September 13, 2012
Posted by Maxwellian2000
Today we are tackling our next in a series of bad two-color generals with Krond the Dawn-Clad. Frequenters of Commandercast.com may remember our panel absolutely CRUSHING Krond in the Planechase 2012 general review beginning at about the 74:00 mark, culminating in a 2/5 rating. All the points raised in that discussion are extremely valid. You can’t use Sol Ring to play him that first time, which makes his very specific mana cost even more prohibitive than it is already. He isn’t better than Titans for the same CMC and much more flexible cost overall. You’re going to get two-for-oned when you try to enchant him. Sigarda, Host of Herons is better in color and on-theme because it has hexproof and thus can’t be two-for-oned the same way. They just printed Bruna, Light of Alabaster, so why wouldn’t you play her if you really want to roll with enchantments? To be fair, both Sean and Andy said they were going to try her out and report back, but so far…crickets. So I figured I would take one for the team and extensively test the general with the most color-restrictive casting cost in the history of Magic.
In all honesty, my path to Krond went through Sigarda, Host of Herons, mainly because I had the cards to fill a G/W deck and no deck to put them in. However, we like to build with underplayed generals here at Peasant Rebellion, so she didn’t last long. We also like our generals to reward us for entering the red zone and generating some card advantage on their own. Krond does both, albeit he achieves the second through opponents’ card disadvantage. Aside from neutering the advantage the black player gains from Grave Pact, Sigarda does neither. So into the 99 she went. With Krond the Dawn-Clad in charge, the deck has been a lot of fun to play, and my group has come to fear “the Krondo” in short order.
First, to the points on that podcast. After a few games with Sol Ring failing to help me cast my general, as the panel predicted, I stepped outside the box and cut it. In its place is something I’m pretty excited about, Lotus Bloom. If we have it first turn, a la when Sol Ring is the nuts, we’re still in position to play our six CMC general on turn 4, just like with Sol Ring (although we admittedly don’t have the same opportunity to cast that turn-two Skyshroud Claim). Plus, that can leave us with an extra mana to slap on a one-CMC Aura, and the Bloom is absolutely over the top with Sun Titan. We also have to rely on just a few key utility lands that produce colorless mana, and can’t go crazy with including them as a result. Given Krond’s cost, Selesnya Signet and Sungrass Prairie are important for letting our Reliquary Tower or Strip Mine contribute to casting him. Prismatic Omen is also a good option, but the bottom line is that the deck needs a higher proportion of basic lands than an ordinary Commander build might. And I’d say the newly-spoiled Chromatic Lantern would be even more effective in Krond than almost anywhere else (although that card has “EDH Staple” written all over it regardless).
Which brings us to the main reason this guy got panned so badly. In a vacuum, GGGWWW for a 6/6 with no ETB effects is not better than Titans, and thus arguably terrible. When you build around him as your general, though, he is just crazy good. The key reason, of course, is the exile trigger. Pretty much every annoying permanent-based lockdown gets the heave-ho if he attacks. This pleases me because I hate things like Darksteel Forge and my opponents’ Avacyn, Angel of Hopes. Thraximundar, Visara the Dreadful and Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, among many others, can take out creatures, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a general that can repeatedly remove anything. Consistent access to removing permanents over the course of a Commander game is awesome.
As pointed out on the ‘Cast, there is no doubt Krond can get two-for-oned by instant speed removal when we go to enchant him. Helps to be cognizant of which opponents have open mana when you are deciding when to play him, but Asceticism and Privileged Position both come down the turn before he does. You could always run Avoid Fate and its ilk, but those have always been too narrow for my taste. So…yeah, that’s a drawback. No one’s perfect, not even a badass archon riding a flying lion. But the reality is that opponents aren’t ALWAYS going to have that Path to Exile.
This brings us to perhaps the panel’s most convincing argument: Bruna, Light of Alabaster is a card. Now that she’s been in print for a few months, let’s take to the mtgsalvation.com forums for a little perspective on her potential as a general. SuperSonik says “If you choose Bruna and you decide to play with Three Dreams and/or Intuition, keep in mind it sort of becomes a combo/control deck because hitting either of these pre-combat and getting Eldrazi Conscription, Battle Mastery/Corrupted Conscience and Vanishing/Diplomatic Immunityis a one-shot KO. It’s a fun deck that is obviously vulnerable to tuck but if you want to just play it as aurapump you will definitely have to show some restraint in deckbuilding.” On that same thread, Darchow says “I toyed with the idea of a Bruna deck but it did turn into Three Dreams/Intuition combo kills and was dead to tuck because UW has almost no creature tutors. Bruna also was noticeably worse when I noticed if she gets spot removed and then you get Crypted/Bogged/etc. then you are sunk for a pretty long time. If you don’t play her as build around me aura voltron, she’s just blue white and you probably could just play” Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. I shudder to think how effective this strategy could be with an artifact sub-theme with haste enablers like Akroma’s Memorial, Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots.
So, while Bruna herself seeks the red zone and provides card advantage, the shell of the deck would need to be control/combo to maximize her potential. I just don’t find those decks fun to play or fun to play against. Further, she is prone to graveyard hate, and a well-timed Bojuka Bog could really be painful. Krond just needs a single Aura to be pretty scary, and his ability represents the essence of Magic: charging into the red zone on the back of a flying lion. Finally, G/W is the classic Enchantress color combination, and I remember my buddy having a lot of fun with Verduran Enchantress, Ancestral Mask and Sterling Grove way back in the casual 60s days. So Krond it is.
The foundation of any G/W enchantress deck is of course the Enchantresses themselves: Verduran Enchantress, Mesa Enchantress, Argothian Enchantress, Kor Spiritdancer and Enchantress’s Presence. Argothian is super rare and pretty pricy, but the others are easy to get. Armed with 25+ enchantments, card draw is on the horizon.
Unlike in a Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck, where you might want just a small suite of Auras because you’re rolling with tutors (blue is so good at gaining access to those key instants and sorceries), or Sigarda, Host of Herons, who has no specific incentive to run Auras outside of the fact that she protects herself so well, Krond relies on them more than perhaps any other deck in the format. Many of the best for this build are low-casting cost items to take advantage of Enchantress draw effects such as Rancor and Flickering Ward, which is really a great way to trigger those effects multiple times per turn. Spirit Loop works just like Rancor and keeps our life total high, while Felidar Umbra is multifaceted goodness along those same lines. It’s fun to play with bombs, too, so Eldrazi Conscription, often cheated into play with Auratouched Mage, is in, and so is Indrik Umbra, which at times works like one-sided Wrath. Bear Umbra is of course in, and we like Snake Umbra’s combination of card draw and totem armor. Pollenbright Wings has proved its worth as a replacement for Verdant Embrace, as incentive to attack is better in this build than incentive to make the game longer. Three Dreams, Totem-Guide Hartebeest, and the Auratouched Mage all help the deck access Auras.
To give Krond a chance to carry them, Swiftfoot Boots and Sterling Grove back up Privileged Position and Asceticism. Other protection elements include the Tooth and Nail/Defense of the Heart targets of choice in this build, Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Sigarda, Host of Herons, and on of my favorite three-drops, Dauntless Escort. Another card that helps keep our dudes safe and had previously not seen the light of day for me in over a decade is Angelic Renewal, sort of an enchantment version of Saffi Eriksdotter.
During deck construction, it is key to replace cards might otherwise be “staples” with enchantments that may be objectively less powerful or more vulnerable in order to interact with the Enchantresses, like the Renewal over Saffi. Another good example is cutting Kodama’s Reach, Wood Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Cultivate, Explosive Vegetation and Skyshroud Claim in favor of Land Tax, Exploration, Fertile Ground, Overgrowth, Dawn’s Reflection and Perilous Forays. Land Tax and the Forays help with all the basics, and the Forays is key because it, along with High Market, provides sac outlets for Academy Rector to grab expensive win conditions like True Conviction and Sigil of the Empty Throne or mana doublers Mana Reflection and Mirari’s Wake. A non-budget option would be Exploration, because one-mana enchantments are always a possible cantrip and gives us somewhere to put our Land Taxed-land.
As for play style, the deck is essentially Aura-based Voltron, with Krond occasionally gaining haste via Concordant Crossroads, Swiftfoot Boots or Instill Energy to get the exile trigger on line as soon as possible. Krond’s flying and vigilance allow him to double as a super-imposing blocker. The Titans and other big utility creatures like Terastadon increase the threat density. Elderwood Scion has a build-in Armadillo Cloak, ramps Auras attached to him, and protects against spot removal, which makes him a tasty threat in this build. Idyllic Tutor and Enlightened Tutor also help us access the rest of the enchantment suite.
The Auras tend to get spread out among the creatures because Krond only needs one to be awesome, which also helps make Winds of Rath a likely one-sided Wrath of God. Other mass removal that doesn’t necessarily wipe our own creatures includes Austere Command and Divine Reckoning, so getting dudes onto the field is usually a good idea, especially with totem armor to back them up. In a pinch, Primeval Titan can search up the old Flagstones of Trokair/Glacial Chasm into Mistveil Plains trick (so you can keep putting the Chasm back into the library and finding it again with PT, never paying the cummulative upkeep) to give us time to stabilize. Ghostly Prison and City of Solitude further solidify the deck’s defenses. William’s card-drawing interactions with Auratog and Thaumatog munching on Rancor with Enchantress effects on the board are in for sure. The best way to take the deck into overdrive is Recycle with no maximum hand size via Praetor’s Counsel or Reliquary Tower. Let me assure you that interaction is the nuts. Usually, the game ends with Krond and friends repeatedly attacking and wrecking absolute havoc on opponents’ boards.
Although the deck may seem a little herp-derpy in its design (cast Krond, enchant Krond, swing, win), the best news about Krond is that he doesn’t need any specific combination of cards to be a boss. In fact, other than maybe True Conviction, this deck doesn’t find itself in search of any card in particular, even Primeval Titan, so Krond tends to keep things pretty interesting. It’s nice playing a green deck where I have experienced choosing to play something other than Prime Time even though he’s in my hand and I have six mana available. Finally, there are no instant-win combos in this deck, which forces interaction with opponents in a decidedly satisfying way: in the red zone. On the back of a flying lion.
Is Krond’s mana cost off-putting right out the gate? Absolutely. But if you’re looking for a powerful, yet interactive general, and don’t mind putting a little work into building your deck so you can reliably cast him, Krond is worth considering.
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.