them off cards by killing creatures like Tymna, Dark Confidant, or Notion Thief, while also cutting dork decks off a significant portion of their mana accelerants. While all of that is happening, our engines get to stay alive. We specifically selected creatures with three or more toughness so they would be able to both profitably block Tymna and stay alive through our Pyroclasm effects. Tymna decks are built on the assumption of being able to use Tymna to maintain a steady flow of cards, so taking away this “free” card advantage engine (i.e. making them expend key resources like tutors to gain access to card advantage) is a big setback for them.


Rakdos Signet

This is one of the few Thrasios + Vial Smasher deck that actively uses Vial Smasher, so having a rock that safely fixes us into Vial Smasher mana from any position has proven to be useful for that purpose. It’s similar to Tymna decks playing Avacyn’s Pilgrim, which will comfortably let them gain access to White mana to cast their Commander.


Exploration

Exploration is usually not ideal in faster decks because they aren’t planning to draw enough lands to keep supporting it over multiple turn cycles. This is not the case here, as this deck’s plan revolves around continuously drawing several cards per turn cycle even into the late game, which allows it to consistently fuel Exploration into the late game. Another side benefit is that once we have our engines in place, Exploration helps us with not having to discard all the extra cards at the end of our turn while also getting us even further ahead on mana.


Why are you not playing more Stax/Hate pieces?

The stax/hate cards we aren’t playing right now all require a significant deckbuilding commitment that we aren’t really willing to make here - think Cursed Totem, Back to Basics, Blood Moon, etc; all of these cards require us to accommodate them in some way. At the same time, we have other ways of putting roadblocks in our opponents’ ways. Rather than proactively dealing with other players’ win conditions, we aim to deal with the things that get them to those win conditions in the first place (and their ways of dealing with our ways of stopping them from getting to those win conditions). Even if we can’t stop them from setting up, we still directly benefit from our opponents trying to do things; on some level, we want them to try to win so we can stop them and benefit from their failed attempts in the process. Just imagine a Gitrog or Shuffle Hulk player trying to go off into our Compost or Runic Armasaur .

If Tymna decks are giving you trouble, give this deck a try. It’s been performing really well for us, and once you get a feel for the play patterns, it’s not only strong, but also tons of fun to play. Who doesn’t love killing their opponents with a bunch of Pestilence activations?

If you have questions about the deck, feel free to drop a comment here or message us on the Paradox Scepter Thrasios Discord. We’re Lobster#0481 and Sickrobot#5601 there.

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Updates Add

OUT:

  • Runic Armasaur
  • Delay

IN:

  • Oakhame Adversary
  • Drown in the Loch

Added to maybeboard:

  • Oko, Thief of Crowns

While Oko is a very powerful effect, his usefulness is somewhat contingent on how many decks in your playgroup rely on certain key artifacts or creatures being in play for a turn cycle or more before they go for a win (think Selvala, Heart of the Wilds or Hermit Druid). Ashiok has a similar role in the deck, but for graveyard strategies instead, and Ashiok provides slightly more general value by stopping our opponents' tutors. We recommend flexing between Oko and Ashiok depending on what works better against your playgroup.

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