I’m that guy.

It’s taken me a long time to really come to terms with this fact; to step up and really own it for the first time. I’ve made tons of excuses over the past year as to why I’m just trying to keep up with the overall power level of the shop, or why I needed to compensate for a particularly rough patch of game losses, but the reality is pretty simple:

My name is Cass, and I’m a blatant GoodStuff™ abuser.

It’s a hard truth. I’m a min-maxer when it comes to building decks. I tend to scour lists on TappedOut or MTGSalvation to look for angles and solid tech to use in my builds. I use Excel, and compare lists to see what cards tend to appear the most in decks, and then create builds that statistically use all of the best cards.

I feel compelled to buy Mirari’s Wake if it isn’t in a Selesnya deck I own. Big green creatures? There better be a Greater Good in there. Black decks get Phyrexian Reclamation, and blue decks get Cyclonic Rift. I’m a huge sucker for good cards.

One of the ways I attempted to mitigate this in the past year is by using other player’s decks as a jumping-off point, and admitting as much. My most infamous example of this is my attempt to take Sheldon Menery’s Ruhan of the Fomori “You Did This To Yourself” judo-style deck, play it card for card in my metagame, and then see what changes needed to happen in order to make it work better. The deck has become a Narset, Enlightened Master build, but it remains largely the same strategy and shares many cards.

I have a Karn, Silver Golem deck that runs Darksteel Forge, a Kresh the Bloodbraided deck that runs Greater Gargadon, and a Melek, Izzet Chronarch deck that runs Epic Experiment and Mind’s Desire.

In games, I make high-powered plays with high-powered cards. I prefer blowing myself out of the water in one fell swoop by sacrificing all my lands to Titania, Protector of Argoth on my opponent’s end-step so that I can untap on turn seven and alpha-strike someone out of the game with 60 power worth of creatures. I have that Bant Aluren/ Cloudstone Curio blink deck…it’s not really a combo deck, right?

I’m that guy.

LEARNING TO PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH

This all came to a head recently at EDH night down at the shop. I mentioned it on here; after a particularly nasty blowout with Titania, I went to sit down for another game. Mr. P looked at me and said, “Play something that’s not so strong. Play a fun deck.”

I looked through the bag…and realized I didn’t actually have one.

Everything was tuned to the hilt to be powerful and make big plays and play the best cards. Meanwhile, other players had some pretty cool decks that still could make solid plays because they were built correctly – Anafenza the Foremost ‘counters matter’ decks, Phenax, God of Deception mill decks that really put pressure on the table (despite mill being a “bad EDH strategy”…our friend Sean’s Nekusar “World of Pings” deck (Prodigal Sorcerer rides again!) I was surrounded by cool decks and unique strategies, and I couldn’t compete without Fling-ing Kresh at someone’s head. Pretty embarrassing for the guy who created this site on the “Social Contract” principle.

In all honesty, this kind of took the wind out of my sails fundamentally. I stopped thinking about my cards, and stopped brewing decks for a few weeks. I didn’t buy any cards. I was halfway into a Karador, Ghost Chieftain ‘spirits tribal’ build that has been done to death as well, and I couldn’t seem to finalize a list that interested me enough to grab my card boxes and get to it. Above all, I wasn’t having fun playing the game, and that’s a huge issue.

I finally came to the realization that I had nowhere to go but down. Even if I got past my current mental block, I would end up with “that Karador” deck. What I needed to do was to start from scratch, and try a new angle completely. That’s exactly what I’m going to do – I’m going to find EDH again, and remember what it feels like to enjoy the format, and this is how I’m going to do it.

<Brad Pitt>THE BOX…WHAT’S IN THE BOX?</Brad Pitt>

I recently posted a question to you all asking for help on a new deck. I had a Volcanic Island, Tropical Island, and Underground Sea sitting gathering dust, and I wanted to know what to make of them in order to fill the twelfth open slot in my EDH Fat Pack boxes. Well, I caved and rebuilt Melek (as I alluded to above) on the strength of both having a Vintage-lite goldfishing deck, and also a second competitive Commander deck designed for high-powered games and 1v1 play.

I decided to step it up for this project, and build not one, but three new decks. A new Fat Pack box in the bag, dedicated to playing truly fun games. I’m calling it “The Fun Box.” I used a lot of your suggestions to get started, but first, let’s take a look at the guiding criteria:

  1. Build Fun Decks. The goal is to have an answer for when someone asks me for a fun game next time. I’m not adverse to strong cards, but I won’t be trying to run the Try Hard Greatest Hits in any of the decks. These decks will be designed to hang in the average game; win one, lose a few, but be enjoyable along the way.
  2. Use Cards On Hand. This should be a strong limiting factor. If I don’t let myself slide in a StarCityGames order for some staples…well, I’ll actually force myself to find alternatives in the boxes and piles of cards that clutter my office. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that. There are some good cards in there for sure, but the supply isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll have to get creative to make all three decks work.
  3. Strategy Rules The Day. All three decks will be built around a specific strategy, for better or worse. If cards don’t fit that, they’re not going in.
  4. Steer Clear Of Existing Lists. I’m not researching a damn thing for any of these. Anything I come up with will be strictly due to my keyword searches on MagicCards.info.
  5. If I Need To Buy Cards, Limit The Dollar Amounts. As you’ll see below, some cards may need to be acquired. If that is the case, I’ll be limiting the dollar amount of any given card to under $2. If it costs more, then…           
  6. It’s Time To Trade. *Shiver*
  7. Be Very Open To Suggestions. I want input, and plan to grab it wherever I can.

That’s the bulk of it. I’ll keep the builds out in the open on here, and walk through changes as they happen. Hopefully, I’ll learn a thing or two in the process, and above all, have more fun and be more fun to play with.

THE DECKS

-Karador, Bargain Shopper

This deck will aim to be the antithesis of my last Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck, which was a very stereotypical graveyard recursion build that ran slowly and didn’t interact well at all.

The Constraint – All cards in the deck will have a converted mana cost of three or less, with the exception of one card from the green box on my desk:

Aluren

The goal of this build will be to have a Karador recursion deck that plays mostly at instant speed, and does it on the cheap. It will be a toolbox build. I have no idea what the win condition will be yet, but I’ll be forced to dig around to find it. No Kokusho recursion or Mikaeus/Triskelion shenanigans here.

-Building A Better Vorel

Snottnormal suggested that I go with Vorel of the Hull Clade and get in on Evolve and Graft that goes heavy on things like Hydras and really focuses on Vorel’s ability. I like this angle a lot; it has all the markings of a very synergistic build that focuses on the General, and can hopefully do some strong things that fall off the beaten path. Vorel is very accessible and cheap to cast, and has an ability that can really run in many directions. It also helps that I’ve tried to make Graft work in EDH many times before, and this will force my hand to give it another go.

Also, a foil Vorel is like a dollar. My kind of general.

-Wrexial, the Mad Scientist

Friday suggested a Wrexial, the Risen Deep list that runs hard on clone and copy effects, allowing the deck to automatically scale to the power level of the game it is in. This started the wheels grinding; then, Altasia suggested a Kruphix, God of Horizons deck that ran a “Magical Hack” theme, and it all came together.

This deck will be a bit of a Voltron build that focuses on the fact that Wrexial has landwalk capability to sneak in for damage and to get some card value in the process. I’ll run cards that give him more landwalk, and plenty of things like Trait Doctoring and Glamerdye that allow him to get wherever he needs to go. (Well, unless one of my opponents is running a colorless deck…)

I’ll try to expand to a color-change theme somehow, although I haven’t quite developed this part yet. So far, I envision messing with people running Sword of Fire and Ice and its brethren, but there has to be cooler things that I can do with it from there. Again, I’m not sure how it wins, so this one is going to need some serious help and some serious work.

CLOSING TIME

So that’s it. Call it a New Year’s Resolution – I’m going to reclaim my EDH inner fire this year, and this is the first step in the process. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and above all, suggestions on any or all of these three decks.

Lastly, from all of us here at GeneralDamageControl.com, we wish you a warm and wonderful Happy New Year. Cheers, and we’ll see you next year!

-Cass
@GDCCommander