This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Wild Research

In today’s installment of Wild Research, we will put the spotlight on one of my decks. This particular deck is one of my favorite experiments I have ever concocted. The deck was conceived in the midst of an arms race in one of my play groups. After the Commander product was released, many more people at my local game store started to play EDH. A month or so later, several people had decided EDH was not for them and given up, but everyone else started to tune and tweak their decks. Eventually an arms race ensued; cards like Myojin of Night’s Reach, Jin-Gitaxias, and Vorinclex became regular and recurring elements of our games and the meta game shifted to nearly all mid range control decks. The average game became a staring contest for 15 turns until someone dared to try to oppress the rest of the table. I quickly got bored and frustrated playing these games.

My first solution was to try the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em approach”. I tuned my decks to play a less interactive game of hand sculpting and two card combos. I was still dedicated to the idea I should be winning my fair share of the time. In short, this solution failed miserably. If anything, I hated playing more than I did before. I thought some more about the games, how they played out, and what I did not like about them. First I did not like the staring contest to 15 mana. Many of the decks were sculpting their perfect hand and waiting until they had enough mana to play out their whole win condition in one turn and have mana to protect it. More or less everyone was ignoring the early and mid game and waiting for the late game. I had already experimented a little bit with being an early aggressor, but this just focused the whole table on my demise. Second I hated feeling like I had to win all the time and getting frustrated when I could not. I am a very competitive person unless I deliberately focus on not winning. So I set out to build a deck that would only win by accident and launch the whole table from the early game to the late game as quickly as possible. Group hug naturally rose to the top of my good ideas list.

I had heard a lot about the magical purple hippo with green wings and a name no one can spell correctly. I had never bothered with a Phelddagrif deck because the politics required to play such a strategy are not my strong suit and my play group was never trusting of people giving them free resources. Now though the legendary purple hippo would send a clear sign to my opponents of what I was planning to do. One down, 99 to go.

The first thought I had about the deck strategy was to ramp as hard as possible. If I was planning on advancing the whole table from the early to the late game, I would need to get myself out of the early game as fast as possible. I decided on this aggressive land and tier one mana rock package. This is pretty much the only self centered group of cards in the decklist.

Basalt Monolith
Grim Monolith
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Sol Ring
Thran Dynamo
Coalition Relic
Darksteel Ingot
Spectral Searchlight
Gilded Lotus
Azorious Signet
Selesnya Signet
Simic Signet
Talisman of Progress
Talisman of Unity
Coiling Oracle
Ancient Tomb
Temple of the False God
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Trinket Mage

The Urza’s lands may seem a little bit out of place here, but as you will see later there will be a lot of card draw for the whole table and the mana boost they can provide once assembled in the mid game can be very useful. Spectral Searchlight gives you an extra mana as you are getting ready to ramp the table and then can boost an opponent in the later game. Trinket Mage is in the deck almost exclusively to search for a mana rock. Next I moved on to ramping the whole table with me.

Collective Voyage
New Frontiers
Heartbeat of Spring
Helm of Awakening
Rites of Flourishing
Candelabra of Tawnos
Voltaic Key
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge

Unfortunately there are not too many effects to directly give opponents lands, but even just one of these cards can drastically alter the game state. It is also of note that Collective Voyage and New Frontiers will punish players for building greedy mana bases. These two spells will frequently be cast for 5 to 15 mana and have frequently favored the basic land heavy Commander preconstructed decks. The untap effects can also be used to donate mana, artifact activations, and legendary untaps to your opponents. Rites of Flourishing rounds out the table ramp package nicely and segues nicely into the next card group.

Now that there is a lot more mana floating around the table people need more cards to play. This is the bulk of the deck as there are a ton of effects available throughout Magic’s history to force everyone to draw cards. Three Howling Mine effects, three Prosperity effects, little Jace, and Mikokoro make sure everyone will have a full grip. Edric helps encourage attacking in addition to giving out cards, Forced Fruition adds a mandatory seven card draw to every spell your opponents play, and Well of Knowledge is a nice mana sink for any extra lands the deck has given the table. Blue Sun’s Zenith is worth playing because you can quite easily play it several times per game and it is the first card that can possibly be called a win condition. With the amount of card draw this deck forces, you can grind libraries down to the point where you can actually eliminate players by targeting them with a massive draw effect.

Howling Mine
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Font of Mythos
Minds Aglow
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Jace Beleren
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Forced Fruition
Well of Knowledge
Blue Sun’s Zenith

Just in case someone has not found their win condition yet, I added in Windfall and other hand cycling effects to tear further through libraries. With all the draw power here and its synergy with Windfall, Reliquary Tower is an auto include and Laboratory Maniac is the second semblance of a win condition.

Jace’s Archivist
Wheel and Deal
Temporal Cascade
Teferi’s Puzzle Box
Reliquary Tower
Laboratory Maniac

Now that everyone has more cards than they can play, I added effects to give players free permanents, play spells for reduced costs, and tutor up the whatever else they may need. Eye of the Storm and Hive Mind were added to further complicate the game state and force the rest of the table to share. Concordant Crossroads and Vernal Equinox were added to give creatures a kick start.

Braids, Conjurer Adept
Tempting Wurm
Show and Tell
Forbidden Orchard
Gate to the AEther
Dream Halls
Weird Harvest
Noble Benefactor
Eye of the Storm
Hive Mind
Concordant Crossroads
Vernal Equinox

Now I added the second most self centered group of cards to the deck, tutors. The tutor package is built specifically to find the silver bullet needed to kick start the game, not improve your board position. Sterling Grove can also be used to disrupt players trying to stop your shenanigans and Tezzeret interacts well with all the mana rocks.

Academy Rector
Mystical Tutor
Enlightened Tutor
Idyllic Tutor
Sterling Grove
Tezzeret the Seeker

Finally the deck needs Seedborn Muse and Alchemist’s Refuge to play cards like crazy and Beacon of Tomorrows as a final piss poor win condition on the chance you have depleted your library to only contain it and take infinite turns. The mana base is completed with Command Tower, three Shadowmoor filters, three M10 duals, two Plains, seven Forests, seven Islands, and Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Boseiju was an addition to the deck after a few games of refinement. As it turns out once players have drawn 80 cards and have 30 mana, they have little need of further assistance from the deck. Boseiju was added to make the assistance mandatory.

Seedborn Muse
Alchemist’s Refuge
Beacon of Tomorrows
Command Tower
Mystic Gate
Wooded Bastion
Flooded Grove
Glacial Fortress
Sunpetal Grove
Hinterland Harbor
2 Plains
8 Island
7 Forest
Boseiju, Who Shelters All

Overall the deck has been incredibly fun to play, but it is not for every play group. Some groups will not want to play in the complicated game states of mandatory triggers this deck can create. Other people may not like the chaotic element it can add to the table with the resource flood gates open, and the deck can heavily disrupt players from sculpting a perfect hand with the Windfall effects. When playing the deck, keep in mind the intended strategy, benefit others not yourself. As many cards that would only benefit me and not my opponents were omitted as possible. If you do not have the collection to build this exact list, just look around for cards you do have or can afford that have similar effects to those your are replacing. For example, Magus of the Candelabra is a dollar rare that can easily be slotting in for Candelabra of Tawnos and there are plenty of other cheap cards that are beneficial to the whole table when you do not try to break the symmetry of the card. To the deck’s credit it has one win, a handful of kills, many seconds, and has been the most fun and interactive deck I have ever played. How often do you start a bid around the table asking who will block and kill your Academy Rector based on which enchantment you search out?

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