Monday, June 7, 2010

Rebuilding Reaper King

In this case "Reaper King" refers to my Elder Dragon Highlander deck which sports Reaper King as it's general. This deck is underperforming, to put it lightly. Before, it was a five color deck packing all the biggest spells and effects I could find (in my binder; not that great a place to look but far cheaper than most others). Before that even it was three color Nichol Bolas, with much the same theme. The deck has never won very much, unless pitted against even jankier opposing decks. Towards the end I deliberately overloaded the deck with huge, interesting creatures that make me smile whenever I draw them. Still doesn't win, but at least I'm happier playing it this way. Still, it could use another rebuild.

So what am I rebuilding it to? Well, I'd still like it to be a five color "whatever I draw makes me smile" deck. I'd like to spend less time fixing my mana. And I certainly wouldn't mind if it won more often. Probably going to try to steer this as a high fat beatdown. Like that time I told the truth to health club members. Yeah, that was a painful day. But anyways, I'm going to also try to move away from cards that stick me too far in a control role.

Let's talk about what's in the deck. First up: Reaper King

Reaper King is actually a really frustrating general to play. You see, whenever he comes down people look and see a dragon sized creature that enables a steady stream of vindicates. So they kill him. So you replay him. So they kill him. So you replay him again. And then someone taps goblin welder to give you back your freaking rakdos signet and drive your general up past 10 mana to replay, and then they thing they're so clever for seeing that. Seriously? I get he's a 6/6, and he's black, but he's suprisingly easy to kill. I mean if you're playing EDH of course you're packing some way to deal with creatures that size, and of course you're playing something that deals with artifacts. Or if you're not, it's at a multiplayer table and somebody's got it. You know they're going to use it because Reaper King is theoretically powerful enough to cross the "forget it's card disadvantage" threshold. Y'know, the one that's usually reserved for things like Mirari's Wake and Mindslaver. It got so bad that I took out nearly all the scarecrows because I knew I'd never get the trigger off.

So I'm going to replace Reaper King. Already got his successor lined up; Progenitus. I expect Progenitus will make everybody nervous, but it's a lot harder to deal with a 10/10 protection from everything creature. I hope. And it'd be a shame to leave that foil copy just sitting in my trade binder, pining.

Ok, what else is there. Starting with the creatures.

All five Nephilim
The nephilim were a cycle from Guildpact of four color creatures. They got the shaft in development because the abundant mana fixing of the block meant they were actually really easy to get out on turn four if you wanted to build your deck that way, so the power level kept getting lowered. And since there haven't been any four color cards before or since they had to carve out their own section of the color pie, which left them abilities that are odd and unique. Abilities that ask you to build around them, not just throw them into your random five color deck. Yeah, these guys are gonna get cut. They'll make a neat page in my binder though.

Zur the Enchanter
Tutors up a nice enchantment package that is almost guaranteed not to be what I need. Actually, my main beef with Zur is that he's too well known as a general; it's hard to look clever putting him in a deck. Or non-threatening. In any case he takes up a lot of deck space and makes me shuffle every turn, so I think I'm going to cut him from this iteration.

Five color creatures (Maelstrom Archangel, Bringer of the Black Dawn, Bringer of the Red Dawn, Worldheart Phoenix).
I dunno. I mean, if I've got a five color deck then I figure I should probably be playing cards that need five colors. These guys are all credible threats on their own. Yeah, Mr. Black dawn makes me search every turn, but I figure he'll last about as long as reaper king in play, so I'll be surprised if I have to shuffle twice for him in one game.

Sabertooth Nishoba
Let's see, he's a 5/5 trampler with protection from blue and red. Protection is a pretty powerful ability, but blue and red aren't going to be the colors that kill him; it'll be black terror effects or white wrath of gods. In the end, I think he's an undersized dragon without enough added value to keep him on board. Shame, I hadn't ever heard of him before cracking him in an invasion Winston. Would be happier if he did well.

Dominus of fealty
Steal something every turn is neat, but his mana cost isn't. Gonna cut him for something that doesn't make me agonize over my mana so much.

Magus of the Mirror
You know what I said about wanting to play beatdown? This it isn't. I hope I'll be putting the hurt on enough people's life totals that I won't want to exchange with anyone. Nevermind that this guy is vulnerable to all sorts of incidental shocks and whatnot.

Puppeteer clique
I'm on the fence with this guy; he's never been as good for me as I've hoped. On the other hand, his effect is powerful, repeatable and allows for diplomacy. (Steal one player's creature, send it at another player). He's gonna get kept for now.

Sedris, the Traitor King
With hopefully a lot of giant creatures and hopefully less random graveyard removal, Sedris ought to be able to unearth something big to toss at somebody. Or Puppeteer clique to unearth someone else's something big. On the other hand he doesn't interact that well with a reanimation strategy I might try to run. Which is fine; I'd rather not put too much weight on graveyard recursion because it's pretty easy to hose.

Lightning Reaver.
This guy is either decent or terrible. My guess is he's going to hit someone for three, hit everyone for one and then get killed before the next turn. I think I'm going to keep him in until I've played with him more to know the difference.

Dimir Doppelganger
Would be great against this strategy. As it is he's in the "I havn't played with him enough to know if he's good or not" category. Or maybe I do know he's bad and am blocking that knowledge out because his flavor is so awesome. Either way, he's staying in. Provisionally.

Magister Sphinx
I had to look this guy up to make sure he wasn't banned. He's still seven mana, but when you start with 40 points of life then any effect that sets someone's life total to something reasonable for a 20 point game is suspect. See Sway of the stars, for example. Anyways, this guy is too awesome to not play. It's not like I'm going to Tinker him into play or anything.

Etched Oracle
Four mana for a 4/4 that will let me sac it to draw three cards? Ok, it requires four mana colors coming in for the effect, but I can handle that. He's staying in.

Solemn Simulacrum
Card advantage and mana fixing/accelerating. Also an invitational card. Staying in.

Meglonoth, Malfegor, Godsire
They're huge, they've got big effects, and two of them are shiny. However can I say no?

That's all the creatures I had originally. Let's take a runthrough of the noncreatures.

The Zur package:
All of these cards are worse without Zur. Unless they're good enough on their own they're getting cut.
Pillory of the sleepless: I can find better kill spells. Next!
Steel of the Godhead, Shield of the Oversoul: Combo with Reaper King. Cut!
Compost: Excellent black hoser, completely useless otherwise. Cut!
Tranquil Grove: Wipes the board of enchantments. Cut!
Sylvan Library: Awesome. Stays in.
Night soil: Hoses creatures in other graveyards. Might stay in.
Aura of silence. Top quality Artifact/Enchantment hate. Might stay in.

Crystal shard:
I hate this card. I've been so annoyed playing against it. I don't deny that it's powerful, but I honestly can't say I'm happy playing it. Cutting it. I'll just go stack it next to my capsize for the day the dark side overwhelms me.

Thought Reflection:
Draws a lot of cards. UUU is harder to get in a five color deck than UGR or what have you. Still, all it does is draw cards in a supposedly aggro deck, so I think I'm going to drop it.

Violet Pall
Makes a better-than-Martial Coup board wipe when comboed with Ink-treader Nephilim. If they ever came up together. And if I was keeping any nephilim. Cut!

Obelisk of Alara
Different effects in five colors? Decent effects at that? Gonna keep it.

Nevinyrral's Disk
Do I need a blow-up-the-world in an ostensibly aggro deck? Did Slim Pickens ride the bomb?

Austere Command
Do I need two? It IS customizeable. Maybe.

Violent Ultimatum
Ok, this one is neat, but three is definitely pushing it. Not that I'd ever get the proper mana to play that cost. Cut!

Brilliant Ultimatum
Or that cost. Cut!

Life from the Loam
On the one hand there's something to be said for a card that draws you more land in a deck that wants to hard cast progenitus. On the other hand this thing draws more graveyard hate than a zombie insurrection. And it does require a lot of fiddlin' to get your mana working properly. But all that pales compared to the fact that I love this card well out of proportion to it's usefulness. It stays.

Wild Ricochet
Stays in my hand, waiting for an appropriate target. Occasionally makes a story worthy of legend, not often. Maybe if I played against more decks with Time stretch. More often than not this sits in my hand while I wish it was something I could do something with. it goes.

Fact or Fiction
I love this card. Not in the least because I'm hardly skillful enough to play it properly, but using the card helps me achieve that coveted skill level. It's a draw spell, but I want one or two in the deck. I mean, even if I'm going aggro I'll need to refill my hand every so often. Multiplayer aggro decks are decisively midrange. Fact stays.

Stroke of Genius
I did say "or two", didn't I? Stroke provides the second. One full hand please, hold the Misdirection.

Crib Swap
It's a very political removal spell. Kill something, but at least they get a chump. I think it's gonna go; I don't want to leave any extra blockers. Also, I think it was left in to combo with Ink-treader Nephilim

Bituminous Blast
Cool. Card advantage. Probably hits a signet but still. Gonna stay in for now.

Memory Plunder
Plays an instant or sorcery from someone else's graveyard. In general, I doubt they'll have the sort of cards I'll want to play, especially at that cost. Cut!

Chandra Nalaar
A planeswalker. That burns things. She's going in.

Always disappointing, especially in a deck that runs this many signets. Cut!

Fire and Ice
Two damage or tap a blocker and draw a card? Gonna keep that one.

Rude Awakening
Throw all my lands at somebody? Eh, they probably deserve it. Keep!

Steals a blocker, which I can next turn use to rampage with. Yeah, gonna keep this one too.

Decree of Pain
Too much of a control card. Too much of a card that people will steal if they rifle through my deck looking. I don't want that played against me, it's gonna get cut.

Mana fixers, accelerants:
Birds of Paradise
classic, one of the best, but it's still a creature that'll get swept up in the occasional wraths of god that, well, sweep the board. Cut!

Prismatic Omen
This card doesn't do much of anything by itself, but I'm always really happy to see it because it means I wont' have to fiddle with my lands nearly so much. Stays. Also a Zur piece, but good enough on it's own.

Fertile Ground
Fine for now. Makes one of my lands more of a target than others, but that's not enough reason to cut it.

harrow: Too much time searching, shuffling. Cut!

3 Signets, all five Obelisks from Shards
Tend to get hit by the occasional artifact mass removal or the guy with a hull breach looking for an additional target. Still they make decent mana accelerants, so I think I'm gonna keep 'em.

5 Vivids
Good enough to keep. Annoying to keep track of the counters.
6 Ravnica block bouncelands
Where are the other four? These are good enough to put all ten in.
4 Panoramas, Terramorphic expanse
Would really like to cut these, what with the shuffling and all. We'll see what else is available.
10 assorted basics
To be determined how this number is going to change
3 Shards tap lands, 3 Coldsnap tap lands
Where are all the rest of my cycles getting off to? Anyways, nothing particularly objectionable about these cards. Wouldn't mind upgrade coldsnap lands to refuges, if I own them. A quick look through my land stack finds me three more Ravnica bounces and another shards land, which will probably go in.
City of brass
Five colors! no work! Only one point of pain whenever you use it. Means you gotta be really sure when you want to tap it. Not sure I'm happy about that.
Llanwar Reborn, Yavimaya hollow: interesting nonbasics, gonna have to earn their way in though. Colorfixing is the priority.

Right now I've got 24 non creatures and 14 creatures. Gonna need to find a lot more creatures. Unfortunatly, I've spoken entirely too much about what's already in there, so the rest of this is going to have to wait until next I speak on this.

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