Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Importance of Hating Land

Today, Sam Black takes a look at making a couple different EDH decks.

But first, he makes sure to note his unique difficulty: "the idea of building a 'fun deck' rather than a deck designed to work well is very difficult for me to wrap my head around."

Caveat: Sam Black possesses a brain many times the size of my own. At various times when he has decreed to make the odious journey from Madison up to the Twin Cities to play guest at the regional prerelease, I have had the rare sight of seeing his presence in manifest, his thread-bare mortal shell barely restraining the glistening, pulsating OVERSOUL of pure mental energy contained within.

Never the less, perhaps I can write some things here without making myself sound like a total idiot in the process. (Not a chance!)

Much like many voices that have come before him, the article declares the card Emrakul irreclaimably ba-roken. As well as describes the totally unfair combo of Strip Mine and Crucible of Worlds.

Their banning is apparently only averted by the kindness of the EDH player base at large, and their open refusal to pursue the path of the combo to its infinite conclusion.

Now, I'm not going to measure up any of my decks to Black's decks. Both of my EDH decks are ugly, unworkable piles of garbage. Many of their card choices express the exact opposite of synergy. Antagonistic, perhaps? Whatever you call it when you Living Death your Phage, the Untouchable back onto the battlefield.

But I will say I have been utterly crushed by many GOOD EDH decks. Decks where the cards work together. And sometimes, and more importantly, decks where the cards actively HATE OUT your cards!

Any reader of Sheldon Menery's column on Star City Games should be familiar with the two most in-demand effects in your EDH deck. The first is graveyard hate. And the second is land hate.

A few weeks ago, I "played" Brad Nelson in the gunslinging challenge at prerelease. When I dragged my trembling Malfegor deck out of the comfortable darkness of its converted ammo can, his eyes immediately lit up with glee.

He guessed I would have a bit of graveyard recursion, and chose to mulligan until he found Leyline of the Void. The long story short, his booster box remained as full as ever after my departure.

Sheldon Menery, in his article, calls out what he thinks of as "The Unholy Trinity of Land".

In a deck like Black's Eldrazi deck, Eye of Ugin could perhaps be added to the list.

If I personally see any land like the above…I try to take it out as quickly as possible. Any player would. Not exactly revolutionary tech, instead these are cards you see all the time (and read about on the Internet!).

In reality there is no deck I have ever played where ultimate victory has not been achieved though at least some timely use of artifact, land and graveyard destruction. Because the combos are everywhere, and people are quite willing to use them.

Black's last deck is a Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper build, and this one looks the most interesting to me. Much like Teysa, Sek'Kuar has any number of ways to sacrifice creatures, generate new creatures, and generally bury your opponents under a pile of tokens. Unlike Teysa, the green element of Sek'Kaar allows crazy amounts of card draw every time a creature is moved into the graveyard.

And he carries some hate in his deck (ok, the Eldrazi deck had Terastodon) in the form of Acidic Slime and Sadistic Hypnotist.

But because he's an accomplished deckbuilder, I can't help but think I'm the one who's not seeing the writing on the wall. My only theory is that these decks must be fast enough to avoid being disrupted. Which seems hard to believe, especially in a multiplayer game where people are going to see who the "problem" is as soon as Survival of the Fittest enters the battlefield.

My many loses have never caused me to complain about the competitive nature of deckbuilding. And I've certainly never felt like anyone has taken it easy on me in their quest to build a "fun" deck. Because about 90% of the population of Magic players gain the greatest "fun" from stomping all over other people's cards. And I am no exception.

Instead, each loss just educates you on what kinds of things to avoid in the future. (Say having Living Death and Phage in the same deck). I would hope no one out there is thinking any less.

I will leave this post with a lovely bit of hate machinery I heard about the other day.

Viashino Heretic
Liquimetal Coating

Nothing could be more fun or necessary in the world of EDH.

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