Should I Keep Luminarch Ascension in this Deck?

Commander Deck Help forum

Posted on July 3, 2022, 8:45 a.m. by DemonDragonJ

I have a copy of Luminarch Ascension in my Jenara, Asura of War EDH deck, because I think that it is an awesome card that can quickly produce a massive army of tokens if it is left unchecked, but that same reason will also make its controller a major target, and it is highly unlikely that their opponents shall simply allow that card to reach its fullest potential, so I am contemplating removing it from that deck, and replacing it with another card.

At this moment, I am considering either Smothering Tithe, Windborn Muse, or Esper Sentinel as replacements for it, since each of those card is an excellent card in its own right, although there could be another card that would be even better for that deck.

What does everyone else say about this? Should I replace Luminarch Ascension, and, if I do, with which card should I replace it?

DemonDragonJ says... #2

Not to be annoying, but does anyone have any feedback for me regarding this subject?

July 3, 2022 4:15 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #3

I am sorry for the triple post, but does anyone here have any suggestions? I was hoping to have a meaningful discussion of this subject.

July 4, 2022 9:14 a.m.

Abaques says... #4

Personally I like Luminarch Ascension in decks that are more control oriented. It looks like your deck is a bit more focused on getting Jenara to smash face so I think I'd lean towards cutting it. I think Smothering Tithe looks like a great replacement.

July 4, 2022 11:05 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #5

Abaques, that is very good, so I shall keep it in mind, although I shall wait for several more days, to see if any other users respond, before I make a decision.

July 4, 2022 11:58 a.m.

Niko9 says... #6

I do think that Luminarch Ascension is a little slow without ways of proliferating or something like that. As far as what to add though, you can't really go wrong with sentinel or smothering tithe as generically good cards, but you also don't have a ton of synergy with either. Smothering Tithe is good ramp, but it's at it's best in an artifacts matter deck. And Esper Sentinel is amazing for card advantage, but I feel like your deck is more about attacking than necessarily value.

If it was me I'd probably look at this deck as a massive pump deck. Things like Ancestral Mask or Blackblade Reforged or even Eldrazi Conscription that can make your commander into a huge threat.

But it's all what you like to do. You have a very well balanced deck that can respond to a lot of things, and it looks awesome. I definitely look at Jenara, Asura of War and think that she could make a terrifying auras/enchantress commander, but that's just me : )

And maybe an odd choice, but I feel like Slippery Bogbonder is a very underrated card. It's like a counter plus a creature plus a really weird upside effect, and the hexproof counter is really hard for an opponent to get rid of.

So, I don't know, too much info maybe : ) Sorry. I do think that luminarch is a good call to replace, but you have tons of options. At least it's not the worst problem. Hope it ends up great!

July 4, 2022 1:52 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #7

Niko9, since Esper Sentinel is a creature, it can attack and block, and this deck does have a combat theme; it is redundant with Rhystic Study, but redundancy is a good thing, in this case.

July 4, 2022 4:09 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #8

On the other hand, does this deck have sufficient mana acceleration? It contains seven mana-generating artifacts, which is good, but Smothering Tithe would provide another source of mana acceleration, which is never a bad thing.

July 4, 2022 4:17 p.m.

KibaAlpha says... #9

How detrimental is it to the deck if it is removed?

If it's not crippling keep it to draw out removal, protecting other cards on your field.

Misdirection of threats can greatly benefit you.

July 4, 2022 4:19 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #10

KibaAlpha, Luminarch Ascension is nice, but I realized that it does not fit the general theme of the deck, since it is better in control/pillowfort decks, whereas this deck is focused more on combat, so it will be to this deck's benefit to replace it with another card.

July 4, 2022 4:33 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #11

My Jenara deck contains a copy of Commander's Sphere, which is a good card, but I could remove it, so that I can put both Smothering Tithe and Esper Sentinel into that deck; what does everyone else think about that?

July 4, 2022 6:16 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #12

We still have not reached a definitive conclusion to this discussion, so does anyone have any further feedback to provide?

July 4, 2022 9:51 p.m.

Abaques says... #13

I think you have enough spells that want a lot of mana that Smothering Tithe would be worth it. But yeah, swapping out Commander's Sphere and adding Esper Sentinel would be probably just make the deck stronger overall.

July 4, 2022 10:26 p.m.

AstroAA says... #14

Luminarch Ascension is just slow. I used to run it in my Sythis, Harvest's Hand enchantress prison deck as a backup method to get beaters out, and most of the time I'd play it and it'd just sit there as I'd use my mana for other things. It's not worth it most of the time.

I do not know why you aren't already running Esper Sentinel. In your deck you're running a bunch of anthems, and Esper Sentinel can easily draw you a ridiculous amount of cards rather quickly if his tax gets up to 4~5 mana. He's easily one of the best white cards in Magic, and your deck seems likely to support him. Plus he's only one mana, and you have an absolutely ridiculous CMC of 3.87 with only seven mana rocks - two of which are 4+ CMC.

My advice? Fuck Smothering Tithe. I personally think the card is overrated and is one of the most "kill on sight" cards in Magic. A quarter of the time you play it and it's countered. Another quarter of the time you play it and it gets blown up immediately. Another quarter of the time you play it and it does nothing. The last quarter of the time it does something. If you wanted to play some cheaper "kill on sight" cards to bait out counter magic and kill spells, Food Chain, Survival of the Fittest, and even something like Grafdigger's Cage against certain decks. But, take what I say here with a grain of salt - I just don't like Smothering Tithe, and I think the CMC of it won't help you that much since you don't run a lot of ramp. I'd honestly rather run Yasharn, Implacable Earth over Smothering Tithe in your deck right now.

Now, you asked for feedback and suggestions, so here are my main suggestions. I'm not sure your budget, but considering you're asking us to decide between two $20~$30 cards, I'll assume it's higher than the average Magic player's. Here is a basic list of things you can do to improve your deck:

  • Go through your deck and individually look at every card in it. Think to yourself "How often do I play this card? Does this card make an impact whenever I play it? Is it just immediately answered? How does this fit into my game plan?" etc. Cut cards that you think aren't up to par or properly fit into your deck.
  • Your deck seems to lack a proper direction. You say you want to pillowfort and focus on building up an army. Cards like Windborn Muse and Ghostly Prison can help you prevent people from swinging at you. If you wanted to prevent people from swinging at all, Crawlspace and Dueling Grounds can work, and you can just pop them with a Nature's Claim or something before you want to start attacking. If you wanted to focus more on the army aspect, you could go with stuff like Avenger of Zendikar, Rhys the Redeemed, or Tendershoot Dryad.
  • Lower your Converted Mana Cost. You currently have a CMC of 3.87, which is rather high. In addition, you are only running seven pieces of ramp - all mana rocks - and two of them are four or more CMC, which does not help you much. Cut cards that don't do much and replace them with either cheaper mana rocks or mana dorks. A few that I immediately see that I would cut are cards like Treva, the Renewer, Skyward Eye Prophets, Empyrial Archangel, and Archon of the Triumvirate. Cards you should add are like Avacyn's Pilgrim, Birds of Paradise, Sylvan Caryatid, and Noble Hierarch. This will lower your CMC and provide additional mana ramp.
  • Lands. You are currently running 38 lands, which is definitely on the high end. However, I think this is a product of having a CMC of 3.87. I think should you end up reducing your CMC to around 2.75 to 3.00 while adding in at least ~7 sources of mana acceleration you can go down to 32~33 lands, which is much more reasonable. However, I also want to talk about your land choices. You aren't running any fetches and many of your lands have a chance to enter tapped. I would look at adding in more fetches such as Prismatic Vista, Windswept Heath, Misty Rainforest, and Flooded Strand at least. In addition, I'd also look at lands such as City of Brass, Mystic Confluence, and the Battlebond lands such as Bountiful Promenade, Rejuvenating Springs, and Sea of Clouds should you reliably play with 3+ people pods. Cut cards like Seaside Citadel and the check lands, as they're kind of feelsbad turn one plays.
  • Removal. You aren't running much removal to deal with threats. Cheap removal such as Nature's Claim, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Return to Nature, and On Thin Ice are all super good in EDH. I would definitely look at improving your removal suite outside of 3+ mana counterspells. Also, look at cheaper counterspells. Cards like Mana Drain would be super good here as it provides you mana acceleration while stopping your opponents.

There is more I would like to add, such as talking more about card advantage, but I've spent damn near close to an hour typing this so I'm gonna call it here. Now, take what I've said with a grain of salt. I'm a high-powered player; I like to optimize my decks, and with optimization comes homogenization. I.e; your decks become less unique. You've got a pretty unique deck here, and if you like it then you like it. Ultimately it's up to you on making that call of whether or not you want to optimize and change everything. If you need more help, feel free to ask. Good luck, and sorry for the wall of text.

July 5, 2022 8:03 a.m.

AstroAA says... #15

This is coming a couple hours later after thinking a bit more; on the notion of swapping Commander's Sphere for Smothering Tithe - it is no secret I'm not a fan of Smothering Tithe, but with as little mana acceleration as your deck currently runs, I disagree with what the others have posted above. Not only are you getting rid of a mana source, but you are also getting rid of a source of card advantage.

On the topic of card advantage, I'll finally get to what I wanted to discuss earlier. Right now, you only run seven cards that let you draw a card on them. Below are the cards in question and my general opinion on them.

  • Kwain, Itinerant Meddler - I don't like this card simply because it gives your opponents card advantage. Okay if you're running a group hug deck, and you appear not to be. Replace with something like Brainstorm.
  • Rhystic Study - Excellent card. I advocated for this card in your last thread, and I'm glad to see you add it. The main problem with this card is it's up there on the "kill on sight" cards I spoke about in my first post. You can help protect it with cards like Heroic Intervention.
  • Cryptic Command - I am mid on this card. It was great in other formats, but I don't think it translates well to Commander. I'd also advocate for getting rid of it due to it's CMC; you're a three color deck and this has three blue pips. I.e; it's not that easy to cast. Replace it with something like Ponder.
  • Sphinx's Revelation - Again, I'm mid on this card. I don't like lifegain strategies in EDH for a myriad of reasons, but you need to pay at least four mana to draw one card. You could go for something like Harmonize, which is also four mana but lets you draw three cards instead.
  • Treva's Charm - You don't even really get card advantage from this card as you're essentially paying two cards to draw one card; a net loss of one. I would actually go with something like Eladamri's Call or Growth Spiral. Growth Spiral replaces itself by drawing you a card, while Eladamri's Call allows you to tutor for any creature in your deck, effectively replacing itself.
  • Commander's Sphere - I've heard a lot of people not like this card, but I have a soft spot for it. I like it because it can act as mana advantage in the earlier turns, and once you no longer need it you can use it to draw a card. Keep it.
  • The Immortal Sun - Six mana to draw a card every turn. Again, this is one of those "kill on sight" cards, and I especially don't like it because of it's CMC. It does do other things, such as acting as an anthem in regards to reducing your spell's CMC and giving your creatures +1/+1. It's alright. If you wanted to, you could go for something like Mind's Eye which does require more investment in the long run, but it can draw you at minimum three cards every turn cycle if you want to go that way. If not, just go for something like Sensei's Divining Top. It's one of the best artifacts ever printed.

Now that I've spoken about your current cards, I'd also try to include more tutors. These range from a wide variety, such as Enlightened Tutor, Worldly Tutor, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Mystical Tutor, Sterling Grove or even something like Land Tax. Any of these will help you speed up your game and lower your CMC. Also, while on the topic of Sterling Grove, I see you run Privileged Position. If you get both out together, no one can target any of your permanents.

July 5, 2022 2:04 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #16

AstroAA, that is a great amount of suggestions, most of which are excellent, but I need time to process them, so I shall focus solely on my original dilemma, at this time, and replace Luminarch Ascension with Esper Sentinel, since I was already favoring that card, anyway, because I already have Smothering Tithe in multiple decks, but have Esper Sentinel in only one other deck, plus it is less expensive and also less threatening. Thank you, very much, for your suggestion!

July 5, 2022 8:54 p.m.

AstroAA says... #17

I gotcha. I admit, I did take "suggestions wanted" topic and just kinda ran with it. Sorry if it wasn't what you were looking for DemonDragonJ. I want to reiterate - take everything I've said with a grain of salt. Odds are, we're very different Magic players. I'm the kind of guy who loves to brew high-powered decks and refine them through playtesting and actual games over time. I usually don't have a budget when brewing and adding new cards in, and as such most of my decks sort of look "same-y" to some. I.e; homogenization. Other players get their kick simply by building and playing unique decks. I'm just not that kind of person; yes I do like to build my own decks, but odds are they'll run a lot of the same cards other people running that same commander do. Ultimately, build your deck however you want to. You want to run the cards I suggested you cut? Ignore my preaching and just do it. It's your deck. You do you.

July 5, 2022 9:42 p.m.

Niko9 says... #18

AstroAA Sums it up perfectly : ) We're all different players, so what's better can mean a lot of things. But if you have fun with the deck, there really are no wrong answers.

July 6, 2022 4:42 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #19

AstroAA, that is no problem, at all; I would rather have too many suggestions than have too few, so that I have more options to consider.

July 6, 2022 6:39 p.m.

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