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 Post subject: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-04 2:10 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
So, this isn't my list... yet. I've been wanting to build an Ayli deck but haven't yet managed to snag a copy of her, and I stumbled across this Karlov list last night on Pucatrade, courtesy of Nick Wolf. He talked it up a good deal in his article, so it got me interested in trying out ol' Uncle Ghosty while I wait to get my hands on a foil Ayli.

Here's the list:

CREATURES

Karlov of the Ghost Council

Soul Warden
Soul's Attendant
Mother of Runes
Serra Ascendant
Suture Priest
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Auriok Champion
Wall of Reverence
Rhox Faithmender
Sunscorch Regent
Archangel of Thune
Sun Titan
Blood Artist
Vampire Nighthawk
Crypt Ghast
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Pontiff of Blight
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Tithe Drinker
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Divinity of Pride
Solemn Simulacrum
Wurmcoil Engine

SORCERIES

Steelshaper's Gift
Demonic Tutor
Toxic Deluge
Damnation
Vindicate
Merciless Eviction

INSTANTS

Enlightened Tutor
Swords to Plowshares
Return to Dust
Mortify
Utter End

ENCHANTMENTS

Land Tax
Recumbent Bliss
Blind Obedience
Faith's Fetters
Cradle of Vitality
Retreat to Hagra
Phyrexian Arena
Necropotence
Whip of Erebos
Exquisite Blood
Gift of Orzhova

ARTIFACTS

Sol Ring
Skullclamp
Orzhov Signet
Scroll Rack
Pristine Talisman
Chalice of Life
Lightning Greaves
Umezawa's Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of War and Peace
Sword of Light and Shadow
Loxodon Warhammer
Well of Lost Dreams

PLANESWALKERS

Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Ob Nixilis Reignited
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

LANDS

High Market
Vault of the Archangel
Shizo, Death's Storehouse
Godless Shrine
Blighted Steppe
Tainted Field
Glimmerpost
Kabira Crossroads
Scoured Barrens
Caves of Koilos
Opal Palace
Seraph Sanctuary
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Cabal Coffers
Radiant Fountain
Scrubland
Isolated Chapel
Command Tower
Homeward Path
Orzhov Basilica
Ghost Quarter
7 Plains
8 Swamp

I could just as easily work this out on my own, but I'm just in the mood for a bit more collaboration and discussion. Plus, no matter how clever I think I am, you all always manage to mention some card that has me slapping my head and saying "Doh!".

So, here are my first impressions - overall this looks like a really solid starting point, and I could probably sleeve this up as-is and be fairly happy.

However... there are, by my count only two cards in the deck that draw cards - SoFI and Arena. This is unacceptable for me, so one of my primary goals is to improve the draw. Skullclamp is a gimme, and I'm pretty sure Well of Lost Dreams is woth mentioning - but as good as that was in Oloro, I'm not 100% sure it's as good here. Any thoughts?

Also, there's Disciple of Bolas, but I don't have a ton of large guys to sac. Vampiric Rights, maybe? Underworld Connections is a bad Arena, but still seems okay-ish.

I'd also probably run the ol' Land Tax+Scroll Rack value engine. Anytime I'm running Skullclamp, I tend to look at Bloodghast, but here's the catch - if I draw 'ghast but not 'clamp, is the vampire ghost doing anything else? Is it a blank draw? I guess it's fine with Ayli and Vampiric Rites IF I put that in...

I think the elephant in the room here is Necropotence. I've never run Nerco in an EDH before and I'd kinda like to try it here... but would that be overkill for a casual setting?

Moving past the draw package, I'd beef up the mana a little bit - no Sol Ring, Solemn or Signet? LAME! I'd have to add those at minimum. Not sure I want Coalition Relic here, so that could go. Might want Burnished Hart, too, but if I have Land Tax maybe not.

Other notable exclusions I'd almost certainly add:

Auriok Champion
Sun Titan
Tithe Drinker
Rhox Faithmender

CRADLE OF VITALITY!!! Can't believe this wasn't in the list!

Sun Droplet (Maybe. Probably too "cute" but I'd like to think it has a chance here.)

Toxic Deluge (I can probably always afford the life and it scales so that I can possibly kill everything except Karlov)

Elspeth, Sun's Champion - too many "meh" walkers. I'd probably cut at least two of the walkers and replace one with Elspeth. I'm thinking Black Oath and the lesser Sorin.


So... folks. What other obvious tech am I missing? Anyone have some solid experience with a Karlov build who can give me some pointers on fine-tuning and strategy?

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Last edited by thaumaturge on 2016-Feb-05 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-04 3:13 am 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
I don't have a Karlov deck, but maybe Palace Siege? Both of those choices are going to be good in your deck.

Although, for card draw, there's probably some more important cards to consider. I tend to have pretty good results with Greed, but if you find yourself going towards a plan where you are recurring creatures a lot, then Dark Prophecy might be your card.

Damnable Pact doesn't draw you cards over the whole game, but sometimes just one refill is enough to keep control of the game. It's also nicer than Necropotence.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-04 3:36 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Segrus wrote:
I don't have a Karlov deck, but maybe Palace Siege? Both of those choices are going to be good in your deck.

Although, for card draw, there's probably some more important cards to consider. I tend to have pretty good results with Greed, but if you find yourself going towards a plan where you are recurring creatures a lot, then Dark Prophecy might be your card.

Damnable Pact doesn't draw you cards over the whole game, but sometimes just one refill is enough to keep control of the game. It's also nicer than Necropotence.

Good points. I'm pretty biased against Dark Prophecy because I've had it screw me a few times, but that does seem a bit less likely with this deck. I'll keep it in mind. I also have an irrational dislike of Damnable Pact - I think it might just be the awful illustration. But it doesn't say "Skip your draw step" on it, which is my real hold-out on Necro.

Palace Seige does seem okay too - it's kind of a pet card that I keep putting into decks, but so far I've meen mostly disappointed in it. The only deck where it's stuck around has been Sidisi. I'll definitly add it to the Maybe stack.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-04 5:56 am 

Joined: 2011-Apr-07 11:38 am
Age: Elder Dragon
This deck is fine, but should work better most of the time with Ayli as the commander. She is just so much more open. I plan to make her and make use of more token generators (bitterblossom). She is also much better with cards like bloodghast (than Karlov) always granting him a sac outlet. Phyrexian Reclamation is always a card I look at when playing a lifegain deck. It's not draw, but it does grant card advantage.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-04 6:40 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Jelik wrote:
This deck is fine, but should work better most of the time with Ayli as the commander. She is just so much more open. I plan to make her and make use of more token generators (bitterblossom). She is also much better with cards like bloodghast (than Karlov) always granting him a sac outlet. Phyrexian Reclamation is always a card I look at when playing a lifegain deck. It's not draw, but it does grant card advantage.


Well, as I said in the OP, I was already planning to build an Ayli list, but I don't own one yet and it might be a while before I do so... Karlov it is for now at least.

Reclamation is pretty sweet. I ran it in Oloro, so yeah, I would consider it viable here.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-05 3:58 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Alright, I've made a few theoretical edits. I still haven't found room for Phyrexian Reclamation, Palace Siege or Vampiric Rites yet, but otherwise I think I've managed to slightly improve the draw/utility/ramp subset while also including a few of the must-runs that were left out like Auriok Champion, Cradle of Vitality, etc.

I also cut Erebos, because while he was a good source of card draw, having him cloned or stolen would be absolutely ruinous for me, given his whole "you can't gain life" thing.

Also found a cute bit of tech in Recumbent Bliss, which is bascially an Ajani's Mantra stapled onto a Pacifism. It might turn out to be a dud, but it's on-theme removal, so I'll give it a shot.

Also wondering about Storm Herd and Beacon of Immortality. Both seem cool, but not sure where I'd put them or if I even should.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-05 5:04 am 

Joined: 2011-Aug-18 3:35 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Karlov and Ayli are two completely different decks. Karlov has to focus entirely on life gain, not caring on how much but how many triggers. He is stupid broken though. Ayli cares more on how much vs how many. It's a far different build with a far smaller focus on life gain overall leaving more room to personalize the list.

I have some free time this weekend, I should probably get around to building some new decks...

As far as potential additions... since this build doesn't play a lot of the spirit link/loop type auras I would suggest Righteous War which will put you out of reach of most spot removals.

Well of Lost Dreams is a necessity as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-05 7:04 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Epsilon wrote:
Karlov and Ayli are two completely different decks. Karlov has to focus entirely on life gain, not caring on how much but how many triggers. He is stupid broken though. Ayli cares more on how much vs how many. It's a far different build with a far smaller focus on life gain overall leaving more room to personalize the list.

I have some free time this weekend, I should probably get around to building some new decks...

As far as potential additions... since this build doesn't play a lot of the spirit link/loop type auras I would suggest Righteous War which will put you out of reach of most spot removals.

Well of Lost Dreams is a necessity as well.


Righteous War is pretty cool, but I don't own one. Will need to rectify that at some point because it is just a fun card.

I look toward adding Well of Lost Dreams also.

Other than that, does it look like I have enough life gain? One thing I'm woried about is if I keep a starting hand that doesn't have some kind of Soul Warden variant or another.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-05 7:46 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Shit. My edits didn't take for some reason. The list in the OP is still the same list from Puca. Now I have to redo them all from memory!

EDIT: Okay the list in the OP is updated, and here is a list of cuts:

Erebos, God of the Dead
Drana's Emissary
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Beseech the Queen
Debt to the Deathless
Sanguine Bond
Black Market
Zuran Orb
Coalition Relic
Orzhov Keyrune
Whispersilk Cloak
Darksteel Plate
Batterskull
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Felidar Sovereign

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-08 2:59 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Alright, I got to sleeve this list up and play quite a few games this weekend. There were a few differences - I couldn't find a Retreat to Hagra (and honestly wasn't in love with it to begin with) so that became Vampiric Rites instead.

Also couldn't find a free Toxic Deluge, despite owning several - I'm pretty sure I have at least one deck running a copy "just because" so as soon as I identify which of my decks can easily give up a copy of Deluge, it's going in for sure. Right now I'm just running Path to Exile in it's place.

And there were a couple of minor tweaks to the mana base, but nothing important.

Anyway, went 1-1 against Ayli. First game was a 1v1 and I got Necropotence out. Necro was very powerful, but not in the unfair way that Griselbrand did. The skip your draw step and exile anything you discard clauses really did go along way to keeping it in check, but the fact that I was able to always have 7 card in hand no matter what was powerful, for sure. Basciallly a cheaper Damia that doesn't die to Wraths. Anyway, I won that one, but it was not nearly as one-sided a game as you might think. Lots of back and forth, but card advantage wins games!

Game two had a third player, on Wort Raidmother, but his deck drew poorly and between Karlov and Ayli both being operational, nothing he did could live long enough to matter. He quicly scooped in frustration, and we duked it out in what turned out to be a long, epic, but kinda boring attrition war.

Eventually Ayli won with a bit of a "lock" - Ayli wearing a Sword of Light and Shadow (that I went to great lengths to convince her she should be running!), getting back an Eight and a Half Tails every turn. So she was able to just block and sac, block and sac until the ends of time, and Karlov was useless. I kept drawing things and making her use more and more of her resources to deal with them, but ultimately she drew better and had more resources than I could grind away.

I died to six hits from Ayli wearing that stupid sword.

Against a different opponent, I went 3-0 against Daxos (everyone was really into Orzhov this weekend, for some reason), though he actually got me down to really low life a couple times. One game, I was basically dead on the board to a Sun Titan wearing something that gave it pro-white and the 7 CMC Teysa with an Angelic Destiny when I topdecked a Merciless Eviction FTW.

Played two games against Kalemne and slaughtered them. It was pretty brutal. I actually had the very rare "Mercy Mulligan" where I threw back a hand because I figured it'd be too GOOD - basically it was just four lands, Soul's Attendant, Soul Warden and Recumbant Bliss - there was a good chance that, by the time my opponent cast his first creature, Karlov was already going to have six counters, and even if it didn't, I'd hit the first creature with Bliss, THEN have six counters up to exile the next thing to come down. I told my opponent about that later on and he chuckled a bit and said "Yeah, I'd probably just have scooped to you casting the second soul sister. Fuck that deck."

Finally, played two games against Titania, and lost both. Game 1 seemed like I had it locked up, but then he topdecked Avenger while holding Scapeshift or vice versa. I had killed Titania a couple of times, but he still had mana to recast her, drop Avenger and then Scapeshift. I took a cheay scry and was NOT drawing a Wrath. Second game also seemed to be going well for me, but again, my opponent had the realest topdecks, and was just better equipped to play the attrition game.

I feel like had I draw Necro in any game past the very first one I played, I'd have been unstoppable, so maybe Necro is a little OP, but it still felt FAR from game-wrecking a la Griselbrand so I'm keeping it for now. That said, I won the majority of my games, and most of my losses were close-ish.

What I really, really love about the deck, though is that it's a synergy beast. I certainly CAN draw combinations of cards that interact poorly or not at all, and that did happen to me a couple of times, but overall it usually feels like everything clicks into place like a puzzle.

Highlights - Having Archangel of Thune do some real work; Ultimating Sorin LoI and Ajani Caller on the same turn AND having them both survive the Ult at 1 loyalty; Sunscorch Regent not sucking for once; Pontiff of Blight not sucking for once.

Lowlights - bascially every game that didn't involve Necropotence, I wound up in topdeck mode. Still won most of those games anyway, but I hate being hellbent. Need more draw, somehow.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-13 5:25 am 

Joined: 2008-Aug-04 9:41 am
Age: Dragon
I know the feeling of getting into topdeck mode quite often. It's the same problem I've had with my Teysa deck but not so much of an issue anymore after a crapton of iterations. I don't have an actual list on here but I do on mtgsalvation so i'll link it here:

http://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/the-game/commander-edh/multiplayer-commander-decklists/634875-teysa-orzhov-scion

Basically for card draw I have:
Erebos, God of the Dead
Liliana of the Dark Realms(Swamps only though)
Solemn Simulacrum
Mentor of the Meek (!!)
Phyrexian Arena
Land Tax
Sword of Light and Shadow
Skullclamp
Scroll Rack (!!)
Yawgmoth's Will (sorta)
Decree of Pain
Read the Bones (even though I'm replacing that one)

Add some tutors that can find you a card draw engine and you're set. I deliberately didn't include Necropotence (anymore) since the card is completely busted and any effort should go into finding the card. Tutoring for anything besides Necro is in 9 out 10 cases the wrong play. It made the deck very one-dimensional and thus a lot more boring. Scroll Rack is also an all-star. If you keep some cards in your hand, even lands from Land Tax or Liliana, a scroll rack will show you 6-7 new cards. With fetch lands and especially land tax it becomes even better. Land tax effectively becomes "draw 3 in your upkeep".

ps. you can probably see the same style in my Feldon deck :) Teysa being the plan B.


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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-25 8:30 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Can't believe I forgot about Mentor of the Meek! That's guy's been my bro since the day he saw print. Cutting something is going to be hard, though. I finally freed up a Toxic Deluge and wound up cutting Whip of Erebos for the Deluge- I liked the "all creatures have lifelink" clause a lot but the Unearth ability was largely useless, as the bulk of my creatures are tiny.

I kinda want to put in Spirit Loop but that's yet another cut and there's bascially nothing in this list that I'm unhappy with so far. But I definitely need Mentor up ins, so I'll have to figure something out.

Fun story: my most recent games with this deck both involved a Wort, the Raidmother deck whose primary function and goal is to barf out an alarming amount of tokens. Both games I started out with a Soul Warden or variant thereof. I basically never had less than 12 counters on Karlov at any point and was just exiling things willy-nilly. Still wound up dying one game because of Mana Echoes and some kind of Fireball-like spell. The other game, Echoes never appeared and Warden into Karlov just got there.

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 Post subject: Re: Karlov, Ghost Uncle
AgePosted: 2016-Feb-26 6:37 am 
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Joined: 2011-Mar-29 8:30 am
Age: Drake
If you build Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim I think it would be awesome to take full advantage of the "gain life equal to creature's toughness aspect.

Make it a Big Butts Deck with Defender Creatures!

Defender Creatures

Shield Sphere
1 Perimeter Captain
1 Pride Guardian
1 Angelic Wall
1 Wall of Omens
1 Wall of Souls
1 Black Oak of Odunos
1 Opal-Eye, Konda's Yojimbo
1 Souls of the Faultless
1 Wall of Resurgence
1 Fortified Rampart
1 Wakestone Gargoyle
1 Wall of Reverence

Make Butts Bigger!
Builder's Blessing
Castle
Oathsworn Giant

Double Life
1 Alhammarret's Archive
1 Boon Reflection
1 Rhox Faithmender

Convert Life into Damage Win-Cons :)
1 Vizkopa Guildmage
1 Defiant Bloodlord
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Chalice of Life

Guard Against Enchantments that Prevent Life Gain
1 Silverchase Fox
1 Deicide

Support Cards
1 Angelic Chorus
1 Athreos, God of Passage
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Serra Avatar


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