-Fleshbag Marauder-Gatekeeper of Malakir-It That Betrays-Phyrexian Delver-Prince of Thralls-Reaper From The Abyss-Slum Reaper-Steel Hellkite-Tyrant of Discord-Chainer’s Edict-Consuming Vapors-Diabolic Edict-Geth’s Edict-Grave Betrayal-Grave Exchange-Nihil Spellbomb-Twisted Justice-Minamo, School at Water’s Edge-Miren, the Moaning Well-Shizo, Death’s Storehouse-Tolaria West-Winding Canyons+Graveborn Muse+Urabrask the Hidden+Withered Wretch+Conquering Manticore+Anathemancer+Lightning Reaver+Zealous Conscripts+Liliana Vess+Phthisis+Goblin Bombardment+Knowledge Exploitation+Starstorm+Expedition Map+Savage Beating+Relic of Progenitus+Dominate+Rakdos Guildgate+Izzet Guildgate+Dimir Guildgate+Memory Plunder+Grixis Panorama(One Extra Slot Not Filled)
First off, GeneralDamageControl reached 100,000 hits today. That’s an unreal milestone, and one I never thought I’d see happen. Thanks go to everyone – the faithful readers, people discovering GDC for the first time, people leaving comments and emailing in, Mr P and the other writers past and present who have pitched in, my brother for the artwork and graphic design…thanks to everyone mentioned, and anyone I didn’t who deserves it.
You guys and gals are the reason we do this thing.
Thraximundar – Getting There (Slowly)
Since the last post on the topic, I got a ton of feedback on what was wrong with the deck and what I could do to change it up. So I did.
It turns out I managed to take a color combination that traditionally has a hell of a time fixing mana, jammed it with triple-colored cost cards (or worse), loaded up on high-end (read: six mana and up) creatures, and expected it to function. Oh…and did I mention the mana base is “budget” at current time, meaning no Revised duals or fetchlands?
There was much shock derived from the actual results. Yeah, right. Enough to maybe power my watch.
For a few hours.
Without getting into specifics, the biggest suggestions were to drop the top-end of the deck and add card draw to ensure natural land drops, so that was my primary focus. I also drastically cut back on the “sacrifice matters” theme, deciding instead to go for my ‘plan b’ – the reactionary build.
This worked well, although it also uncovered something interesting that I probably should have known already.
First – the change log:
I went with more low and moderately-costed role-players, such as Lightning Reaver and Zealous Conscripts. I went deeper into a Trinket Mage package with Expedition Map and Relic of Progenitus , and picked up some instant-speed answers – things like Memory Plunder and Starstorm. Some recursion and added grave hate, and the deck was pretty much where I wanted it to end up after the first go-around.
I discovered an offshoot of the problem with playing Grixis; the difficulty in fixing mana and accelerating means that the deck has to “play fair” and leverage fragile mana rocks. This means that there isn’t a ton of mana floating around at any given time, or at least in comparison to the traditional green ramp decks in our metagame (of which there are sooooooooooooooooo many.)
The obvious corollary is that it forces the deck to pick a strategy and run with it. There are typically two to choose from:
1) All in with Thraximundar
2) Never play Thraximundar, but stay safe and have options.
Part of this is the fact that Thrax’ costs seven natively, but the deck simply doesn’t have the mana to drop him into play and be able to back him up. Now, I know some of this is the build, and if I went cheaper all around , I might be able to rectify this a bit. This is likely true. Still, for the time being it is an unsolved problem.
As it was, I enjoyed two drastically different games with the deck on Wednesday.
-In game one, I dedicated myself to utilizing Thraximundar to the fullest. The result was the first-ever general damage kill I’ve ever scored, and some decent pressure on the rest of the table before I managed to get distracted by some personal business and punt a critical turn, and then a second one just after that. (Leave the phone in the car, kids.)
Thrax came down and swung into Austin (playing Thada Adel) fairly early, connecting for seven and then eight the following turn. (
sort of left the door open with a big Pentavus and a fully-tapped mana base, so I jumped on it.) He did recover with a Meekstone, but I was able to use Expedition Map to find High Market, sacrifice Thrax’, and replay and attack to take Austin out. Austin
I was able to turn my attention to Shawn after that, but was only able to log about ten general damage before Thraximundar became too expensive to re-cast (I played him four times up to that point.) Shawn played a Vulturous Zombie and aimed a Traumatize at Mr P, hoping to take him out of action with a depleted yard and a 60+/60+ flyer. I took the opportunity to Wild Ricochet it back at Shawn twice over, milling him down to sixteen cards in his library.
At this point, I screwed up my math and punted a turn that should have killed Mr P. I had Spinal Embrace, Puppeteer Clique, and Memory Plunder in hand, and exactly enough mana to cast it all. Clique would get Geralf’s Mindcrusher, milling Mr P for five and making the Vulturous Zombie a 9/9. I would steal it with Spinal Embrace and attack, first Memory Plunder-ing the Savage Beating from Mr. P’s yard and paying for the entwine, which would have allowed me to deal an exact 36 damage to him to kill him.
Turns out I didn’t factor in the entwine cost, and came up short, killing no-one in the process. Instead, I just passed the turn. Go me.
At this point, I tilted and got distracted with a message, not noticing that Mr. P eliminated Shawn. My intention was to Memory Plunder Shawn’s Life’s Finale to destroy Mr P’s token army. Instead, I missed that play until Shawn was gone and the turn had passed. I looked at the board, realized what I’d done, and tilt-scooped.
Sorry, guys. Not my best play or attitude.
As I said, the deck has some solid plays now. It has a lower top-end, and more spells that interact at instant speed, so that the deck always feels like it’s in motion. Unfortunately, it severely suffers from the mana issues; the problem isn’t as bad as last week, but as I said, it really means that the deck becomes an issue of playing and using Thraximundar, or doing other things. That’s kind of a downer.
Actually, speaking of which…
The Games, Continued
The second game was different. I managed my mana just fine, and kept my options open and tried to play defensively.
This was good.
On the other hand, I was totally unable to play Thraximundar as a result.
Not so good.
The game was much more fun, however. I was able to hang in for quite some time, managing some cool plays off of the options in the deck. At one point, Shawn was abusing a Mimic Vat, and had just stuck Mr P’s Rune-Scarred Demon on it and passed to me with mana open. I untapped and played Word of Seizing, making a Demon that found me some business, and then evoking Ingot Chewer to blow the Vat up.
Some of the standard role-players were fantastic too; Anathemancer got some solid damage in, and Lightning Reaver came down at a time when both Austin and Mr P were at low lives, so it was a legitimate threat and drew some solid hate as a result. Deathbringer Thoctar was an all-star, dealing a huge amount of damage and surviving an escalating Pestilence Demon trigger-fest natively, which was pretty awesome.
Cauldron remains my favorite card of all time. At one point, in response to an attack, I was able to Cauldron Dance in Puppeteer Clique from my hand and Butcher of Malakir from my graveyard, getting a Clone with Clique to double up on the Butcher and force removal of most of the board, including
’s Asceticism-protected crew. Austin
In the end, a Zealous Conscript-ed Dakkon Blade joined a Rune-Scarred Demon and both got pumped via an entwined Savage Beating to eliminate Shawn. Mr P, playing Balthor the Defiled, attempted to go for a big turn by sacrificing his general to bring back his yard, which allowed me to get Butcher, Deathbringer Thoctar, and Puppeteer Clique (and thus Clone on Thoctar.) My Shriekmaw hit my Ingot Chewer, causing a ton of Butcher and Thoctar triggers to happen, which was enough to ping everyone to death on the spot.
Much more satisfying that time.
Back to Lesson 1
It probably sounds like the deck is a success based on that last game, and you’d be correct. However, I’m not quite where I want to be. I have more fun cards in color that I’m dying to play for the first time, such as Havengul Lich. I’m not sure on some of the high-end cards, such as Cruel Ultimatum and (while I love it to death, I recognize it’s hard as hell to play) Phthisis. And while I love the options available in a card like Dominate, the deck doesn’t provide enough mana to really be able to make good use of it.
I kind of want to continue doing silly things with it too…more fun instants that mess up combat math, and some silly finishers; maybe something like Dark Depths to spice things up a bit.
So things are getting closer. What am I still missing? What cards need to go in this build? What fun options am I missing? Where are my opportunities for making room?
I’m digging this thing, though. It’s nice to be back in these colors, and I missed the joy of Thraximundar as a general. I’m excited to keep tuning this thing.
The Kresh Project has taken a slightly new direction. And Mr P and I are headed off for a weekend of…Legacy?