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 Post subject: Rairai's Deck construction philosophy
AgePosted: 2016-Aug-26 8:21 am 
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Joined: 2016-May-16 12:03 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: The Blind Eternities
Hello to all players reading this, I'm here today to share my philosophy on Deck construction, which is mostly based on my play experiences from my time in Vegas, land of vile and villianous decks. Let's get started

1. Lands!
While I'm not the most extensive user of Mana rocks for my Paper decks, I do extensively use them online with varying results but to be honest, your land selection is where its at! What I learned from playing against from Vegas MTG players is that your land selection plays a major factor in your chances of succeeding in a match, considering a lot of ultra competitive players will be trying to essentially outbuy whatever your deck has with fetchlands and what not. Now some of you might say "Fetchlands aren't that prevalent", well, depending on your region you might not see them as often but are still a factor in competitive playgroups.

Fortunately , I've done my research, using Metamox, into this and found alternatives to fetchlands that are highly sought throughout the Standard, Modern and EDH format. Let's get started with the Grand-daddy of Coloress ramp, Urza's lands, which run about a couple bucks per card, which when on the board equate to Seven Mana, and combined withTemple of the False God, Scorched Ruins and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, you are swimming in Colorless mana. Now on the colored end of the spectrum, Odyssey's Filter lands are quite desirable in most decks since for one mana you get mana of two seperate colors, akin to the Ravinica block signets, which combined with them you have quite a bit of early mana.

Another major in this particular point is mana filtering, in some cases its better to filter than to fetch for land, like say you are running Urza's lands but need a colored mana or two to cast a spell. This where cards like Shimmering Grotto and Unknown Shores come into play as well as Battery lands like Molten Slagheap. In exchange for one generic or colorless mana, you get a colored one in return, while with Battery lands you can store unused mana for later when you need to push for a game ender like Helix Pinacle.

From my experiences doing so, this largely removes the need for mana dorks unless your endgame strategy is to outproduce your opponents in terms of mana to cast High cmc spells. Aside from that, Bufflands like Hanweir Battlements, Slayer's Stronghold, Alchemist's Refuge, Etc, are a great addition to any deck for their ability to turn the tide of battle as well as limited removal targetting them.

2. Rocking the Mana!
Mana rocks are artifacts that are intended to be used to generate mana itself or filter it some way. In most cases you can generate any color of mana in colorless land deck using stuff such as signets and keyrunes combined with semblance anvil to effectively turn colorless into Five Color. A common card to see in a majority of commander decks is Sol Ring which are fairly difficult to acquire since most commander players horde these to great extent. Nonetheless, Mana rocks are excellent to supplement a lacking mana base.

3. Card Cost!
Starting with actual Monetary cost, I try to keep a deck within a reasonable cost as opposed to splurging on speedy Fetchlands, the max at best for any deck in my personal opinion is roughly around maybe a 100$ but fortunately I have my way of cutting costs. The best example of Cutting costs for a new favorite of simic ramp is Seedborn Muse , a 20$ card that untaps all permanants you control during each other player's untap step, while Awakening does the same thing for 5$ or Nature's Will and Quest for Renewal for 4.50 approximate. Now wizards having been around as long as it has for years, there is practically thousands of cards and some two card may be the same fortunately or at least have the same effect like with the aforementioned combo above at reduced cost.

Moving onto CMC,  This a little bit of a divide for me but I feel it always better to have cards and commanders with the best Mana to Power ratio, like say Athreos, God of Passage's 3 mana cost for an Indestructible enchantment creature that prevents your other creatures from reaching the graveyard, which is extremely desirable as most of the Theros gods are, or a better example is Exploration vs. Rites of Flourishing, The first being one mana though costing 11$ at times, Still if you have a decent mana base, its not as difficult to cast whatever spell you can come up with.

4. Synergestics!
While most of you who've seen some of decks I push for combo synergies like Exquisite Blood, and Sanguine Bond, I also like to push for Tribal Synergy as well when I can like with my Vampiric Ambitions deck. A lot of creatures that share a subtype will often work well with one another to the point you develop a rather superflous deck, depending on the color suite such as Jund Werewolves as opposed to Gruul Werewolves, or Sultai Eldrazi versus Dimir/Simic Eldrazi. Your color suite is another major factor in determining what you wish to accomplish, such as Mardu Lifegain Vampirisim, or Simic Mana ramping, or Dimir Milling Reanimator. Some suites also may differ from set to set considering Wizards cycles through various mechanics that cause Suites to shift to gameplay mechanics such as white reanimator or blue token swarm.


5. Enchantments!
Some may not agree with me on this but one of the more powerful card types to play in Magic the Gathering across most formats is Enchantments since across multiple metas and playgroups I've played, Targeted Enchantment removal is sparsely played. Their abundance in all five suites and through most sets, aside from the few that Wizards didn't place into, They can easily change a board state into your favor such as Web of Inertia, Leyline of Anticipation, or just simply Exploration early can affect the probability of you winning greatly.

A great Example of this is Descent into Madness, combined with other Milling enchantments such as Sphinx's Tutelage, Curse of the Bloody Tome, Underworld Dreams, along with a few others. The first enchantment alone was a nightmare in my Vegas Meta and Evil Greg's Bane, though that's a story for another thread. Even one enchantment can alter the outcome of a game believe it or not, Like Harmless Offering a demonic pact to your opponent.

6. Mana Flow Control!
A philosophical point for those more competitive in nature, Controlling your opponents mana, a dastardly method to virtually winning a decent percentage of games. While not played commonly across most Metas, these are a nightmare to play against especially if you rely on ramp. If you control the mana, you control your opponent's every move, though you may not make friends this way so beware doing this consistently because not even Evil Greg is evil enough to do this.

7. Graveyard? What's a Graveyard?
Yeah, I know some people hate recursion but depending on your Deck's main goal, its not exactly a terrible thing, especially against opponents that use your graveyard as a resource e.g. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls. Cards like Mortuary and Phyrexian Reclamation keep creatures out of your graveyard and potentially out of your opponent's hand particular when cards like Tome of the Dead manage to go off successfully, especially late game when someone mills a zombie deck. Keeping stuff out of your own graveyard, unless your Golgari or Dimir zombies, is generally a good idea.

8. Vintage is Magical Christmas Land!
In Magic the Gathering, You will find a lot of cards that have the Vintage border (Pre ninth edition I believe) tend be on the broken or overpowered side to some extent, especially enchantments like Purgatory or Awakening as well as some lands like Scorched Ruins. The Weatherlight Set is the perfect example of such of how devastating these cards are, fortunately these cards are exclusive to the vintage and commander as will the Urza's Lands be shortly, killing most modern Urzatron decks. Fortunately we're in commander where we have access to a small banlist and no edition restrictions except for Unglued and Unhinged, though granted in paperplay, you can't really blame your friend for wanting to play Richard Garfield Ph.D or Johnny combo player. Not to mention a modest percentage vintage cards are severely cheaper than their modern dopplegangers, with some exceptions, but the downside to vintage that most Legends are subpar compared to their modern ones but make decent placeholders for commanders, there is a couple that are terrifying that I'd rather not name for my safety.

9. What makes you so Special Mr. I-can-travel-the-multiverse?
Planeswalkers, we've seen the Gatewatch crew across many and numerous sets and those before the mending. Now I am not going to downplay their effectiveness but I will say that across a number of metas I've played, they tend to be shortlived. There abilities are helpful in most case and if they go ultimate, The game tips heavily in your favor but expect them to get assassinated by your enemy's creatures and spells because in essence, they are public enemy #1, except Liliana of the Dark realms for some reason beyond me. I recommend not placing so much faith in them because there are other cards that are way more dependable in most given scenarios against a variety of players. Not to mention most of them tend to be on the pricy side of the scale, both in terms of CMC and card cost, and you won't get much use out of them depending if your deck is sufficient enough not to need them.

10. EDH Labs Inc.
Well, not many people may immediately take notice to those who play commander for an entirely different reason, some players play EDH to experiment with various combinations to be replicated in other formats such as Modern. Granted, a lot of Commander matches early on for those are new to it is about experimentation to see what works and doesn't work along with finding what works well. To share an example from my experiences, Tri-color decks hold way more power in terms of flexibility and tier than bi-color and monocolor decks in some cases where the suffer Rigidness of their color and its mechanics, except colorless which throws folks out the window with most notions, and I do mean the eldrazi as well.

Not mentioning you see a lot more cards that are off the beaten path or practically unheard of in EDH as opposed to modern where virtually most players copy decks they find off the internet. Well commander has that to some degree but those decks tend to be less successful barring Kaalia deck shenigans, opposed to decks that are spent hours on anviling and forging them with a fine-toothed comb. Once you've mastered commander, you can virtually master any format, except for standard which is finicky at best depending on what sets you have access to.

11. Act Casual!
In EDH, the best way to keep your laboratory slash Meta going is to be subtle because the moment you become the Evil Greg of your meta, prepare have your teeth kicked in full force with everything your group can find. Let no one suspect you of anything unusual until its too late for them to react because no one expects the Lunarch Inquisitors. Channel your inner Caboose (RvB Character known for his Absent-mindedness and aloofness yet has the second highest kill count on Blue team) and lull them into a false of security.

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RaiRai's Decks of Otherworldlyness:

Unknown Horizons
Bane of the Vast 1.0
Call from Eternity
Twisted Nightmares


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 Post subject: Re: Rairai's Deck construction philosophy
AgePosted: 2016-Aug-26 11:00 am 
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Joined: 2008-Mar-24 12:14 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Oakland, CA
RaiRai wrote:
Starting with actual Monetary cost, I try to keep a deck within a reasonable cost as opposed to splurging on speedy Fetchlands, the max at best for any deck in my personal opinion is roughly around maybe a 100$ but fortunately I have my way of cutting costs. The best example of Cutting costs for a new favorite of simic ramp is Seedborn Muse , a 20$ card that untaps all permanants you control during each other player's untap step, while Awakening does the same thing for 5$ or Nature's Will and Quest for Renewal for 4.50 approximate. Now wizards having been around as long as it has for years, there is practically thousands of cards and some two card may be the same fortunately or at least have the same effect like with the aforementioned combo above at reduced cost.
Quest for Renewal doesn't untap lands. Unless you are running a lot of Elvish Mystic/Birds of Paradise variants (which are generally not good in this format although not terrible either), you are far better off going with something else. Unwinding Clock is another budget alternative, but only for artifact-mana-heavy decks.
RaiRai wrote:
5. Enchantments!
Some may not agree with me on this but one of the more powerful card types to play in Magic the Gathering across most formats is Enchantments since across multiple metas and playgroups I've played, Targeted Enchantment removal is sparsely played.
I agree totally with this, although it's also important to point out that playing enchantment removal is a really good idea. I love Fracturing Gust, Austere Command, and Merciless Eviction for sweeper effects, and Cleansing Meditation or Calming Verse can do the same even if you rely heavily on enchantments for your deck. Targeted enchantment removal is good too. I have played Return to Dust in 80% of white decks for as long as it's been out, and the fact that it doesn't just destroy, but exiles, is even more important now with all the indestructible Gods. Deglamer, Unravel the AEther, and Hide // Seek are also useful for that reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Rairai's Deck construction philosophy
AgePosted: 2016-Aug-26 11:24 am 
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Joined: 2014-Jul-28 8:30 am
Age: Dragon
Sol Ring comes in every Commander precon, which are usually available for between $30-40. They're also a great way for someone new to get into the format.

Additionally, Awakening untaps everyone's stuff, not just yours.

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Basically, when it comes to commander, I want you to stab me through the heart, not cut off my balls.

Gath Immortal wrote:
Twenty Kavus and a Dream is not a legacy deck.


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 Post subject: Re: Rairai's Deck construction philosophy
AgePosted: 2016-Aug-26 3:04 pm 
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Joined: 2016-May-16 12:03 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: The Blind Eternities
kirkusjones wrote:
Sol Ring comes in every Commander precon, which are usually available for between $30-40. They're also a great way for someone new to get into the format.

Additionally, Awakening untaps everyone's stuff, not just yours.


Ehh, its better than paying 20$ for seedborn muse and it means its less likely to get bolted

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RaiRai's Decks of Otherworldlyness:

Unknown Horizons
Bane of the Vast 1.0
Call from Eternity
Twisted Nightmares


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 Post subject: Re: Rairai's Deck construction philosophy
AgePosted: 2016-Aug-26 5:21 pm 
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Joined: 2011-Jan-02 5:25 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Costa La Haya, capital del ducado Holanda
With a toughness of four you'd need two bolts.

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