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 Post subject: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-26 1:22 pm 
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I don't want to derail the spoiler thread anymore.

I'm trying to analyse and figure out what makes Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas a successful Voltron Commander to me and in my meta, and whether or not I can replicate that success with Bruce and Akiri and possibly switch. The appeal of two Commanders to Voltron onto in the Command Zone seems potentially strong, so I want to explore it, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel either...

For reference:
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Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas is viable to me because:

1) In the worst and most hostile environment to you imaginable, it is difficult at minimum for Kalemne not to be a 4/4, which represents a 3 turn clock. Sometimes all you need is Kalemne and a Rogue's Passage/Whispersilk Cloak and you still have a viable board state both defensively and offensively once all removal has been extensively exhausted.

2) A large portion of your list can be dedicated to utility (removal, disruption, buffs, card advantage etc.). If utility exists on a 5 drop, you run it. From a deck building perspective, it means you care less about Commander synergy fluff (all 5 drops are Kalemne Commander fluff basically...).

Lists, in my meta, fall apart when you run to much fluff and not enough generic good stuff (mostly gas and removal). It's just a reality I have to deal with. Xenagos is successful to me for the same reasons. He converts large amounts of utility into dangerous threats. The commonality in what I am trying to achieve with Chorus of the Conclave is not lost on me at all (turning utility into large threats/life), and may represent a shortcoming of my meta that I can't overcome outside of specific Commanders...

3) Dropping fat to buff Kalemne in conjuction with equipment at least diversifies and minimises your board state. Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Sunrise Sovereign basically represents a efficient but very grunty board state. It's board wipe resilient so long as you can still recast Kalemne.

In summary, do you think there are equal ways to build Bruse + Akiri? If yes, how so?

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-26 5:45 pm 

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You have a 3/3 doublestrike vigilance vs a 3/3 double strike lifelink.

Is vigilance > lifelink? Kind of a toss up.

Are experience counters better than being able to place the double strike elsewhere? Honestly, not really. Going wide and high curve in a voltron deck isn't exactly ideal.

I have a Kalemne deck and my best games usually don't have more than 1-2 exp counters if any. The double strike is the only thing that matters. A +1 boost and a combat trick is all it takes to change it to a 2 turn clock. That can be done far easier than 5 mana per exp counter.

They both also have some significant tribal benefits over Kalemne.

Akiri is a really strong build around in her own right but I'm not sure she'd be the best to pair with Bruse. Just tossing in a third color splash would enable tons of things like better card draw or stronger combat tricks depending on what you need for your meta.


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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-26 8:35 pm 
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Epsilon wrote:
You have a 3/3 doublestrike vigilance vs a 3/3 double strike lifelink.

Is vigilance > lifelink? Kind of a toss up.


Agree. However Bruse only gets double strike and lifelink when he attacks. An argument can be made that you are doing something wrong if you aren't able to attack with a Voltron Commander, but it comes up, and in situations where Bruse can't attack (not a profitable attack, Maze of Ith, etc.), he isn't gaining you life and he's a wet noodle on defense.

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Are experience counters better than being able to place the double strike elsewhere? Honestly, not really. Going wide and high curve in a voltron deck isn't exactly ideal.

I have a Kalemne deck and my best games usually don't have more than 1-2 exp counters if any. The double strike is the only thing that matters. A +1 boost and a combat trick is all it takes to change it to a 2 turn clock. That can be done far easier than 5 mana per exp counter.


Do you really need to go wide with Kalemne though? Dropping a fatty like Caldera Hellion isn't really going wide either if you need the utility and you already have a fullish hand or ways to refill. I suppose more commitment might prompt a earlier Wrath of God from a nervous opponent, but most of my opponents will just Wrath away Kalemne alone if she is threatening enough. Worth thinking about however.

The base P/T of Kalemne does matter for Swords (base P/T 4/4 + a single Sword is a 6/6 of course) and cards that grant trample in relation to viable chump blockers, but I totally concede that I hadn't looked into combat tricks yet to compare.

My issue though is, marginal or not, technically in Kalemne Emeria Shepherd is a combat boost and a piece of recursion. To get a combat boost and a piece of recursion in Bruse + Akiri, I'd need to find room for a second card. Cutting a quarter of my utility for more boosts is still a cut.

At a cursory glance, in R/W, the best combat tricks that purely boost power to 1 or 2 shot levels are:

Balduvian Rage
Blazing Shoal
Fatal Frenzy (ish)
Mercadia's Downfall
Rush of Blood

What other combat tricks stand out to you? Genuinely curious.

Extra combat steps and damage doublers are another major, but some of those in some quantity might even be worth it in Kalemne as well. She isn't excluded from them and 4 conveniently come in creature form (Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, Aurelia, the Warleader, Scourge of the Throne, Hellkite Charger).

I have naturally gotten Kalemne to a 6/6 before via experience counters, at which point no further commitment to the board is needed except any piece of evasion. I won't pretend this occurrence is common, more so uncommon, but not rare either.

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They both also have some significant tribal benefits over Kalemne.

Strictly in R/W neither Human or Ally have anything that stands out as amazing to me. Soldier is shared.

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Akiri is a really strong build around in her own right but I'm not sure she'd be the best to pair with Bruse. Just tossing in a third color splash would enable tons of things like better card draw or stronger combat tricks depending on what you need for your meta.


I want a Boros list though. If I were considering three colours, I'd have to look at Rafiq of the Many and weigh that up too. My Kalemne list runs 12 red cards for example... so dropping R for G + U isn't really a hard decision if I wanted to go 3 colours. I'm definitely against using a partner just to splash a colour. The identity of the list should be the sum of both IMO.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 12:39 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
I think the discussion is largely a moot one, because you're asking us to judge this comparison based on the conditions specific to your meta. I also don't believe your meta is representative of the "average" or "default" EDH meta, based on how you describe it. I could be very very wrong about that of course. Pont is your meta is clearly different from any I have firsthand experience with so i can't speak to it with any real confidence.

In a generic sense, I think Kalemne has both pros and cons over the Bruse/Akiri plan, but going with the Partners also has pros and cons over Kalemne. Honestly it could be either or. If you say Kalemne is patently superior due to your meta constraints, we really have no reason to argue that point.

In a vacuum, however, I'd say they're probably pretty close to equal, with their various strengths and weaknesses balancing out pretty evenly.

FOR ME, what is comes down to is which is more fun/interesting. Their actual viability is far less of a consideration and based on my own meta, I'd say the partners might have a SLIGHT advantage, but I won't know until I actually try them out - but either way I think going with the dual commanders is more fun and interesting and leads to slightly more interesting deckbuilding choices and less linear lines of play (though ultimately those differences are likely to be small-ish).

In short, you're assessing risk as the primary factor in determining which is better. I personally see very little risk to the Bruse/Akiri plan that isn't equally a risk for Kalemne, but that is down to my meta considerations.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 3:09 am 
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thaumaturge wrote:
I think the discussion is largely a moot one, because you're asking us to judge this comparison based on the conditions specific to your meta. I also don't believe your meta is representative of the "average" or "default" EDH meta, based on how you describe it. I could be very very wrong about that of course. Pont is your meta is clearly different from any I have firsthand experience with so i can't speak to it with any real confidence.

In a generic sense, I think Kalemne has both pros and cons over the Bruse/Akiri plan, but going with the Partners also has pros and cons over Kalemne. Honestly it could be either or. If you say Kalemne is patently superior due to your meta constraints, we really have no reason to argue that point.

In a vacuum, however, I'd say they're probably pretty close to equal, with their various strengths and weaknesses balancing out pretty evenly.

FOR ME, what is comes down to is which is more fun/interesting. Their actual viability is far less of a consideration and based on my own meta, I'd say the partners might have a SLIGHT advantage, but I won't know until I actually try them out - but either way I think going with the dual commanders is more fun and interesting and leads to slightly more interesting deckbuilding choices and less linear lines of play (though ultimately those differences are likely to be small-ish).

In short, you're assessing risk as the primary factor in determining which is better. I personally see very little risk to the Bruse/Akiri plan that isn't equally a risk for Kalemne, but that is down to my meta considerations.

I don't think my meta is average or default either. My meta is 100% pickup groups with lists varying in power levels all over the place. The average list is at least tuned however.

I am definetly directly asking based on what information I can provide for an assessment on my individual options ya. I don't know where else I could ask a similar question... I know ultimately, I'm the best judge of my own meta, but a second opinion (with as much insight as I can provide) is awesome too.

Your response was full of insight. Key words like fun and interesting and less linear lines of play have less (unfortunately) room in my meta. The lists that tend to work are the ones that are efficient and do one or two things consistently well.

Basically however, the point was, based on the 3 points I listed in the original post, if people could help outline parallels or similarities on how I can accomplish them, that is all the criteria I would need to switch. Those are the talking points for me. If the discussion comes out that I can't in a way I am comfortable with, then I have my answer too.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 3:29 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
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GoodbyeWorld wrote:
I don't think my meta is average or default either. My meta is 100% pickup groups with lists varying in power levels all over the place. The average list is at least tuned however.
As often as I say things like "that's not the average EDH player's experience" or similar, I'm starting to think I'm totally NOT in tune with whatever "average" is out there. But that's beside the point, as I said; I just don't have first hand knowledge to directly confirm or contradict anything you say... I can only theorycraft. And I'm certainly comfortable challenging other's theorycraft with my own, but going theory vs. actual experience is pretty pointless IMO.

That said, I certainly understand the value of just talking things out - even if the other person has little clue what they're talking about, they still force you to rationalize and defend your position, which can certainly help.

GoodbyeWorld wrote:
Your response was full of insight. Key words like fun and interesting and less linear lines of play have less (unfortunately) room in my meta. The lists that tend to work are the ones that are efficient and do one or two things consistently well.
This is... unfortunate, at least from my perspective, though if you're having fun, I supposed it hardly matters what I think.

I play in a meta where the difference between... oh, let's say Sharuum and Axlerod Gunnerson matters a great deal - if everyone else is playing even their casual versions of actually-good decks, you'll get stomped showing up with something like all white-bordered, alpha-through-6th-edition-only jank brew. But the difference between Equipment Aggro led by Kalemne and Equipment Aggro led by Bruse/Akiri is such a tiny difference, that it really doesn't even factor into the decision-making process. For me, I could take my Boros equipment list and just swap out almost any suitable Boros legend and it'd function damn near the same, whether it was Jor Kadeen, Aurelia, Kalemne, etc. Ideally each of those commanders would warrant small changes to the list, but overall, it only barely matters which one I chose.

So, I'm not saying power level doesn't matter - it totally matters. It's just in my experience, the difference between Kalemne, Aurelia, and probably Bruse/Akiri is almost microscopic -they are all practically sitting on top of each other on the power level spectrum. But for you that spectrum is a lot micro, whereas for me it's macro. The difference of a few degrees is vastly more impactful, or at least it can be for certain strategies.

Your arguments in favor of Kalemne make a lot of sense to me, but I still feel like even in your situation the Bruse/Akiri version is probably still viable. It might not be quite as resilient as Kalemne, for sure, but I think you can probably take steps to shore up those weaknesses somewhat. But honestly to know for sure, you'd have to try. I just don't feel like theorycraft, at least from someone with my lack of experience in your kind of meta, can be all that useful beyond serving as a reinforcement of your currently-held opinions.

So ultimately I'd say if you have a Kalemne deck and it's working well for you, and you like it, why bother even thinking about changing? But personally, I found Kalemne to be a severely underrated commander in terms of power, but also a severely boring one after you've experienced her explosiveness a few times (an ODD statement coming from a die-hard, life-long fan of Rafiq!). but, if you find yourself itching to really know if Bruse/Akiri would work out, I say just go for it. Maybe it fails for exactly the reasons you suspect, then at least you get the satisfaction of being proven right! If it actually works better than expected, well, you've gotten a pleasant surprise.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 3:55 am 
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Yes, talking it out is what I'm looking for. If it just reinforces my points, that is definitely AOK. I'm happy to not be convinced, because I love my Kalemne list. I was willing to be open minded too though.

I was basically looking for a strong argument counter to my above points, and if I got something that blew my mind from a brewing perspective, I'd be excited.

I'll go back to my points (and narrow them down) and please just indulge and humour me.

1) The experience counters give Kalemne late grunt regardless of a very minimal board state. Can Bruse and Akiri match this? What's their recovery plan in a very hostile environment?

2) Can I keep my utility and synergy count as high in Bruse and Akiri as I can in Kalemne? Because Kalemne can be so inherently grunty, equipment can be narrowed down to protection and evasion, with P/T being a bonus for example. Looking at my list, I only actually run 7 pieces of equipment and 4 tutors, so 11 total. Prompting me to do this analysis alone was worth this discussion. Why? Akiri wants a lot of artifacts, and Bruse wants more P/T options to keep up with Kalemne's grunt. There aren't a lot of equipment that is both P/T heavy and/or removal, protection, evasion etc. (they exist, doesn't mean all of them are good, or in sufficient quantity) and recovering large amounts of artifacts for P/T is harder to do then just recasting your Commander. The point is, if I get to the deckbuilding stage, it is highly likely I'll have a higher fluff card count with Bruse and Tarl then I will a straight efficient utility card count with Kalemne. This distinction is important to me, it doesn't need to be important to others unless they are trying to pick between them too.

I'm basically happy with the answer to all of the above just being a straight "no". That's OK. It just does mean that Bruse and Akiri offer something that is less functional for my meta and my personal tastes. To me (so far), it is a obvious no as well. I wasn't looking for the obvious answer though, I'm looking for insight I might have missed :D.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 4:29 am 

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Yeah, that all makes perfect sense. I guess my answer is "I don't have any mindblowing arguments to make at this time" but get back to me once I've played 'em a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 2:04 pm 
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GoodbyeWorld wrote:
2) Can I keep my utility and synergy count as high in Bruse and Akiri as I can in Kalemne? Because Kalemne can be so inherently grunty, equipment can be narrowed down to protection and evasion, with P/T being a bonus for example. Looking at my list, I only actually run 7 pieces of equipment and 4 tutors, so 11 total. Prompting me to do this analysis alone was worth this discussion. Why? Akiri wants a lot of artifacts, and Bruse wants more P/T options to keep up with Kalemne's grunt. There aren't a lot of equipment that is both P/T heavy and/or removal, protection, evasion etc. (they exist, doesn't mean all of them are good, or in sufficient quantity) and recovering large amounts of artifacts for P/T is harder to do then just recasting your Commander. The point is, if I get to the deckbuilding stage, it is highly likely I'll have a higher fluff card count with Bruse and Tarl then I will a straight efficient utility card count with Kalemne. This distinction is important to me, it doesn't need to be important to others unless they are trying to pick between them too.

I think, while in a lot of ways I agree a lot of Boros decks can mindlessly switch out legendary creatures without care, it's important to note there's no reason you have to run lots of equipment for Akiri--any old artifacts will do. It might be possible to run this deck as a powerful artifact deck, using recovery cards Open the Vaults, Scrap Mastery, Roar of Reclamation, Second Sunrise, and Faith's Reward to stay through the late game.

But this is me speaking without having played Kalemne, so I'm only spitballing here.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 2:59 pm 

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GoodbyeWorld wrote:
1) The experience counters give Kalemne late grunt regardless of a very minimal board state. Can Bruse and Akiri match this? What's their recovery plan in a very hostile environment?


Not having to pack an agro list full of 5+ drops seems to be a pretty significant advantage regardless of meta. An agro list needs an aggressive curve which is really hard to do when 2/3 of your creature base needs to be 5+ CMC.

Akiri is potentially "useless" in a "hostile environment" but I have already stated that I don't think she's even worth including with Bruse as she's entirely build around in her own right. It's cool to basically always have a two drop in the command zone but it's more of cheesing a 10 card starting hand vs playing her because she goes well with Bruse. It's still ultimately going to be a Bruse deck with Akiri as a free card or an Akiri deck with Bruse as a free card IMO.

I obviously have very different experience with Kalemne as my meta will essentially kill her on sight if I can't protect her. If they don't, someone will die in two swings generally before any experience counters are gained. Getting experience counters on her is not nearly as easy as you make it out to be so she's not inherently more "grunty". Giving double strike on ETB AND attack is immediate value while having the option to spread the threat so they might Maze your 6/6 double strike instead of your commander.

Quote:
2) Can I keep my utility and synergy count as high in Bruse and Akiri as I can in Kalemne? Because Kalemne can be so inherently grunty, equipment can be narrowed down to protection and evasion, with P/T being a bonus for example


I don't understand this... any power boost is doubled which makes them twice as good for her. Cheap power pumps are insane with her. You're definitely overvaluing the experience counters IMO. Not being forced to play around a high curve gives you significantly more room for utility and synergies. That should go without saying.


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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-27 7:23 pm 
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HUGE EDIT:

I had a rather large response written to Epsilon, but I've decided to wave the white flag instead.

Not because I think Kalemne is the worse Boros Voltron Commander then Bruse + Akiri would be, but because I opened Pandora's box and can't unsee what I've seen and now I must build it...

I present Tymna the Weaver + Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder everyone.

1) Hatred

2) The ability to run Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Mox Diamond, Chrome Mox, Mox Opal, Ancient Tomb and Gemstone Caverns for a very high chance of a turn 2 & 3 Commander play in any order you wish. A opening 10 card hand and Tymna the Weaver means the card disadvantage is recuperated lightning quick.

3) Instant speed Entomb for cards like Glory and Filth. Both are so sick with both Commanders.

4) Cards like Phyrexian Reclamation to bypass Commander tax. The life cost is irrelevant.

5) Hall of the Bandit Lord life payment is also irrelevant. Not only are you bypassing Commander tax with recursion, but red has access to Slayers' Stronghold, Hanweir Battlements & Flamekin Village. At this point, you don't care about sorcery speed removal anymore because you just put Bruse back on the battlefield via recursion with haste the next turn...

6) Urborg + Coffers as just another way to make Commander Tax irrelevant.

7) Lashwrithe + Nightmare Lash.

8) As a Voltron list, you have two Commanders. Tymna can carry the above Lashwrithe and focus on one opponent, while Bruse another. Commander damage doesn't stack, but Bruse transfers doublestrike to Tymna too.

It will probably end up obnoxiously strong, and I will go back to Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas in the end anyway, but I am compelled and it must be done.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-28 2:03 am 
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Thoughts similar to these are exactly the reason I wanted a Mardu equipment general since forever. My choice is Queen Marchesa (when I finally get to actually building it), but this duo sounds promising, I must say. Not gonna change my plans, but I'm definitely curious about your experiences, once you get it on.

Also, you forgot Cranial Plating and possibly Painsmith. Just saying.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-28 2:21 am 

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I look forward to seeing what you come up with, GBW. It sounds cool!

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Oct-30 6:52 am 

Joined: 2011-Apr-07 11:38 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Bruse and Akiri look like a fun alternative to Kalemne. It would be a little different deck as you wouldnt need to emphasize the 5 cmc dudes and would need to emphasize artifacts a little more.

But, there are better options that are more synergistic with Bruse or Akiri. As you have pointed out, Tymna is great at helping you recoup your inevitable card loss. Tana lets you go wide while going tall, creating massive tokens. Reyhan lets you run +1/+1 counter creatures and move counters around. Silas has synergy with either of them getting back fallen artifacts.

Each color you add brings something to the voltron table, but there is no reason to add a partner just for the colors.

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 Post subject: Re: Bruse + Akiri vs Kalemne
AgePosted: 2016-Nov-08 3:03 pm 

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GoodbyeWorld wrote:
4) Cards like Phyrexian Reclamation to bypass Commander tax. The life cost is irrelevant.

6) Urborg + Coffers as just another way to make Commander Tax irrelevant.

7) Lashwrithe + Nightmare Lash.

8 ) As a Voltron list, you have two Commanders. Tymna can carry the above Lashwrithe and focus on one opponent, while Bruse another. Commander damage doesn't stack, but Bruse transfers doublestrike to Tymna too.


On 4 and 6, it looks like Bruse only gives one creature double strike, but with the focus on commander recursion, throwing Grappling Hook into the mix might be great creature removal. And then there's Masterwork of Ingenuity, if you want to try some Brass Squire type shenanigans.

7 and 8 together sounds to me like it's safe to assume you're planning on having them both out, and will have enough tutors to get both. W/B has access to both the best tutors and best equipment tutors (Steelshaper's Gift, Quest for the Holy Relic, Steelshaper Apprentice). I'm not sure if you have trample planned, there are plenty of equipment that give that, but Vorrac Battlehorns is the only one I'll mention. And then there's Power Matrix.

Otherwise, the only suggestion I can think of is Strata Scythe as a back up in case Lashwrithe or Nightmare Lash get exiled.

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