There are many ways to play the game, but 'safe' is not one I would advise. Safe isn't fun. Gwendlyn offers us the ability to be bold, and it's an offer I think we should be taking her up on. We're going to redesign around her as a central focus point, as you're latching onto a 'control deck' concept but neglecting to put the commander to work hard enough at the elements she can excel at. Gwendlyn covers the opponents' hands very nicely, so we're going to focus on that, swapping out any one-for-one pinpoint discard in order to focus on letting Gwendlyn do her work and using your spells to control the game directly.
Back in the forgotten days of yore, there was a deck. Well, it was 'The Deck,' technically, if we're being honest—that was what it was called at the time, after all. The fundamental concept driving the deck was that the starting position of every game could be different but the end point of the game was predesigned for a set control lockdown; all of the tools focused on bringing the game to that lockdown point. Disrupting Scepters worked on the opponent's hand while control cards focused on keeping the board from getting out of control, and when the opponent's board was locked down and they had no cards in hand and you had a few counterspells to protect the win conditions with, a Serra Angel was deployed to take the opponent down from 20.
Cardboard has changed a lot since then—Disrupting Scepter's too cost ineffective to be considered worth playing any time this century, and the use of a Serra as the kill card of choice is so dated it hurts. Gwendlyn as your commander, though, implies very strongly to me that we can follow a similar conceptual home and reach the end game control point that Weissman control strategies reached for—the opponent with no cards in hand and just the top of their deck to work with while you have the countermagic to control the worst possible things that could spring from the top of the opponent's deck to try to come to the rescue.
This informs us very firmly as to what cards are going to work out and which ones are worth skipping, as does the multiplayer nature of Commander. After all, you're trying to push all of your opponents to this tipping point where suddenly playing Archenemy is an entirely viable option because their hands are exhausted and the board is under control. Trading one-for-one means you fall behind since the game is actually one-for-one-for-one-for-one, and each simple exchange of your card for one of your opponents' leaves two cards unanswered.
We're going to put Gwendlyn to work evening those odds, but we have to start by trying to trade many-for-one instead of one-for-one right up front. That implies that your second tier countermagic as well as all of your cheap discard spells are on the chopping block. Nothing is going to be safe, everything has to prove itself, and we want things that interact profitably with your commander to help whittle down hand sizes and keep them low through the course of the game. But what you get for all this will be a deck with character to match your commander's own instead of a generic good stuff planeswalkers-'n-wraths-'n-stuff deck that even if it worked out wouldn't enthrall you.
Gwendlyn demands to be the centerpiece of the grand design, not an afterthought, and we shall build accordingly.
Working on the lands first, we want a bit more complexity. We don't have to spend a lot of money here to get a lot better mana thanks to the cheap color fixing effects that are available to us throughout Magic's long history. Colorless mana has a higher cost than usual here since your commander has a very restrictive four colored mana on turn 4 requirement, so we have to look critically at lands that don't tap for colored mana to weigh their worth to the deck.
Izzet Boilerworks, Dimir Aqueduct, Rakdos Carnarium - One of the best ways to get a little bit further ahead for free in Commander is to take advantage of Ravnica bouncelands. Tri-color Commander decks are right at the sweet spot here since they get to play three of them, enough to mean you'll see one fairly early in a good number of games. Those early advantages count for a lot in the establishing turns of the game; resources become plentiful more easily as the game goes long, but at the beginning of the game getting effectively +1 land in your opening hand thanks to these makes a good hand great.
Sunken Ruins, Graven Cairns - And yet not the U/R version, though if you want to splurge you can. Both of these are relatively cheap—under $5—and while you're fixing your mana you have to respect the fact that you have gold cards like Gwendlyn that care more about black than other colors. These will help you play Gwendlyn on turn 4 more consistently because draws where you had two Islands or two Mountains before just didn't do it but now they might.
Crumbling Necropolis - Lands coming into play tapped seemed to be something you were avoiding, most likely because of how you planned to spend your mana very early on to deploy small discard spells or draw-smoothing cantrips. A few more lands coming into play tapped will still work out just fine for you, and this is a very solid land to add.
Command Tower - The best color fixing land you can add for your three-color deck. It's cheap enough that it's worth hunting one down, it slots in easily to pretty much any Commander deck that isn't one (or zero!) colors, and when you start to get a little bit greedier, it taps for everything you might need and comes into play untapped to boot.
Bad River, Rocky Tar Pit - Low-cost additions that are the precursors to the far more expensive Onslaught and Zendikar cycles of fetchlands, the Mirage block originals still work favorably with dual lands. While we're now at a significant chunk of your lands coming into play tapped, the spell base has changed to reflect the fact that you're not going to maximize your mana every turn playing out your hand with Duress effects. You started with three (two manlands and the Boseiju), and I've added another six and am not even quite done yet. But staggering your curve out a little won't be a problem for you as you'll always be able to get rolling without being unable to act.
Grixis Panorama - Easy to underestimate because we're used to seeing much better mana fixing if we're willing to spend for it, but the Panorama trades in for whichever color you need at a reasonable exchange rate, comes into play untapped so you have mana when you need it, and is a solid budget option.
Desolate Lighthouse - You plan to play a bit of a draw-go sort of game, and one of the problems you can run into there is the tendency to flood out later on in the game when you really just need to draw spells with some consistency. Desolate Lighthouse lets you Loot away the extra lands in an attempt to find more spells to work with, and while colorless lands are a bit of an opportunity cost to invest in your deck with its very high color density on some of the cards, the benefits are pretty plainly worth it.
Minamo, School at Water's Edge - We want to work Gwendlyn harder, and this land lets you knock two cards out of people's hands per turn instead of just one. The aimed-for end state is opponents with more-or-less empty hands forced to live off the top of their deck, and this helps enforce that end game state by spreading some more Gwendlyn love around.
Moving on to the artifacts, we're going to make one substitution and three additions, going into a cardboard debt that we will need to pay back later in order to finish off the deck. The substitution is based off of my stated dislike for colorless mana—it doesn't really help you very much—while the additions are more to do with controlling the board or ending up where you want to be rather than just tweaks to improve things that are slightly off.
OUT: Everflowing Chalice
Expedition Map - This gives you not acceleration but a virtual bonus land, so while it will never help you to play a spell any faster it can smooth your colors out. And since you have a few lands with bonus spell-like capabilities and bouncelands as well, this will be useful for wriggling your way out of tight spots when you really needed that Boseiju to force a spell through or Bojuka Bog to handle a plump graveyard. I suspect bouncelands will be the most-sought targets for the Map followed by utility lands or Command Tower, but adding in additional options on the cheap is well worth doing.
Nevinyrral's Disk - Board-wiping effects are going to be important to your game plan since you are so light on creatures yourself, and Nev's Disk provides you (basically) a second copy of Oblivion Stone to work with. While they're not the same, each has its own peculiar quirks and strengths. Oblivion Stone can work immediately as if it were a sorcery if you simply spend enough mana, but Nevinyrral's Disk pops and leaves all of your planeswalkers behind without needing to be carefully instructed to do so like the O-Stone would. You'd like even more such effects in that you want to control the opponents' overall hand size and mop up permanents at an advantage whenever the board starts to get unruly, so the fact that this one is a little finicky is something that will have to be lived with.
Thousand-Year Elixir - While this only combos with your commander, it combos very well with your commander, letting her knock out a card immediately and then helping get a second card too while you're at it. While Rings of Brighthearth would be equivalent and works with many more cards, the appeal of having the haste access so that your casting Gwendlyn is going to always cost at least one person a card draws me to this instead, while Rings drags us further down the blah blah blah planeswalkers approach that is going to be cut back. And while Thousand-Year Elixir only works with your commander, you're going to end up controlling opponents' creatures a fair share of the time, and this will work with them quite effectively as well.
Mimic Vat - One bonus for playing the 'kill all monsters' game is that dead creatures imprint nicely on a Mimic Vat. For the game you're looking to play, this will help get incremental advantage and push towards the board state you want to achieve very effectively (if you've gotten to activate it four or more times, there's probably already a high chance of winning). As an advantage-gaining utility permanent, I know of none better in Commander, which is delightful since no two games with a Mimic Vat are ever exactly the same.
Moving next to the creature count, which is very low as well, we're going to make two substitutions this time to keep us focused on accomplishing the end state that is aimed for and five additions.
Ubrarask the Hidden - With so few creatures in your deck, this strongly implies you're using this for the effect it has on the opponent's creatures, but that effect alone is not quite worth playing. Most uses of Ubrarask are to reap that as a side benefit while giving your own creatures haste, and the benefits for that are considerably weightier. I can't justify keeping Ubrarask around with a low creature count and 'attacking with monsters' not being an active part of the game plan, so we're going to bench this particular monster.
Massacre Wurm - The removal effects you need to play need to be more consistent and effective. -2/-2 is solid but makes this more of an anti-token card than anything else, and you want to be able to deploy cards that can handle the entire board, not just a portion of it. This is an awesome good stuff card, but the games where you play this following an Avenger of Zendikar and kill that player for being cheeky are going to wind up in the minority compared to the games where you play this, it's solid but unspectacular, and the end game state you're reaching for is not really made any closer by playing this.
Myojin of Night's Reach - This is one of the choke points in the format, one of the things that sets the rules to 'unfair' and thus can potentially overpower any game from an even board position. It's a little mean, in fact, and for that reason I don't always add it to decks, but considering that the desired end state of the control game you're building towards is the opponents with no cards in hand and you controlling the board from a position of advantage, it makes no sense not to.
It's also a ridiculous combo with the Cyclonic Rift you're playing because you can make them all pick up their fancy toys at end of turn then untap and drop the Myojin, clearing out what used to be their board along with the rest of the cards in their hand. Just as a word of caution, though, beware split second spells, especially the potential for a Word of Seizing. This Myojin has been known to turn on its owner from time to time, and it happening to you is not something you want to walk into if you can avoid it.
Reiver Demon - The card I think your Massacre Wurm really wanted to be. While it doesn't hit every creature—it's notoriously bad at controlling the board against another black-based deck—it comes close enough to doing so that it's still a high-quality addition.
Kagemaro, First to Suffer - You want more sweepers, and having some of them occupy the creature slot in your deck is not a problem, so Kagemaro should be able to help out nicely. You draw cards so easily that this should always be online for five or more, which seems to be one of the size sticking points in Commander. It used to be six, but with the banning of Primeval Titan it seems to have diversified somewhat. The format is no longer following a central axis of cast Prime Time, acquire resources, and the size of the things you need to be able to kill has settled back down to 'merely' Dragon-sized instead of Titan-sized. Kagemaro is also extremely fun to recur (or it's possible I'm just a jerk), but Kagemaro on a Mimic Vat is really difficult for creature-based decks to wriggle out from under, especially if you can protect that with countermagic at all.
Wurmcoil Engine, Duplicant - Seeing the Eye of Ugin with a very limited number of things it could get, I felt it would be most appropriate to try and buff up the creature count for things that can be found with it. Duplicant is just moving one of your creature removal spells over to the creature side of things where you can permanently handle the best threat and effectively copy it all in one fell swoop, letting us turn a one-for-one exchange into a two-for-one. Wurmcoil Engine is just an incredibly resilient card that happens to provide you the most important resource you can expect to run dry on—life points—while being another natural two-for-one exchange with anyone who wants to kill it. You don't have a lot of threats, so you need a few more with some built-in resilience.
Mulldrifter - I saw you had Sign in Blood but not Mulldrifter, and especially given that I already added Mimic Vat to the deck, Mulldrifter was an easy addition. Being a creature shouldn't be a deciding factor against a card, and in this case it's either Divination (thus comparable to the Sign in Blood we're going to cut for it—spoilers!) or another many-for-one exchange as you're up the two cards and still have a creature in play to potentially trade with something. Also, given that this is our illustrious editrix's signature card and Twitter/blog handles, if there is a good home for a Mulldrifter and I don't take it, I make the editor sad.
Shriekmaw - Moving a removal spell to the creature zone doesn't dilute its effectiveness; if anything, it provides the potential for a two-for-one exchange instead of the natural one-for-one that's the easiest way to fall behind against multiple opponents. That you can evoke it and stick it naturally under a Mimic Vat is also well worth adding as a feature on your removal spell because shot gunning things to death with a free removal spell every turn is a good way to get ahead.
This leaves us eight cards owed and one section left, just the spells to work with. We're going to go at this section with a chainsaw to set things to right first then come back in and fill in the gaps we're making. We're going to make heavy changes mostly because this section is taking an ineffective stance with how you interact over the course of a game, with pinpoint discard that doesn't work against more than one player and more countermagic than you effectively need to reach the controlling end point. We're going to modify this so you're not forcing controlled discard but are pushing for that end point where the opponents are forced to play with an empty hand and you're letting more things resolve to be killed after the fact with mass removal spells or turned to the Dark Side and put to work on your side of the board.
Rewind, Suffocating Blast, Essence Backlash, Double Negative, Dissipate, Counterflux, Negate, Memory Lapse, Logic Knot, Syncopate, Power Sink, Condescend - Even after cutting these twelve counterspells, your deck still has nine counterspells left. We're just limiting ourselves to the most potent ones. It's been a long time indeed since I've seen a Memory Lapse used anywhere, and while I don't have a problem with any of these on a pure power level, they just don't fit the strategy as being all-important that you need a mitt full of them. Power Sink, Essence Backlash, Rewind, Counterflux: each has special abilities that might make them worthy of inclusion, but we're rebuilding things to play more tactically, which means cutting this list down to size for the most important ones only.
Coercion, Distress, Hymn to Tourach, Appetite for Brains - Pinpoint discard was a minor flavor to the deck, but we're going to take out the cheap and small effects to go bigger and more expensive. Like the counterspells, the big problem comes in that these trade one-for-one.
Izzet Charm, Sign in Blood, Think Twice - Izzet Charm has useful abilities throughout but none of them is strikingly good, at least when we're talking about the kind of games that are swung by 5/5s and where you can cast Insurrection and have ten untapped still if you need it. Think Twice and Sign in Blood are cut mostly so we can immediately upgrade them. We're going to go a little bit bigger with the card draw replacement spells (and, as noted, one of those replacements was the excellent Mulldrifter, which is like a Sign in Blood that doesn't hurt you and has side benefits).
Chandra, the Firebrand - Duplicating spells is okay, but having to protect this is not. Planeswalkers die easy, and you don't want to have to commit to protecting this for the little benefit it provides. If it actually had a plus ability instead of poking the opponent, we might be talking since Forking spells is attractive, but while it might fit in some decks, this one isn't the right fit for it.
Sorin Markov - It's a good stuff addition, and not one that you need. Being able to reset an opponent's life to ten is okay for playing politics, but it's not actually necessary as a strategic option. If we're talking just one player, not more than one who happens to have infinite life, it doesn't actually change the end game state you have to reach for... That's still them with an empty hand and you with a threat and a grip of counters.
That threat then has to be Gwendlyn herself or you get into the messy capabilities of infinite control to deal with infinite life, attacking with Eldrazi #1 to keep that opponent down to zero permanents while you discard Eldrazi #2 to not deck out. Repeat this until Gwendlyn can be the answer instead or the opponent decks out themselves finally. Given that it's not tactically necessary, we have to look at it from the is-it-good-for-what-you're-doing approach, and like Chandra it's a liability to have to protect it. It also does you no favors in play when the opponents look for whose turn it is to give a thumping to, which is a bigger net negative than its actual net positive can compensate for.
That's 22 cards cut, and we've already replaced eight in the other sections, which still leaves us with fourteen spells to slot back in. We want some bigger impact discard spells, some more powerful card drawing, and some more sweepers so that the focus on controlling the board can be tighter. We'll add a few fun things while we're at it, but we have clear intentions as we go into this and want to dedicate a fair number of these cards to that function.
Rakdos's Return, Mind Twist, Mind Shatter - These are all fairly comparable as far as your commander is concerned, they have different text but the exact same purpose. That purpose is to leverage one person's hand out of the game so you can narrow your focus on whittling down the other two players while you make sure that one doesn't catch up. It's almost like you're planning to target an opponent to push out of the Door to Nothingness in that once they have no tactical ability to interact in the game, it'll be easy to take care of them later. Working down the opponents' hands with Gwendlyn is going to be like herding cats; hitting them with the brain-smash stick turns one of those cats into a kitten.
Syphon Mind - A little bit from everyone, so it's entirely on-theme, but that it then recoups your investment with three cards in your hand is where this really shines. It's a stealth card draw spell masquerading as a discard spell, so people will continue to underestimate it.
Cruel Ultimatum - It's not quite as mean as Mind Twisting a player, but it's not exactly what we'd call nice either. It works better when you have a creature to return to take full advantage of the effect, which was part of the justification in adding a few more even if they are low impact like Mulldrifter or Shriekmaw.
Decree of Pain - This is a mass card draw spell pretending to be a Wrath effect. You like both of these things, thus it's well worth including; I can't honestly remember losing a game in which I've cast this and drawn more than three cards with it. And if the Massacre Wurm benefit was one you were looking for, Decree can do that too at instant speed and drawing you a card for your trouble.
Deep Analysis - Another card draw spell, this one doesn't empty an opponent's hand or anything flashy like that, but it does convert very nicely to four cards for six mana split up as you need it over two turns. I'd rather think four times than Think Twice.
Spin Into Myth - Added in alongside your Hinder and Spell Crumple so that you have an additional way to keep a commander off the table. Opposing commanders get around the control-your-hand option, after all, and thus you need extraordinary means to overcome their inherent resistance to your Plan A. Putting them on the bottom of the library handles that just fine.
Pongify - Having added in some more removal, I felt you needed another very cheap removal spell, and for one blue mana Pongify handles any creature that isn't indestructible or possessed of some weird protection ability. Sure, they get a 3/3 for their trouble, but as Beast Within clearly displays, this is not a meaningful tactical problem.
Treachery - Controlling the board by killing creatures is one thing, and we already have plans to make it so that we aren't just trading cardboard one-for-one, as that was already counseled to be a losing proposition. Treachery effectively costs zero and instead of killing the best threat handles the best threat by giving you the best threat. A little bit of theft mixed in will keep things interesting and keep people honest.
Confiscate - While it's not free, it's more versatile, able to take any class of permanent and thus not limited in focus, as many decks tend to be, on killing creatures but not really being able to thump any other kinds of permanents. The extra colored mana to have this be Volition Reins instead isn't really worthwhile, but paying one mana more might be for...
Take Possession - Confiscate but with Split Second so that the number of possible answers to prevent you from getting whatever you want is very small, and always something you'll see on the table before having to consider it. So long as you look for mana-generating sacrifice outlets like Phyrexian Tower and Ashnod's Altar or morphs that could potentially be Willbender, this will always hit what you need it to so long as it can legally target that thing. It's expensive, but there are critical benefits to be gained by occasionally being able to force non-interactivity into gameplay, especially when you're using that on defensive measures that absolutely need to resolve if you're to survive.
Blatant Thievery - What's better than taking one thing? Taking three things! We want to be able to sweep up the board in a variety of ways so that we can deploy the right solution to the right problem and make it difficult for the opponent to try and box us in. I don't usually play Blatant Thievery, but with Gwendlyn's focus on the card count as a major milestone towards ultimate victory, this card is contextually perfect for what you're trying to accomplish.
Pemmin's Aura - This can technically be a creature removal spell, so I'll mention it here, but what it does do is turn Gwendlyn into a super-powered nightmare able to convert blue mana into discard effects while also doing a credible Morphling impression. That whole thing where an opponent who sets themselves to infinite still needs to be brought within reach is conveniently handled by this as well since attacking with a 3/5 on the ground sounds like something impossible to do seven times but three swings in the air after declaring "I Am Superman!" is a very different story. (And, unfortunately, gender-inappropriate, but "Pemmin's Aura" is not an anagram of "I Am Superwoman!.")
This gives us fourteen spells added back in, thus completing the exercise in honing Gwendlyn's penchant for striking when the time is right. We're certainly playing Magic focusing on the mind, as you'd intended, and hopefully going to have some more fun as you get to do some more wacky things than you'd planned originally. The final decklist is as follows:
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Consecrated Sphinx
- 1 Dread Cacodemon
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Reiver Demon
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Gwendlyn Di Corci
- 1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Myojin of Night's Reach
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 1 Jace Beleren
- 1 Karn Liberated
- 1 Liliana of the Dark Realms
- 1 Liliana of the Veil
- 1 Liliana Vess
- 1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
- 1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
- 7 Island
- 2 Mountain
- 4 Swamp
- 1 Bad River
- 1 Blood Crypt
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Creeping Tar Pit
- 1 Crumbling Necropolis
- 1 Desolate Lighthouse
- 1 Dimir Aqueduct
- 1 Dragonskull Summit
- 1 Drowned Catacomb
- 1 Graven Cairns
- 1 Grixis Panorama
- 1 Izzet Boilerworks
- 1 Lavaclaw Reaches
- 1 Rakdos Carnarium
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Rocky Tar Pit
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Sulfur Falls
- 1 Sunken Ruins
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Watery Grave
- 1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
- 1 Eye of Ugin
- 1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Nevinyrral's Disk
- 1 Oblivion Stone
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Thousand-Year Elixir
- 1 Confiscate
- 1 Pemmin's Aura
- 1 Take Possession
- 1 Treachery
- 1 Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1 Brainstorm
- 1 Counterspell
- 1 Countersquall
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Fact or Fiction
- 1 Forbid
- 1 Forbidden Alchemy
- 1 Hinder
- 1 Overwhelming Intellect
- 1 Pact of Negation
- 1 Pongify
- 1 Spell Crumple
- 1 Spin into Myth
- 1 Trickbind
- 1 Undermine
- 1 Ancestral Vision
- 1 Black Sun's Zenith
- 1 Blatant Thievery
- 1 Bonfire of the Damned
- 1 Cruel Ultimatum
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Deep Analysis
- 1 Life's Finale
- 1 Mind Shatter
- 1 Mind Spring
- 1 Mind Twist
- 1 Preordain
- 1 Rakdos's Return
- 1 Syphon Mind
As always, for your participation in this week's edition of Dear Azami you will receive a $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com. I'm not too concerned about the price this week—t helps that we don't have multiple double-digit price tags on any of these cards. Unlike last week when I advised an Eldrazi without remembering right away that those things have gotten expensive since they left Standard, we have no double-digit price tags on cards at all in here, though there is a fair stream of two-to-five-dollar cards that brings the total just north of $80. Maybe you'll have some of the more expensive cards in another deck or maybe you have them for Standard so I don't have to lose sleep over the current $9 price tag on what is effectively the same as the Mind Twist ($2.49) or Mind Shatter ($.49) as far as you're concerned.
Here are the additions with their associated prices at the online store:
|Rocky Tar Pit||$0.39|
|Spin into Myth||$0.49|
|Kagemaro, First to Suffer||$1.75|
|Myojin of Night's Reach||$1.75|
|Minamo, School at Water's Edge||$4.99|
|Decree of Pain||$5.99|
I'd forgotten how enjoyable it is to not work on mono-colored decks, and Gwendlyn was exactly the cure for what I didn't realize was ailing me. Everything boils down to an essential interaction: an exchange of card tallies, using the cards in your hand to nudge the number such that an exhausted bunch of opponents is the inevitable end conclusion of your efforts. While the very end of that game probably won't be especially fun for your opponents, it should take a good long time to get there, and you're not doing something onerous to force that upon them, you're just playing Magic, so that shouldn't wear off too quickly and earn your playgroup's ire.
There is one more addition you could make in the "price no object" category that comes by way of Sheldon Menery's, well, meanery—locking down the board state with Gwendlyn so that your opponent is stuck with only what's on the top of the deck doesn't help if they're able to wriggle out of it, and after playing your own card drawing spells to get far ahead and using your discard effects to knock them back, the Chains of Mephistopheles makes it a tougher lock than otherwise to wriggle out of and could be the final nail in the coffin that makes it clear they just won't be able to get back in. Yes, you could just have a counterspell instead, but with the Chains locking things down, you wouldn't even need one. And many things your opponents could potentially do might need that counterspell, while Chains would take opponents drawing enough cards to claw their way back into this off the list of credible threats.
Just wanted to mention the incredibly expensive thing you could do if you tried really hard and give credit where it's due to Sheldon, who's been using it that way for a while to prevent opponents from catching up while he's firmly in the lead.
-- Sean McKeown
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