Friday, July 2, 2010

Rebuilding Raksha, Golden Cub

This is another EDH deck that could use some retuning. This one has Raksha Golden Cub as the general. If you don't remember it in "Decks that I once loved (I and II)" it's because it was properly put away, not cluttering up my desk. It's mono white. Let's go over what's already in it, this time sorted by mana cost.

Lands: 38
That's a bit low; I don't have the artifact acceleration like in my Progenitus deck, and this one still curves up to nine mana spells. If I recall correctly, the main complaint I had with the deck before shelving it was that I never actually got to cast Akroma. The fact that I was running a mana light deck might explain all that.
Darksteel Citadel: Perfectly fine in a monocolored deck. There are a lot of board sweepers played in EDH, a few of which will also kill off the occasional land. Being indestructible means I still have one mana after the meltdown. Nice, even if it doesn't matter that much.
Windbrisk Heights: Let's see, the engine that powered a standard deck for two years? Good if I've got a way to attack with three creatures. I have? Excellent.
Terrain Generator: I like this card in a deck with mostly basics.
Urza's Factory: For T,7 I can make a 2/2 token. Yeah, it was an important 1 of in the Teachings matchup in Time Spiral Block Constructed, but it is a slow kill condition.
Forbidding watchtower: And here's one that's even slower.
New Benalia: I guess scry 1 is nice?
Secluded Steppes, Drifting Meadows: Cycling is good. I like lands that cycle.
30 Plains: More interesting than your standard plains, actually. Contained within this stack of lands is one of the decks we prototyped for a playtest of one of our Awesome Games. So a number of these sleeves contain a basic plains as well as a bit of paper with other rules text on it:

Blue Card
Look Ma, I'm on TV! An appearance on a friendly news show does wonders for your organization.
Gain 3 media.

When it became apparent that I didn't have enough sleeves on hand to have both a playtest game and an EDH deck I went with both. Anyways, back to the matter at hand.

1 drops:
Skullclamp: What can I say about skullclamp that hasn't been said already? Quite a bit, actually. Skullclamp is good because it trades one sort of resource for another. It trades creatures in play for cards in hand. Cards like that are dangerous because you have to be very accurate with the rate. If you don't make the rate punishing enough then the card is broken and bad things happen. If you make it too punishing then nobody plays with it. Clamp was printed too much on the broken side of things. So if it's broken enough to be unfun, why am I playing it?

Two reasons: First off, this sort of card is extremely skilltesting. Yeah, you can get by off of power alone, but if you're really good you'll do a lot better with it than you would as a mediocre player. Randy Buehler famously said that Necropotence made him good; learning exactly how much life to trade for cards made Buehler the powerhouse that he was. The second reason was that I wasn't playing when the clamp was legal. Insanely broken card? Let me in on the action!

Viridian Longbow: Aside from the clamp this deck runs an equipment theme. Viridian Longbow is one of the weaker members. If I want to kill creatures I've got wrath effecs. If I want to kill players I'm usually better off attacking. (Yeah, those two excuses don't go together that well, I know.)

Bonesplitter: Equipment theme. You read the text box on Raksha Golden Cub? Vigilance, As long as Raksha is equipped, cats you control get +2/+2 and gain doublestrike. I want equipment around to stick on her so my other cats get huge. Not that I have many other cats in here as of this update.

Soul Warden: Classic Multiplayer one drop. Gains a lot of life. Expecially if you put it in a deck like this, which has a strong token theme. (This deck has a strong token theme).

Weathered Wayfarer: This guy is good; great at getting you more lands. He even gets nonbasics. Y'know, when I really need that Forbidding Watchtower. Anyways, I'm still leery about putting in too many search effects. This is one.

2 drops:
Jotun Grunt: hoses the occasional graveyard. Not nearly as effective as I'd like.
Cloak and Dagger: +2/0 and Shroud. No rogues though.
Knight of the White Orchid: Another good land search. That's two.
Auriok Steelshaper: Makes things cheaper to equip, pumps knights and soldiers of which there are plenty. (All three of my two drop creatures, for example.)
Veteran's Armaments: Gives a massive pump to one creature in a swarm. Also equips free to soldiers, like that steelshaper.
Lightning Greaves: A prince among equipment. More than once I had this and Armaments in play come turn seven. Play Raksha, Equip armaments for free, then equip Lightning greaves. Swing in with a 6/7 doublestrike vigilance shroud haste creature. That deals general damage. Good times.
Planar Collapse: A wrath effect for two mana? Sure I have to wait a turn and sure there have to be enough targets for it, but a deal is a deal!
Armillary Sphere. That's three search effects
Empyrial Plate: Another good equipment. Good if I've got a full hand, so I guess it just combos well with skullclamp. Like there's anything that doesn't.
Leonin Sun Standard: Multi pump effect for armies of creatures. Going to get to those armies of creatures sooner or later, I promise.

3 drops
Oblivion Ring: I could go either way on this card. On the one hand it's still just a 1 for 1, and people can kill it to get their offending permanent back. On the other hand, it answers most everything.
Devout Witness: Spellshapes Disenchant. (T,1W, Discard a card: Destroy target artifact or enchantment). Useful ability, especially when it repeats.
Order of Whiteclay: Gets creatures back from my yard, as a repeatable effect. Maybe he's why Viridian Longbow is in here.
Story Circle: Just hoses some decks. I remember one game where I had this keeping off a host of dragons from Dragon Roost. I lost that game when he got more dragons than I had mana to keep them away. Might cut this card, it can really annoy people.
Mirror Entity: What's that? Did I hear there was a token theme to this deck? Well you're in luck Mr. Douglas.
Prison Term: Targeted removal, but you can switch it to better and better creatures.
Aura of Silence. Talked about this card in my Reaper King articles. From now on it's officially Aura of Science!.
Mobilization: Finally a token horde producer. A very, very slow one. Still combos with skullclamp.
Nuisance Engine: Also produces tokens. Pest tokens. tokens that chump one by one while I'm waiting to find...
Loxodon Warhammer: +3/0, trample and lifelink? Also an excellent equipment.
Whispersilk Cloak: Shroud and unblockable. Neat.
Fireshrieker: Equipped creature has double strike. Great with the big creatures that are also in this deck.
Sculpting Steel: Copies clamp. also anything else that might be around. Will usually end up as an equipment of some sort.

4 drops:
Sigil of the new dawn: Repeatable Raise Dead if you have mana up at the right times. Not as good as I've hoped.
Auriok Windwalker: 2/3 flyer that shifts equipment around. Made it a wizard, in the same set as Raksha and two sets after Steelshaper. Really? Really? out of three relevant creature types you had to make it a wizard?
Breath of life: 4 mana to reanimate something. On the one hand, four mana. On the other hand, there are targets for it.
Kithkin rabble: Theoretically gets huge if you've got a token horde. But if you've got a token horde, what do you need a huge guy for? Better because it also counts whatever enchantments I might have, but it still encourages me to overextend into an opposing wrath effect.
Springjack Shepherd: Chroma goats. You know, so far the token producers I've gotten have been sub par.
Cradle of vitality: Makes creatures better if I've got the mad lifegain going on. Do I have lifegain, and in what condition is it's sanity? Soul warden (repeatable, but in 1 life chunks) and the warhammer so far. More coming up, like...
Faiths Fetters: An excellent control card. Kills somehting, stops it from activating it's abilities and even gets you +4 life when it enters play. Neat!
Nevinyrral's Disk: I've been talking and talkinga bout how this is a token deck with equipment in it, so it makes sense I've got a card in here that kills all of both. Probably gets shipped to a deck where I need answers more.
Ajani Goldmane: Supports tokens, supports Cradle of vitality and draws hate away from me. Planeswalkers are like that.
Galepowder mage: Negates blockers and reuses comes into play effects. Like springjack shepherd.
Endless Horizons: Number four in our shuffling series, but this one I don't mind since whenever it hits play, inevitably it's going to thin the deck down to where it's easy to shuffle. But Endless horizons is interesting for other reasons. If it works, it's a free card every turn, and all the mana you'll ever need. And it means you're drawing spells from here on out. But it's when it doesn't work that's the problem. I can see that jerk grinning from here, you know the one, the guy who just can't vindicate it fast enough because he knows you'll never play Akroma now. Still, I really like this card, even if I might only want to play it with seven or eight lands in play.
Taj-Nar Swordsmith: Kicker X, gets you equipment costing X or less. Probably should put him in the 5 mana colum since we all know he's getting clamp. Also a cat. Shuffle #5

5 drops:
Archon of Justice: He's big, he flies and he makes people really regret messing with my stuff. He's in.
Battlegrace Angel: Also big, also flies and works with cradle.
Boon Reflection: Also works with cradle. Still don't know that I have enough life gain effects to make either worthwhile.
Scourglass: Like Disk, only it leaves my equipment around.
Death or Glory: Half of a living death. The worse half. Haven't gotten a chance to play with it, it might be fun.
Knight Captain of Eos: Three guys for the price of one. Not as good as...
Cloudgoat Ranger: Even more guys for the price of one. Finally something that looks like token production.
Stonehewer Giant: Searches up equipment, and sticks it on something. Yeah, he's good in this deck. Search #6

Six drops:
Crovax, Ascendant Hero: Pumps tokens, shrinks opposing creatures, takes out the occasional Birds of Paradise and is even hard to kill.
Adarkar Valkyrie: Another angel, this one that raises things from the dead. Again, how can I say no? It's easier when I remember how many times exactly that didn't do a thing for me.
Austere Command: Customizeable board sweeping. Generally the deck has stuff that fits into all four categories on this card though.
Spirit of the Hearth: Another 4 power flyer. Was it two for one tuesday in the rare bin? Anyways, giving me shroud is neat, and he brings our cat count up to two.
Purity: 6/6 flyer for six, has the chance to give me life if someone's playing burn. Nobody's playing burn in multiplayer. Except this one deck... nevermind.
Jareth, Leonine Titan: Blocks anything, even most eldrazi. Hard to kill. Also our third and final cat.

Mass Calcify: For seven mana it destroys all nonwhite creatures. Wipes a number of creatures while leaving mine intact. Hopefully nobody else is playing mono white.
Sigil of Distinction: Ok, technically this is an X mana artifact, but it gets better the more land I've got in play so I've got it over in the X spells. Doesn't work well with the searchers since they both put it into play, but it can be huge.
Benalish Commander: Also an X spell don't be fooled by the 3W mana cost. Basically works like Kithkin Rabble once he hits play, but he has the advantage of giving you a soldier for every turn before that. Not the best guy in the cycle but servicable.
Myojin of Cleansing Fire: 4/6 creature, hard to kill until he kills everything else. Neat. Eight mana though. Eight mana buys you a lot, for example...
Akroma, Angel of Wrath: You know what? Let me just quote it's text box: Flying, First Strike, Trample, Haste, Vigilance, Protection from Black, Protection from Red. No rest, no mercy, no matter what. Akroma is just awesome.
Evangelize (With Buyback): It steals creatures and it's a repeatable effect! How awesome is that? Too awesome; it can really make people want to quit playing, which is exactly what I don't want them to do.

And, of course, Raksha, the Golden Cub. The cat lord who has all of three cats to buff. Whoo

Ok, that's the composition. Let's see what all we've got: 38 lands, 27 creatures (Plenty of soldiers, knights, not many cats. More wizards than I would like. Bunch of angels, spirits, avatars. Possibly enough clerics to support some tribal effects. Definetly enough to support steelshaper's buff.), 17 artifacts (11 equipment, 5 non, and Steelshaper's Gift which can be either), 11 enchantments, 6 sorceries and 1 planeswalker.

So the question is, what do I want to do with this deck? As I see it there are three directions I could take it. One is to go more in the way of soldiers and token production, building a massive army and attempting to swarm people. The second is to make it more of an angel theme deck; hopefully more midrangey. The third is to take out a lot of the worse creatures and try to make it a control deck. I've got more wrath effects that I can put in.

Currently, I've rebuilt it into more of an aggro deck. I've cut some of the worse, higher casting cost cards and replaced them with lower casting cost cards that are still bad. Err, anyway. It's doing better as an aggro deck, but could still stand some tweaking. I'll talk about that in a future post.

Short version: Needs more spectral procession.

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