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 Post subject: Mathas, the Instigator: a multiplayer deck for making havoc.
AgePosted: 2017-Aug-28 12:59 am 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Dragon
The goal of this deck is pretty simple: incentivise players to engage in combat (sometimes force them to), and create collaborative fun. It's a little bit of a group hug deck, except via making people beat each other up, so it's more like a group bear hug deck. You might win from your exploitation of the strife you instigate, but winning isn't the goal. I've tested it out and it's pretty fun for a relaxed casual game.

Mathas, Fiend Seeker, the deck's commander, turns out to be extraordinary for this purpose. He lets me place Bounty counters on specific dangerous creatures and have players collaborate to take them down. Importantly, the collaboration against cards means it isn't specifically the player who's targeted (just a dangerous creature of theirs) which creates a level of indirection that's still fun & low-tension.

Being red-white-black, Mathas gives us access to red-white combat tricks, white protective effects, white-black or black resurrection, and red and black removal. All of those are instrumental to the deck's game plan.

AFAIK this deck has no infinite combos.

Important note: Mathas's bounties stack. The same creature can be chosen multiple times, and will get an extra copy of the triggered ability. As long as the creature keeps at least one bounty counter, when it dies, each of those abilities will trigger separately. 3 bounties on the one creature = 6 life and 3 cards when it dies.

TappedOut link: Mathas, the Instigator (value ~$150), or budget version (value ~$85, and could still be made cheaper)

See further down for a breakdown of cards by function.

Quote:
Commander: Mathas, Fiend Seeker

Creature (26)
Adriana, Captain of the Guard
Alms Collector
Angelic Skirmisher
Ankle Shanker
Bastion Protector
Boros Battleshaper
Boros Reckoner
Brutal Hordechief
Charging Cinderhorn
Feldon of the Third Path
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
Guardian of the Gateless
Harvester of Souls
Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
Noxious Gearhulk
Orzhov Advokist
Ravos, Soultender
Selfless Squire
Solemn Simulacrum
Souls of the Faultless
Sun Titan
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Treasury Thrull
Tyrant's Familiar

Enchantment (13)
Aura of Silence
Black Market
Curse of Disturbance
Curse of Opulence
Curse of Vitality
Duelist's Heritage
Flameshadow Conjuring
Ghostly Prison
Gratuitous Violence
Phyrexian Arena
Rite of the Raging Storm
True Conviction
Underworld Connections

Sorcery (6)
Beacon of Unrest
Damnable Pact
Death by Dragons
Disrupt Decorum
Grave Upheaval
Painful Truths

Instant (9)
Boros Charm
Chaos Warp
Comeuppance
Crackling Doom
Curtains' Call
Master Warcraft
Mortify
Utter End
Wear / Tear

Artifact (8)
Assault Suit
Commander's Sphere
Conqueror's Flail
Darksteel Ingot
Fellwar Stone
Lightning Greaves
Sol Ring
Sword of the Animist

Land (37)
5x Mountain
5x Plains
4x Swamp
Blood Crypt
Boros Garrison
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Ghost Quarter
Mortuary Mire
Myriad Landscape
Needle Spires
Nomad Outpost
Opal Palace
Orzhov Basilica
Rakdos Carnarium
Reliquary Tower
Rupture Spire
Scoured Barrens
Secluded Steppe
Shambling Vent
Spinerock Knoll
Temple of Triumph
Terramorphic Expanse
Wind-Scarred Crag

Tokens used
1/1 white/black spirit with flying - from Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
5/1 red Lightning Rager elemental - from Rite of the Raging Storm
3/3 red Ogre - from Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
2/2 black zombie - from Curse of Disturbance
Gold - from Curse of Opulence
(In Commander 2017, there's several token cards that are Zombie tokens on one side and Gold on the other. I suggest grabbing those if you want to keep your tokens compact.)


Playing this deck (if you want to)

Cards sorted by function

Each list sorted alphabetically, with creatures first, then noncreatures.

Instigate/control combat
:arrow: Note: The three Curses in this list trigger only once each combat. They respond to the player being attacked (by any number of creatures) not by a creature attacking them. If a player with Curse of Opulence is attacked with 9999 creatures, you and the attacker still only get 1 Gold token.

Protection

Ramp

Card draw
(Reliquary Tower is in this deck just in case our hand goes crazy.)

Resurrection

Removal

Tricks


The basic plan

  • Play your permanents that instigate/encourage combat. (Hold onto the nonpermanent spells.)
  • Get Mathas out as soon as your opponents have creatures out. Try to place bounties on different players' creatures; avoid over-focusing on one player (which will make you an enemy) unless they really need the attention.
  • Never bounty a commander. If a commander is sent to the command zone it won't count as dying so the bounty ability won't trigger -- no cards or life gained. You might want them dead but you should focus your bounties elsewhere. (I made this mistake a few times, so might you.)
  • Play your Protection permanents to wall up, which will incentivise attacking any other player.
  • Play calmly and defensively. You don't need to be aggressive until the endgame. You'll probably lose life in the early game but can work it back later.
  • Bounty creatures you'd like to use later yourself via Grave Upheaval or Beacon of Unrest, which can target any graveyard.
  • Use your removal spells as a last resort for powerful stuff that really needs to go, because hopefully other players will use theirs for you. Save Chaos Warp for indestructible problem permanents.
  • Use Duelist's Heritage and Boros Battleshaper and Master Warcraft and Brutal Hordechief to manipulate creature deaths. Offer to use them to help out.

Assault Suit is a significant card in the deck. Here's what you'll loan out with it:
  • Mathas, Fiend Seeker -- our commander! If Assault Suit is out, he's your default go-to. Share him with the other players so they can also place bounties. They'll place bounties on your own creatures too sometimes and that's OK, it's part of helping your opponents have fun too. You'll want to be loaning out Mathas most of the time, to place more bounties, and switch to loaning out any of the other targets if they're around and there's too many bounties and not enough claiming them.
  • Tyrant's Familiar can be amazing for your fellow players if they control their commanders. Note they can't attack you with it, so they can't target you for the 7 damage in its Lieutenant ability. This means they'll often be removing other players' threats with it for you.
  • Adriana, Captain of the Guard is in here primarily to be loaned out as well, to encourage players to swing at more than one of each other. (Sometimes that'll include you, but if you're walled up it'll probably only be with 1-2 creatures. You can handle that.)
  • Noxious Gearhulk is a card you'll often want killed sooner or later so you can get him back with your resurrection options and remove more stuff, and loaning him out is an OK way to do that.

If you're like me and a sucker for thematic details then you might want to use something fancy for the bounty tokens. I figure you'd only need a couple of dozen during any particular game.

I use some fancy metal RPG coins called Campaign Coins (there's a decent blog post about them here). I've had them around for years since picking up a few at a convention several years ago, and I'm pretty excited to finally have a reason to use them. They're not cheap nowadays though! (I think they're sorta rubbish for RPGs because of the volumes you need for them to be seriously useful, but they're great for this purpose. I'm not affiliated with them and I don't get anything out of pointing you their way.)

Lower-cost options would be to head to a currency exchange and see if you can get some cheap Swedish Kronor coins (not Icelandic Krona) in a few different denominations. A Kronor is approximately 10c USD, or 10 kronor for a dollar, so you can get a variety in different denominations for a few dollars. Ten 1kr coins, ten 2kr coins, and ten 5kr coins = 80kr = USD$10.

I keep my coins in a little bag at the table. When someone's placing a bounty (usually me) we take a coin out and use that for the bounty. When it's claimed I put the coin aside rather than back in the bag so that a different coin will be picked next time, and we'll get some variety in the bounties placed.


Finalising the game

You can finalise the game through a combination of the following:
  • Use your offensive cards to your own benefit. Those are: Ankle Shanker, Angelic Skirmisher, Duelist's Heritage, True Conviction, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, and Gratuitous Violence. All of these together give your creatures deathtouch, lifelink, vigilance, double strike, and all their damage is quadrupled and all damage they take is halved (round down). Anything less than that is still pretty great.
  • Tyrant's Familiar carries a lot of weight. If Mathas is out and you give Tyrant's Familiar lifelink, this dragon can remove 1-2 dangerous creatures and heal you by 14 life. If Tyrant's Familiar has double strike from Duelist's Heritage you can heal by 21 life. If Gratuitous Violence is also out, that's 42 damage and life from one creature's attack. (See why we have Conqueror's Flail out? Anyone would want to destroy him in the middle of that.)
  • Use those combat-manipulation spells to destroy their stuff, or use it to say nothing can block.

Strengths, weaknesses, and potential changes

In the games I've played, this deck's been open and vulnerable in the first few turns, but steadily snowballs after that. It's dropped below 20 or even 10 life midgame, then with the benefit of bounties and lifelink effects it's begun climbing up again.

Sometimes bounties bunch up and aren't getting claimed, so a couple of board wipes might be warranted.

I'm going to see if I can give it a couple of cards for more consistent early-game defences.

Changelist of cards I'm looking at:

Ruling notes for Mathas and his bounties

  • As mentioned at the top, Mathas's bounties stack. If a creature dies with multiple bounties having been placed on it, each one will trigger separately. These are multiple separate 1-card draws and don't get affected by Alms Collector.
  • If all the bounty counters go away (such as via Aether Snap) so do all of the bounty triggered abilities (forever). If you bounty the creature again, it will just be one bounty, like it was never bountied previously. See here: What happens when Mathas, Fiend Seeker's bounty counters go away and come back again?
  • The number of bounty counters actually on a creature doesn't matter, as long as there's at least one. If you bounty a creature three times, then only two counters get removed somehow (such as by Ferropede), it's still got three bounty triggered abilities that will trigger.
  • Bounty counters by themselves don't do anything special, except signal that the bounty triggered ability is there. If a bounty counter gets moved, the new creature doesn't gain the bounty ability. If the bounty counters get multiplied (such as by Doubling Season) or proliferated, that doesn't create extra bounty abilities. (However, as noted, if the bounty counters vanish, so do the triggered abilities.)
  • Remember that after you pick their creature for a bounty, that ability is already on the stack -- some players will try to destroy Mathas in response or Snakeform him or something, but the ability will still resolve no matter what happens to him. Remind players of this if they try to do that -- tell them it won't have any effect on the ability. See here: Does an ability resolve if the source of the ability leaves the battlefield?

_________________
Decks: Mathas, the Instigator (politics and mayhem), and Intet dragons (so many dragons) (actually not enough dragons)
Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


Last edited by spacemonaut on 2017-Sep-15 3:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mathas, the Instigator: a multiplayer deck for making havoc.
AgePosted: 2017-Sep-03 8:54 am 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
I do enjoy Mardu combat manipulation decks. I've been grooming my own for a while now with Kor creatures and damage redirection. They can be a lot of fun without being too oppressive. I've been wanting to build Mathas myself, or perhaps switch over from Queen Marchesa, and there's a decent amount of good stuff here. I feel like there's a bunch of things you could do with the base you've got here, like more forced attack (plenty of stuff available there), other combat tricks (Gustcloak Savior, Reconnaissance, Sunforger), or timely indestructible (Nahiri's Machinations, Archangel Avacyn).

But these are just examples and such, not suggestions. It's difficult to balance what you need and what you don't need. It is highly dependent on the meta it is being used in. So overall, cool deck.

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Decklists are posted here. They can all be found in the Decklist Forum.


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 Post subject: Re: Mathas, the Instigator: a multiplayer deck for making havoc.
AgePosted: 2017-Sep-15 3:38 pm 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Dragon
Segrus wrote:
I do enjoy Mardu combat manipulation decks. I've been grooming my own for a while now with Kor creatures and damage redirection. They can be a lot of fun without being too oppressive. I've been wanting to build Mathas myself, or perhaps switch over from Queen Marchesa, and there's a decent amount of good stuff here. I feel like there's a bunch of things you could do with the base you've got here, like more forced attack (plenty of stuff available there), other combat tricks (Gustcloak Savior, Reconnaissance, Sunforger), or timely indestructible (Nahiri's Machinations, Archangel Avacyn).

But these are just examples and such, not suggestions. It's difficult to balance what you need and what you don't need. It is highly dependent on the meta it is being used in. So overall, cool deck.


Thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed seeing this one. Thanks for the suggestions -- I've adopted a couple onto my potential changes list. I do want some more forced attacks, though I also want to avoid Avatar of Slaughter effects -- if everything attacks all the time, it's all tapped, meaning creatures with bounties on them can't block. (Once around the table may do some major damage. Thankfully there's some Goad for that.)

This deck actually originally started out as a Queen Marchesa deck, built for giving away the Monarch token then letting people fight over it, but I decided Mathas was going to work out far better for fun & politics. I summarised my thoughts & reasoning in the top of this post here in case it may resonate or be helpful for you.

(Sometime I'd like to make a combat manipulation deck that includes such cards as Portal Mage and Domineering Will -- but that will have to wait until I find a compelling theme to drive it.)

_________________
Decks: Mathas, the Instigator (politics and mayhem), and Intet dragons (so many dragons) (actually not enough dragons)
Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


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 Post subject: Re: Mathas, the Instigator: a multiplayer deck for making havoc.
AgePosted: 2017-Dec-14 11:20 pm 

Joined: 2015-Apr-23 11:27 pm
Age: Drake
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
I'm really intrigued by this deck.

I've played a Gahiji, Honored One deck for a while now, motivating people to attack each other, but it's been getting a little stale. Also, table starts to see me as an evil manipulator, which is probably a fair assessment.

I'm building Mathas, and I'm very curious to see how it will be received.

How has the deck done for you?


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 Post subject: Re: Mathas, the Instigator: a multiplayer deck for making havoc.
AgePosted: 2018-Jan-02 11:16 pm 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Dragon
Nigerian Prince wrote:
I'm really intrigued by this deck.

I've played a Gahiji, Honored One deck for a while now, motivating people to attack each other, but it's been getting a little stale. Also, table starts to see me as an evil manipulator, which is probably a fair assessment.

I'm building Mathas, and I'm very curious to see how it will be received.

How has the deck done for you?


I'm really positive about the feeling of this deck, but it's also got some issues I'm trying to figure out: essentially somewhat often, people don't actually go after the bounties, and I feel that breaks down the deck's point a bit.

I find this Mathas deck works best in a 4-player game where at least a couple of other players are playing multiple creatures. Sometimes I've brought Mathas out to find I'm at a table where 2-3 players are playing no creatures other than their commander, and instead playing lots of instants, sorceries, enchantments, or artifacts -- then there's nothing for Mathas to put bounties on, and that's the heart of the deck's interactions. I've taken to checking with the table whether they're playing decks with much plan for playing creatures, and telling them I've got a fun deck to use but it relies on other people playing creatures. That helps me make sure Mathas is played in games where he's relevant, and in other games I just pick another deck.

However, Mathas himself aside, this deck can get scarily strong if it's allowed to assemble its wall & start putting down threats. If that's my main goal, the bounties can serve as a sort of distraction to point peoples' attention elsewhere.

In maybe half the games I've played, I've found people kind of just ignore the bounties and do whatever they were planning on originally. Once, I was in a game where there were like 6 different active bounties on creatures and none of them had been dealt with -- then someone played an "exile all creatures" card, which nullified the bounties entirely, which sucked! My initial build of the deck (above) was built on the assumption I wouldn't need to do any work to destroy creatures myself, but that was mistaken. I've since added Fumigate and a couple of other cards (I don't remember what they are right now) so that I have options if too many bounties build up. Hex is also on my list. I'm also looking at adding in more compulsory combat cards -- I think I added Goblin Spymaster recently, and I've also added Disrupt Decorum. Too much compulsory combat is bad because if everyone's swinging all the time their creatures aren't open to block and get killed, but one or two rounds of compulsory combat is good, and Goblin Spymaster usually gets killed after one or two rounds.

I also probably need to verbally goad players into attacking each other for bounties more often. "Wouldn't drawing another card be great?" If there were a global Alhammarret's Archive in Mardu colors I'd use it to encourage people to chase after bounties.

I'll update this post with the revised decklist once I feel it's improved, but the above is still a great starting point. One thing I did was replace Grave Upheaval with Sepulchral Primordial -- I found I was mostly just using Grave Upheaval to get one of my won cards back, which is a huge under-use of its potential, but one of my cards was often more threatening than any one single creature card from my opponents. So, I decided to tip that balance by giving myself the option to steal one thing from each of my opponents. I can still use Ravos, Soultender and Beacon of Unrest to get my own stuff back if I come across them, and they're cheaper.

I've only ever gotten to share Mathas with Assault Cuirass once but I want to do that more often and I'm considering adding Godo, Bandit Warlord just to help me bring it out.

The coins I bring have regularly been received very well. People usually are surprised and delighted, which makes me really happy, and usually want to take a closer look at them. In one friendly game when I brought them out for my first bounty, someone laughed and told me I should already win the game just for those. If you have atmospheric bounty coins available, I really recommend using them, since I find it really helps set a friendly tone.

_________________
Decks: Mathas, the Instigator (politics and mayhem), and Intet dragons (so many dragons) (actually not enough dragons)
Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


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