A final turn of Yasova

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A few nights ago, I played an ordinary game of Commander with the Commanderin’ deck testing group, but the game had an extraordinary ending, and I couldn’t help but share it with you guys. Enjoy!

Note: I’m unclear about Exploration in the video, and it wasn’t actually necessary for the play in question. Disregard that.

 

Link to my guest appearance on the Commanderin’ podcast: CLICK.

Link to Charles’ guest appearance on the Commanderin’ podcast: CLICK.

Top 5: Factions within Magic

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Magic hasn’t been doing warring factions for real for very long. Before Ravnica, all we knew was the Coalition and the Phyrexians, pit fighters in Otaria and the Brother’s War. With the advent of warring factions, however, entire sets, prereleases, even the very language which we use to describe the game, has been altered drastically. In this top 5 list, I will give homage to my most favourite factions, be it from a coolness standpoint, or a gameplay standpoint, though mostly the former.

steward of valeron5. Bant (Alara block) – Bant is technically a shard and not a faction, but with the events of the Conflux set, Bant finds itself in conflict with its hitherto unknown neighbouring shards – Naya and Esper. Thus, I’ll let it count for this list. Bant is the land of chivalry, the place where Elspeth Tirel first regarded as a proper home. Valiant knights ride large cat beasts through a romanticized medieval fantasy kingdom, alongside angels, anthropomorphic rhinos and aven. The knights don’t wear armour on their backs, because nobody would ever consider trying to attack from anywhere but the front. The very essence of chivalry, Bant takes number five on my list. Its mechanic, Exalted, also demonstrates the chivalry of single combat well. The only thing that keeps Bant off of a higher position on this list is that while the white part of its white-green-blue alignment is easy to see, the other two colours don’t really make an impact on the aesthetics in my opinion.

phyrexianplaguelord4. The Phyrexians (all of Magic, more or less) – We’ve just seen the promised end of the Eldrazi, finally, and Magic has been through other great villains, Nicol Bolas for example, but none stand out as the main antagonist of all of the multiverse than the Phyrexians. What I like about the Phyrexians is that they are pretty much fully-realized as the worst thing that could happen to a plane. Constructed by Yawgmoth, on their eponymous mechanical plane, they invade other planes and spread sickness and death in order to “compleat” beings – meaning to replace biological body parts with mechanical body parts little by little, until nothing but the mechanical parts remain. This opens up a philosophical question, much in the same vein of the Boat of Theseus: if one were to remove a plank from a boat and replace it with a new one, and keep doing this little by little until the entire boat is entirely new pieces – is it still fundamentally the same boat?

Aside from trampling ancient philosophical questions, the Phyrexians have also been the focal point of a large part of Magic’s history. Virtually the entire Weatherlight saga, that spanned for many years during the 90’s and 00’s, the ongoing story was that of the Weatherlight crew trying to combat an impending invasion from the Phyrexians. Later on, we see them again compleating old familiar faces on Mirrodin, and particularly there, their new mechanic Infect serves them well in creating a threatening, evil faction. Props to the old workhorse of the Phyrexians, they take the number three slot on this list!

student of ojutai3. Clan Ojutai (Dragons of Tarkir) – Clan Ojutai retains many of the philosophical elements of their former incarnation of the Jeskai Way when Sarkhan changes Tarkir’s timeline which leads to the fall of the khans and their clans as part of the Fate Reforged storyline. But, while some of the old clans of Tarkir, perhaps most notably the Temur and the Sultai clans, end up serving their new dragonlords as lesser beings, Ojutai decides to take on his new subjects as students, because he is the great teacher. Clan Ojutai values study, knowledge, wisdom, and learning, and as a teacher myself, I can respect and relate to that. Aside from the fact that Ojutai himself partakes in terrible intellectual dishonesty due to erasing parts of the history of the plane in order to make himself out to be greater than he might be, I can sympathize with most of what they are doing.

Though non-dragon members of the clan are certainly in part second-rate members, much like in some of the more ruthless clans, in Clan Ojutai this is due to the fact that humans, aven and so on have much shorter lifespans and thus simply don’t have the time available to the dragons to collect wisdom. This is also very appealing to me, the fact that the dragons out-rank the humans and aven isn’t due to their physical size or strength, it is due to their knowledge and wisdom.

Mechanically, however, Clan Ojutai brings few new things to the table, using Rebound, a reprinted mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi as their signature move. That keeps them from reaching any higher on this list.

dimir doppelganger2. House Dimir (Ravnica, Gatecrash) – Though Mr. Sean Whatson of Commanderin‘ fame may claim to be the “Dimirest Man Alive”, I too carry a soft spot for them in my heart. As the blue-black aligned guild of the cityplane of Ravnica, House Dimir is a secretive society, operating from the shadows using classical methods of espionage, deception, assassination and manipulation to procure information (or “secrets”) which they then sell on the black market of Ravnica. They are the essence of the knowledge of blue paired with the ambition of black.

House Dimir’s guild leader, Szadek, serves as the main antagonist of the original Ravnica’s storyline, making the guild very prominent to the players, but within the lore, House Dimir is so extremely secretive, most Ravnicans believe there are only nine guild on their plane. Both the guildpact drafted before the story starts, the guildpact formed after the events of the Dissention set, and the guildpact drafted by Teysa Karlov as part of the Return to Ravnica storyline recognizes only nine guilds. The guild is so secretive, most people who deal with them have no idea that House Dimir is behind the agents meeting them – they think that they deal with guildless or with agents from other guilds. In extreme cases, not even the agents aligned with the guild itself is completely sure who they are actually working for.

So, for being blue and black, and being the epitome of secretive, House Dimir takes the number two slots. Their keyworded ability from Ravnica, Transmute, is very powerful indeed, especially in EDH where tutoring is very powerful even if restricted, but it leads to repetitive gameplay. In Gatecrash, they got a new keyword in Cipher, which wasn’t as powerful as Transmute, but was clunky, only went on spells, and used the awkward “encode” wording. Thus, for being awesome in spirit, but awkward in mechanics, Dimir reaches number two!

snowhorn rider1. The Temur Frontier (Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged) – I wasn’t very interested in Khans of Tarkir when it was first announced. I’m not a huge fan of Mongolian popular history, nor was I in reality very excited about the coveted “wedge” set. But boy howdy, did Wizards prove me wrong on this one, and it is in large parts thanks to The Temur Frontier. Gathering much inspiration from peoples living in northern parts of the asian continent, the Temur lead a harsh nomadic life in the wilderness of Tarkir. They value strength, family, and survival above all else, and they don’t fight unless provoked (mostly by the Mardu Horde).

In battle, they join forces with bears, ride huge beasts, fight alongside ainok, loxodon and elementals alike, and they slide down hill slopes on top of sleds made from weapons as parts of their charge. Containing their awesome is impossible! The Temur Frontier is also the home of the whisperers, a type of shamans that can commune with animals and each other through a sort of hive mind state. The Temur Frontier are essential to the Tarkir storyline, in that Yasova Dragonclaw, the khan of the clan during Fate Reforged, is manipulated by Nicol Bolas into assisting in the killing or injuring of Ugin, depending on the timeline.

Their clan ability, Ferocious, isn’t much to write home about, since it’s merely a revamped version of Naya’s signature ability in the Alara block, but it did play very well in limited (Savage Punch was definitely green’s best common in triple-KTK, and perhaps one of the best commons in the set) and it is somewhat flavourful. Further, Surrak Dragonclaw, the khan of the clan in the Khans of Tarkir timeline, became khan by punching a bear. Likely in half. How awesome is that?


What do you think of my list? What’s your own top 5? Leave a comment below!

Yasova’s Encore

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Amidst the brewing of my Pharika, God of Affliction deck, I’ve been playing some more with my usual suspects, namely Ojutai and Wydwen. Both of those decks are awesome, and especially the former has been doing quite well recently (who knew Hexproof would be so good on a commander, huh?). All in all, I’m very happy with both of those decks right now. However, the last of my decks, Zegana, wasn’t being played very often, for some reason. I don’t dislike her as a commander, I don’t dislike the deck, and it’s not too weak. That said, Zegana was the one deck I never got around to play in a night, most nights, and in the mean time I had all these cool red cards collecting dust.

The solution to these two problems was to give Zegana a break for some time, and try again with another commander that I used to play when she was new, about a year and a half ago. Back then, I couldn’t quite make her work as I envisioned, and I quickly grew tired of her – but I’ll be damned if I don’t give her another shot. Enter Yasova Dragonclaw:

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Here’s what I wrote about her in my original post, about a year ago:

I’ve chosen Yasova as my new general for a multitude of reasons:

  1. In Gameplay terms, she’s very efficiently costed, a 4/2 with an upside for 3 is no slouch, not even in EDH.
  2. Also, in gameplay terms, her ability tends to synergise well with sacrifice outlets.
  3. She’s Temur, my favourite of the Tarkir clans (followed by Abzan, and I’m looking at replacing Dromoka with Anafenza at some point in the future).
  4. Thankfully enough, she’s a female character in a fantasy game and she’s not complete fanservice.
  5. Yasova is, ungratefully, the least popular Temur general, according to EDHREC.

All of these still hold true to this day, and this time around, I’ve taken the list into a bit of a different direction. Here is a link to my current most up-to-date list: Yasova’s Encore, on TappedOut.net. The list is this time around less reliant on the commander working at maximum efficiency, I’ve played games so far where I’ve been mostly ramping and dropping big dudes for value – a good thing generally. I’ve only played the deck for eight or nine games so far, but I’ve been doing fairly well and even walked away with a couple of wins in my bag.

And I just have to gush for a while about some of the new tech that I’ve added to the deck, that wasn’t in my old list for one reason or another.

sidisisfaithfulSidisi’s Faithful – This is my new pet card in EDH, and boy am I head-over-heels in love with this one! The Sultai watermark aside, this card was made for Yasova. It’s extremely flexible, let’s looks at three of the common ways to use it in the deck:

  1. Cast it, exploit something that you don’t care about, exploit itself, or exploit something that will benefit from it (Reef Worm et al). Bounce something else from your opponent.
  2. Cast it, exploit something Yasova has stolen, bounce something else. Major card-advantage right there, and you end up with a neat 0/4 body to block with.
  3. Cast it, exploit something Yasova has stolen, bounce itself back to my hand. Repeatable, cheap sacc outlet.

As most of you will be aware, I’m all for flexible and modal cards in EDH.

Berserk – Another flexible card that could either be used in conjunction with some of my other creatures to get a big hit in, or as both pump and sacrifice outlet for something Yasova has stolen.

Magmaw, Scourge of Skola Vale – Efficient, cheap sacrifice outlets that didn’t make the final list the last time. Both inexpensive money-wise, both fairly good.


More importantly, all of these cards are fun and they make me happy when I play them – the two most important things cards could do in EDH. It is a casual format after all, and I tend to play better and have better games when I’m actually enjoying what I’m doing. And right now, I really enjoy Yasova.

Hail to the King

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Tasigur is hereby dethroned for now. I’ve changed my direction on my “main deck”, and really only swapped one colour, but it is a total revamp, with a new general, a new game plan, and a new focus. I’ve been meaning to build this general for a long time, for many reasons, but first – let’s meet the lady in the spotlight:

yasovadragonclaw.fullI’ve chosen Yasova as my new general for a multitude of reasons:

  1. In Gameplay terms, she’s very efficiently costed, a 4/2 with an upside for 3 is no slouch, not even in EDH.
  2. Also, in gameplay terms, her ability tends to synergise well with sacrifice outlets.
  3. She’s Temur, my favourite of the Tarkir clans (followed by Abzan, and I’m looking at replacing Dromoka with Anafenza at some point in the future).
  4. Thankfully enough, she’s a female character in a fantasy game and she’s not complete fanservice.
  5. Yasova is, ungratefully, the least popular Temur general, according to EDHREC.

The deck is still very rough, but this is my latest build: Yasova Dragonclaw on TappedOut.net.

The deck revolves around pumping Yasova, stealing stuff with her ability, hitting with things she’s stolen, and then sacrificing it to a sacrifice outlet.

I played two games of Kingdoms to break in the deck on Wednesday, after completing the deck thanks to some trades with Mr Grim Lavamancer himself. Around the table were:

Ghoulcaller Gisa (MBC / Zombies!) – new guy who borrowed my deck.

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Voltron) – Psykopatmullvad here.

Glissa, the Traitor (Artifact value)

Surrak Dragonclaw (Goodstuff) – Grim Lavamancer here.

Kruphix, God of Horizons (Big Mana Bombs!)

In the first game, I looked down upon a Forest, meaning I was The Knight – with Gisa as my King. Kruphix got off prophetofkruphix.hqto a great start and eventually assembled Kruphix + Prophet of Krupix + Consecrated Sphinx, meaning he took six turns for every one turn everyone else took, and drew eleven cards. Not fair. He eventually powered out some huge green beasts and hit the King for north of 60 points of damage without any combos in a single combat phase.

There was nothing I, nor the King, could do.

In the second game, I looked down at a Plains, horror-struck. I was quickly set upon by the table’s obvious bandits, Gisa and Zurgo, bringing me down to around 30 life before my supposed knight, Surrak, could stabilize the game for me. Kruphix identified himself as Knight, and helped me a lot, which made me assume he was either Assassin or Usurper, most likely the former.

After Zurgo was eliminated, Gisa went a turn or so later. This left me (King), Surrak (Knight – supposed), Kruphix (Assassin – supposed) and Glissa (usurper – supposed). Glissa had been passive throughout the game, and not tempting any allegience, meaning I was almost sure she was trying to get me into a position where she could alpha-strike me to steal the throne. Surrak and I talked about it, and decided to take out Kruphix, which we did.

When finally Glissa fell, Surrak revealed he was the Knight indeed, thankfully, but when the cards were turned over, Glissa was the Assassin, Gisa and Kruphix were Bandits, and Zurgo was the Usurper (!). Kruphix played the game really well and patiently, even though he had lots of gas on hand all the time, and was very co-operative. Apparently, a random Mutilate from Gisa saved me, about ten turns before Gisa died. Nobody noticed.

So again, two quite intense games, one a bit short ending throgh Bandit victory (and a solid one), one very long and very exicitng, ending in a narrow Temur victory for the King.

Hail to the King!