Monday, February 28, 2011

CommanderCast S2E3: Parallel Adams

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
This week CommanderCast's team of goons (consisting of myself, Carlos, and Jeremiah) is being joined by the decidedly more civil Adam Styborski, author of various championship-caliber articles series like Serious Fun on WotC's official site and on Adam is here to share his perspective both as a connoisseur of Commander gameplay and consummate casual gameplay commentator. When Adam's article on Arms Races in EDH hit the streets like crack cocaine (only instead of the streets, it's the internet, and instead of ruining lives, it provided a rich reading experience) we knew we should have him on the show. Preferably without kidnapping him. Fortunately, no masks or guns with serial numbers filed off were required as he happily agreed to speak on the subject with us.

So enough about this guy. What else is going on this week? Well, for starts, how about a little bit of a rundown on prison decks from your main Strategy man, Carlos? But wait, there's more... SECRET TECH (this week lacking in recklessness and collateral damage via Inferno)!

Show notes and pertinent links below. Enjoy.


00:00 to 05:38: Intro: The gang introduce themselves, and give y'all a little podcast news.

05:48 to 20:28: Free-For-All-Roundtable: Upheaval: We fight to the death over Upheaval. Why is it banned, and does it still need to be? Jeremiah has an interesting theory on the issue. SPOILER: none of us actually die OMG

22:45 to 56:24: Community: This Is An Arms Race: So, I used to have Gaea's Skyfolk in my deck, but I took it out somewhere along the way... now I have Time Stretch in that slot instead. What happened? Adam talks about Arms Races in your playgroups, how to recognize and handle them, and what they do to influence your games both locally and abroad with strangers. Are they a problem, or positive influence? How to you roll out your own personal treaty to put the brakes on power levels spiraling out of control?

56:44 to 67:18: Strategy: Archetype Rundown: Prison Decks: Who hasn't imagined, at some point, turning their kitchen table into a reenactment of Oz? Carlos shows you how to be the warden in this rundown of one of the nastiest archetypes out there. A great compliment to our Hated Out: Prison Decks! segment from S1E13.

56:44 to 67:18: Strategy: Legendary Plays: Adam wipes out a table using Citanul Heirophants, and Andy recounts a submitted story from a listener involving Planechase.

67:36 to 70:30: Technology: Break My Card: It's our new thing on Twitter. STRICTLY for our followers there because before this our e-mail guys got all the love (and the contest). Here's how it works:
  • Once a week, I give you a single card. It can be anything.
  • You let me know how to use it via Twitter. It has to be in one Tweet. You can use short versions, abbreviations, and acronyms, but if I can't decipher them you're busted. You can't send a second tweet, e-mail, or telegraph to explain what you mean.
  • You have to tell me what Commander will be in charge of the deck the card is used in. After that, you can say whatever; a combo? Some synergies? The type of deck it works in best? It's up to you to do something awesome with the card. 
This week's card to break is CARNIVAL OF SOULS.
70:44 to 84:01: Technology: Secret Tech: Adam STYBORSKI Edition: The regular Adam on the show is pretty cool but now it's ALTERNATIVE ADAM running things.

84:14 to closing: Outtro.

  • To E-Mail Andy: CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Carlos: cag5358(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Jeremiah: jeremiah(at)s1group(dot)com
  • To Tweet Andy: (at)CommanderCast on Twitter

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mid-Week Update: February 23

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
The Arcane Lab unleashes a deck YEARS in the making this week for our mid-week update. Is this the zenith of Commander technology? Has Carlos BROKEN THE FORMAT? His life's work is in front of you this week, should you choose to glimpse it. What can this masterwork possibly be? What kind of cards, so compelling and powerful, can be behind this REVOLUTION in the making?

...wait a minute, this is deck about Zuberas from Kamigawa! Well... he tried. And I have to say the results are a good larf, so if you are looking to change gears (downshifting a few times maybe), this is probably right up your alley.

That's all for this week! Enjoy!

Arcane Lab 003 – Tribute to Zhu
One of my favorite games is Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM). It’s the first game I learned to play competitively, and is one of the few games I’ve kept up with over the years. I’ve met a few of my best friends playing that game, it was one of the first internet communities I really started participating in, and I’ve even made a little cash playing the game, and it’s been an absolute blast doing it. Falco is the character I’m the most proficient in and play most often in that game, hence the avatar that I tend to use.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, Falco is a combo-centric character, who is completely capable of getting someone from zero to death depending on how good of a read you have on them. Zhu was the tag of the guy who I looked up to most when I was learning the game, and I modeled a lot of my play-style on how he played against the best players of the time. It turns out, the way you play combo in SSBM is really pretty similar to how you play combo in magic, and in Commander in particular. Here are some tenants of playing combo in this format:
  • The element of surprise helps. If people know what to expect, they’ll avoid putting themselves in situations where you can get them with your combo. This might be as much as completely overhauling the face of a combo deck/character, or just putting your own spin on how that deck/character is approached.

  • You’ve got to bait the other player. You have to force them into a situation where they’re vulnerable and you can go for it. You can test the waters with spells that aren’t necessarily relevant, waiting for them to be too aggressive or overpredict and make a mistake.

  • You have to know when to be aggressive. Sometimes you can’t bait the other player into making a mistake, and you just have to apply pressure, start trying to combo and wait for them to make a mistake you can capitalize on.

  • You’ve got to be technically proficient. You need to be familiar with how the combo works, of where you’re going to go next; what you’re going to tutor for, and how the combo is going to end.
What’s funny to me is how combo can be hated so much in Commander when the face-paced, combo-based feel of SSBM is the whole reason people play it. As someone who loves combo decks to death, I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid playing them in a social format. Still, it seems kind of dumb to cut out one of the three generic archetypes that exist in magic, right? So really, what we’re looking for is ways to make combo more socially acceptable.

The thing that most people find objectionable about combo is that it’s non-interactive and frequently wins out of nowhere. Some people argue that discard and countermagic is a kind of interaction, and while that’s true, it’s not really how most people expect to interact in a game of Commander. Really, what it comes down to is that if your deck uses a compact and easy-to-assemble combo, runs countermagic and discard to protect your combo, and tries to combo off as efficiently and quickly as possible, then you’ve succeeded in building one of the most hated decks in the format.

Combo tends to be more socially acceptable if you pick one that’s harder to assemble, preferably one that has multiple pieces, all of which can be disrupted or interacted with.  People also want to see something different, not the standard Mind Over Matter + stuff, Earthcraft + Squirrel Nest, and all those things that have been done to death.  Try picking something that’s not infinite, something that uses cards people don’t typically use.

What follows is a terrible, terrible combo deck based on one of my favorite cycles ever printed; a deck that I’ve tried to make work in EVERY format it’s ever been legal in. It was the first and last deck I took to either an extended or legacy tournament, and I know just how bad this concept is. Sometimes though, you’ve got an idea bouncing around in your head, and you’ve just got to build it.  Besides, this is Commander. Something that’s a terrible idea in another constructed format is often the basis of a really good Commander deck. What’s the deck based on? Zuberas. See what I did there?

The Zuberas

Ashen-Skin Zubera
Dripping-Tongue Zubera
Floating-Dream Zubera
Ember-Fist Zubera
Silent-Chant Zubera
Rushing-Tide Zubera
Burning-Eye Zubera

That’s not very many Zuberas, but it’s sadly all that exist. Let’s be honest, only Floating-Dream and Dripping-Tongue are reasonable for combo, and Ember-Fist helps to get a kill. The rest are all pretty terrible. The only way you can activate Rushing-Tide Zubera is by using Ember-Fist. Still, it’s as close as we’re likely to get to Zubera tribal, so we might as well run them all.  Besides, we can supplement our paltry selection of Zuberas with some changelings!

The Changelings

Mirror Entity
Amoeboid Changeling
Woodland Changeling
Mothdust Changeling
Fire-Belly Changeling
Ghostly Changeling

Well, the first three of these are REALLY good. The others are just stand-in Zuberas. Mirror Entity lets you kill off all your Zuberas at once, which is always a good thing, Shapesharer lets you turn spare changelings into more Floating-Dream and Dripping-Tongue Zuberas, and Amoeboid lets you use your small number of utility guys to up the dead Zubera count. This gives you a total of 14 Zuberas, which really isn’t bad considering. It’s certainly enough. Now all we’ve got to do is put an engine together for the deck to run off of. There’s going to be three components to the engine: a sacrifice outlet, recursion for Zuberas, and a way to turn resources into mana to continue the loop.

Sac Outlets
Phyrexian Altar
Viscera Seer
Devouring Greed
Ashnod’s Altar

Nim Deathmantle
Cauldron Haze
Second Sunrise
Patriarch’s Bidding
Twilight’s Call
Living Death

Mind over Matter
Phyrexian Altar

So this is the heart of the deck. You’ll notice that Phyrexian Altar is listed twice. That’s really exactly the sort of engine the deck wants: a sac outlet and source of mana at once, but the other two engine cards do a fair job of it. It’s unfortunate that Earthcraft and Mind over Matter are two of the flagship combo cards of the format, but they’re really good at what they do: turning one resource into another.

You recursion mechanisms are pretty straightforward.  Second Sunrise is the best of them, with Cauldron Haze being a pretty close Second. Nim Deathmantle is the weakest most of the time, but makes Ashnod’s Altar much more acceptable, and is really good once you’ve generated a ton of man and just need to win, since you can recur the specific Zubera you want.

The sac outlets are the interesting part. Viscera Seer helps you dig for whatever pieces you happen to be missing, usually the recursion effects, as do Reprocess and Skullmulcher. Ashnod’s Altar makes Skullclamp and Nim Deathmantle legitimate engines in this deck. It’s definitely the worst of these, but it’s okay at least. Skullmulcher is interesting because it can be recurred by Second Sunrise and the like, and is better at controlling the number of cards you draw. Devouring Greed is a good way to close out a game, and is okay when you’ve got a couple of Zuberas and aren’t sure if you’ll be able to combo. At least you’ll get enough life to try again in a few turns.

Sidenote: decking yourself is a VERY real concern. Keep careful track of the number of cards in your deck. Floating-Dream Zubera is NOT a may effect.

Keeping the Combo Going

Eternal Witness
Call to Mind

As a rule, I’m not a fan of infinite combos in this format. It just feels so lame to have a game suddenly end because someone broke the game. The problem with Eternal Witness, Izzet Chronarch, and Mnemonic Wall is that they let you go infinite with a sac outlet and Second Sunrise or some such. With these cards, you’ve got to keep drawing into more relevant effects. It makes the critical turn more about building an overwhelming advantage than going “oops, I guess I win.” Eternal Witness makes the cut because it’s a Regrowth, and CAN serve purposes other than going infinite. If you wanted more ways to just win, you could definitely swap Call To Mind and Reclaim for Chronarch and Wall.


Buried Alive
Survival of the Fittest
Oversold Cemetery

Defense of the Heart
Weird Harvest

Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Tutor
Diabolic intent

Idyllic Tutor
Enlightened Tutor
Sterling Grove
Academy Rector

So these serve two purposes only. Find you your sac outlets, or find you your Zuberas. Pretty straightforward. Genesis and Oversold cemetery try to let you play more of an attrition game if you can, so you don’t have to go all in. The only other card of interest is Sterling Grove, which serves as protection and a tutor at the same time. If you wanted, you could add Drift of Phantasms as a way to tutor for Phyrexian Altar off of Weird Harvest like the old Heartbeat Combo decks from Champions-Ravnica standard.

Corner Case Spells

Altar of Bone

Crib Swap

Horde of Notions (General)

So here we see a few ways to sort of continue comboing; to generate a little more advantage, dig a little further. These aren’t really recursion spells or tutors, but they’re really powerful sometimes when you just need a little more gas.

Then there’s the general, and the slots that go with it. Horde of Notions is what I settled on since it lets you recur your changelings if you’re short on gas. It also gives you Shriekmaw and Crib Swap to grind out the mid game if that’s what you have to do. Lastly, it gives you Mulldrifter, another of my favorite cards.  Now Mulldrifter is interesting because it does a lot more than it looks like it does because of Evoke.

You can Evoke it early game and then buy it back later with Horde. Or you can turn it into a TON of gas on a combo turn. I’ve had turns where I evoked Mulldrifter, did Zubera shenanigans, then proceeded to cast Second Sunrise 3 or more times. That’s 6 extra cards I got from my Mulldrifter than I would’ve if I’d blown it on turn 3. Mulldrifter is surprisingly versatile in this kind of deck, and I’ve quickly learned to stop and think before I cast my Mulldrifter; can I get more value if I wait? Can I afford to wait? Or am I under pressure and have to dig for pieces quickly? How likely is it that I hit that Second Sunrise in those next two cards?

The last set of cards is just some mana ramp. Ideally, this deck would be packed with fetchlands and dual lands and shocklands for the most part. But you actually have to run a decent amount of basics in order for Earthcraft to be a good engine. At least one basic of each type, preferably more. These are the ramps spells and lands that I think are pretty much mandatory:

Kodama’s Reach
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Coalition Relic
Skyshroud Claim
Explosive Vegetation

Horizon Canopy
Cephalid Coliseum

The ramps spells should be pretty self explanatory. The one card that might seem a little out of place is Sakura-Tribe Elder, but he’s deceptively good here. STEve loves to be turned into a Zubera before he Rampant Growths. He also loves to be recurred on combo turns to thin your deck of lands. Fetchlands are sweet in this deck because you can do similar things using fetches  + Second Sunrise.
The lands here are more slots that are deceptively powerful. There’s one thing that I learned from my stint playing various storm combo decks in vintage: NEVER play your land until you have to. You never know when you’re going to Timetwister into Tolarian Academy and just win. Similarly, you can start do tricks like that with Horizon Canopy and Cephalid Coliseum to get approximately infinite value.

So the next question is, what does this pile do?  Well, that’s a pretty good question, to be honest. Here’s the general outline, with some specifics thrown in for good measure:

Develop your Resources
Pretty self explanatory. Ramp up some mana, cast some Zuberas. This is where you’ll typically want to find a Floating Dream or Dripping-Tongue Zubera.

Kill them All!
All Zuberas want to do is commit cult suicide. The more that die at the same time, the happier they are. It’s worth noting that you can cast Second Sunrise or resolve Persist triggers BEFORE the zubera’s death triggers resolve. This will let you double not only the number of triggers (assuming you can sacrifice them all again), but also the number of Zuberas that have died. The triggers don’t check how many Zuberas have died until they actually resolve.

Combo Out!
So now you’ve made some guys or drawn some cards or some such. Here’s where you use Earthcraft to untap some lands and make more mana. Or use your extra cards to untap Mind over Matter. Or use Phyrexian Altar to turn tokens into mana. Regardless of how you’re doing it, make some mana. What do you do with it? Cast Second Sunrise. Or Patriarch’s Bidding. Or more Zuberas. Then kill them all again.  Hopefully you’ll draw into more recursion, and you can do it all again, doubling or tripling the number of Zuberas that have died in the process.

Winning the Game
So you’ve just about drawn your deck, made a million spirit tokens, gained a bunch of life, etc, etc. How do you win? Well eventually you’ll find Ember-Fist Zubera and Shapesharer; start turning all your changelings into Ember-Fists, deal a ton of damage to people, and win the game. Or, you can make a million Zuberas and drop a Goblin Bushwhaker if that’s more your style. Really, once you’ve recurred your Zuberas a few times, you can win just about however you’d like, since you’ll have developed approximately infinite resources.

If you want to be lame, you can just go infinite with Second Sunrise, Eternal Witness, and Phyrexian Altar.  As long as at least three creatures come back with Sunrise, you can make three mana, which is enough to cast the sunrise your witness got back.

So, just how good is this deck? Pretty awful, to be honest. It’s a lot of fun to play though, and you’ll get some pretty strange looks when people see you playing Zuberas. Honestly, the best part about the deck is that you get value out of Zuberas when people wrath the board, so you can overextend into them to your heart’s content. You’ve got three outs to having your “combo” Zuberas (Dripping-Tongue and Floating-Dream) wrathed away: Living Death, Twilight’s Call, and Patriarch’s Bidding. You’re usually better off waiting to tutor for those until you’re ready to go all in. Instead offer up the ones that are less important. Ashen-Skin is really good for emptying the hands of the blue players.

Decks like this are the reason that EDH is an awesome format. You don’t need any format staples. You could cut the “good” tutors and add things like Congregation at Dawn, or other less powerful and less costly tutors. I bought most of the cards for a build of this deck for less than $30. Sure, I don’t have my Mind over Matter or Earthcraft yet, but the deck still works, and it’s definitely given more tuned decks a run for their money.  Besides, can you think of another format where Zuberas are playable? Those things weren’t even playable in Block constructed!

As a fledgling author, I’m always looking for comments and criticism, preferably constructive. If you have any ideas and questions, and really any contributions you want to make; if you’ve just got a deck you want to show off or have looked at, I’d be glad to help out. I’m taking any and all questions and comments at, and I’d be glad to hear from you.


Monday, February 21, 2011

CommanderCast S2E2: We're So Silly

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
CommanderCast's weekly installments continue as S2E2 belches fourth from your speakers. Relish the belching, my people. We are joined this week by Mr. Nicholas Walsh, author of 'There Can Only Be Fun' over at Nick has provided his insight on a few topics this week, along with the usual goodness we're running. Our episode this week is mostly based around his e-mailed topic submissions, so it only seemed natural to have him pop onto the show to dish on this stuff in person.

Otherwise, this week is the same CommanderCast stuff that we do every week. Your opinion on that being a good or bad thing is obviously subjective, but you're here for a reason I assume.

Show notes and links below.


00:00 to 06:30: Intro: Andy, Carlos, Byron and Nick introduce themselves and provide some quick news tidbits related to CommanderCast.

06:39 to 15:57: Free-For-All-Roundtable: Partial Paris Mulligans: Believe it or not, Partial Paris mulligans are actually a formalized part of the EDH rules. If you're not playing with it, you're house-ruling it. Did you know that? Apparently, lots of people don't. We're discussing the value of this mulligan system on the roundtable today.

16:09 to 33:57: Community: Tournaments: Between the Casualness Inquisition calling everyone with cards better than Craw Wurm a douschebag and the EDH Mafia predating on your local event,  Commander tournaments have caught a bit of a bad rap. Can these be good? How can you promote a local EDH tournament? What other issues revolve around the notion of a 'casual format tournament'?

34:09 to 35:50: Community: Spotlight: Muse Vessel: Do you like casual Magic? What about things that are awesome? If so, you should probably check out the Muse Vessel, a new MTG blog that's on-point when it comes to the casual multiplayer realm. I don't actually even care about your answer to the first two questions, just go scope 'em.

36:06 to 53:08: Strategy: Hosers: When we talk Hosers, we don't mean Canadians (necessarily). Instead we're looking at cards that are often considered 'too narrow' because their effects might not do much in a given game, but Nick is on to a different theory. Beyond actually using them, WHEN should you use them, and which ones?

53:22 to 54:50: Technology: Break My Card: It's our new thing on Twitter. STRICTLY for our followers there because before this our e-mail guys got all the love (and the contest). Here's how it works:
  • Once a week, I give you a single card. It can be anything.
  • You let me know how to use it via Twitter. It has to be in one Tweet. You can use short versions, abbreviations, and acronyms, but if I can't decipher them you're busted. You can't send a second tweet, e-mail, or telegraph to explain what you mean.
  • You have to tell me what Commander will be in charge of the deck the card is used in. After that, you can say whatever; a combo? Some synergies? The type of deck it works in best? It's up to you to do something awesome with the card. 
This week's card to break is TELEKINETIC BONDS.
55:06 to 75:48: Technology: Secret RECKLESS Tech: This Secret Tech, Nick is uppercutting your brain RIGHT IN THE NECK with some card selections. We are actually unleashing such torrents of Tech that it becomes uncontrolled at one point with us wildly spewing Tech all over the place, resulting in an uncontrolled Tech spill. Thus, this is actually RECKLESS Tech.

Nick's Picks:
Rare: Quicksilver Amulet, Bonehoard, Inferno (be advised: may kill guys who aren't even playing)

76:10 to closing: Outtro.

  • To E-Mail Andy: CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Carlos: cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Byron: surgingchaos19(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To Tweet CommanderCast: (at)CommanderCast on Twitter

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mid-Week Update: February 16

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
It's the first mid-week update of the season. I hope everyone enjoyed the season premiere, it's good to be back. We've been getting some great feedback from everyone, and lots of volunteers are coming out of the woodwork to help with the website. That's pretty awesome. I hope the trend continues, because it's hard to keep this pace up without some help!

For the mid-week update Carlos has let us sneak into the Arcane Lab for his take on a Boros aggro deck featuring Agrus Kos leading the charge. Byron's vlog series also returns with a video asking what people would like to see for the new Commander expansion Wizards has promised us this summer.

As an aside, we are planning to have an episode with a Rules Committee member guest hosting in the near future. He/she has agreed to answer questions about the Rules Committee that anybody might have, so I am soliciting questions from you guys. E-mail, Tweet, or leave a comment here about what you would like to ask them, and we'll assemble our interview from the best questions we receive.

Arcane Lab 002 – Agrus Aggro
By Carlos 

In this format, white and red have a common reputation for being the two worst colors in the format, and for good reason.  Between the two of them, you don’t have many ways to draw cards or otherwise generate card advantage other than through artifacts, roundabout mechanisms, or mass creature and/or land destruction.

Honestly, I think the secret to this kind of deck is that you have to find a synergistic way to either apply pressure quickly, or generate some kind of card advantage.  Commanders like Godo, Darien, Kemba, and Kiki-Jiki generate that kind of advantage in a pretty overt way, and that’s likely why they’re some of the most popular generals in these colors; because they do powerful, proactive things if left unchecked.

Red/white generals, on the other hand, are pretty hard to come by.  In fact, there are only three generals in this particular color combination, none of which really generate any kind of virtual card advantage.  That means you’ve got to take a little bit of a different approach to building a deck.  If you’re not too particular about your general, you can just assume that they’ll be a win condition that’s particularly hard to deal with, and build a “goodstuff” deck that hopes that its powerful cards will just be better than the synergy and virtual card advantage of an opponent’s deck.  Razia is probably the best suited for this style of deck in R/W, though you could certainly do something similar with Brion if you’ve got some sort of lifegain or equipment theme.

Your other option is to look for less overt synergies, and build the deck in such a way that the sum of various kinds of cards accomplishes something a lot greater than the individual ones.  Something I like to do when trying to explain concepts from this format to newer players is to use decks from constructed formats that they might be familiar with.  In this case, a goodstuff deck is sort of like 4 color control from extended or U/B control from standard, while the more synergistic deck is more like Faeries from extended or Vampires from Standard.

I’ll be honest, I’m not that familiar with building decks that just turn guys sideways  in this format, but if you’re going to do something different, it’s best to take that theme as far as possible, right?  With that in mind, I think Agrus Kos is a better general than Brion, since it encourages attacking as frequently as possible with as many guys as possible.  So, after this pretty long-winded introduction, let’s get started!

The first thing you’ve got to do with any general, but especially a fairly vanilla general is decide what the deck is going to do.  As your deck becomes more focused on the particular things it wants to do, it becomes more consistently powerful.  So the question is, what does Agrus want to do?   You’ll notice that the plan isn’t too complicated; drop guys, preferably hasty, and beat down for as much as possible.   
  • Obviously, attack with lots of guys.  Preferably Red guys.

  • Notice that his ability triggers whenever he attacks.  That means if you take multiple attack steps, the pump is cumulative.

  • Haste is going to be HUGE for this style of deck.  Being able to drop Agrus and/or some other guys and swing in one turn will let you get in for large chunks of life out of nowhere.
So with that out of the way, I want to start with the cards that are similar to Agrus, that pump your guys’ power. Ideally, these guys would all have a similar trigger to Agrus, so that all of the effects accumulate if you take multiple combat steps, but there are only so many cards like that. There’s fewer still that are playable, even in a format like Commander.  Here’s what I’ve got:

Pump my Guys
Patron of the Akki
Marton Stromgald
Duergar Mine-Captain

Nobilis of War
Rally the Righteous
Glory of Warfare

Psychotic Fury
True Conviction
Rage Reflection

11 Cards

The first three are pretty similar to Agrus, and I imagine that having any combination of those on the board while untapping your guys and taking extra combat steps would get pretty crazy pretty quickly.  The next set are just global pump; pretty vanilla and uninteresting, though Rally the Righteous will have some interesting interactions with some of the cards a little further down the list.  The last set is a little interesting.  Double-Cleave and Psychotic Fury are there to try to get people with general damage from Agrus.  True Conviction is just a bomb, and allows you to beat down even harder once you’ve got some creatures and ways to pump them.  If you’re just interested in beating down, and not general damage, you could easily use Rage Reflection instead of at least one of the double-strike spells.

This next set of cards are just all the best ways to take extra combat steps that I could find.  I picked these over most of the other options because they’re either repeatable, or abusive.   Savage Beating is pretty notable as a way to get in huge amounts of damage by using entwine.  It also goes infinite with Spellbinder, one of the few pieces of equipment that made the cut in this deck.  One notable card that’s missing from the list is World at War.  I honestly don’t like this card very much, even though it does effectively the same thing as a lot of the other cards in this deck.  I think the difference is that World at War is more obvious; it just sort of sits on the table, alerting people that you’re going to be swinging for the fences next turn, as opposed to Seize the Day or Waves of Aggression, which sit in your graveyard.

Bring the Beats!
Waves of Aggression
Savage Beating
Aggravated Assault
Seize the Day
Hellkite Charger
Breath of Fury

18 Cards

The last big piece of the deck is token generation.  Making creature tokens is a huge boost to the aggressive power of the deck, especially when they accumulate power buffs.  Unfortunately, red is not the best color at making creature tokens, and red/white isn’t that good at it either.  If you wanted to take a bit of a goblin theme, you could run Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician and Goblin Warrens, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

Bring on the Tokens!
Goblin Trenches
Rise of the Hobgoblins
Firecat Blitz
Siege-Gang Commander
Goblin Marshal
Goblin Assault
Rakka Mar
Warbeak Trumpeter
Goblin Offensive

27 Cards

There’s a slight goblin theme to the tokens, which is the real reason that you can start adding other goblin-themed cards if you want to.  It’s also worth Noting that Rakka Mar gets pretty dumb when you start untapping your guys to take extra combat steps.  Honestly, I think this card is pretty criminally underplayed.  Firecat Blitz is the real gem here, which is great because it’s one of my favorite cards.  It gets you approximately infinite power out of nowhere if you want to go all in on it, and let’s be honest, that’s the whole point of playing an aggressive deck in EDH.  Going all in on Firecat Blitz to try to kill a table in one turn has got to be some kind of epic play, right?

These next few cards are some of the few ways that this deck has to tutor up some of its pieces, or that it can generate card advantage.  As previously discussed, red/white is notoriously bad at these kinds of things, so it’s important to get as much value out of these as possible.  The way this is accomplished here is that a lot of the cards interact positively with things like Seize the Day, where you untap your guys.

The Card Advantage “Engines”

Solemn Simulacrum
Knollspine Dragon
Mimic Vat
Academy Rector
Godo, Bandit Warlord

Elemental Mastery
Stonehewer Giant
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Splinter Twin

37 Cards

The first set of cards are really just the goodstuff.  They’re great ways to either tutor or generate some kind of card advantage, and it’s pretty silly to play red white without playing some combination of these guys.  The second set of cards really start to abuse your ability to untap your guys.  Tutoring up multiple things with Stonehewer Giant, or making a million siege-gang commanders seems pretty good to me.  I don’t even want to think about something like Splinter Twin on a Duergar Mine-Captain.

So the next question is: what equipment are we getting with Stonehewer Giant and Godo?  There are two equipment here that are just really good, and two that are kind of gimmicky, but I still think they pull their weight.

The Equipment Toolbox

Lightning Greaves
Runed Stalactite

Shattering Pulse
Master Warcraft
Orim’s Thunder
Final Fortune

46 Cards

I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with Sunforger and Lightning Greaves being really good equipment.  The second set of cards below is the sunforger toolbox.  You’ll notice that my generic artifact and enchantment removal spells are tutorable via Sunforger, and are repeatable.  To me, this means I can devote even fewer slots to answers, and focus even more heavily on bringing the beatdowns.

Spellbinder is there pretty much exclusively to go infinite with Savage Beating.  I mean, sure you could stick an Allay or Orim’s thunder on it, maybe even a Rally the Righteous, but really, it’s there for the infinite combo.  I’m usually not a fan of infinites, but I don’t think anyone can be too upset when that combo relies on both a creature and an artifact AND dealing combat damage to multiple players.  Besides, how many other ways are there to generate infinite beatdown?

Runed Stalactite is there exclusively for the interaction with Godo.  Godo tutors up Stalactite, give Stalactite to Agrus.  Beatdown for 11, untap your guys and beatdown for 15.  Oh by the way, that’s 14 general damage.  That’s basically a 1 card combo (plus your general) that’s going to deal 28 damage.  That seems like it’s worth a slot to me, especially since it lets you maximize the value of your two creatures, and lets you avoid overextending if you don’t have to.

Bringing the beatdown is always a risky proposition in multiplayer, because you run the risk of getting wrath’d before you even do anything.  We’ve all seen the Rys the Redeemed G/W tokens deck that spends 15 minutes tapping and untapping Rhys and Gaea’s Cradle just to have his opponent untap and cast Damnation.  That’s why haste is such an important ability for aggro decks.  Here’s how we’re generating haste for our guys:

Feeling Hasty?
Surge of Zeal
Mass Hysteria
In the Web of War
Flamekin Zealot
Goblin Bushwhacker

51 Cards

Seems pretty straightforward.  The thing about Goblin Bushwhacker is that I can’t help but want a way to tutor it up.  That means Ranger of Eos.  I love me an excuse to run a Ranger of Eos Package in my decks; I have an unhealthy obsession with that card in almost every format it’s legal in.

Ranger of Eos Toolbox
Ranger of Eos
Mother of Runes
Figure of Destiny
Spikeshot Elder
Dragonmaster Outcast

56 Cards

I think most of these are pretty self-explanatory.  They’re either a huge threat on a small body or help protect Agrus.  Spikeshot Elder in particular could be hilarious with all the ways you have to pump your guys.  Lastly, I’d like to round out the deck with some quality Boros-colored creatures that are on theme and will help for some stupidly explosive starts.

The Boros Guild
Boros Swiftblade
Hearthfire Hobgoblin
Boros Swiftblade
Brion Stoutarm
Duergar Hedge-Mage

61 Cards

The last thing I’d lke to take a look at is the artifact mana and the manabase.  There are a lot of subtle ways you can generate advantages by using key utility lands.  I’ve kept myself in more than one game where I was flooded beyond belief just by activating Springjack Pasture and Vitu-Ghazi every single turn, and I’ve won a number of games by flipping crazy stuff off of hideaway lands.  Here’s what the mana base for this deck looks like:

Artifact Mana
Gauntlet of Power
Expedition Map
Mind Stone
Boros Signet
Coalition Relic
Everflowing Chalice

67 cards

The Manabase
Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle
Windbrisk Heights
Spinerock Knoll
Boros Garrison
Kher Keep
Hall of the Bandit Lord

79 Cards

15 Mountain
6 Plains
Sacred Foundry
Arid Mesa
Rugged Prairie
Battlefield Forge

So the weakest slot here is Valakut by a pretty big margin.  I’m just such a fan of uncounterable ways to win long games that I would prefer to leave it in.  Other than that, there’s some really good utility to be found here.  Kher Keep gives you a way to generate a board presence that’s pretty respectable for Kobolds when Agrus is on the board.  Hall of the Bandit Lord is an uncounterable source of haste, and really should see more play. Vesuva and Boros Garrison give you ways to get additional activations out of your hideaway lands, both of which WILL get activated very regularly.  The conditions for activating the lands are even on theme in this deck; hit you for enough to activate Spinerock Knoll, cast Savage Beating entwined?

The rest of the lands are miscellaneous dual lands and basics.  The land base leans heavily towards mountains since the deck is really splashing white for things like Agrus, Brion, Allay, and True Conviction.  Most of the deck is red, and there are a number of cards that rely on having Mountains, like Valakut and Firecat Blitz.

There’s just a little bit of artifact acceleration to help you get out of the gates a little faster when you don’t have some aggressive 1 and 2 drops.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of artifact acceleration in most decks; but when your plan is to beat down as fast and hard as possible, the extra speed helps.

So this is my first real expedition into building a beatdown deck for this format.  I’m pretty happy with the attempt, and it’d be a deck I’m sure I’d have fun building, playing, and tweaking.  I don’t think it’s quite as aggressive as I’d like; it honestly seems to have more of a midrange/combo feel to it.  Granted, your combo is Agrus + guys + more combat steps, but still.  I think aggro in this format is something I’d like to revisit later, to try to build a “true” beatdown deck that tries to take out a whole table as quickly as possible.

Just like last week, I’m looking for some help to keep the content coming.  If you’ve got some comments on this week’s deck (especially if you play Agrus), an off-the-wall theme you’d like to see me build around, or a deck you’d like me to take a look at, I’d be glad to hear from you.