I’m at a deckbuilding crossroads. More Bone Thugs n Harmony than Devil Came Down to Georgia. I’m pulled in three directions: tighten up curve by shaving clunky fun cards; pull out mana-intensive haymakers that often snowball out of control to sub in more “weird, wonky, fun” cards; or more or less do nothing, just keep tinkering.

Here’s the deck that really brought this issue to my attention. Ghave Junkchantress is one of my stronger decks, I guess, but it’s just one of those not-quite-a-combo decks that is pretty powerful if it gets moving with one “go-nuts” piece plus Ghave, Guru of Spores. The point of the deck is to do enchantressy things, but mainly around jamming in all the pieces that make Ghave into a giant killer.

Commander (1)
Ghave, Guru of Spores

Go-Nuts Combos with Ghave (10)
Hardened Scales
Illusionist’s Bracers
Winding Constrictor
Champion of Lambholt
Parallel Lives
Corpsejack Menace
Doubling Season
Primal Vigor
Cathars’ Crusade
Requiem Angel

Draw Cards (13)
Skullclamp
Viscera Seer
Argothian Enchantress
Sylvan Library
Enchantress’s Presence
Mesa Enchantress
Phyrexian Arena
Underworld Connections
Verduran Enchantress
Erebos, God of the Dead
Deathreap Ritual
Eidolon of Blossoms
Plea for Guidance

Recursion (4)
Crystal Chimes
Eternal Witness
Replenish
Sun Titan

Mana Stuff (12)
Font of Fertility
Land Tax
Sol Ring
Awakening Zone
Cultivate
Courser of Kruphix
Frontier Siege
Nature’s Will
Mirari’s Wake
Black Market
Mana Reflection
Mana Bloom

Removal (12)
Swords to Plowshares
Cage of Hands
Oblivion Ring
Attrition
Aura Shards
Agent of Erebos
No Mercy
Return to Dust
Grave Pact
Doomwake Giant
Dictate of Erebos
Martyr’s Bond

Utility Hate & Removal (3)
Necrogenesis
Nevermore
Kismet

Enchantment Stuff (3)
Greater Auramancy
Sterling Grove
Privileged Position

Backup Win Cons (5)
Herald of Torment
Falkenrath Noble
Heliod, God of the Sun
Celestial Archon
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Lands (37)
Gaea’s Cradle
Serra’s Sanctum
Temple of the False God
Bojuka Bog
Gavony Township
Opal Palace
Strip Mine
Command Tower
Bayou
Savannah
Scrubland
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Canopy Vista
Bloodstained Mire
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Forest
Plains
Swamp

As you can see, it’s fine. No Ad Nauseum, neither of the altars, no dark mike, none of the other super-busted mana rocks, only the most expensive drainer, and only one, infinite-cmc tutor.

There are lots of easy edits to become closer to “competitive,” as well as easy still-not-competitive upgrades, like swapping in Carpet of Flowers, Utopia Sprawl, and Wild Growth for Mana Bloom, Black Market (card is nuts, but it’s so slow and grindy, and the idea of being able to make and sac Ghave saprolings to power it up is pretty mana-intensive and win-more for a five-mana enchantment that has literally zero impact on the game until you untap with it, but only sometimes), and something else.

On the other hand, I have a number of things that I’d like to pull: the redundant Grave Pact effects that are either do nothing or brutal, no in between; Sigil of the Empty Throne, which is a trap in this deck, since the whole point is to cast a Ghave and make it giant, not accrue value from little enchantments; or Requiem Angel, which is one of the weaker doublers in the deck, a card I’ve played a ton of, and one that costs a bajillion.

The crossroads issue is that making the deck “better” at defeating my opponents doesn’t seem like it will make games more fun for me or anyone else. I’m kinda at the point where I either want to do something creative, new, splashy, and story-worthy, or I want to take off the gloves and just play a full-on competitive game. This sorta half, pussy-footing around it where I tune up to the edge (the invisible edge) without crossing it, good but not too good, isn’t where it’s at.

For a while, the deck’s mechanical point got me there in terms of new and fun, because I hadn’t seen a Ghave enchantress deck, nor one that tried to assemble a pseudo-Voltron Ghave to win via Commander damage (vs comboing out).

But it’s losing its luster for me. The interesting wrinkly is I really only play with a group of 6-8 people in our little playgroup, so I don’t have the element of tuning against a larger, open, unpredictable environment. I know how hard they/we like to go (not very btw. This deck is basically how hard we go, if not dialed back a few notches), and I know what we all find fun.

So for now I’m just going to make swaps for cards I like without powering up. But I’m curious what the optimum, max-fun thing is that one could do with this deck.

<3
MDaveCS