September 29, 2015

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You did this to yourself…but I gave you the fuel for the fire.

With the Commander products a scant few months away and Battle for Zendikar offering up some dangerous new goodies, it might be time to look at a counter-strategy for all those attacking nuisances.

This deck was largely inspired by (EDH format mentor and Rules Committee member) Sheldon Menery’s “You Did This to Yourself!” deck, but whereas he uses Ruhan of the Fomori and can actually kill someone with commander damage, my deck, using Zedruu the Greathearted, turtles until its opponents kill themselves through regular game action.

Why should you play group nuke?

– You like the situations that arise when people have weird amounts of mana, more ramp, massive threats and you want to see what happens.
– You like the political game and maybe trading off something useful now gets you a reprieve a little later.
– You find gaining life and drawing cards fun, it has worked well since the days of Ivory Tower and Jayemdae Tome right?
– You enjoy games ending with a bang, with reverse blowouts fuelled by janky cards.

Why should I avoid group nuke?

– It runs contrary to intent to help others win, even for short-term gain.
– Executing my own game plan sounds more fun that seeing some wacky plays.
– Zedruu can’t really get in there in the combat step.
– This isn’t the Minotaur you’re looking for, especially if soft-locks are your thing.

Ok, ok I’m sold, gimme a decklist!
Patience, it’s coming. Please note that this deck is not updated with Battle for Zendikar. When that goes live, cards like Void Winnower Retreat to Coralhelm, Prairie Stream and perhaps even Emeria Shepherd may be solid additions.

Zedruu the Nukehearted

Commander: (1)
Zedruu the Greathearted

Creatures: (10)
Boros Reckoner
Burnished Hart
Dragonlord Ojutai
Dualcaster Mage
Frost Titan
Mischievous Quanar
Solemn Simulacrum
Vesuvan Doppelganger
Viashino Heretic
Willbender

Spells: (53)
Arcane Denial
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Boros Fury-Shield
Boros Signet
Burning Earth
Captain’s Maneuver
Chain Reaction
Chaos Warp
Comeuppance
Crown of Doom
Cyclonic Rift
Darksteel Ingot
Dawn Charm
Deflecting Palm
Essence Backlash
Gilded Lotus
Eye for an Eye
Fabricate
Final Judgment
Harsh Justice
Illusionist’s Gambit
Intellectual Offering
Into the Core
Izzet Signet
Karmic Justice
Knowledge Exploitation
Kor Chant
Mirror Strike
Land Tax
Lightmine Field
Lightning Greaves
Mind Stone
Nevinyrral’s Disk
Oblivion Stone
Path to Exile
Radiate
Reflect Damage
Reins of Power
Reiterate
Relic of Progenitus
Reroute
Retaliate
Return to Dust
Reverse Damage
Sleep
Sol Ring
Sunforger
Sun Titan
Swords to Plowshares
Trickbind
Turn the Tables
Volcanic Offering
Wild Ricochet

Lands: (36)
Island
Mountain
Plains
Adarkar Wastes
Battlefield Forge
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Izzet Boilerworks
Myriad Landscape
Mystic Monastery
Rainbow Vale
Reliquary Tower
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Wind-Scarred Crag

Ok, I have a list, but how does this play out?

The deck is intensely reactive. You want people to attack you. You want people to target you. You want them to throw spells at you, since that enters into your gameplan. Even Infect creatures won’t do much if their controller takes damage from them. Situations that should clearly be blowouts (Craterhoof Behemoth and Avenger of Zendikar for one) will end up blowing up in their controller’s faces. As the game progresses, you will have an invisible “pillow fort” around you; opponents will be unsure whether you can retributively strike them so they might only attack with one or two creatures. Or they’ll go for it and die.

There aren’t a lot of permanents to give away…

You can always give the Doppleganger away and see what shenanigans ensue. Maybe giving the Solemn away will get you a turn of respite.You should not be afraid to give up a land or a Gilded Lotus if it means you draw more cards. Speaking of lands, Rainbow Vale gives itself away at end of turn, so you can two for one yourself by using its trigger and donating another permanent. Oh yeah, card disadvantage! Crown of Doom seems like an auto-include here. It cannot come back to you and it helps your opponents die quicker. No, we don’t play with Homeward Path because that’s for reasonable people. If you only ever draw one more card and gain one more life, you’re happy. If you get to the point where you Ancestral Recall and Healing Salve yourself every turn, you will win in short order.

So your deck is super annoying, how do I counter it?

Armageddon is game-ending for me. Any targeted discard like Duress, Thoughtseize or Mind Twist cripples me. Winning through combinatory means instead of the attack step stops me from reacting and winning. On the commander end of things, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf was particularly egregious in our Saturday playgroup. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is horrible for us as well. Since we need multiple mana in the same colour to cast most of our spells, cards like Hall of Gemstone, Ritual of Subdual, Contamination or Blood Moon are obvious backbreakers.

Why aren’t you using fetchlands or Serra Ascendant or…?

This deck is mostly for goofing off and getting big splashy plays out. It’s for using the stack to move damage around. Fetchlands are nice, but Land Tax gets us all we need. Land Tax and land donation from Zedruu is a real thing, by the way.

Bear in mind this deck’s fundamental turn is probably eight or nine at the very least. If you wanted to make the deck more cutthroat, simply remove the damage redirection spells and replace them with pillow fort engines like Statecraft and so on. That isn’t our goal though.

What are some fun interactions and what gets pulled for Battle for Zendikar?

Radiate is always a blast. You can do a Warp World simulation if you get it and Chaos Warp at the same time. Reroute can lead to some hilarious “misplays”, for example they Mindslaver someone else, or Maze of Ith another attacker or Strip Mine themselves.

Dragonlord Ojutai and one of the offerings look like good candidates for removal once BFZ rotates in. Dualcaster Mage has been pretty uneven, but it’s too soon to say whether he’s a cut. The deck may also want some recycling of some sort, so a Timetwister variant would be great, even Time Reversal would do the trick here.

That’s all for now, hope this gives you a little more craziness in your EDH games, and I hope to see some of you at the BFZ release at Wizard’s Tower next Saturday!