This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Accumulated Knowledge
By SEAN aka SWORDTOPLOW

By now you have most likely listened to season 4, episode 6 of CommanderCast.  In the Entourage segment of the show, they discussed building a Braids, Conjurer Adept Commander deck.  The discussion was sparked by a new listener, Rob, who built a Blue Braids deck and was looking for some feedback.  Our fearless leader was kind enough to forward me the email and I was happy to take a look and make some suggestions.  The idea behind Rob’s list is to find a way to flash Braids onto the field, drop a fattie, then bounce Braids back to his hand.  Rob plays in a meta that is surprisingly devoid of other blue players.  He wants to keep the game as fun as possible.  As a result, he avoids abusing a lot of the extra turn cards as well as steering clear of combos.  You will notice that even with all the mana doublers in the deck he chooses to leave Palinchron on the sidelines.  It is his belief that playing combos in a group where you know that no one has answers to combos might as well be cheating.  Rob comes across as wanting an effective deck that lets him embrace his inner Timmy.

This is the list Rob sent in;

General (1)
Braids, Conjurer Adept

Beat sticks (15)
Guile
Keiga, the Tide Star
Duplicant
Steel Hellkite
Wurmcoil Engine
Memnarch
Sphinx of Uthuun
Phyrexian Ingester
Stormtide Leviathan
Artisan of Kozilek
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Darksteel Colossus
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
It That Betrays

Problem Solvers (10)
Gilded Drake
Treachery
Vedalken Shackles
Capsize
Wash Out
Kederekt Leviathan
All is DustFlash
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Leyline of Anticipation
Vedalken Orrery

ETB/Bounce (5)
Crystal Shard
Sakashima the Impostor
Cloudstone CurioVarious Utility
 Akromas Memorial
Lighthouse Chronologist

Braids/fattie protection (13)
Vanishing
Lightning Greaves
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Teferis VeilAnti-Removal
Mana Drain
Hinder
Cryptic Command
Spell Crumple
Rewind
Scattering Stroke
Draining Whelk
Venser, Shaper Savant
Glen Elendra Archmage

Tutor (6)
Expedition Map
Trinket Mage
Treasure Mage
Fabricate
Mystical Tutor
Tezzeret the Seeker

Draw/Consistency (6)
Senseis Divining Top
Rhystic Study
Mystic Remora
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Magus of the Future
Consecrated Sphinx

Ramp (44)
Sol Ring
High Tide
Gilded Lotus
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Caged SunLands
Scrying Sheets
Homeward Path
Academy Ruins
Winding Canyons
Riptide Laboratory
Thawing Glaciers
Tolaria West
Eye of Ugin
30 Snow-covered islands

As mentioned on the podcast, Andy told Rob that Erratic Portal, Linessa, Zephyr Mage and Barrin, Master Wizard were great if you wanted to “get your bounce on”.  I thought all of these were excellent suggestions, specifically Erratic Portal.  For consistent bounce effects in your deck, the portal works like a second Crystal Shard and is even easier to activate use once it has been cast. There were several additional cards I thought might be able to make the cut for this deck.  I felt like the deck could use a few more bounce spells and perhaps another way to bring Braids into play at instant speed.  Here are some of the cards I recommended;

  • Paradox Haze – Justin talked about this card a little bit on the cast.  Basically Paradox Haze gives you twice as many Braids triggers as your opponents.  Rob had actually tried this in the deck and ended taking it out.  He just didn’t have enough threat density to support the double triggers.
  • Heidar, Rimewind Master – You most likely have never heard of this card.  It is a better Zephyr Mage if you have enough snow permanents.  Luckily for Rob, he is running a lot of snow lands.  The other creature that Rob brought up when discussing Heidar is Temporal Adept. The Adept is a good option because it can be used before turn 5 and is not conditional at all.
  • Memory Jar/Magus of the Jar – Since the threat density in the deck is relatively low, the jars can help dig really far into the deck if you don’t have a threat in hand.  They also allow you to keep a grip of control spells to use during your opponents turns.
  • Quicksilver Amulet – When push comes to shove this does what you want Braids to do.  This is like having a second copy of Braids in your deck.  If you really want, it also allows you to play Braids at instant speed (after being bounced), which is one of the things that Rob wanted to focus on.
  • Scroll RackScroll Rack is one of my favorite dig spells.  Scroll Rack can turn bad hands into amazing hands, lets you protect cards in your hand from discard and lets you sculpt your hand for a low mana investment.  It also lets you mediate which cards you pitch to Memory Jar.
  • Tidespout Tyrant – This guy is a freaking beast.  He turns every spell into a bounce spell! How much better are counterspells that counter and bounce permanents?

Looking over the list I voiced my opinion over a few of the cards that I thought might be a good place to cut.  I know how hard the trimming process could be so I made some recommendations to make things a little easier.

  • Cloudstone Curio – The Curio is not necessarily bad, it is just conditional on having other creatures out that you want to bounce and that aren’t artifacts.  If Rob wants to be bouncing Braids all the time, he will want to depend on spells that work all the time instead of just some of the time.
  • Darksteel Colossus – Rob didn’t want to play with this guy’s big brother. Blightsteel Colossus.  I believe that is because Blightsteel is just too simple of a way to win for it to be fun.  I can see that sentiment, but I am still unimpressed by Darksteel Colossus, I feel that Rob would benefit from a threat that must be answered in order for his opponents to prevail.  I suggested that maybe a card like Platinum Emperion would be a better beater.
  • Kira, Great Glass-Spinner – Kira does very well at protecting your own creatures, too well.  If we are trying to bounce Braids each turn we can’t have Kira keep countering the bounce spells and effects.
  • Lightning GreavesLightning Greaves is a great spell.  But like Kira, they can prevent Rob from following the bounce part of his plan.

Me and Rob exchanged a few emails back and forth and he decided to make the following changes;

  • DarkSteel Colossus -> Platinum Emperion
  • Magus of the Future -> Scroll Rack – Sadly the cards revealed with Magus can’t be played with Braids’ ability.  Losing the Magus does sting a little bit, since Rob will no longer be able to draw a card for 1 mana with Top.
  • Lightning Greaves -> Swiftfoot Boots
  • Vedalken Shackles -> Tidespout Tyrant – As an answer, Tidespout is just more versatile than the Shackles, since you can bounce all types of permanents while the shackles just deals with creatures.
  • Cloudstone Curio -> Erratic Portal
  • Wurmcoil Engine -> Sphinx of Magosi – While I didn’t make this recommendation, I think it is a great swap.  The Sphinx is a powerhouse and great card draw.
  • Kira, Great Glass-Spinner -> Time Spiral – If you look closely at the deck, it has a lot of mana doublers.  Time Spiral may be used for mana ramp in addition to refilling Rob’s hand.  We had talked about Time Spiral in subsequent emails and I agreed it was probably better than Memory Jar in many situations.
  • Kederekt Leviathan -> Temporal Adept – This is a bit of an experiment and we will see how it goes.  These two cards have very different purposed.  It is likely that the Leviathan will find its way back into the deck.
  • Lighthouse Chronologist -> Quicksilver Amulet – This might be another card that gets taken out just to be slotted right back in.  We will see in time.  The only reason to get rid of Chronologist is getting too much hate for taking extra turns.  On a combo note, if you gift someone a Chronologist while you have a clone, you lock everyone else out of the game.  You can use that technique to either team up with someone or to single out someone for 1v1 during a group game.

After the tweaks this is his most recent list;

General (1)
Braids, Conjurer AdeptBeat Sticks (15)
Guile
Keiga, the Tide Star
Duplicant
Steel Hellkite
Sphinx of Magosi
Memnarch
Sphinx of Uthuun
Phyrexian Ingester
Stormtide Leviathan
Platinum Emperion
Artisan of Kozilek
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
It That Betrays

Steal (2)
Gilded Drake
Treachery

Bounce (6)
Crystal Shard
Erratic Portal
Temporal Adept
Wash Out
Capsize
Tidespout Tyrant

Flash (3)
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Leyline of Anticipation
Vedalken Orrery

Various Utility (4)
Quicksilver Amulet
Sakashima the Impostor
Akroma’s Memorial
All is Dust

Braids/Fattie Protection (3)
Vanishing
Swiftfoot Boots
Teferi’s Veil

Anti-Removal (9)
Mana Drain
Hinder
Spell Crumple
Cryptic Command
Rewind
Scattering Stroke
Venser, Shaper Savant
Glen Eledra Archmage
Draining Whelk

Tutor (6)
Expedition Map
Trinket Mage
Treasure Mage
Fabricate
Mystical Tutor
Tezzeret the Seeker

Draw/Consistency (7)
Sensei’s Divining Top
Rhystic Study
Mystic Remora
Scroll Rack
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Time Spiral
Consecrated Sphinx

Ramp (6)
Sol Ring
High Tide
Gilded Lotus
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Caged Sun

Lands (38)
Scrying Sheets
Homeward Path
Academy Ruins
Winding Canyons
Riptide Laboratory
Thawing Glaciers
Tolaria West
Eye of Ugin
30 Snow covered island

Feel free to steal any ideas here or post some suggestions of your own.  Blue Braids is one of the only blue Commanders that people like to play with and against.   Give Braids a try and see if you can embrace a fun, casual deck while tapping those islands.

-STP

swordstoplow@gmail.com
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