This deck has been a long time in the works, and with GenCon 2015 only three-odd weeks away, I wanted to unveil the new list and report on the first test run.
First, a quick history-
V 1.0 was unleashed at GenCon 2012 as Riku of Two Reflections; this was a direct port of an Intet, the Dreamer list that I decided to upgrade and focus on playing the combo foil role. Read about it here.
V 2.0 followed for GenCon 2013, and the move to drop red and wind up on Prime Speaker Zegana resulted in a much more focused deck that had some resounding successes, yet still fell a little short. You can read about that deck here.
Somewhere in here, I built V 3.0 – Mono-blue Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir control. That deck is chronicled here. Ultimately, it had some very successful local runs, but never made the trip to Indianapolis, as I was not able to attend GenCon 2014.
Over the last year, I’ve been tinkering with this last deck, playing competitive games locally and tweaking based on my results. What I came to discover through the assistance of good friend Asa and his copy of the Edric, Spymaster of Trest extra turns deck that took down the GenCon 2012 event is that mono-blue is great at stopping the big problems in competitive EDH-Land: combos and control decks. It turns out that it’s pretty bad at dealing with aggro decks – small creature swarms and tokens.
And that’s kind of important, since those decks are pretty common.
After conferring with the GDC crew and considering options, I settled on adding white for creature control and passive “hate bear” effects.
Presenting: The GenCon Metagame Breaker 4.0:
[Deck title=GenConMetagame Breaker 4.0]
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV[/General]
Sphere of Resistance
Sensei’s Divining Top
Wrath of God
Rite of Replication[/Sorceries]
Rest in Peace
Glen Elendra Archmage
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Linvala, Keeper of Secrets
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/Creatures]
Dig Through Time
Fact or Fiction
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Force of Will
Muddle the Mixture
Temple of the False God
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV was quickly chosen as the general for the deck, as the tax effect is remarkable at handling things like storm and cascade, while the discount on white and blue spells makes it much easier to be able to advance the game while also maintain a control battle plan.
Really, I’m not reinventing the wheel here at all. The deck stays heavy on control effects, running a fairly-typical high count of counterspells (and focusing on cheap/free options), while also leaning strongly on board sweepers and spot removal. There’s also a light enchantment sub-theme, allowing me to utilize Enlightened Tutor to power a toolbox engine for specific answers like Rest in Peace, Propaganda (to handle swarms), draw engines like Rhystic Study, or a threat producer like Luminarch Ascension, should the coast look clear to go on the offense.
Since the point of this thing is not to resort to combos myself, the endgame is defined by the big-mana bombs, most of which are proactive to begin with – Memnarch and Iona, Shield of Emeria. Of course, there are effects like Desertion and Vedalken Shackles that let me react to the game and shift gears if the opening persists, and these types of additions are not outside the realm of “fair” EDH – people play steal effects all over the spectrum.
The nuclear threat is the ability the deck has to utilize a Mindslaver/Academy Ruins loop. This is the only true combo, and it isn’t a game ender so much as it is a way to handle decks that have slipped past the counters and removal and are in danger of hitting critical mass – Zur the Enchanter decks that have assembled the “Zur Package”, but haven’t tabled a Solitary Confinement effect, for example. The plan is to use the lock so that the kid with the tribal dragons deck sitting across the table can just end things, at which point I need to exercise restraint and drop the loop.
Something about great power and all of that.
Anyway…the game last night.
Those of you regularly following GeneralDamage Control know that things have taken a decidedly-competitive slant as of late, and you know how frustrating that has been for me in particular. To try to address the influx of harder-edged games, Mr. P has instituted a “No Holds Barred” side-queue that runs concurrently with the usual points league games.
In essence, you sign up, are handed two packs, and sit down to play two games. The games are “anything goes” – this is straight competitive Commander. Land destruction, infinite combos…the whole nine yards. In each game you play, you give a pack to the person who eliminates you. This means that in two games, you can net six packs for your buy-in, or you could walk away with nothing.
I decided that, despite the fact that I have rebuilt two other “normal” decks, I was going to start with this queue last night. My reasoning was that I needed seat time to test this deck for GenCon, and these would be the types of decks that would show up and need to be stopped in the games we plan on experiencing there. In addition, since I’ve been so frustrated with the competitive plays lately, I decided that this would be a great way to get back on the horse; since I knew they were coming, I wouldn’t get angry if it happened.
We ended with six players in the NHB queue, so we split into two pods; the plan was to play one game, and then shuffle the players up and play the second. I was seated with a newer player running The Mimeoplasm, and as it turns out, Asa with Edric. I opened on a hand that contained Flusterstorm and Mindbreak Trap with a few mana sources, so I kept.
Asa led off, dropping Tropical Island and leading off with the first of many faceless unblockable 1/1 creatures. I drew into Mystical Tutor, and passed with Island up. Once things made it back to Asa, I took one damage from the attack and he added Island and another small creature. On his end-step, I Tutored for Mana Drain. My turn added Glacial Fortress, and I passed.
The Mimeoplasm player landed Survival of the Fittest, causing me to question exactly how new he actually was.
Asa went for Shardless Agent on his turn, which I let stick, along with the cascaded-up creature that came with it. He attacked in to the Mimeo player and passed. I drew Strip Mine and took out the Tropical Island to keep him off of green.
Mimeo started pitching things to Survival to fill the yard. I started to prepare to have to split my focus to deal with the growing threat.
Asa untapped, found a Forest, and went for Edric. I fired the Mana Drain, and it miraculously stuck. I took five damage, and he passed. My draw was Sun Titan, so I spent the Drain mana to fire it off, recurring Strip Mine and taking his Forest in the process. I passed, hoping that my Mindbreak Trap would be all the protection I would need. Fortunately, it was, and I started to aim the Sun Titan at Mimeo to keep him on his toes.
Asa attacked and passed, and I fired off an end-step Fact or Fiction. He responded with Cryptic Command, which met Flusterstorm with two copies. Fact resolved, and I gave the Mimeo player the choice. He wisely split Rest in Peace one way, with lands, Sol Ring, and Render Silent on the other side. I took the card advantage, untapped, laid the Sol Ring and a land, and passed.
Mimeo went for it with a Mind Grind for 7. I let it resolve, and milled off thirty cards or so, as did Asa. He passed, and Asa played Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Sun Titan played defense, and Asa passed. I recurred Strip Mine and took Boseiju out, and Asa conceded in response.
So far, so good.
The Mimeoplasm player was pretty upset about Asa dropping out, since he was looking at Asa’s yard to fuel the upcoming Mimeoplasm. I told him it wouldn’t have made a big difference, and on my next turn, Sun Titan’s attack trigger got back Rest In Peace, effectively sealing the game. He was unable to do much else of consequence; Memnarch showed up shortly after, stealing a Necrotic Ooze, and Render Silent took care of a Trygon Predator. Blind Obedience ensured that the path would be clear to attack each turn, and I ended the game in three swings.
I was feeling pretty good about the performance overall; sadly, I didn’t get a second game, as Asa left and the other table decided to start their second game before we shuffled the players. The Mimeoplasm player declined a heads-up game, knowing that I was heavily favored, so I gave him a pack and took the other five.
What do you think? The performance seems strong so far, but I’m not convinced that I have the build right yet. What changes would you suggest? Am I missing some obvious inclusions or synergies that would help this thing? What contingencies do I need to plan for that I’m missing?
And while we’re here, what do you think of the No Holds Barred queue idea?
Hit up the Comments and help me out.