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 Post subject: "C'mere!" with Braids, Hugging Adept
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-16 1:40 am 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Deck name: “Braids, Hugging Adept”

Commander: Braids, Conjurer Adept

Colours: Blue

Theme/s: Group hug (in theory), Bear Hug (in practice), giving Haste to large creatures that Braids drops in during Upkeep

Primary Win Condition/s: Attacking with creatures

Secondary Win Condition/s: Commander damage, mill through making everyone draw

Budget: $0. This was my first ever EDH deck and is on the verge of being dismantled.

Playgroup: My playgroup is a very casual kitchen-table style with up to five opponents. We don’t use Eldrazi (for fear of mutual deck escalation) or many infinite combos (usually because no-one owns the right cards to do so). I generally play against any or all of the following decks:
Player 1: mono-Green goodstuff/ mono-Red Chandler artifact creature destruction+Intimidate, White/Black/Red Kaalia of the Vast Angel tribal deck, Green/Blue/Red Riku of Two Reflections pre-con from Commander 2011
Player 2: Grixis “steal stuff”/mono-Green Omnath, Locus of Mana ramp
Player 3: Bant Rubinia Soulsinger “Tim” deck/Selesnya Gabriel Angelfire Banding deck
Player 4: Gruul Ruric Thar, the Unbowed creatures
Player 5: Yet to build an EDH deck :-(

I’m now up to my third deck posted here at MTGCommander, but this deck was the very first EDH deck that I constructed. This isn’t the first iteration of the deck, but it’s the only one I’ve got a deck list for (because it’s currently sleeved up and in use). I’ll consider this a starting point and will see if I can add stuff to it to make it better. I'm going to use this thread to keep a log of the changes that I make to this deck, including when I get the chance to buy cards for it (if I don’t deconstruct it first).

The first time I saw Braids, Conjurer Adept I think I felt feelings that no person should ever feel for an inanimate piece of cardboard. I saw the opportunity to play a game where I could avoid getting targeted by everyone at the table simply by helping everyone out, and then hopefully snatch the game away once I’d built up enough of a presence. Sadly, that never really happened in any of the actual games this deck played in; most people loved having the free stuff (except for the Ruric Thar player who hated that I was helping everyone ELSE ramp as quickly as he did) but my stuff was either not powerful enough to make an impression or got taken out as soon as it hit the table. I still enjoy the deck, but I feel that it could do with a little more finesse (and perhaps a larger card pool to choose from).

After playing the deck a few times, it became apparent that the best way to use Braids’ ability was to drop massive creatures onto the table in my Upkeep, then give them Haste and let them attack right away, so that no-one got the chance to deal with them on their turn.

Here’s the deck list, sorted by function.

Braids, Conjurer Adept – the commander

Hive Mind
Temple Bell
Noble Benefactor
Horn of Plenty
Gate to the Aether
Words of Wisdom
Horn of Greed
Howling Mine
Helm of Awakening
Otherworld Atlas

These cards help everyone out, whether it’s through extra card draws, tutoring, or by dropping more free things on the table.

With all of this drawing, there’s a way to perform a secondary win here, though milling. With Hive Mind and Skyscribing (hard cast rather than using its Forecast ability), you could set it up so that ALL players draw out their decks, causing a drawn game. Not technically a win, but it feels like one to me ;-)

Azure Mage
Aeon Chronicler
Covenant of Minds
Recurring Insight
Jayemdae Tome
Staff of Nin
Sphinx of Uthuun

Just card draw for me this time in order to make the most out of Braids’ effect.

Body Double
Quicksilver Gargantuan
Roil Elemental
Sphinx Ambassador
Diluvian Primordial
Soul Seizer
Stolen Goods
Spirit Away

What Blue deck would be without a little copying or stealing? In response to the generally better decks in my playgroup (at the time), I included a number of cards that allowed me to copy or steal their things.

Swiftfoot Boots
Strider Harness
Ring of Valkas
Akroma's Memorial

These cards were added after a couple of games when I realised that I needed to attack with bigger things as soon as I dropped them (as they might not otherwise get the chance to survive until they could). I’ve also got a copy of Hall of the Bandit Lord in the deck to that end, but that’s listed with the lands.

Gilded Lotus
Sky Diamond
Sisay's Ring
Expedition Map
Grand Architect

The best mana acceleration that I had access to at the time (in mono-Blue).

Dragon Mask
Inkwell Leviathan
Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Frost Titan
Paradox Haze
Robe of Mirrors
Nullstone Gargoyle
Darksteel Sentinel
Leyline of Anticipation
Cyclonic Rift
Ring of Evos Isle
Deadeye Navigator
Stormtide Leviathan
Manor Gargoyle
Creepy Doll

Everything else in the deck. Dragon Mask and Leyline of Anticipation gives me the chance to deny other players the use of Braids, if I were feeling that way inclined. Paradox Haze lets me double up on Upkeeps (which, if I have Gate to the Aether out as well, gives me four free card plays a turn) which is nice.

Stormtide Leviathan once won me a game by causing a soft lock with Akroma’s Memorial; the only player with removal at the table was playing mono-Black so no-one could deal with the Leviathan nor attack. In the end, two of the other three players scooped, and the third one did so after I drew into my Cyclonic Rift and bounced his entire board (which had something that let him ignore all damage that I could deal to him).

Island x 28
Reliquary Tower
Urza's Mine
Urza's Power Plant
Urza's Tower
Crystal Vein
Scorched Ruins
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Tolaria West

Nothing really special here; Urzatron with a Tolaria West to tutor for the last one of the set if I needed it, a bit of ramp with Crystal Vein and Scorched Ruins, and Haste from the Hall, if needed.

So, that’s the deck. As it stands, I’m not unhappy with it, but I’d like to take it in a different direction. If I don’t tear it apart, that is. If I retune it, then I’d honestly like to try and turn it into a Bear Hug deck rather than Group Hug, but the key thing is that I’d like to have a number of combos in the deck. Specifically, combos that don’t look like combos until you’ve assembled them. I want to turn this deck into the most innocuous looking thing you’ve ever seen up until it turns around and bites your head off. But, I lack the knowledge to do so.

I guess I could start by removing the Haste enablers and all of the big creatures. That removes a lot of the visible “teeth” that the deck has (not to mention disassembling the soft lock combo I mentioned before). But I need recommendations for combos that look innocent but have the ability to win the game or at least turn the game in my favour. The obvious one, though expensive (in terms of money), is to use Pact of Negation with a Hive Mind out, ending the game for all non-Blue players on their next Upkeep. But, I’m willing to hear any other suggestions.


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters

Last edited by Masked Thespian on 2013-Nov-16 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: "C'mere!" with Braids, Hugging Adept
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-16 1:41 am 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Reserved for changes and for overflow, if necessary.


16/11/13: Deck posted


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters

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 Post subject: Re: "C'mere!" with Braids, Hugging Adept
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-16 6:30 am 
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Joined: 2013-May-29 9:57 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Atlanta, GA
I see two problems here.

The first is that you are trying to run a mono-blue group-hug deck in a format where the general consensus is "Mono-blue must die!"

The second is that the things you are dropping with Braids just really aren't that great compared to the things that your opponents will probably drop. I know it's monocolor and your options are limited, but if you don't put up a big scary wall, the one opponent who wises up to your tricks out of the five at the table is going to stomp you as soon as you try to get started.

Suggestions by category:
Actually, I like this suite. I would suggest Blue Sun's Zenith for reusable politics and Prosperity in addition to what you have. If you wanted to be really mean, you could add Pact of Negation for Hive Mind, but that's up to you.

Your spells are solid, but some of your permanents in this category could be better. Azure Mage is playable, but there are better options. Oculus, Runewing, and Jayemdae Tome however are pretty suboptimal. Some good suggestions for swaps would be Arcanis the Omnipotent, Mulldrifter, Jace Beleren, or Sphinx of Magosi. Also the two cards mentioned in the Hug section, and maybe Stroke of Genius too for good measure. It's blue, you can never draw too many cards.

I like this suite also. How is Sphinx Ambassador working out for you? At first glance it seems weak, but since you know your opponents' decks it might be working really well for you. Not sure on that one, up to you. I would say that Spirit Away, Soul Seizer, and Domestication could go out and that Blatant Thievery and Phantasmal Image could go in.

Strider Harness and Ring of Valkas? You are trying too hard. Yeah, haste is rough in monoblue, but even high-performing red decks don't typically run more than 3 or 4 mass haste enablers. Solid replacements though would be Lightning Greaves (of course, though a bit pricey) and Sword of Vengeance (less pricey).

Not much to see here, though if you're desperate you could add Coldsteel Heart and Paradise Plume. You seem okay here though.

Dragon Mask I assume is mostly just bouncing your creatures. It could be Erratic Portal instead.
Robe of Mirrors can take the cut. If you need protection for your general that badly, you could run Whispersilk Cloak instead, but I think you should be okay.
Darksteel Sentinel, Manor Gargoyle, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, and Creepy Doll are just not really great creatures in general, but are especially poor at the strategy that you are trying to push. What I think the deck needs are more creatures like Inkwell Leviathan: big, scary, and destructive. For replacements, you could consider the Eldrazi. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth would be ideal, but they 'spensive tho. It That Betrays and Artisan of Kozilek are both decent stand-ins. Darksteel Colossus, Blightsteel Colossus, and Colossus of Akros are big, stompy, and hard to get rid of. In-color, you could capitalize on the hand-returning aspect of the deck and run cards like Denizen of the Deep, Kederekt Leviathan, and Tidespout Tyrant. Finally, you should probably invest in a Jin-Gitaxias. He keeps your hand full and makes sure that your opponents can't drop a thing off of Braids for when you are ready to move in for the kill.

36 lands that all produce mana (some in multiples). Very nice!

Don't break it down yet! You can still make the deck awesome!

"Expect nothing but scorn, flattery, and lies. And never turn your back on him." - The Northern Paladin

Bladewing the Risen - MTG: Blood Dragon - OST by Powerglove
Dosan the Falling Leaf - Mono-Green Accelerator
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter - Feed it to Vish
Toshiro Umezawa - Budget Creatureless
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher - Combo Jund
Marath, Will of the Wild - Beast-Mode Tribal
Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Mortal Combat Dredge
Kamahl & Jeska - Tag Team Voltron

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 Post subject: Re: "C'mere!" with Braids, Hugging Adept
AgePosted: 2013-Nov-17 10:07 pm 

Joined: 2011-Aug-18 3:35 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
You should run Terrain Generator to help you ramp and maybe Druidic Satchel as well.

If you want to gain additional value from her trigger, I would suggest Strionic Resonator as well as Vanishing. If she's phased out on opponent turns, they don't get the benefits. You can even be political about when you phase her out or whose upkeep trigger you choose to copy to make it more kingmaker. If you make someone else the frontrunner, you'll have a little more time to develop your own schemes. Possibly Teferi's Veil to go along with the phasing idea. It is actually pretty good to go along with EOT theft abilities. Something like Reins of Power swinging into the veil, you'd permanently keep their entire board and still get yours back EOT.

The new Illusionist's Gambit is an auto include in such a deck. You're giving everyone free bombs, might as well ensure that you're not going to be the target of their scorn, even if they want you to be.

I think trying to "hide" a combo is pointless. If you are playing with the same group for any extended amount of time they will know what combos are available to your deck and it will only really work the first time. Either way, you'll be known as the typical combo blue deck and just get killed first every time.

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