This is my Numot the Devastator build. I've included some Avacyn Restored cards because I'm trying to get a feel for them.
The idea of the deck is to abuse enters the battlefield effects. Since most of the ETB creatures are relatively weak on the offensive I've included an equipment package. There is a little Kiki-Jiki combo in there but it is by no means my main goal. I've tried several different color combinations but this one has been my favorite so far. These colors allow for well-rounded game play and win or lose I enjoy every game.
I'm looking for some professional advice not only for changes to this deck but for solid cards and strategy in ETB/Blink Commander.
1x Reveillark (Power 2 or less?? OK!)
1x Coalition Relic
I'm a big believer in instant gratification.
If you told me that the person who first set out to create the process of shopping online had my picture hanging next to their computer for inspiration I wouldn't be slightly surprised.
Also I once headed to the local mall to buy a sweatshirt and came back with a car. True story.
Now I'm not suggesting that this is a particularly healthy thing butthere are surprising upsides to having instant access to things. (For example Christmas shopping is a breeze. And my wife neverasks me to run out to the store anymore…)
Commander is defined by instant gratification. In a format where games frequently run multiple hours in length the over-abundance of removal means that you need to focus on using cards and strategies that offer an immediate return on investment. After all nothing will deflate you quicker than carefully sculpting a board state that meets with Oblivion Stone or Akroma's Vengeance right before you get a chance to realize any benefits from it.
Nick the heavy focus on enters the battlefield effects is what drew me to your list. This is a theme that I've personally explored in my decks several times over and there are a host of fantastic creatures in blue white and red that you can really exploit.
Blue bounce effects can be leveraged to ratchet up the value you gain from each card that provides an effect when it enters the battlefield while red offers haste to jump-start your team as soon as they hit the board (along with decent direct damage options that pay out immediately upon receipt.) With white you can fill in the blanks on the removal front and you also get extra ways to Blink your creatures in and out of play to really gain ultimate value from them. You also can utilize Tutor effects that give you better access to your equipment—including that all-important Sunforger.
To find space to make changes some things had to go. For me personally cuts nearly always start with combo-win components. I never enjoy having the game yanked out from under me by a game-winning combo at any point—even if I'm the one doing the yanking. As a result I've moved completely away from running any instant-win combos in my decks and I'm going to do the same thing here. You've got a great list; one that places a tremendous focus on playing the game. You said it yourself: these colors open up options to promote well-balanced play and the deck is always enjoyable.
Now I know that you described your play environment as "ruthless" in our email correspondence so this may initially feel like a bit of a downgrade. I personally feel strongly that the concept of "fight fire with fire" is flawed and you shouldn't need to escalate into combos that just end the game in order to be competitive in the game.
Instead my goal is to take those core fundamentals you list as benefits and enhance them. I love a deck that keeps me engaged not just on my turn but on every other turn as well. When I'm done here this deck will do that for you in a much stronger fashion than before with an increase in solid tools and options at your disposal. You shouldn't miss the combos at all.
Your list started with your lands and I think that's a critical focus with Numot. My experience with decks using this color combination and strategy is that they tend to be incredibly mana-hungry. You're missing out on the ridiculous mana development that green offers and your card choices will tend to soak up all of your resources from the get-go. To improve the deck in this area I've removed some dead weight added some upgraded mana fixing and with a little help coming later I've taken steps to guarantee that you won't ever be missing land drops.
OUT – Celestial Colonnade Minamo School at Water's Edge Maze Of Ith Skycloud Expanse – We're going to be ramping up mana fixing through a healthy dose of fetchlands; as a result we can stand to lose Colonnade which is usually irrelevant in Commander as a creature (and costs too much to activate anyway) and also comes into play tapped. I'm also going to slaughter a sacred cow by cutting Maze of Ith. My reasoning here is simple: you've got Kor Haven to cover you already and it doesn't leave your opponent with a rejuvenated blocker in the process. Most importantly Kor Haven still taps for one mana.
Minamo seems to be included with the sole purpose of untapping Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker. That's not terrible in and of itself but I think I'd rather see the mana base be a little stronger than have a two-card interaction pop up once in a blue moon. (Okay…so it also untaps your general. Three-card interaction. That's still not worth it.)
IN – Flooded Strand Scalding Tarn Terramorphic Expanse Evolving Wilds – You were missing two of the three fetchlands in Strand and Tarn and as I said you'll be needing them later on. Expanse and Wilds round out your ability to fix your mana and hit land drops while thinning the deck out in the late game and you effectively gain an extra land slot from cutting Maze.
OUT – Battlefield Forge Shivan Reef Adarkar Wastes – Painlands remind me of my lawnmower. They feel antiquated and usually cause significant personal injury with every use. I'd much rather take the hit once from Flooded Strand get my Tundra and be done with it. The new fetchlands I added go much further in terms of mana fixing anyway and you still retain the Shadowmoor block filter lands. These should not be necessary anymore.
IN – Island Mountain Thawing Glaciers – A few extra basics will let you use all of these new toys without danger of the well running dry. The added basics give you correct value from Thawing Glaciers and your fetchlands and you get a guarantee that you'll be hitting your land drops and fueling your game plan every turn.
OUT – Whitemane Lion - I know this is a favorite of yours so I kept it off the cutting board until the last minute. I'm a huge fan of flash tricks but in this case I'm making an upgrade to this slot later on that plays nicely with your main strategy that offers a little extra offensive firepower at the same time. For now we need space for one more critical land inclusion.
IN – Dust Bowl – In your follow-up email you mentioned that it wasn't uncommon to see as many as three Primeval Titan hit play in your average games. Unchecked mana ramp is far more dangerous than it looks (hello Genesis Wave for thirty-seven…) Dust Bowl is going to give you another critical weapon against that rampant strategy.
Spoiler alert: There's a three-mana artifact that makes this card way better. Stay tuned.
OUT – Izzet Signet Boros Signet Azorius Signet Mana Vault – I'm never excited to add Signets to a deck. They really fix mana more than they accelerate and with the abundance of board wipes I find that they end up collateral damage more often than not.
This deck is not designed to run out an early combo and we've already discussed how mana-hungry it is. The Mana Vault slot is better utilized by something that boosts your overall mana production and doesn't ask for anything in return.
IN – Darksteel Ingot Expedition Map Crucible of Worlds Thran Dynamo – We're going to replace your Signets with two options that are far more resilient and one that is powerful and synergistic enough that it warrants the slot. Ingot gives you an insurance policy against removal and fixes your colors across the board while Map turns your mana base into a toolbox that offers you everything from land destruction to card draw flash for your creatures and multiple combat tricks. All this plus mana fixing as well.
Crucible of Worlds is the card this deck now wants in the worst way. With the extra fetchlands you're guaranteeing that you'll never miss a land drop or get stuck without a critical color of mana at any point in the game. You can also fuel Dust Bowl for a little late-game attrition. I guarantee this card ends up an MVP for you.
Things get a little tricky here. You've slotted thirty-three creatures in your initial list and I'm a fan of large teams but there are a few utility components a deck like this can't do without. We can streamline your game plan and increase the overall power-level of things at the same time if we replace a few lackluster critters with some mission-critical non-creature components.
OUT – Imperial Recruiter Mentor of the Meek – You left me no choice Nick. Had you not mentioned that you didn't actually own one I may have left the Recruiter alone. As it is I needed the space and there's an additional benefit of not being tempted to just Tutor up a combo win via Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker and Village Bell-Ringer or Pestermite whenever this comes off the top of your library.
Once Recruiter went away I realized that we didn't need to force the "creatures with power of two or less" theme anymore so Mentor followed on the heels of the uber-expensive Portal Three Kingdoms uncommon. Bluntly stated you're in blue. There's simply better draw available.
IN – Crystal Shard Rhystic Study – There's no way around it: Crystal Shard is a must-include in a deck that runs blue and is going for an enters the battlefield theme. In exchange for your Imperial Recruiter you'll end up with a utility artifact that will give you tons of value from almost every creature on your list. It's always a good time when you can catch an opponent who isn't paying attention and taps out with Crystal Shard as well.
Rhystic Study is undoubtedly an attention-getter but enchantments are not nearly as fragile as creatures are in Commander. For the same overall investment as Mentor of the Meek you have the potential of drawing an obscene amount of cards for no additional mana investment and no restriction on what triggers it. (Plus you know everyone loves hearing "How much are you paying for that?" every time they cast a spell…)
IN – Reito Lantern Rite of Replication Equilibrium – It is really hard to find decent recursion in these colors and you desperately need a way to recycle your Sunforger targets. Lantern is a great dual role-player that fills this role and also gives you pinpoint graveyard hate. (It also looks fantastic in foil!)
Rite of Replication offers you a little extra horsepower for your end game and some solid scalable utility. I honestly think people look at this card and just see a converted casting cost of nine; maybe I need a new prescription for my glasses but I swear it says "Pay four mana to put a Primeval Titan into play."
That brings us to Equilibrium. There's a one-mana-per-use toll that wasn't present on your beloved Whitemane Lion but Equilibrium is a huge bump in overall power for your deck. You get all the utility of the Crystal Shard I added for your enters the battlefield triggers with the added ability to start bouncing creatures your opponents control without offering them the ability to say no to you. All this and the added resiliency of an enchantment to boot. This will be a big role player for you.
Upgrading The Army
You've got some fantastic choices already that I wouldn't dream of touching. There are a few weak links that we can improve on.
IN – Inferno Titan – This is a better out-of-the-box option that is far less fragile and offers a comparable amount of direct damage. It also provides a strong finisher to your arsenal. He's the ground-pounding version of Bogardan Hellkite and looks better holding a Sword of Feast and Famine better than Siege-Gang Commander ever did.
OUT – Conquering Manticore – This is a creature that I've tried to utilize in many decks and I've always ended up extremely underwhelmed. Since we're all about our enters the battlefield triggers I can instead give you a slightly smaller body that won't thoughtfully return your stolen property to your opponent at the end of the turn.
IN – Sower of Temptation – Sower can offer you the best offensive weapon on the battlefield for as long as you keep her around or she can play solid defense if you mix and match her with a bounce effect and High Market for repeatable removal. I've recently made this exact switch in my Intet the Dreamer deck and I haven't missed the Manticore for a second.
OUT – Mother of Runes – I agree with you; Mother is a bit out of place.
IN – Urabrask the Hidden – I knew I wanted haste in this slot and I initially slotted Anger as the correct replacement. However this deck isn't big on sacrifice effects and there's no discard to speak of so one additional mana gets us the same utility on a bigger body with the added benefit of protection from any nasty surprises your opponent can give haste to. (I was sold after witnessing one player table Urabrask the turn before an opponent playing Kresh the Bloodbraided had planned to drop Avenger of Zendikar with In the Web of War in play.)
IN – Draining Whelk – If you're looking to round out your enters the battlefield suite Draining Whelk is an absolute must-have. You have an answer to everything your opponent can cast stapled to an evasive body that becomes truly brutal in conjunction with Crystal Shard.
Austere Command Is Lonely
Despite all of this utility you've still got a grand total of one board-wipe effect and considering what you've told me about your metagame this raises a red flag. A gigantic red flag.
OUT – Path to Exile Jace the Mind Sculptor – Again you admit you don't use Jace all that much so I'm fine cutting him. In fact it might be considered blasphemy but I really believe that in Commander he's just not that good to begin with. Four mana is far too much to pay for a Brainstorm that puts a huge bulls-eye on your forehead and most likely sticks around long only enough for a use or two. (No one is letting you go ultimate with this thing. Ever.)
We've also already got a one-mana white spell that exiles a creature. What we need is something that deals with every creature instead.
IN – Rout Terminus – Since I pulled Silverblade Paladin (and you mentioned wanting to try some Avacyn Restored cards in this deck) I decided to add Terminus as one of your new sweepers. You mentioned that tuck effects are also rampant in your metagame and Terminus is rapidly becoming the gold standard in this category.
About That Sunforger…
There are just a few additional tweaks I want to make to round out your suite of Sunforger targets and we'll be done.
OUT – Absorb – You already have a Sunforger-able counterspell in Suffocating Blast and that one also doubles as creature removal. Three life is a small drop in the bucket compared to blowing Riku of Two Reflections off the map.
IN – Momentary Blink – This is the mother of all Blink effects and needs to be in your quiver. Nothing is more on theme for this deck.
IN – Honor the Fallen – This is secret tech from my neck of the woods. (It's New Hampshire…there's nothing but woods up here.) You need some graveyard hate for your Sunforger suite and Honor the Fallen is fantastic in this regard hitting all creatures in all graveyards. The life gain is a nice bonus but it is not completely inconsequential either. I've seen players nearly reload their entire starting life totals with this card. Besides…nothing wipes the grin off of the guy playing The Mimeoplasm better than this card.
Putting It All Together
Here's your complete list:
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Pilgrim's Eye
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Body Double
- 1 Bogardan Hellkite
- 1 Consecrated Sphinx
- 1 Deadeye Navigator
- 1 Draining Whelk
- 1 Gilded Drake
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Ixidron
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Phantasmal Image
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Sower of Temptation
- 1 Sphinx of Uthuun
- 1 Stonecloaker
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 1 Numot, the Devastator
- 1 Urabrask the Hidden
- 3 Island
- 3 Mountain
- 3 Plains
- 1 Arid Mesa
- 1 Cascade Bluffs
- 1 Clifftop Retreat
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Desolate Lighthouse
- 1 Dust Bowl
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Flooded Strand
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 High Market
- 1 Mystic Gate
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Rugged Prairie
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Scalding Tarn
- 1 Slayers' Stronghold
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Strip Mine
- 1 Sulfur Falls
- 1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Thawing Glaciers
- 1 Tolaria West
- 1 Tundra
- 1 Volcanic Island
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Academy Ruins
- 1 Kor Haven
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Crucible of Worlds
- 1 Crystal Shard
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Reito Lantern
- 1 Relic of Progenitus
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Sword of Light and Shadow
- 1 Thran Dynamo
- 1 Equilibrium
- 1 Parallax Wave
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Sneak Attack
- 1 Chaos Warp
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Honor the Fallen
- 1 Momentary Blink
- 1 Orim's Thunder
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Suffocating Blast
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Tithe
- 1 Volcanic Fallout
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Rite of Replication
- 1 Rout
- 1 Terminus
For your participation in this week's Dear Azami you'll receive a $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com to begin working with here. This gets you started on a shopping list that comes in at about $139. This is a lot of changes. I did manage to chainsaw a full quarter of your original list off in favor of new toys. (What can I say? I'm nothing if not consistent.)
Fortunately the majority of the cost is situated in the top three cards: Flooded Strand Scalding Tarn and Crucible of Worlds. The entire rest of the list put together only rings up $56 on the cash register and more importantly I firmly believe that you'll see performance returns from these changes that will be more than worthwhile.
Here's your breakdown:
|Honor The Fallen||$1.49|
|Rite of Replication||$1.99|
|Urabrask the Hidden||$2.99|
|Sower of Temptation||$7.99|
|Crucible of Worlds||$24.99|
That's it for today folks. Again many thanks go to Sean Lauren and the StarCityGames.com staff for letting me run the show again this week. Thanks also to Nick for submitting this list—I hope you enjoy the changes I've made. This is a color combination I've been looking to build for a long time so I had a really good time with it.
If you liked today's installment you're a raving Commander fan or you've completely run out of other websites to visit come on over to my blog: GeneralDamageControl.com.I certainly appreciate the company. (Again it's New Hampshire. There are more moose than people around here.)
Thanks for reading!
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