Here’s the thing about EDH:

I’m completely sick of it.

That deserves a bit of explanation, I suppose.  I should say that I’m completely sick of the status-quo.  Just as it is with other formats, EDH decks in any given metagame tend to break down into two different but well-defined archetypes – Proactive and Reactive decks.  This is probably obvious to many people, but there are a lot of players out there that don’t understand this concept, and it’s pretty critical to see if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in your metagame or deckbuilding.

Proactive decks are the problem decks.  They’re designed to try to be aggressive and force other decks to deal with them or fold in front of them.  The strategy is as unimportant as it is varied; combo decks, Mayael the Anima-style big beatdown decks, green decks that win with Avenger of Zendikar, white weenie token decks, lifegain…whatever the build, this deck is trying to impose its will on other decks at the table.  Many will cut short response cards in order to free up card slots for other things, with the understanding that the best defense is a strong offense.  (A quick note: you might see prison-style decks in this area as well.  It seems like control, but the strategy is very much an “Impose my will” one.)

Reactive decks are control decks.  These are the decks that police the metagame, looking to keep other decks in check before finally finding a win condition to take the game down.  Counterspells are usually a unifying strategy here, so blue decks are common.  These decks run extra answers and ways to find the answers.  If a creature doesn’t win the game, it’s probably a utility card like Acidic Slime or Fauna Shaman.

Now, most metagames go through cycles between these two archetypes.  Someone will come up with a problem deck that forces the other players to adapt to it or lose to it more frequently than is desired.  Other players will start to metagame against that deck, coming up with decks and strategies that directly attack the original deck.  This will reach a point where these decks become the new problem decks, and the cycle restarts itself.

This can get to be a bit of a drag.  I’ve mentioned quite a bit in the past few months how I’ve gotten pretty sick of the ramp and token decks that seem to be prevalent in my metagame.  It becomes very tedious to face things down with decks not completely equipped to handle them properly; this is one of the reasons that I’ve been pushing decks that run high instant counts and ways to play cards on other turns (Alchemist’s Refuge, Leyline of Anticipation) to allow me to be more reactive and involved at all points in the game.  What wasn’t happening, however, is any increase in wins.  I was playing more, but still falling to the same things.

Enter the Judo deck.

People come to expect a very defined set of cards/strategies.  These are mainly as follows:

  • Permanents that cause problems
  • Permanents that solve problems
  • Things that deal with permanents
  • Things that counter other things

This is admittedly a bit simplified, but the point is valid.  Most players understand that Avenger of Zendikar is a problem, and that Decree of Pain is an answer to Avenger, and that Counterspell is an answer to both.    This is all well and good, but what happens when you look outside of this?  What if you want to make that Avenger kill its owner instead of just getting rid of it?  What if you want to make sure that counter takes care of the thing you want it to?


Judo-style decks are reactive to the point of almost having no game on their own.  Most of the cards they choose to play are designed to twist things that happen in game to create favorable outcomes for themselves.  These decks are highly reactive, and often do nothing on their own turns, choosing to save resources for what other players will be tossing out on the field in short order.

The results are pretty fantastic, however; the player attacking with a lethal Blightsteel Colossus might suddenly see themselves taking an infected beating via Mirror Strike.  Another player might find that he’s somehow sending his own Swords To Plowshares at his own creature.  The player attacking with a 72/72 Kresh the Bloodbraided is going to really want to read the wording on that Reflect Damage.

In short, Judo decks show up empty-handed and play with everyone else’s toys.  It’s an absolute blast.


There are going to be a few articles that will come out of this topic to explain some angles that work pretty well.  I’ll be actually starting with arguably the most infamous example of this style of deck, Sheldon Menery’s Ruhan of the Fomori deck he fondly refers to as the “You did this to yourself!” deck.  I’ll take a look at Sheldon’s initial build to determine how it does what it does, and make some strategic upgrades that I feel will serve to make the deck stronger and more resilient.  From there, I’ll run it through a few games and take a retrospective look at what works and what doesn’t, as well as the changes I plan on making to improve it.

On the other side of the ticket, guest columnist Sean Patchen (@SwordstoPlow) will be dropping details on another flavor of the deck based around Mishra, Artificer Prodigy, which takes a more proactive role in turning opponents against themselves.

We briefly considered culminating by trying to pit the two decks against each-other, but we realized that it would be an extend draw-go that would end when one deck or the other naturally decked itself, so we may skip that part.

In any case, if you’re looking for a new way to attack your metagame, the Judo deck might be a breath of fresh air for you.  I’ll leave you all with Sheldon’s deck list (Which was covered really nicely over at CMDRDecks here, and is also available over at Star City so you know what you’re playing with, and we’ll dig right in to the details next time.

Stay tuned!

[Deck Title=Sheldon Menery’s Ruhan of the Fomori “You Did This To Yourself” List]
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Aura Thief
1 Boros Reckoner
1 Chromeshell Crab
1 Clone
1 Gilded Drake
1 Goblin Flectomancer
1 Mischievous Quanar
1 Molten Primordial
1 New Prahv Guildmage
1 Sun Titan
1 Viashino Heretic
1 Willbender
1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 Ruhan of the Fomori[/Creatures]

1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Angel’s Trumpet
1 Azorius Signet
1 Boros Signet
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Helm of Obedience
1 Mind Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Aether Flash
1 Blind Obedience
1 Copy Enchantment
1 Karmic Justice
1 Land Tax
1 Lightmine Field
1 Martial Law
1 Powerstone Minefield
1 Repercussion
1 Rhystic Study
1 War’s Toll
1 Aurelia’s Fury
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Boros Fury-Shield
1 Cerebral Vortex
1 Dawn Charm
1 Desertion
1 Essence Backlash
1 Gather Specimens
1 Harsh Justice
1 Hibernation
1 Honorable Passage
1 Mirror Strike
1 Oblation
1 Parallectric Feedback
1 Radiate
1 Reflect Damage
1 Reiterate
1 Reverse Damage
1 Turn the Tables
1 Mindslaver
1 Acidic Soil
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Bribery
1 Chain Reaction
1 Final Judgment
1 Sleep
1 Knowledge Exploitation[/Spells]

7 Island
7 Mountain
7 Plains
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Boros Garrison
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Command Tower
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
1 Tundra
1 Vesuva
1 Academy Ruins
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge[/Lands][/Deck]


See you Friday-