I could really use some help with the deck I've been putting together to actually have some fun with my playgroup. They have good decks but haven't been a fan of my take on a Jhoira-centered EDH deck…
I thought that maybe you would like to work on this one a bit because of the oddness of the cards used. It should end up looking much different than many decks you have done before.
The deck centered on the first rare card I ever pulled from a pack, a legend from Coldsnap named Lovisa Coldeyes. Such a great sound and ring to a Barbarian Warlord's name! (Not to mention the awesome art!) So even though it was not the most powerful creature, I kept it. I've tried to get around to making it for some time, and it seems like now is as good as any, mostly because I'm sick of using my Trostani populate deck (it's fun, but I legitimately need to pull out a calculator and have my phone handy just to keep track of tokens and life).
I tried to put in all the Barbarians, Warriors, and Berserkers I had, but please upgrade them as you see fit. Take out a hacksaw if need be! It needs to be more powerful and much more consistent. I definitely need all the help you can give!
Thanks in advance for the help!
Lands (Need way more and some that actually have abilities.)
Thanks a bunch!
I'm with you here, Andrew. This is a pretty large step back from your typical Jhoira of the Ghitu deck.
In fact, I'm a little nervous. Stepping back to what I think is fair to call a budget Lovisa Coldeyes deck is kind of like…oh, I don't know…Dale Earnheart, Jr. finishing a race with his 750-horsepower NASCAR Chevy and then hopping onto a moped for the drive home. To put it softly, you may notice a slight decrease in performance over Jhoira. Just saying.
However, here's the thing. You're doing a solid job of covering different bases with your deck selections. I'm a huge proponent of this. Not every deck you face is going to be a 99-card version of a tactical nuclear missile, so it's a good thing to be able to vary what you sit down to a game with in order to match up with the current play environment. Combo killing a table of new Commander players on turn 4 with a tuned Hermit Druid deck will not only stand a chance of causing them to think twice about the format but also rob yourself of the potential for a fun and interactive game.
Essentially, sometimes you should take the high road, folks. Play your tribal Minotaurs deck instead of performing the Magic equivalent of kicking puppies. You'll feel better about yourself in the morning.
Anyway, let's get back to Lovisa. I can't agree more here; Lovisa is a great example of a flavor-first commander. Her identity is heavily entrenched in the heart of red. She's a strong leader of the wildest and most unpredictable bunch of fighters out there, and she ignites a strength in each one that pushes them to be stronger (+2/+2!) and faster (haste!)
Of course, she's also relaxing on a nice, comfortable throne in front of a warm firepot, which is exactly why she's too lazy to give herself haste or a bump in power and toughness. Her flavor text should read, "I sent my horde to the northwest. They won't be back until the ice wizards fall, and really, someone needs to be here to sign for the living room set IKEA is delivering today, so what can I do?"
Nonetheless, you can't discount the bonus Lovisa gives your team, and you've done a good job of assembling a bunch of all the right creatures to take advantage of it. (You're so dedicated to this angle that you added Raging Goblin twice!) This deck should set up fast, bring out Coldeyes, and get into the red zone.
You did call it, though—this deck needs more power. The problem with running out Goblin Balloon Brigade or Pardic Arsonist in a vacuum is that, well, they're Goblin Balloon Brigade and Pardic Arsonist. Neither one is exactly fear inducing without a bit of extra juice from the boss. We need to turn the volume up on this jam a little bit.
You're also pretty right on when you talk about consistency. You're only running what looks like 30 total lands on top of minimal mana accelerators, and that's not going to cut it. I'm guessing you keep a lot of two-land hands that manage to miss a fourth-turn land drop, so we'll need to fix all of this.
By and large, though, I appreciate the aesthetic. I could start hard selling you on adding Sword of Fire and Ice, Sneak Attack, and Gauntlet of Might, but this deck can come together on a shoestring budget and still be strong, and I want to respect that. I've always wondered how close I could get to the $20 mark, which would be completely covered by the coupon to StarCityGames.com you'll receive for being the chosen deck for the week. Maybe this is the week I get there?
(Spoiler alert: This isn't the week.)
It's time for the hacksaw you mentioned earlier. You've been warned. I'll follow your categories as I move along here:
I know it looks like there's a mass Goblin exodus happening here. Actually, no— that is exactly what's happening here. There's a method to the madness, however. Goblins tend to get better in large numbers when built around a theme, and in this case, most of these ones are at the mercy of Lovisa being around in order to help them be more than borderline irrelevant. This creature category is ripe for a ton of upgrades, so I'm taking the axe to all but the best of the bunch.
Elementals seem like a good idea here until you realize that one of the best you have in the deck (Nova Chaser) needs to have one of the other three in play in order for it to even be able to be cast. A second one (Heartlash Cinder) gets a onetime chroma-fueled pump and then settles in for a life of being an overcosted 1/1, and the third (Harbinger) is nothing but a Tutor for Nova Chaser.
(I know…it's not a bad interaction between the two in principle until you realize that it basically only means that Nova Chaser is a two-toughness beater that essentially costs you two cards to cast. I'm not inspired here.)
In this category, I'm looking to trim cards that don't stand alone all that well. Chainwalker is pretty unexciting as a whole, while Keldon Halberdier dies to a stiff breeze. Kruin Striker and Thunder-Thrash Elder are getting cut because they don't have the necessary support of large numbers of creatures entering the battlefield in this deck.
And then there's Orcish Artillery. Yeah…
We've already mentioned Pardic Arsonist. Keldon Warlord has to go for no other reason than Jesse Snyder pointing out the "baby legs" on this thing a few weeks ago. And the Barbarians? Vanilla 3/2s for three mana do not make the cut if we're looking for more power. Sorry, guys.
I've already cut Raging Goblin once; why stop there?
I think I can upgrade Lightning Mauler to a better source of haste for the team, and Stormblood Berserker needs to be about three times the size he is now to make that second ability really worthwhile.
Finally, Spiraling Duelist in this deck is likely only a way overcosted vanilla 3/1 for the number of artifacts on the list. I see an artifact count in the mid-teens, and that's not fueling metalcraft nine times out of ten when you take into account a reasonable level of board sweepers and the lack of card draw this deck has.
This section took a pretty serious beating here, mostly because a majority of these cards are responsible for the mana development of the deck, and from there mostly because they're incredibly fragile. Most of these options will become real estate in the near future.
That does leave Jaya Ballard and Torchling. I'd feel better about Jaya if she got a boost from Lovisa, but since she doesn't she's going to become a more stable source of direct damage. Torchling goes because it is incredibly mana hungry; I'd rather use that slot to make the rest of the deck a little better at mana development. This deck needs that a little more than it wants a needy Swiss army knife of a creature.
The one-to-one creature improvements here are going to make room for some needed odds and ends: some card draw, some removal, and some improvements that affect the whole team and make them all more effective.
Again, I'm thinking global here. One-to-one burn spells are fine and all, but most pale in comparison to some of the mass damage options this deck really needs. I also used some slots here for extra draw and some more things that make all of your guys a little scarier in general.
OUT: Infernal Plunge
This deck wants to stick precious creatures and use them, not sacrifice them for three mana. I'm not sure what the purpose of this card is in this list exactly, so I'm going to slot some better mana development instead.
The final two cuts. Lens is no good here; to really be effective, you either go the Lure route or throw it on a huge must block beater. It's not as good on something like Goblin Ruinblaster. Likewise, the Scope is kind of acceleration, but without many decent sources of shuffling in this deck and no real top-of-library manipulation, it's basically a 60/40 shot at Peek without the cantrip draw. That's not very compelling.
Before I made any cuts, I counted 103 total cards (including Lovisa). Since Raging Goblins was duplicated, that means that two spaces need to be vacated in order to get the deck down to fighting weight. I'll grab them where I can.
Again, I'll go by category for the new replacements.
If we're going to stick to casting creatures that simply want to stack up on a power/toughness versus casting cost level, we're going for the ones like Beetleback Chief and Mogg War Marshal that bring token friends along for the ride and offer a total power equal or greater to their cost. From there, some haste (Bloodmark Mentor), some global buffs (Adaptive Automaton), and a bit of a combat trick on legs (Frenzied Goblin) are the replacements that give the deck some needed reinforcement.
Finally, there's Zo-Zu. If ramp is as prevalent in your playgroup as it is in mine, this guy is going to cause a lot of pain. (Oh, to play him off of a Winding Canyons in response to someone casting Boundless Realms…)
The Marauders are a nice upgrade to the deck; as it is now, there's not much in the way of flyers, so this is a welcome addition. The haste likely means that you'll end the first turn it is in play with a 6/6 as long as Lovisa is around. Left unchecked, the Marauders can get out of control in a hurry.
Do you ever get sick of Avenger of Zendikar? Want a nice answer in a tidy package that your commander can make into a nice sized threat as well? Meet Kazuul.
Finally, there's some fun tribal tech in Ogre Geargrabber. Sometimes, you want that Batterskull for your very own. Sometimes, you just want to get those blasted Lightning Greaves off of an opposing creature so you can hit it with targeted removal. This thing is the Drastically Underplayed Card Of The Week.
Red does haste better than any other color, so it makes sense to make the most of it. Urabrask is arguably a form of "double haste" for your creatures, so he takes up a rare slot as a non-tribal role-player.
Markov Warlord adds an extra element of combat trickery in the same vein as Frenzied Goblin with twice the effect and a bigger hasty body. And while I typically steer clear of the changelings in tribal decks (mostly because I've got a stupid hang-up about them being "too easy"), Taurean Mauler is an absolute house that just explodes in size in a multiplayer game.
Lesson learned, kids. Even a card designed as a not much more than an in-joke is still eventually going to be an all-star somewhere. The ability to shut off blockers for one red mana is huge for this deck, and this thing is actually a big role-player as a result.
(By the way, if this article somehow causes sales of this card to spike, I'm going to demand a cut.)
Godo likely needs no introduction. The ubiquitous Barbarian on the yak-looking thing he rides shows up with a ton of value based on your current array of equipment, and anyone who plays him (or plays against him) knows how devastating the extra attack step can be, even if Godo himself is the only one attacking a second time.
Finally, the first of the land expansions hits the scene. Encampment is another source of red mana. And sometimes, it's a 4/3 beater with haste. Mishra's factory, eat your heart out.
IN: Temple of the False God, Homura, Human Ascendant
To help deal with the low levels of mana acceleration, Temple is going to help take the edge off your mana production woes once it gets up and running. Nice and simple!
Homura is a huge boon to this deck. Besides being a solid rattlesnake in non-flipped form, Homura's Essence in conjunction with Lovisa means that even those Raging Goblins I unfortunately cut would have been hasty 5/5 flying Firebreathing threats.
Now, if only there were a decent red sacrifice outlet that could help get Homura flipped in a hurry…
… Oh, right! That'll work.
Other than everyone's favorite free sacrifice outlet, the rest of these slots are going to be dedicated to increasing your mana. Caged Sun is going to easily be one of the better cards in the deck for this purpose. Buried Ruin then gets back Caged Sun when someone inevitably blows it up.
Rogue's Passage is rapidly becoming my favorite utility land of all time (this plus Godo and any of the Swords you have basically equals a enormous swing in tempo and value), and just in case your opponent has a Mystifying Maze or Maze of Ith to deal with that, you have Tectonic Edge to dig you out of trouble.
This is the next installment of the cards that make your entire team a bit more potent overall. Rage Reflection and Gratuitous Violence offer your creatures permanent double strike, while Savage Beating brings the same thing to one creature while also threatening an extra attack phase as well.
Your deck had a quantifiable deficiency in the card draw department, Andrew. These inclusions should help.
Reforge the Soul and Chandra Ablaze will offer up the accelerated draw Lovisa needs to keep running out threats. Chandra also doubles as a nice source of direct damage, and while her ultimate ability will likely go ignored, it could have the potential of being backbreaking with the right combat tricks in the 'yard.
And then there's the gold standard. You have the creatures to support a decent card draw engine with Skullclamp, and some of the new additions (such as Beetleback Chief) now gain a ton of extra card drawing synergy. With Godo on board to search it out, it would be a crime to pass this card up.
This is the upgraded damage suite. Beacon of Destruction is a great (and underplayed) option for instant speed pinpoint damage; it recurs itself and is a great one-to-one deal on mana spent versus damage. Likewise, Comet Storm is also an instant speed, scalable, targetable way to mop the floor (or your opponent's face, for that matter) with solid direct damage.
In Commander, most people load up on nonbasic lands to fuel their decks. Price of Progress is a monster of a spell that is capable of dealing a metric ton of damage in this format, and since you're in mono-red with mostly basics yourself, this will barely scratch the paint while knocking your opponents flat at the same time. The other beauty of this card (and Zo-Zu, the Punisher before it) is that it offers a way to answer the all-too-common ramp decks without having to resort to being "the land destruction jerk."
Rounding out the changes is a pair of solid utility lands to up your total count to a much safer place than where you started. Mystifying Maze is an answer to aggro threats and a solid way to bounce creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects as well.
Terrain Generator is another land to add to the total count, and it can also play the role of mana accelerator. It's a lot better when paired with Thawing Glaciers, but in a deck with this many basic lands, it's going to be helpful in early development or mid-game resource building.
Or I guess late game as well. You know, when you have that hand full of lands you drew instead of any business at all, you can use this to just get rid of the reminders of your terrible luck. Not that I've done this before or anything…
And with that, we're all done!
The Finished List
This is the new-and improved Lovisa Coldeyes list:
- 1 Adaptive Automaton
- 1 Ash Zealot
- 1 Beetleback Chief
- 1 Bloodmark Mentor
- 1 Bloodshot Trainee
- 1 Boldwyr Intimidator
- 1 Cyclops Gladiator
- 1 Falkenrath Marauders
- 1 Frenzied Goblin
- 1 Goblin Ruinblaster
- 1 Hamletback Goliath
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Manic Vandal
- 1 Markov Blademaster
- 1 Markov Warlord
- 1 Mindclaw Shaman
- 1 Mogg War Marshal
- 1 Ogre Geargrabber
- 1 Taurean Mauler
- 1 Vengeful Firebrand
- 1 Vulshok Battlemaster
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
- 1 Homura, Human Ascendant
- 1 Kamahl, Pit Fighter
- 1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
- 1 Krenko, Mob Boss
- 1 Lovisa Coldeyes
- 1 Urabrask the Hidden
- 1 Zo-Zu the Punisher
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Inquisitor's Flail
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Pristine Talisman
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sword of Body and Mind
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Sword of Vengeance
- 1 Sword of War and Peace
- 1 Trailblazer's Boots
- 1 Trepanation Blade
- 1 Whispersilk Cloak
- 1 Goblin Bombardment
- 1 Goblin War Drums
- 1 Gratuitous Violence
- 1 Rage Reflection
- 1 Warstorm Surge
- 1 Beacon of Destruction
- 1 Comet Storm
- 1 Fissure
- 1 Price of Progress
- 1 Reverberate
- 1 Savage Beating
- 1 Smash
- 1 Aftershock
- 1 Lava Axe
- 1 Red Sun's Zenith
- 1 Reforge the Soul
- 1 Relentless Assault
Pricing Out The Changes
For your participation in this week's Dear Azami, we're handing you a $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com to help put together this list of upgrades.
I went a little over the $20 price point I was aiming for. Okay, more than a little. Alright—to be honest, I more than doubled it. Still, the grand total of $47.94 is not breaking the bank by any means, and the coupon you're getting is going to take you almost halfway there.
Here's the card-by-card breakdown:
|Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs||$0.49|
|Beacon of Destruction||$0.49|
|Mogg War Marshal||$0.99|
|Zo-Zu the Punisher||$0.99|
|Temple of the False God||$0.99|
|Homura, Human Ascendant||$0.99|
|Reforge the Soul||$0.99|
|Staff of Nin||$0.99|
|Godo, Bandit Warlord||$1.99|
|Urabrask the Hidden||$2.49|
|Price of Progress||$4.99|
So there it is: a Lovisa Coldeyes tribal Barbarians/Warriors/Berserkers deck that doesn't break the bank. It gains quite a bit in the power level area over the initial list without going over the top, and it helps smooth out the mana issues with more lands as well as more draw for extra consistency.
It's no 750-horsepower racecar, but you're definitely not riding a moped home.
Unless, of course, you actually own a moped, in which case my entire metaphor is shot completely to pieces...
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