September 7, 2012
By PAT aka IRPOTENTIAL
Welcome back! Last time I outlined the goals and restrictions I am using to build a pair of EDH duel decks. To recap, I am trying to build a pair of decks that will create fun, varied, and not super complicated games. The next step in this project is to pick two generals that have the potential to play those kinds of games.
I started this phase where I begin most of my EDH decks, on Gatherer. I made a list of every multicolored legendary creature. I then shortened this list to only allied, bi-color generals. Every general on this list was at least thought about.
Legends from Legends:
All of these got the axe immediately. I’m not going to list them you can just do a Gatherer search for legendary creatures from the set Legends. To prevent myself from incurring the wrath of people that like some of these horrendous cards, I’ll say they were cut because of card availability or price (except for Jasmine Boreal who was timeshifted and does suck). If you have access to one of these and think it would be fun, you should try it, but I will be ignoring them.
Converted mana cost:
I want the decks to utilize the general. You are trying to get a new player to play an obscure variant format, so the decks should at least attempt to highlight the distinguishing feature. Generals with a converted mana cost of seven mana or more get prohibitively expensive quickly, so they will be the next easy group to cut. I also do not particularly like any of these generals except for Kaervek, but a punisher deck is probably a foolish deck to play 1v1 with a new player if you ever want them to play again.
Generals that just are not good:
Krond the Dawn-Clad – This guy just does nothing for me. As the podcast has already discussed at length, he is color heavy and just underwhelming; I do not want either of these decks to be underwhelming.
Rosheen Meanderer – Perhaps some other time I will attempt an X spell theme deck build around Rosheen, but that sounds janky and weird. He has a nice and easy casting cost and a so-so body at 4/4, but there are much better beaters than this guy.
Generals with irrelevant effects:
Circu, Dimir Lobotomist – Sure you can play a mill deck with him, but his third ability is useless when dueling a singleton deck.
Ith, High Arcanist – Suspend does not work from the command zone and a converted mana cost of seven is too high. His ability is nifty, but not worth the seven or more mana.
Sigarda, Host of Herons – Neither of these decks will be a stax deck, so I do not anticipate there will be many sacrifice effects flying across the table. At most she might interact with three to seven cards. She was also too expensive around her release when I started this project. Hexproof and flying can be a deadly combination, but I am going to pass on this one.
Geist of Saint Traft – This guy could be pretty fun. He is hexproof, comes out early, and brings his own army. Unfortunately he sees play in a good standard deck that is keeping his price tag around $20, one fifth of my budget. Maybe when he rotates in a year he will drop in price, but for now I have to pass.
Captain Sisay – Quite possibly the best toolbox general in the format and analyzing your opponents threats to determine the best tutor target can be daunting to a new player. And I am deliberately avoiding tutoring, so Sisay gets axed.
Gaddock Teeg – This guy is a spectacular general to play in a developed metagame with experienced players. He can be a royal pain to deal with and requires some specific cards to get effects under his prohibition effect.
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV – This guy is a house and certainly a top tier general. He more or less guarantees one deck plays two turns ahead of the other.
Hanna, Ship’s Navigator – Hanna can be a lot of fun but heavily abuses the graveyard and tends to be a good general for decks that try to minimize interaction like pillow fort and prison decks. I want the decks to be as interactive as possible and not play unnecessarily drawn out, hour-long games.
These generals all can be very good, but usually involve a significant knowledge of card interactions to be played well (or in some cases to not suck). I want the decks to be more straightforward. They would probably make good intermediate level decks once you have convinced someone EDH is a fun way to play Magic.
Asmira, Holy Avenger
Dralnu, Lich Lord
Isperia the Inscrutable
Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
Thromok the Insatiable
Ulasht, the Hate Seed
Wort, the Raidmother
I somewhat ambiguously decided to not make the decks a battle between two tribes so these five got the axe. However, you should try them out if you really enjoy any of these tribes and already have a lot of cards to support the tribe.
This series of cuts narrows the list to the following generals:
I immediately cut green/white. I’m not particularly interested in a borderline tribal, elf token deck and Tolsimir Wolfblood has always felt underpowered at six mana. Blue/black is possibly the best two color combination in the game between blue’s stack manipulation and black’s raw power and tutoring. These two colors are historically know for being uninteractive and combo based so I decided to cut the blue/black generals.
Given that the two decks will not share a color and I had cut green/white and blue/black, I needed to pick either Bruna or Gwafa Hazid. Given the choice of a bribing banker or an ass kicking angel, I picked Bruna. She is a sweet newer voltron general, can be answered easily before she suits up, is a cheap card, and good auras are generally cheap cards. Her ability to continually recur auras from the graveyard has me a little bit concerned, but I think it can be balanced in the deck construction phase of the project.
Of the remaining three generals Radha was the first to get cut. She is a spectacular tempo commander, but I do not want to rely on a new player understanding the early game strategy she requires. A poor mulligan decision with Radha can easily cost you the game because by the time you recover from the mistake, Bruna will be coming in hard and Radha cannot stand up to Bruna.
Olivia is pretty sweet, but ultimately I was a little bit concerned that black would be a hard color to work with in my requirements list. Many new players may not like some of the life paying costs of black cards and I was concerned about keeping it within budget. I also did not want to use two brand new generals so the decks can highlight some older cards a new player may not know of.
Those cuts left me with Stonebrow who for almost every other EDH project, deck, etc. I have ever worked on, I have completely ignored. This time though, he has my attention. I remember when I started playing Magic Crush of Wurms and Avatar of Might were the cards everyone wanted (I am not sure how anyone can even look at Crush of Wurms and not start hearing Timmy from South Park in their head), so a deck full of cards like them should lure in several new players. Stonebrow certainly lends himself well to a deck full of face crushing monsters. Stonebrow will also play a significantly different strategy than Bruna because the deck will be much less general dependant. Stonebrow will certainly make the deck better and faster, but is not as crucial to the deck’s win condition as Bruna will be.
Keep in mind that the decisions I made are unique to my preferences and influenced by my play style. I encourage you to build around a different general especially if you think your target audience will be more inclined to play with it. Another minor reason I chose Bruna is because my wife has expressed interest in Kaalia of the Vast in the past because she thinks angels are neat; therefore, I chose an angel hoping that would help pique her interest. Next time I will delve into the construction of the decks that our champions, Bruna and Stonebrow, will lead.