Some people like their fried eggs sunny-side up and nice and runny. Some people prefer theirs over easy and solid. Some people like their boiled eggs all runny and googly (yeah I called them ‘googly eggs’ as a kid when I dipped my toast soldiers in them), while others like them hard boiled.
Similarly, some people rave on about watching a sunset, seeing the colours play across the sky as the photons are bent and diffracted through the atmosphere. Personally, I prefer a sunrise – the calm and peace before the cacophony as the world rises (truly best with an Irish coffee in hand).
Here’s the best thing about a sunset, though – I know a sunrise is coming.
The House of the Rising Sun
The engine that drives the heart of an Eggs list like Full Metal Pavlova is the Second Sunrise effect. The ability to recycle our resources back into play – like the sun rising to greet a new day of shenanigans. Each time we manage to roll out a Second Sunrise, we’re pushing the Golden Ratio further over the threshold of critical efficiency, turning each Egg into multiple card draws.
The problem we have is that we can only jam a single copy of Second Sunrise into our deck. Even Stanislav Cifka needed more than a single Sunrise to win his pro tour. Cifka’s second breakfast list utilized 8 copies of the Second Sunrise effect. These were represented by Faith’s Reward and of course Second Sunrise itself. These 8 copies, in the 60 card format that is a Modern pro tour, fit the bill mathematically to meet the criteria for the 7-9 Rule .
As we discussed, the 7-9 rule (my 13-15 variant for the Commander format) gives us a guideline for the critical minimum threshold density to be able to reliably find our first Sunrise, and, like in Cifka’s Second Breakfast, in Full Metal Pavlova, the density of our sunrise effects should on average lead into the next iteration of the engine’s cycle.
That Time We Raided the Ben & Jerrys Warehouse
As alluded to, we have the obvious problem of our chosen format – we can only play a single copy of each critical component. Secondly, according to the adjusted 7-9 card density rule, we’re gonna need a LOT of Sunrises.
The question then leads to the obvious – what are the properties of a Sunrise effect?
The workload we want our Sunrises to do is reloading our array of Eggs into play. Fortunately, our Eggs are all artifacts – which means we can narrow the focus of the workload we need our cards to perform for us. Narrowing the workload means we can broaden our option pool on ‘functional equivalent’ cards. Given we are looking to reload our Eggs into play, the property of interest in a Sunrise is the en-mass return of our artifacts from our graveyard to play. I want to stress that we are talking about mass recursion here. As we are trying to break the efficiency envelope as I alluded to while talking about the Golden Ratio of efficiency, we simply cannot be playing 1:1 return effects. We need to be returning multiple resources at a time, allowing us to dig for the resources to reach the next cycle of our engine.
Secondly, while Second Sunrise may also return other permanent types to play, these need only be considered to be ‘icing on the cake’ – or ‘bonus features’ on a DVD. We are focussing on mass artifact recursion; therefore, the following cards could be considered to be functional equivalents to Second Sunrise:
Each of these cards puts a mass of cards into play from your graveyard. Each of these cards affects artifacts. However, I am sure you can see the obvious problem: including Sunrise itself, we only have five effects. How, then, can we achieve the necessary resource density enough to be compliant with the 7-9 rule?
My solution here is a bit left of field, so let’s get a change of headspace for a moment. Imagine you are driving a car, and you want to make a right hand turn. You approach the intersection, make your checks and then action the turn by rotating the steering wheel.
But what if you wanted to make a right hand turn, but were unable to turn the steering wheel right (beyond the neutral steer point)? How could you turn right? I expect some of you clever cats are out there, shaking your heads and muttering “Well, y’all just turn left three times don’cha’?”, and that’s true – you can turn three left hand turns into a right.
Does the same principal apply to Magic? It sure does.
Let’s say I have a Helm of Awakening in play; normally, this just makes my Eggs zero mana to play. Under that scenario, is not casting Creeping Renaissance and then replaying all the Eggs for free under Helm of Awakening functionally the same as if I’d simply Sunrised them back in the first place? (No points for answering ‘yes’ here, that one is a no brainer and is the correct answer).
In previous episodes of this fine saga, I have postulated that being able to fetch something into your hand is almost as good as actually having it in your hand. Logically, this means that we can supplement our limited selection of actual Sunrise effects with a stack of pseudo-Sunrises. This means that if I have a Demonic Tutor in hand, I functionally have a Second Sunrise in hand which I can play for a measly 2WWB.
While we can functionally stack an almost-limitless number of tutors into the design, we need to consider their cost efficiency in our card selection. In a deck where we are trying to pass the efficiency barrier of the golden ratio, a deck design where we want to achieve the mathematical improbability of greater than 100% efficiency, the use of a Diabolic Tutor in place of a Demonic Tutor is inherently self-defeating.
Expanding on the concept, if you think of a tutor as a card that simply changes the zone of a card from your deck to your hand, I’d like to then consider that cards able to retrieve resources from zones other than your library are simply another form of a tutor. Regrowth is simply a tutor that searches your graveyard, while Pull From Eternity can tutor a card from exile to graveyard. While this is not as direct an access point as a library-based tutor, those can only fish up the finite resources in-deck, while a graveyard tutor can recycle those resources. As with library tutors, graveyard retrieval needs to play out efficiently to compliment the required mana curve and card advantage efficiency.
Playing Parallel to the Parallel
Playing on the bleeding edge of efficiency does have some drawbacks. As much as I would like to load up on big mana hard tutors, when you’re playing a deck where the slightest mismanagement of mana (amount and colour) can be a fatal play, one simply cannot afford to play even a diabolic tutor.
Interestingly however, the nature of our Eggs and their support framework of sacrificial effects are such that they all operate at instant speed. This interaction opens a window that is not normally open to most decks. I refer to a possible line of play where if you can imagine that you have a Second Sunrise in hand and a selection of Eggs on the field, you could potentially cast the Sunrise and add it to the stack before popping the Eggs for their replacement cards.
Now, imagine you resolve the card draws and one card you get into hand turns out to be Fork. An option opens up where that Fork is now functionally a Second Sunrise for RR. While the original Sunrise remains on the stack, we can (to some degree, and with a bit of luck) find additional instant-speed Sunrises or Forks to continue the chain. Where this does not happen, we are likely to dig into other sorcery-speed Sunrises, which we can enhance our abuse of by playing out some of the additional Egg resources that have made it into our hands, before we attempt to retrigger the chain reaction.
The final parallel I want to draw with Sunrise effects is also somewhat specific to the Eggs design. As I’ve said before, our goalpost aim in this deck is to use the first Sunrise to find the second. The final parallel card to the sunrise relies also on the 7 to 9 rule; as I’ve previously stated, this rule is designed that we should be able to find a Sunrise effect roughly every seven cards. As such, if a Sunrise is designed to recycle enough Eggs to see seven cards, is therefore not a draw-7 effect equivalent to a Sunrise effect? The beauty of many draw-7 effects is that they often have a secondary effect; as an example, Wheel of Fortune not only loads up your hand to find the next Sunrise, but it also loads up your graveyard to allow cheating otherwise difficult toys into play. Alternatively, Memory Jar offers the ability to be cloned or returned with a Sunrise.
As can be seen, through looking at cards for what they can be as opposed to what they strictly are, we can “see” effective Sunrises in more scenarios than even tutoring. All that has to be considered is what the objective of the Sunrise is and then to look at how else that objective can be achieved. Next time, I’ll be discussing the finishing combos and their merits as well as unveiling my list. Please stay tuned and as always….
Love and Velociraptors,
“I have seen the dark universe yawning Where the black planets roll without aim, Where they roll in their horror unheeded, Without knowledge, or lustre, or name.” – H.P. Lovecraft – Nemesis