Game #131: Skeleton Ship

Game #131: Skeleton Ship
Date: 2014-05-18
Location: Friend’s House in Baltimore
vs.: Thelon of Havenwood
Result: Fun Loss

Skeleton Ship, Magic, Ice AgevsThelon of Havenwood, Magic, Time Spiral

Pirates vs. Plants (Because the zombies were off fighting the ninjas) was the second game of the afternoon. I played an early Merchant Ship, and he played an early Thelon, along with an Ashnod’s Altar and a Sol Ring and a Worldly Tutor for Verdeloth. Meanwhile all I can muster is a Reef Pirates and a Coastal Piracy. He matches my Merfolk Looter and Bane Alley Broker with a kicked Verdeloth and a Verdant Force (and other things to give him spore counters). I’m doing everything I can to chump block and stay alive. Eventually I get to a Deepchannel Mentor, but it just helps my Reef Pirates get through.

I’m on the brink of a creeping death by non-seaweeds when I’m able to cast a Knowledge Exploitation via Prowl and get Death Mutation to kill off Verdant force and have some blockers. However I’m at 2 life and I’m one blocker short. I manage to hold of death again, though, by bouncing Verdeloth and negating his Saproling Pump. The one plant gets through for 1. I cast some creatures as a last ditch effort, but I’m not able to do anything to hold back the saprolings.

About the Deck (TappedOut maybe someday)
I’ve been considering the obligatory Pirate deck for a long long time. Ramirez Di Pietro was one of the very first Legends I ever owned (after Jasmine Boreal), and he’s interchangeable with Skeleton Ship as a general for this deck. It, of course, plays all of the pirates, but I supplemented the pirates with other Rogues, giving me access to Prowl, and some neat Inspired cards in UB. The deck also plays Bribery/Acquire and a number of other things to represent conscription/theft/kidnapping etc. I think I’m going to add in Grappling Hook for flavor also. I added King Macar, because pirates love gold, and he can give them their letters of marque.

I briefly considered making it a Pirates of Dark Water theme deck, but I decided I didn’t want to spend too much time matching things up with it.

Each island in the deck is foil and different. I considered getting the Euro lands, but this deck isn’t one that I want to invest too much more into. The lands are warped and shuffle poorly, so this one is going to get sleeved (and probably foiled, someday) in House Greyjoy kraken sleeves.

The ultimate goal, of course is to go “Caw Blade” by equiping a Ensouled Scimitar to either Storm Crow, Rainbow Crow or Giant Albatross. Because that would be absolutely awesome.

Storm Crow, Magic, 8th EditionEnsouled Scimitar, Magic, Fifth Dawn

My Five Cents On… An East Coast Commander Article (“Gamesmanship”)

This was originally meant to be a comment posted on an article from East Coast Commander, but try as I might, I couldn’t get it to post on the site, so instead, I figured I’d post my expanded thoughts here and direct some traffic towards their site (not that there’s all that much traffic coming through here. Reminder, other sites are much better than this one, and you should be reading them!

My Five Cents On… An East Coast Commander Article (“Gamesmanship”)

I hate the assumption that Commander-equals-Deck.  Or that there’s only one “Optimal” way to build for a general and that all decks with that general will be built that way.

One of the great joys, at least for me, of Commander is the latitude in deck construction.  This isn’t  Standard  where “innovation” means running only 3 copies of a card instead of 4, or other tournament formats where  there are only a few viable decks, plus Rogue (i.e.  couldn’t afford playsets of 150$+ cards) decks. It’s a format where there are 555 viable commanders,* and a way larger number of potential decks.

And we shouldn’t be judgmental.  At least not at first.

I’ve had someone refuse to play against me because I announced I was going to play Azami.  That made me really mad, and also frustrated — I spent a lot of time building an All-Creature, try to win  by Inkmoth Nexus, deck that could only take a limited number of extra turns using a 4-creature, combat-based, synergy,  and I got hated off the table _BEFORE_ the game even started because someone saw  exactly 1% of my deck.

I felt bad for choosing to play a deck. I decided to be a bit defensive and ask why (“because it’s all counterspells and infinite turns”), but after having to explain what my deck does in advance, he let me play it.**  I didn’t win the game.

It sucks for people that like to build decks and play them (as opposed to just win all the games) to have to know that they can’t pick certain generals because of stereotypes.   Not all Magic players are sweaty, smelly, basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing, neck-beards with plumber’s smiles and no social skills

My Zur is Group Hug and has Near-Death Experience as its _only_ win condition (aside from 21 hits by Zur). My Hippo does massive amounts of steroids. But I hate feeling  like I have to announce and explain in detail what my deck does in order to be allowed to play it.

One of the least fun games I’ve ever been involved in had  me being ganged-up on for playing a Rhystic Study on turn three because it was the only play I could make without having to discard, and, being color screwed, it was an opportunity to maybe draw into a forest.  No one else was Mana screwed, and it wasn’t much more than a speedbump for the other decks, but I still got wrecked for playing a card that wasn’t even going to win the game (when I was the least threatening player at the table).  Now, that’s a slightly different situation, but the principle is similar:  I was attacked based on assumptions rather than actual action.  It’s like making assumptions about someone’s character based on what they wear.

Azami, Lady of Scrolls

We sentence you to death, without charge or trial.

Rhystic Study

If you have ever seen this card, you should Go Die in a Hole (of Fire), probably.

On the other hand, I once sat down against an Azami deck whose pilot said “It’s not like the traditional Azami deck,” but the only thing that made it different was that it didn’t have any real win-condition while it was looping Time Stretches. Now, if I play THAT Azami deck, I know how to approach it.

It’s a different story when you know a particular deck, though. When I see my friend’s Balthor or Sisters of Stone Death decks, I know what those iterations do, and attack accordingly.

In the first half of “Gamesmanship” the author describes a situation where he actively directed his attacks at a player playing a (not The) Riku deck. Given the context, this made total sense.  That particular deck was known to be troublesome,  and the author’s deck’s best answer to it was to remove the the player  (and the Riku player’s response was out of line).  Where I disagree is that it was the players own fault for choosing to play  “a”  Riku deck.  The deck in question may be a problem, but the principle that it’s the Commander’s fault, is where I take issue.

I would prefer to live and play in a world where decks are measured by their character and actions, rather than judged by the general that leads them.


*Gatherer lists 559 Legendary Creatures, minus the 4 banned ones.  Yes you can use Haakon as your commander if you want. It might not be good, but  it shouldn’t stop you from trying.

** the deck needs Wanderwine Prophets (plus a merfolk to champion), Seahunter, and something to make the Prophets un-blockable to get  multiple extra turns. It’s not tribal, and it doesn’t run that many merfolk.  The deck has creatures that  can counter spells, but no hard counters or counter-locks.

Game #130: Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Game #130: Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Date: 2014-05-18
Location: Friend’s House in Baltimore
Vs. Sigarda Host of Herons
Result: Win!

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, Magic, Commander 2013vsSigarda, Host of Herons, Magic, Avacyn Restored

I had a chance to play a few games with a friend of mine in Baltimore while our significant other’s were visiting Babies. Derevi had just gotten finished, and I really watnted to give it a try. He was playing an Enchantress build with Sigarda (Because he didn’t like Krond’s mana requirements). I started with 3 lands and the Quest that gains counters when things tap, and untaps things when active, but he stuck Quiet Disrepair on it. I played Keeper of the Nine Gales, and a few other creatures, and he played Sigarda with an Ethereal Armor, and then had at least two other guys of 4/4 or greater – Elderwood Scion and a Rust something-or-other.  However, he wasn’t drawing enchantments and was just flooding with land.

I tried to use tricks to have my Wake Thrasher and Gustcloak savior kill off Sigarda, but I didn’t calculate for first strike, and it ended up costing me the wake thrasher. I had a Finest Hour in play and I would make use of it and a Strionic Resonator when I could.

I had to resort to Derevi tricks to stay alive though, having only small-ish creatuers. S he was able to hold 3-4 of his creatures at bay each turn via her alternate casting cost, a Strionic Resonator and an Unbdender Tine, then blocking a final creature to die and be reborn again. I did this at least 3 times. Then I was able to drop Kruphix and draw an Arbiter of the Ideal, which, along with the Gustcloak Savior and Finest Hour was getting me multiple free new Enchantements (drawing me cards off of Eidolon of Blossoms).

Eventually I drew what I was looking for: Vedalken Plotter. You see, I’d been holding a Sorrow’s Path in my hand for several turns. I played the Path, traded it via plotter for a forest and swung with several tokens. I was able to stack the triggers of the ones that got through to tap and untap Sorrow’s Path enough times to wipe his board clear of creatures. One more untap/tap was enough to kill him.

I won the game because of Sorrows Path. I restate: SORROW’S PATH won me the game!

Had he drawn more enchantments (and thus cards, as he had an Eidolon of Blossoms, too) and few er lands, the game could have ended very differently.

About the Deck (no TappedOut yet)

Derevi started being built when I saw Arbiter of the Ideal.  I already had a tapping/untapping matters deck (Sygg, River Guide), but it was also tribally themed, and sphinxes didn’t fit.  I started working on the deck, but didn’t really finish it until recently, and in waiting, also added a Constellation sub-theme to the deck.   It’s not designed to be a Lock deck (like some people do with Derevi), but that doesn’t mean I won’t use the commander’s ability to keep myself alive for create openings.

Mostly I try to create value out of untapping things (like Inspired cards), or tapping things down  (for Palliation Accord bonuses).  I’m also happy because it gets to play reconnaissance, which is one of my favorite cards of all time, AND Gustcloak Savior.

The other trick of this deck is that it’s All Permanents. No instants or Sorceries.  When I first started thinking of playing Derevi  (even before the Sphinx), I considered making it a Primal Surge deck. The sphinx (plus Freed from the Real and a Paradise Mantle), let me do that in a Permanent way (also as a 3 card combo, which is more fair than a 1-card combo).

The Rest of the Afternoon

This game was a long one. normally when I play with this friend, we get 8 or so 1v1 games in (and I lose 6-7 of them).  On this day we only got in 3 games.  I’ll write about Game #131: Skeleton Ship  soon.  I also played  Vorel of the Hull Clade (which was just my Momir Vig deck with a swapped General and a few card updates.   I won that game as well, but it took forever.  I couldn’t get cards to win, despite having an Everflowing Chalice with 256 counters on it, but was finally able to pull it off.

One thing awesome that happened is I was able to use both Death Mutation (stolen via Pirates) AND Aether Mutation  to save myself in this play session.

Game #129: Reveka, Wizard Savant

Game #129: Reveka, Wizard Savant
Date: 2014-05-14
Location: Family Game Store
Vs. Pheldagriff; Glissa, the Traitor; Balthor.
Result: Fun Loss

Reveka Wizard SavantvsBalthor the DefiledPhelddagrif, Magic, AlliancesGlissa, the Traitor, Magic, Mirrodin Besieged

I started the game with a 4 or 5 land hand, and it started out pretty great: Balthor played the Liliana I was very much hoping he would play and made everyone discard, allowing me to discard Psychic Purge and deal him 5 damage. That achievement alone made the game fun for me. Glissa played a Carnage Altar and imprinted Prototype Portal with Tree of Tales. I played down a Shapeshifters Marrow which eventually became a Geralf’s Messenger, and then played a Caged Sun to match the one that Balthor had (Along with his Candelabra and a Top and a Sac Outlet dude.) Pheldagriff was using StoneCloaker to mess with people and used the mass blink spell on Glissa to get rid of the token Lands and generator.

I decided to slow the game down by playing Frozen Aether AND a Meekstone, keeping most of the rest of the creatures tapped down, I also was a jerk and Amnesia-ed Pheldagriff (for having the most cards in hand… all of them non-land), this would prove to be a mistake. I played Reveka.

Balthor then got crazy with Geth and Ridiculous amounts of Mana: Darksteel Forge, Suture Priest, several trinkets, Stone Cloaker, 2(!) Coat of Arms, some other big dudes from Phelda’s graveyard, and then we all died horribly (and Balthor was put away for the night).

About the Deck (TappedOut some day)
I wanted to make a Mono-Blue Creatureless (no creatures except the General) deck. When I started building I realized I was going in two directions so I refocused the deck as Soramaro. Then I realized that I had to cut all of my “Stuff Blue Shouldn’t Do, But Used To” cards. So I had to build another deck. Since it was going to be a Direct Damage deck (kind of) Reveka was the old school best choice (also, she’s a Blue Dwarf Legend). The deck has all manner of blue damage spells and old school damaging engchantments(Beta Psychic Venom, Creature Bond, Feedback,etc) plus other weird stuff from the Early days of magic (Baki’s Curse, Energy Vortex), and then some standard playing-creatures hate like Aether Storm and Soul barrier. It’s rounded out with un-tap effects for Revkeka and a few “theft” spells. It ended up being better than I expected.   I think I cut Sorrows Path at the last minute (because I didn’t have a spare Donate at the time), but I think it’s going back in.  I plan on winning a game via Sorrows Path some day…

The Rest of the Night
The next game featured me playing Daxos (another “Creatureless” deck) vs Karona, “Foils” God, Baru (borrowed by Balthor) and Oloro. I played a turn 2 Daxos and did a lot of swinging, but Karona got really silly (though I was smart enough to put a Vow on her). Baru won that one because of mono/mana mania.

The last game of the night had me playing Chainer, Dementia Master (ALSO “creatureless”, but really just my Lim Dul deck with a different General — not truly “new” as a deck) vs Arcades Sabboth, Nekusar, and Baru. I had a ridiculous start with Grave Betrayal, Black Market, a copied Ulamog and a Life’s Finale into Rise of the Dark Realms, BUT I totally died to Arcades letting Nekusar kill his Prime Speaker, which then came back to Grave-ly Betray me and make me draw 13 cards when I only had 11 life. I never did get to use Chainer.

Game #128: Kruphix, God of Horizons

Game #128: Kruphix, God of Horizons
Date: 2014-05-07
Location: Family Game Store
Vs.  Balthor; Sisters of Stone Death;
Result: Fun Loss

Kruphix, God of Horizons, Magic, Journey Into NyxvsBalthor the DefiledSisters of Stone Death, Magic, Ravnica

I was super excited to play Kruphix, who is easily my favorite of the new Gods.  I had a 4 land hand and a Cold Eyed Selkie to start out.  Early on I Plasm Captured  a Boundless Realms by the Sisters, which got me mana and prevented his ramp (temporarily. Eternal Witness exists).

I had a number of ways to draw cards, and a Triumph of Ferocity.   I had to Momentous Fall Kruphix for some added value in response to a Toxic Deluge that would have killed it anyways.  Balthor had Necropotence out and I had a Greater Good.  I got threatening with a Masumaro, a Multani and a Prime Speaker Zeganna (for 19).  Balthor Popped and caused trouble.  Sisters cast Boundless Realms (for 16), and was using Ink-Eyes and Chainer to steal things from people (but also hurting his life total).

It was close to over, so decided to take a risk.  I had most of my deck in hand, with somewhere between 15-25 cards in my library.  I knew that one of them must have been a Labratory Maniac (since I hadn’t drawn it yet). I sacrificed Zeganna to Greater Good and hoped I didn’t just kill myself (I didn’t have the mana to throw down Abundance.

I counted out 19 cards and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw 2 left in the library.  I looked through my hand… No Lab Maniac!  On my turn I cast Worldly Tutor to find the Maniac (who was on the VERY bottom of the library) and drew it. I cast it, but I still had to jump through some hoops to draw 2 more cards that turn. I went to draw via some spell, and Lab Maniac was targeted to die in response. I had responses, but ultimately I didn’t have enough to keep up and he died and I lost. (it may have been a Phyrexian Plaugelord flinging bodies it the Maniac)

In hindsight, I wonder if I still had enough creatures on the table and still had the Greater Good to try to draw more.  Hmm… maybe I could have won this one.  Either way, my deck did exactly what I wanted it to do: draw a ton of cards and have dudes get huge because of it AND I almost won via an Alt-Win.  And it’s Simic.

About the Deck (Tapped out some day)

The goal here is to draw a lot of cards.  The deck is pretty much team  ‘Maro  (though at the time it didn’t have the original Maro in it!), and the idea for it started when I was building Soramaro (and wishing Masumaro could also be the general of that deck).

I thought about  Edric just for the colors, but then, on a glorious day, Kruphix was spoiled and I got really excited.   It’s got Multani, Soromaro, Masumaro, and pretty much every other “gets bigger” based on cards-drawn-or-in-hand creature EXCEPT Psychosis Crawler… This deck wants to win in the Red Zone or by Lab Maniac, so life loss is out of the question (plus my Vorosh, the Hunter deck already does that trick).

The deck also plays Enter the Infinite (but not Omniscience… why would I want to make my creatures smaller?) but it’s only to set up an alpha strike, or to support Lab Maniac.  I like this deck even more than Karametra.

The Rest of the Night

I played Lord of Tresserhorn and his Zombie Crew, but it didn’t work out all that well, or at least it wasn’t memorable.

The next game, since it was a Simic night, was Experiment Kraj (newly outfitted with some recent stuff).  That game just sort of fell into  an early Illusionists’ Bracers/Horsehoe Crab/Wirewood Herald craziness. Also I got to use Jodah’s Avenger to make Kraj Double Strike and Shadow.


Game #127: Vhati, il-Dal

Game #127: Vhati, il-Dal
Date: 2014-04-23
Location: Family Game Store
Vs. Bruna, Light of Alabaster; Balthor; Sisters of Stone Death; Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
Result: Neutral Loss

Vhati il-Dal, Magic, TimeshiftedvsBruna, Light of Alabaster, Magic, Avacyn RestoredSisters of Stone Death, Magic, RavnicaOloro, Ageless Ascetic, Magic, Commander 2013Balthor the Defiled

A 5 player game didn’t seem to be the best place for Vhati to shine, but the deck was meant to be a fun one, so I decided to play it. I had a 3 swamp hand plus Boots and Illusionists Bracers, and more equipment. I was able to play a Mortar Pod, and maybe an elf that got me some land. Balthor had an early Urborg and Liliana of Everyone Discard, Sisters (a super-ramp deck) brought out Ob Nixilis and Oloro was doing things with Maze of Ith, Crypt Ghast and tutoring with a Demon.

I spent most of the game with few to no cards in hand. The deck needs more card draw (or I didn’t draw any card draw). Eventually I got Vhati out AND put illusionists Bracers on him. I got to do some tricks that killed a few things -1/-1 counters. Bruna got out a Sovereigns of Lost Alara, which I had to kill because it’s trouble. Bruna also finally smashed up Liliana.

Eventually Balthor got ridiculous and wiped the board a few times, generated ridiculous mana with Caged Sun and Candelabra of Tawnos, and tricks with Geth and Gray Merchant and Toxic Deluge. It wasn’t pretty.

I got to do things in the game with my General, so I consider it to be a mostly fun game. I would have liked to have a few more cards to be competitive.

About the Deck
(TappedOut, some day, maybe…)
Vhati il-Dal is Da’ Illest. I have more than a few +1/+1 counters decks, so I decided to make a -1/-1 deck. Vhati has been on my radar for a LONG time as a potential general. I do play with Quillspike Devoted Druid in this one, and also Thornbite Staff. The goal of course, is to put counters on things and then shrink them, including my own creatures sometimes.

The Rest of the Night

I didn’t take good notes of the rest of the night (which was almost a month prior to this writing), but I do know that I probably followed up with Skullbriar (for Golgari +1s). I think I also rolled out Animar and had fun with that.

Game #126: Soramaro, First to Dream

Game #126: Soramaro, First to Dream
Date: 2014-04-19
Location: Mom’s house in Duluth
vs. Rhys the Redeemed
Result: Win

Soramaro, First to Dream, Magic, Saviors of KamigawavsRhys the Redeemed, Magic, Shadowmoor

Though it was late, my brother and I decided to get one more game in (since I brought two decks home with me). I had a 3 Land hand to start out. My brother had one land, but used it for Rhys and an Essence Warden, and eventually worked his way up to a Heritage Druid and Seedcradle Witch and a bunch of other elves. I managed to turn many of his Elves into Pigs with Curse of Swine, and then was able to Aetherize a large attacking army of elves and insects.

I drew a bunch of cards off of a Recurring Insight, and was able to pull off the Proteus Staff trick with Soramaro and stack my deck, though by that point it was a two hit General Damage Kill. This one didn’t go on too long, but it was okay, since I had to get up in the morning to be on the road to the airport.

About the Deck

This one is another “Creatureless” deck, with no other creatures but the general. The whole idea is to just draw a lot of cards and make the general big (and maybe stack the deck with Proteus Staff). This deck is going to end up being somewhat similar to the Kruphix deck I’m building, but I’ll likely keep both, as this one is a “Creatureless” deck.

Updates Soon!

Games #126 and #127 have been played and are just waiting to be written up.

I didn’t have any new decks to play this past week. Due to the torrential rains in the area, only one other person showed up to play.  Several fun games were played, though.  I got thoroughly stomped in many of them, but also managed to win with Maelstrom Wanderer the turn before it would have been locked out by Avacyn/Empyrial Archangel   AND also fling a 48/48 Avatar token (from Ajani’s ultimate) for a victory with Brion Stoutarm.

Coming up next week (or as soon as my Journey into Nyx preorder’s arrive) is  Kruphix and the MaroManiacs.