June 19, 2012
Posted by Maxwellian2000
So like most everyone else, I got those warm and fuzzy feelings when Maelstrom Wanderer was spoiled in November of last year. Someone who did not get those same feelings was my own Commadercast crossover partner in crime Zimagic, who had this to say right out of the gate. His main beef was that the Wanderer could be rigged to further exploit already ubiquitous cards like Primeval Titan and Avenger of Zendikar. Even though his points have a lot of merit, I couldn’t stop myself from sleeving up the shiny newness that is the Maelstrom Wanderer.
I’m not going to lie: PT and AZ do some things in my version of the Wanderer. And here at Peasant Rebellion, we’re usually trying to at least attempt to win in somewhat unique ways. But somewhat surprisingly, a Wanderer deck can lend itself to deckbuilding restrictions that make for almost as many “I haven’t seen this since WHEN??!!” cards as staples. Throw in the fact that simply leaving out certain ultra-powerful effects (read: Palinchron) prevents the deck from infinity and forces you to turn guys sideways to win, Maelstrom Wanderer is going to be some ripe casual fun going forward.
Let’s talk about those restrictions, starting with the fact that our general costs 8. So we need to dedicate 14 or more slots to ramp cards. Although it is generally inefficient to run too many of those, here our general rewards us with three spells upon reaching 8 mana so too much land is rarely a problem. And while cascading into a ramp spell is definitely less than ideal, the good land fetchers such as Skyshroud Claim and Explosive Vegetation still help to thin the deck and recast the Wanderer when the time comes.
The next requirement our card choices must meet is that they all must cost 7 or less so the Wanderer can do its thing with every card in the deck. Even though a card costing 8 or more simply goes unplayed, rather than ruin the cascade, the deck is more efficient if the Wanderer has a chance to access every effect the deck runs. Thus, no Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger or Craterhoof Behemoth, even though they would ordinarily both make sense in a deck like this. In their place, Mana Reflection (almost fair without Palinchron and Grim Monolith) and the card that’s bringing the most smiles to tables right now, Marton Stromgald. And honestly, I’m pretty sure that Wanderer cascading into Avenger of Zendikar and Marton Stromgald is even better than the PT/AZ shenanigans Zimagic feared so many months ago.
Marton brings us to another subtheme, creatures with effects that trigger when they attack to take advantage of the Wanderer giving the team haste. Right now I’m taking a look at Fangren Pathcutter, something I’ve always wanted to believe was playable but just never seemed to cut it. One of the knocks on the Wanderer is its lack of evasion, and the Pathcutter gives the whole team trample, but it’s probably just win-more. Other ways to make things harder for chump blockers could be Nacatl War-Pride or Pyreheart Wolf, while Patron of the Akki is a sort of a fixed version of Marton. Other obvious includes are of course Primeval Titan, as well as Inferno Titan. My Frost Titan is in another deck, but that surely is a thought, and Balefire Dragon is in because it’s just amazing with the haste the Wanderer provides.
Next, we need to be able to tweak the cascades a bit by arranging and exploiting the top of the library. Worldly Tutor, Mystical Tutor and Personal Tutor are better here than almost any other context, as missing a fresh draw is usually subpar. Sensei’s Divining Top of course makes an appearance. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is freaking perfect in this deck because he both Brainstorms and returns cascade creatures to hand. Scroll Rack, too, has really found its perfect niche, and is the card I have found to be most effective stacking the deck. Lurking Predators is often good, but it really shines here with so many ways to put creatures on top. Oracle of Mul Daya is even better than usual, too. I considered Soothsaying, but it’s too mana-intensive. I ran Future Sight and Magus of the Future for a while, but too often those cards didn’t do enough for 5 mana because they don’t impact the board or allow for significant library manipulation.
These colors lack true wrath effects in the sense that red’s damage can be regenerated against, mass removal in green is nonexistent, and blue can’t actually kill anything en masse. Still, spells like Evacuation and Devastation Tide, or Devastation/Upheaval (if you want to be mean) are extremely potent off cascade. If the Wanderer cascades into a mass removal spell, that spell will resolve before the Wanderer, allowing your general to swing in on an empty board. How empty you make it depends on you, but Jokulhaups is staying in my binder. Instead, All is Dust does a fair Wrath impersonation, and can be cast off a Wanderer to boot.
The remaining card choices are all dependent on cascade to some extent, as both the new cascade creatures, Shardless Agent and especially Etherium-Horn Sorcerer make an appearance, along with Bloodbraid Elf. The Sorcerer is especially potent because the deck makes enough mana to realistically bounce and replay him, so spells with a converted cost of 5 are best to take advantage of him. Think Bribery, Momir Vig, Smic Visionary, and the aforementioned Evacuation and Devastation Tide. Another cool cascade consideration is that suspend spells have a converted mana cost of zero, and casting Hypergenesis off a Shardless Agent has made for some laughs.
Cascade also means you also might have to leave some things out, such as anything that cost more than 7. But it’s also lame to cascade into a Counterspell. Ditto with X spells (sorry, Genesis Wave). In general, control-oriented cards are not primary cascade fodder, because there is no guarantee the game state will call for the answer you are cascading into (sorry, Mass Mutiny and Blatant Thievery). Thus, we need versatile removal. Cryptic Command is ideal, as it can be a hard counterspell if you draw it or can help out in a various ways if cast under a cascade. Glen Elendra Archmage allows the deck to include another counterspell that won’t fizzle off cascade. And though these colors lack true wrath effects, Spike Weaver provides a body and defense against opposing hordes. Spitebellows can be cheap removal or a swingy threat off a cascade. Other staple enter-the-battlefield creatures like Acidic Slime and Brutalizer Exarch fill out the suite.
Spitebellows’ “leaves the battlefield” ability brings us to the next subtheme: abusing cascade and other ETB/LTB creatures like Mulldrifter with return-to-hand effects. This is a rare instance where blink effects, even cool ones like Deadeye Navigator, are strictly worse than Crystal Shard, Erratic Portal and Equilibrium because you want to re-cast your cascade creatures. This is especially the case because the Maelstrom Wanderer negates the summoning sickness that usually hobbles this strategy. I prefer the Shard, Portal, and Equilibrium over Cloudstone Curio, Horned Kavu and Shivan Wurm because they allow you to potentially target your opponents’ creatures, too. Throw in Seedborn Muse and go to town.
The final card that has to be discussed with Maelstrom Wanderer is Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. Friend of the Cast Thaumaturge pointed out on his blog (which includes an awesome Wanderer list, by the way) that “I’ve debated and gone back and forth on whether to put Momir Vig, Simic Visionary in the deck. At this point, I think it might make the deck a little too repetitive and less fun. I enjoy using Scroll Rack to set up epic Cascade chains, but I also like just casting MW blind and seeing what random goodies my deck gives me!” While I tend to agree, I am going to leave Momir in my deck for now. Can’t really imagine a much better spot for him. And if he is on the battlefield, this is what could happen when you cast Maelstrom Wanderer:
-Resolve the first cascade into Avenger of Zendikar and cast it.
-With the new Momir Vig trigger, tutor up Marton Stromgald and put it on top of your library.
-Resolve the second cascade into Marton Stromgald and cast it.
-Resolve Maelstrom Wanderer.
-Everything gets haste. Swing for literally hundreds of points of damage depending on how many lands you control.
This is just scratching the surface of this deck, and I Iook forward to stealing everyone’s Wanderer wonderings from the comments. Until next time!
Maxwellian2000 is a former competitive Magic player who now plays mostly Commander formats, along with Palladium Books’ Rifts RPG and Legos. He also works as a lawyer in Kansas and produces music at panoramicrecords.net.