April 9, 2014

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New Legends? New EDH Fun!

What a great way to kick off the EDH articles on this great site than with decks featuring the two newest legends.

Competitive vs. Casual

Being from Ottawa, I’ve grown accustomed to a very cutthroat EDH environment, but there’s also a large enough casual niche at local stores and colleges that the format can cater to any style of play. But before we get further into that, let’s take a look at the two gods I’ll be discussing in this article.

IroasKeranos, God of Storms

I almost enjoy building deck lists more than I enjoy playing the game, so seeing new legends for me to tinker with in Commander is always exciting. My long term plan is to alternate between articles focusing on competitive EDH and casual EDH, but for my first article on MTGCanada I decided having one of each would be fun. To me, Iroas seems like a more casual general, but that’s always going to be my opinion and nothing more, I’d love to see if anyone could make him work competitively. Conversely, when I first saw Keranos I was filled with ideas on how to make a grindy, control deck around his abilities.

First up is Casual:

What makes casual EDH so fun is that it seems to be the one format in Magic where you can make the silliest cards work. I’ve had decks centered around cards like Grip of Chaos, Intruder Alarm and even a deck where Great Whale was a win condition. That’s essentially what makes casual EDH such a great and versatile format, since most people who construct casual decks are more concerned with being able to play their favorite cards and combos than actually winning, you get a less grindy environment in favor of a game where laughter and silliness ensue.

Iroas, God of Victory stands out as a great casual general to me because while he’s perfectly solid and has a straightforward game plan, he and his colors have very little to deal with the more competitive generals such as Maelstrom Wanderer, Vendilion Clique or Edric, Spymaster of Trest.

God’s Roadmap to Victory:

Iroas seems to be one of the most top-down generals I’ve seen in a long time. Most aggressive Boros generals run some kind of strategy as a tie-in to the abilities of the commander; Aurelia, the Warleader typically runs as many ways to take extra combat as possible, while Gisela, Blade of Goldnight typically runs many extra ways to double damage in order to achieve a quick kill. With Iroas, I find that I’d basically want to play as many creatures as possible, throw in a few “anthem” effects, and a Hero of Bladehold for good measure.

Because both of Iroas’s abilities are focused on “attacking creatures you control” , you’d want to run as many other bonuses of the same nature as possible. Creatures with Battle Cry and cards that give further bonuses such as Crescendo of War or Windbrisk Raptor.
Of course, being a casual deck I find myself wanting to run “pet” cards in here. I’ll be playing around with cards such as Impulsive Maneuvers and Gleam of Battle.
With such a simple but satisfying game plan, Iroas seems like a great deck to build on a low budget, or for someone who is new to the format. Here is the list that I’ll be personally building, but I encourage readers to to redesign it as they see fit, and to make the deck their own!

Iroas, God of Victory EDH

Creatures (42)
Accorder Paladin
Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
Akroan Hoplite
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Archetype of Aggression
Archetype of Courage
Aurelia, the Warleader
Avalanche Riders
Balefire Liege
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Chieftain en-Dal
Dragonmaster Outcast
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Figure of Destiny
Flame-Kin Zealot
Grand Abolisher
Hero of Bladehold
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Inferno Titan
Instigator Gang
Kargan Dragonlord
Marton Stromgald
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Mirror Entity
Mother of Runes
Nobilis of War
Patron of the Akki
Porcelain Legionnaire
Serra Ascendant
Signal Pest
Soltari Champion
Soltari Guerrillas
Stigma Lasher
Student of Warfare
Sun Titan
Taurean Mauler
Victory’s Herald
Windbrisk Raptor

Land (37)
Ancient Ziggurat
Battlefield Forge
Boros Garrison
Boros Guildgate
Cavern of Souls
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Drifting Meadow
Forgotten Cave
Mistveil Plains
13 Plains
Rugged Prairie
Sacred Foundry
Secluded Steppe
Smoldering Crater
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Temple of Triumph
Windbrisk Heights

Spells (20)
Austere Command
Chaos Warp
Crescendo of War
Decree of Justice
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Gleam of Battle
Glory of Warfare
Impulsive Maneuvers
Land Tax
Legion’s Initiative
Lightning Bolt
Path of Bravery
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
Swords to Plowshares
True Conviction
Unexpectedly Absent
Wear // Tear
Wrath of God

And here we have it, a simple aggro Commander deck with nothing more in mind than to turn everything sideways.

Competitive EDH:

One thing the Ottawa MTG scene is known for is our competitive EDH environment, we have tournaments 4 days a week and once a month there’s a multiplayer mayhem tournament known as “The Gauntlet” . The Gauntlet consists of three rounds; a four-player free for all, a two vs. two round (not Two-Headed Giant, just simple teams) and a duel for the third round. The competitive Commander environment has been growing strongly for what I’ve been told has been around four years now. When I began playing EDH, I was immediately enthralled by the competitive environment here, and my inner Spike got the best of me. I’ve built dozens of EDH decks, both casual and competitive, and most of my competitive decks have ended up being blue with varying levels of control. The only exceptions to this have been Teysa, Orzhov Scion and Balthor the Defiled. My personal favorites have been Damia, Sage of Stone which I recently put back together, and Sygg, River Cutthroat because I just love drawing as many cards as possible. I’ll get into these decks another time, for now I’m going to focus on the new Izzet-colored God; Keranos.

As I said before, Keranos stood out to me as a grindy deck, filled with control and tempo elements. As someone who’s played many of these kinds of decks, I’ve always been irritated by drawing lands in the late game. Keranos’s ability seems to rectify this effectively, and if you draw something more useful than lands, he simply acts as a free Lightning Bolt. In a deck like this, I’d want to run a large amount of counter-magic, library manipulation, and utility creatures. The deck’s win condition would be to simply make the opponent run out of steam while Keranos and cheap creatures grind down their life total. Creatures played would be along the lines of Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique for utility, with cost-effective beaters alongside them.

Keranos’s Recipe for a Storm:

Keranos will want to manipulate the library as often as possible, so one can draw a land (and another goodie) when they need it, or something else when they need to bolt a pesky creature. Cards like Sensei’s Divining Top and Brainstorm will be all stars here.

Being a god, you may want to focus a bit of attention on your devotion count as well here. That way you can end the game faster with Keranos himself. Cards that would be useful for this while still serving purpose in a control deck include Goblin Electromancer, Dominus of Fealty and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. Without further dronings on, let’s get to the list I crafted up.

Keranos, God of Storms EDH

Creatures (17)
Dominus of Fealty
Flametongue Kavu
Glen Elendra Archmage
Goblin Electromancer
Izzet Chronarch
Magus of the Future
Melek, Izzet Paragon
Old Man of the Sea
Phantasmal Image
Phyrexian Metamorph
Snapcaster Mage
Sower of Temptation
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Trinket Mage
Vendilion Clique
Venser, Shaper Savant

Land (35)
Ancient Tomb
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Cascade Bluffs
Cavern of Souls
Command Tower
Desolate Lighthouse
Flooded Strand
Great Furnace
Halimar Depths
12 Island
Madblind Mountain
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Riptide Laboratory
Scalding Tarn
Seat of the Synod
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Volcanic Island

Spells (45)
Blood Moon
Chaos Warp
Cryptic Command
Double Negative
Ertai’s Meddling
Fact or Fiction
Force of Will
Future Sight
Invoke Prejudice
Izzet Charm
Mana Drain
Mana Leak
Mind Over Matter
Mindbreak Trap
Mystical Tutor
Pithing Needle
Sensei’s Divining Top
Serum Visions
Sol Ring
Spell Crumple
Spell Pierce
Suffocating Blast
Think Twice
Time Warp
Turn // Burn
Volcanic Fallout

That’s my far-more-than-two cents on a Keranos Commander deck. Just like the Iroas deck I encourage readers to take my list and go nuts with making it their own.

More to come:

Commander as a format has so much versatility in it that the options are nearly infinite. I plan to be covering all sorts of generals, color combinations, and deck styles. I’ll be featuring my own lists as well as those within my playgroup. If there’s a particular general that anyone would like to see covered, please feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll make sure I get to it when I can.
Thanks for reading.