Editor’s Note: After a brief hiatus that had nothing to do with GDC going down for a few weeks, Lord Krazy Kaka is back with the next chapter in his multi-part series discussing how to build an eggs deck in Commander, and what his favorite breakfast food can really do.
I recall many years ago watching a fishing and travel documentary called “A River Somewhere.” It was an entertaining tale of two blokes travelling to different locations and fly fishing for whatever was there. While travelling around they would have a bit of a chat about the local town or some other amusing anecdote. One particular episode they were fascinated at one restaurant offering 50 different ways to fry an egg. While I don’t know 50 ways, I do often employ several methods depending on whom I am cooking for and my mood. As I become more sophisticated and adventurous in the kitchen, I find myself trying and employing new and different techniques on my eggy dishes.
50 Shades of Eggs
Coincidentally, in Magic, there are many types of eggs as well. Since we’re building an eggs list, it seems like a good idea to explore the different types of eggs available. This won’t be an exhaustive list of every possible egg, and given the constant production of new cards, future printings may supplant some of the selections I have chosen. Similarly, your own personal style or needs for your group may differ from mine, resulting in different choices. There are several categories of eggs:
Self-replacing mana filters: Cards like the Odyssey Eggs, Chromatic Sphere, Chromatic Star and of course Commander’s Sphere. These allow the conversion of colourless mana to coloured mana, and they can be sacrificed to draw a card, replacing themselves.
Replacement on entrance: These juicy little numbers all possess the characteristic that when they enter the battlefield, they draw you a card. They will usually have some sort of secondary ability, which may or may not include a self-sacrifice clause. Ideally they would include such a clause, but the main characteristic that they must possess is to generate a card on entry to the battlefield, every time. Per Cifka’s Second Breakfast deck, the most notable example of this is Elsewhere Flask. In a similar vein to the Odyssey Eggs, Kaleidostone is a type of mana filter. However, it only generates its replacement card on entry, so to really abuse these, you need to select those with their own sacrifice clause or those which work well with an external sacrifice outlet.
Replacement on exit: Similar to replacement on entrance, they replace themselves with a resource upon their exit from play. Unlike replace-on-entrance eggs, exit-based cards require some way to remove themselves from play. The resource produced could be cards or mana. A few examples of exit-based cards include the classic Black Lotus, self-sacrificing to produce mana, whereas on the other side of the coin, Sensei’s Divining Top removes itself to the top of your library after drawing you a card. A more recent example from AEther Revolt would be Implement of Examination, which has both a self-sacrifice ability which resolves to replace itself, and also has a secondary auto replace on exit trigger.
The last type of egg I would like to look at is in a class of its own. I like to think of them as “the exit strategy.” But their proper classification is:
The win condition: This class of egg is your finisher. It’s the reason you are cycling your deck. In the classic modern Second Breakfast deck, Pyrite Spellbomb is the bullet in the machine gun—loaded into the chamber, fired at a target and then reloaded back into that chamber. The spellbomb is drawn to hand, played, activated and then reloaded into the deck to be drawn once more. Essentially a finisher is an egg that delivers a limited payload of pain to a target, possessing a way to self-remove, which enables it to be abused by a recursion engine.
The Colours of Magic
The second topic I would like to address today is some of the quirks of the mana base. As my local gamers all know, I have a love for building five-colour decks. I like building clever machines, and I like to use the best tools for the jobs I need filled. Full Metal Pavlova is no exception. It is possible to reduce the colours in the deck, and if you want to experiment with that, you’re welcome to do so. I chose to play in five colours to enable maximum efficiency for the tools I have chosen.
There are several elements of the mana base that need to be noted in its design. First of all, we’re playing a deck that wants to thin itself by extracting the land from the deck as efficiently as possible. Secondly, we’re playing a deck that will tell you what colours it wants to access at any given time. While you need to plan ahead to maximise mana production in white, you will also need flexible access to choosing colours later. Finally, be prepared to have an abnormally low land count. The deck produces a lot of mana through recurrable artifact sources, and the operation of the deck is designed to be ultra-low cost, either due to the actual CMC or via adjusted CMC.
Your budget will determine if you can go the route I have chosen, or if you need to consider a more budget-friendly option, an alternative construct that is slightly less efficient and flexible. (While I do not advocate use of “playtest” cards, you may choose to utilise them while tinkering with the build.) For my core mana base, I have chosen to utilise the 10 (Onslaught and Zendikar) sac lands paired with the original ABUR dual lands. This allows me to always be able to find whichever colour of mana I predict I will need. As an example, if I want a blue mana source in my opening hand, I have four blue duals in deck, any one of which can be found by the 10 sac lands in the deck. By my count that is 14 ways to land a blue source. Conveniently, according to my modified 7-9 rule in EDH, where we’re looking for 12-15 copies of an effect in order to see it in our opener, I should be functionally able to have one copy of any colour in my opening hand.
A cheaper alternative to a full selection of revised duals could include use of Ravnica shocklands, BFZ tango lands, and even use of basic land search in the form of Terramorphic Expanse and its cousins paired with a selection of basics. An advantage to using basic lands is that this enables the use and abuse of Ghost Quarter in the same way it was abused in Second Breakfast. In Cifkas’ design, Ghost Quarter was used to both tutor in to play basic lands from the deck, while sending lands to the graveyard from play, which allowed them to be returned untapped with a Second Sunrise. This can be replicated to a degree by timing the activation of a set of sac lands with the casting of a Second Sunrise, recurring the sac land to generate a two for one of mana fixing and ramp.
I’m not going to run a complete diagnostic of all the lands in my list; however, there is one other specific quirk of the mana base that I feel needs some discussion.
The advantage to the five-colour base is the utility of running a full complement of Artifact Lands. Being artifacts, these lands are unique in that they are affected by both land based events and tutors, and by artifact shenanigans. While they are not directly tutorable via sac lands, they are tutorable through tinker type effects. Similarly, artifacts are more readily sacrificed than non-artifact lands, and are easier to return to play than non-artifacts. Paired with an appropriate sacrifice outlet, Artifact Lands can be returned to play over and over again, producing more mana on every iteration of a sunrise effect. In this sense they are as much of an egg as a Lotus Petal.
Unlike the vast bulk of playable mana rocks in Commander, Artifact Lands possess one critical advantage over even a Sol Ring – they can be put into play with absolutely no mana investment.
That’s all for now folks. However, please do keep tuned to the GDC channel. Next time I’ll be exploring the selection of sunrise and pseudo sunrise effects I use to power the engine in Full Metal Pavlova.
“If I am mad, it is mercy! May the gods pity the man who in his callousness can remain sane to the hideous end!”
― H.P. Lovecraft, The Temple
Love and velociraptors