Monday, May 30, 2011

CommanderCast S3E1: The RePodcastening

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
A new season of CommanderCast is upon us. I have returned, accompanied by Byron, Carlos and Donovan for our season premiere. We're running a bit longer than usual this episode; since we've been away for a while, everyone had lots to say. I also figure this should at least help make up for the absence for the true CommanderCast fiends out there shaking and scratching looking for a hit of EDH podcasting goodness.

But this is only the beginning of the season. I've got some pretty slick stuff planned for Season 3. We've already recorded a few episodes preemptively and things are shaping up nicely. As always I'd like to thank everyone who remembers we're still doing this stuff at the end of the three-week break and comes back for more. Without y'all, I'm just some asshole talking to myself into the internet.

Enough with introductions, though. LETS GET IT

00:00 to 06:06: Intro: A quick rundown of what this is, why you might want to listen, and who it is that's yelling at you.


06:14 to 10:18: Season 3 Contest: You know how we do it here at CommanderCast. I figured we might as well jump off with the third contest right off the bat. This Season, we're doing a Sharpie Alter contest. Think you have the mad skillz with the markers and vandalization? Put your talent to the test in our new contest!

10:25 to 11:34: Deckbuilding Challenge: White Borders Only SON: On last Season's Call-In Show, my man Jars proposed building a white-border only deck. Perhaps the ugliest idea ever, yes, but an intriguing concept nonetheless. You know my man Carlos can't refuse any idea this good/bad, so it's become the core of the new Deckbuilding Challenge. Be sure to vote on the origin set of his Commander for this abomination int he upper-left corner!

11:42 to 43:00: Mailbag: We get a good amount of feedback at CommanderCast. E-mails, Tweets, and comments on various pages do not go ignored. Here we're publicly responding to some of the communiques y'all have sent to us.


43:11 to 1:01:11: Game Start Turn 5: Commander games are often characterized as slow, lumbering behemoths, where unweildly builds can be considered the norm and cards that cost less than three mana and don't make more mana are considered out of place. So when my man obsidiandice asked "What are you doing before turn 5?", I figured I wanted to bite his topic idea as it's something I've been thinking a lot about. What kind of early pressure is ok? When are you going too fast for others? A general discussion on early game strategy.

1:01:23 to 1:17:12: Hated Out: The Usual Suspects: We all know their names. Some of us have had the pleasure/misery of playing against them, or perhaps you're crushed some tables with their monolithic power. Zur, Arcum, Sharuum, and company.. the top-tier "douschebag" generals. Why do people hate them so? How can you counter their strategies?


1:17:22 to 1:24:50: Over//Under: Skullclamp vs Alternatives: One of the dumbest mistakes in modern Magic history, Skullclamp is rightly regarded as one of the most powerful draw engines in Commander. But is it mandatory? Carlos doesn't think so. In fact, we're here proposing that you consider alternatives before going to the default choice in any deck.
1:25:00 to 1:49:34: SUPER Secret Tech: This is Secret Tech as you know and love it. No surprises here.

Donovan's Picks:
Skred, Goblin Lore, Shard Phoenix

Andy's Picks:
Primal Growth, Rix Maadi, the Dungeon Palace, Noetic Scales

Carlos's Picks:

Martyr of Sands, Mortarpod, Knollspine Dragon

Byron's Picks:
Rancor, Ravenous Trap, Molder Slug

1:49:43 to closing: Outtro.

  • General show contact/E-Mail Andy: CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Carlos: cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Donovan: donokun(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Byron: surgingchaos19(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To Tweet Andy: (at)CommanderCast on Twitter

Monday, May 9, 2011

CommanderCast S2E13: Season Finale

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Here at CommanderCast, when I do something up, I prefer that it's done up rightwise. Given the rightwiseness of this season, I can only hope this season finale is an appropriately explosive way to cap the thirteen-week experience. Joining me for this podcast I have my main man Carlos backing me up, accompanied by Jeremiah (my most bitter internet friend) and Byron, a CommanderCast OG. Together, the four of us form a biblical podcasting beast that roams the audio countryside, smashing thatched-roof cottages and axe kicking would-be champions attempting to best us.

It seems like just yesterday I started CommanderCast with nothing but a free weekend, some boredom, and a couple of PMs on a message board... well, not really, this is a lot of work to maintain! I am looking forward to getting to play Brink until my eyes bleed (PM me on XBL if you want to play, my GT is GHoooSTS)! Anyway, as always, all I can do is come through and show love to my whole team. Carlos, Randy, Donovan, Jeremiah, Byron, Matt, and Adam are all huge parts of the reason CommanderCast is the quality product I'm proud to produce today. I get a lot of e-mails, but if you really like this podcast, please take the time to contact one or two of these guys, especially, if you've liked things they have said or done in the past and let them know.

If you wanted to know what happened with our Season 2 contest, be sure to check out the CIRCLE OF JUDGMENT. We run down our favorite entries and decide the winner. Be advised that there were some technical problems (the beginning is cut off and Donovan sounds like a drunken robot for some reason). Hopefully you can enjoy it regardless.

Anyway, that's it for Season 2. I'll be back in a few weeks with more of this hot fire, should you be so inclined to check back. The period between seasons is the ideal time for us to incorporate new ideas and such into the show; check out our Listener Interaction page for some ideas on that front. If you're really fiending for some CommanderCast action, then hit up the updated Content Index to see some of our older works, which can hopefully tide you over until our return.

Show notes and links below. Enjoy.

00:00 to 07:57: EPIC Intro: Meet your hosts and get a preview of what's to come in Season 3.

08:03 to 19:23: Free-For-All Roundtable: Proxies: Some people don't like proxies, while others are known for their ability to write "Mox Jet" on a Pearled Unicorn with a marker and not think twice. So what's with proxies in Commander? As a fun, casual format, should they matter at all? Why use proxies in the first place?

19:35 to 39:43: Community: The Future of Commander: Commander's explosive growth, new set due in June, and potential consideration in set design obviously has implications for the future of the format... but what are they? And are these good or bad? A multifaceted topic, we cover this one from a variety of angles.

39:57 to 42:41: Contest Winner Announcement: The contest is over. The dust has settled. We have a winner. Check out the Circle of Judgment for the full process on deciding our victor, but we have one man whose tech rose above the others... Judson, with his "Tapped" trifecta of Secret Tech! Congratulations to Judson, who will be receiving a sexified full-art Rhys, the Redeemed courtesy of Derfington!

Jusdon's "Tapped" Trio:

42:54 to 58:44: Strategy: Punishing Greed: Lately Carlos has been talking a lot about 'greedy' deckbuilding, and how to deal with it. We're rolled this into a convenient conversational package for you to digest. How much greed is to much (is there is such a thing)? How can one deal with incredibly greedy decks that are running wild in your metagame? Maybe it's time to consider getting a bit greedy yourself...

58:54 to 1:21:35: Archetype Rundown: Aggro: Generally looked down upon as the least viable archetype in EDH, this week we're giving a primer on running an Aggro deck well in Commander. From construction to target prioritization to gloating after the game, this is a quick look with some tips and strategies that should help make turning your guys sideways more painful for your opponents.

1:21:50 to 1:34:34: Technology: Bad Cards We Love 2: Back in S2E9, we did Bad Cards We Love. Now it's back with some fresh faces on deck reveling in their card selection failures.

Carlos' Picks: Prismatic Lace, Obstinate Familiar
Jeremiah's Picks: Bottle Gnomes, Puca's Mischief

Byron's Picks: Web of Inertia, Blizzard Specter

1:34:46 to 1:47:37: Entourage: Chorus of the Conclave: Our past Entourage segments have been reasonably successful, including the birth of the Ib Halfheart Nation. Somebody out there probably built a Chisei deck, too, though I can't confirm this. For our next attempt, we're going off the most-requested 'bad' general e-mailed to me, the Chorus of the Conclave.

Assumed Gimmies: Mana Reflection, Mirari's Wake, Doubling Season
Jeremiah's Picks: Spine Biter, Forgotten Ancient
Andy's Picks: Helix Pinnacle, Hurricane
Carlos' Picks: Etched Oracle, Phantom Nishoba
Byron's Picks: Fertilid, Spike Weaver

1:47:51 to closing: Outtro.

  • General show contact/E-Mail Andy: CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Carlos: cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Jeremiah: jeremiah(at)s1group(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Byron: surgingchaos19(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To Tweet Andy: (at)CommanderCast on Twitter

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mid-Week Update: May 5

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Hot on the heels of listener-powered Call-In Episode, we have a mid-week update fumbling onto the internet, DRUNK with awesomeness. Not only is the Arcane Lab back in the mix, but we've got some links to our affiliate websites. In the Arcane Lab, This is the decklist you've been voting on... the Lydzolda, Blood Witch deck produced by the voting funnel of the last several weeks. Carlos has been furiously grinding in the lab and now he's ready to uneash this filthy beast upon us all.

Finally, the Circle of Judgment is incoming. On Monday, you will see our chosen winners, and they will get to pick their prize. It will be glorious. Additionally, we will have the Season Finale posted (on time, not like this week's episode which was hampered by all kinds of issues). Don't miss it!

Here's the final Arcane Lab in all it's glory. You voted for a $40 restriction, then bi-colour, then R/B, and finally voted on this evil, evil woman to helm the stack of cards. Enjoy!

THE ARCANE LAB 013 - Crowd Favourite 
I’ll be honest, guys: I was terrified that B/G was going to win the color vote and that--no matter what won-- the deck was going to be boring to build.  I mean, really, Glissa, Savra, and Nath are the best generals in that color combination by a lot, and they all spell out their themes in no uncertain terms.

Lyzolda, on the other hand…

Well, she’s still actually pretty straightforward, but the budgetary restrictions make our thematic choices a little more difficult.  Most decks that revolve around sacrificing things rely on staples like Solemn Simulacrum and Grave Pact, and run 65-80ish of the same 99 cards, which is pretty lame.

But the interesting thing about Lyzolda is that she’s got the sacrifice outlet built in, so you don’t need much redundancy there; you just need to generate fodder to pitch to her and find some coincidental ways to abuse the sacrifices--like Vicious Shadows--rather than intentional ways--like Phyrexian Altar.

I’m going to try something a little different this week with this budget challenge.  Rather than composing a decklist and then writing up the article, I’m going to do a stream of consciousness sort of thing, cranking out a decklist as I’m coming up with it and hopefully outlining some of my thought processes, making changes as I go.

Let’s get started with the easy stuff, including the general and the obvious abusers:

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch (0.49)

Reassembling Skeleton (0.25)
Nether Traitor  (1.49)
Darkest Hour (0.99)
Buried Alive (2.99)
Black Market (2.99)

Total: $9.21, 5 cards

Well, that went poorly.  I’m five cards in and at a quarter of my budget.  Who knew Black Markets went for $3?  Either way, what these are trying to accomplish is fairly obvious.  Reassembling Skeleton and Nether Traitor are a sort of engine with Lyzolda, and Buried Alive sets it up.  Black Market makes your life a little easier once you get your engine going.  Unfortunately, Buried Alive and Black Market are going to have to go, but let’s see what we can do to replace them.

-Buried Alive
-Black Market

Carnival of Souls (0.49)
Corpse Connoisseur (0.25)

Abyssal Gatekeeper (0.25)
Goblin Marshal (0.89)

Nim Deathmantle (0.99)
Gorgon Flail (0.25)
Quietus Spike (0.99)
Godo, Bandit Warlord (0.89)
Furnace Celebration (0.25

Total: 8.48, 12 cards

Why can’t I ever spell Connoisseur without checking, even when I just checked?  Whatever, unimportant.  What’s important is that he’s a VERY slow Buried Alive that also draws you some cards.  Carnival of Souls is similar, in that it helps ease the mana-hungriness of keeping Lyzolda active, but is probably just worse than Black Market nine times out of ten.

Abyssal Gatekeeper seems like a strict upgrade on Fleshbag Marauder with Lyzolda as the general, and likewise Goblin Marshal is an upgrade on Siege-Gang Commander, which I can’t afford anyway.

The equipment package eats up a pretty reasonable portion of my budget, but I think it’s worth it.  Lyzolda plus deathtouch seems really good, as does Lyzolda plus Nim Deathmantle.  Ideally, there will be a few more ways to abuse the deathtouch without Lyzolda to reduce dependence on your general, and hopefully some more stuff that triggers on things that are leaving play to make more of an engine.

Deathbringer Thoctar (0.49)
Hoarding Dragon (0.49)
Homura, Human Ascendant (0.59)
Bloodchief Ascension (1.49)
Mogg War Marshal (0.19)
Molten Firebird (0.49)
Murderous Redcap (0.79)
Goblin Matron (1.25)

Rockslide Elemental (0.25)
Scavenger Drake (0.25)
Rukh Egg (0.49)
Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker (1.99)

Total: 17.24, 24 cards.

So, I’m at almost half of my budget, but I’m at about 2/5 of the number of cards I want in the deck.  Huh.  Well, there are some cuts that can be made if it comes down to it, but I think most of these contribute pretty positively to the deck, relative to their monetary cost.

Most of these came just from looking for cards that have effects when they hit the graveyard.  Deathbringer Thoctar, Scavenger Drake, and Rockslide Elemental are all awesome with all of the creatures you want to kill, and give you a legitimate board presence sometimes.

Hoarding Dragon is like another copy of Godo, and Mogg War Marshal is a miniature Goblin marshal.  Murderous Redcap will be a 2 for 1 at worst, and a 4 for 1 at best, all while drawing cards.  Once you’re running that many Goblins, Goblin Matron seems logical, and Homura seems like a sweet way to pump those tokens.

Molten Firebird is interesting.  You’re going to be drawing cards off of your black creatures, so you don’t care about skipping your draw step an inordinate number of times, but dealing two damage from a potentially death-touchy Lyzolda seems really good.

There are a number of well-known cards that interact with Shirei already, I wonder if we can’t find some more cool ones.  I mean, Rukh Egg is awesome, obviously, but Mogg War Marshal and Abyssal Gatekeeper are almost deceptively powerful.  I think this is the next thing I want to work in as a major-ish theme, and having multiple themes means finding tutors that will fit into the deck/budget.

Diabolic Tutor (0.75)
Beseech the Queen (0.79)
Brainspoil (0.15)
Dimir House Guard (0.25)
Shred Memory (0.25)

Dawn of the Dead (0.49)
Apprentice Necromancer (0.99)

Total: $21.64, 34 cards

So obviously the tutors are going to be really powerful when you’ve got a set of engines that you want to get running.  The transmute tutors are especially good because they can’t be countered and have additional utility as spells.  Brainspoil, while inefficient, is still removal, and Shred Memory is graveyard hate.  Dimir House Guard is a reasonable sacrifice outlet, and can be easily recurred because it’s a creature.

These other cards just seemed like powerful inclusions.  Apprentice Necromancer interacts well with sacrifice outlets and with Shirei; Dawn of the Dead is a more expensive copy of the same effect, but it isn’t dependent on an interaction between other cards.  Hostility seems absurdly good.  Sacrifice a red creature; make some more red creatures; sacrifice those to make even more red creatures.  Alpha strike, win the game?

Myr Retriever (1.49)
Wayfarer’s Bauble (0.25)
Nihil Spellbomb (0.25)
Crystal Ball (0.39)
Pilgrim’s Eye (0.15)
Ashen-Skin Zubera (0.25)
Ember-Fist Zubera (0.25)

Total: $24.67, 41 cards

And here are some more creatures for abuse with Shirei.  Pilgrim’s Eye is clearly awesome at helping hit land drops, Myr Retriever is great for recycling your trinkets and equipment if you get hit by removal.  You don’t have too many shuffle effects, so I’m pretty sure that Crystal Ball is better than Sensei’s Divining Top here, even if we could afford to run the Top.  

And, of course, I have to add Zuberas whenever I can find an excuse.  They seem good with Shirei, especially if you’ve also got Shirei/Necromancer shenanigans going.  It might not be really good, but everyone’s got those cards they want to run just because.  These are mine.  Deal with it.

Mindslicer (0.49)
Ingot Chewer (0.19)
Spitebellows (0.49)

Act of Treason (0.15)
Threaten (0.25)
Conquering Manticore (0.49)

Din of the Fireherd (0.49)
Syphon Mind (0.25)
Torrent of Souls (0.25)

Total: $27.72, 50 cards

Now these are a few more utility and powerhouse cards that’ll do the deck some good.  Mindslicer is kind of absurd when you sacrifice it to Lyzolda, because you draw the card after the trigger resolves.  Seems good, especially when you’ve got ways to recur the Mindslicer repeatedly.

Evoke creatures seem really quite good with Lyzolda, unfortunately there’s only a few reasonable ones in this color combination.  Spitebellows is in over Shriekmaw because of its color and because it’s half the price!  Shriekmaw is probably reasonable too though; it’s better most of the time.

The Threaten-style effects seem really good with Lyzolda, almost good enough for me to want to recur them with something like Anarchist, but probably not quite that good.  Steal your Primeval Titan, bash you, fling it at you?  Seems good.  Manticore is also recurrable via Nim Deathmantle and such because it’s a creature, which is awesome.  I’d consider running Helm of Posession, but I don’t think it’s within the budget for this particular build, as awesome as it’d be.

Last, we’ve got some acceleration and some solid cards to round the deck out:

Rakdos Signet (0.25)
Talisman of Dominance (0.25)
Fire Diamond (0.39)
Charcoal Diamond (0.39)
Mind Stone (0.89)

Vicious Shadows (0.49)
Repercussion (2.99)
Krovikan Horror (0.49)
Tortured Existence (0.25)
Undead Gladiator (0.89)
Golgari Thug (0.89)
Black Market (2.99)

Total: $38.88, 62 cards

So, some artifact ramp is important in this color combination since you don’t have any other ways to ramp up, especially on such a tight budget.  Would this deck love to have Coffers/Urborg?  Sure it would, but I just don’t see it happening on this budget.

The last couple of cards give some more redundancy, resiliency, and power to the deck.  Excitingly enough, I managed to fit it both of the expensive cards I wanted, Black Market and Repercussion.  These are both clearly awesome here; Black Market is like a super Dark Ritual, and Repercussion lets you play control and beatdown with your Lyzolda flings.

Vicious Shadows is another game-closer.  Suddenly each creature you sacrifice deals 5-7 damage instead of just two, which puts the table on a pretty fast clock.  Krovikan Horror is there to be a backup sacrifice outlet for when Lyzolda gets wrecked.  It also interacts well with both Tortured Existence and Undead Gladiator as a recursion/draw engine.  Golgari Thug lets you dig for those awesome creatures that you’re running, and helps you buy them back too.  Thug plus Lyzolda is a dredge engine unto itself, which is kind of cool.

Last, let’s take a look at the mana base.  I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve got the basics, so we’ll start with the non-basics:

Terramorphic Expanse (0.25)
Molten Slagheap (0.49)
Akoum Refuge (0.39)
18 Swamp
16 Mountain

Total: $40.01, 99 cards

Alright, so I went a cent over budget.  Pick your least favorite card and cut it.  The mana base is a little more stable, but could definitely use a little bit of work.  There are a few solid lands that could certainly make the cut, the obvious ones are Thawing Glaciers for consistency, deserted temple to ramp with thawing glaciers or “combo” with your Molten Slagheap, and other B/R dual lands.  You could start adding things like Scrying Sheets, Mouth of Ronom and various Tectonic Edge variants; Spinerock Knoll and Vesuva, but I don’t think that those are necessary to the initial function of the deck.

And lastly, I want to take a look at a few choices for the slightly less budget-minded, some of the cards that I really wanted but couldn’t quite fit into the budget.  Most of these spells are just more of the same kinds of things the deck is already doing, but added consistency is never a bad thing.  But really, they’re just additional or more efficient copies of cards that are already in the deck.

Basilisk Collar
Demonic Tutor
Tectonic Edge
Buried Alive
Phyrexian Arena
Oversold Cemetery
Siege-Gang Commander

And there’s my take on Lyzolda for about $40; I hope you guys aren’t going to begrudge me that extra cent.  As always, if you’ve got criticism and comments, or just want to talk shop about decklists or ideas, I’m more than happy to do it.  You can reach me in the comments, by email and now on Twitter!

@cag5383 on Twitter

Monday, May 2, 2011

CommanderCast S2E12: The People's Episode

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
This is the call-in episode we've been anticipating for a while. I hinted about it on Twitter last season, but now it's become a reality. For a little over a week, I've been asking people if they're interested in making a CommanderCast appearance. Well, this week, eight of those people are getting UP IN THIS PIECE and we're doing a sort of super Free-For-All Roundtable. Each caller has their own subject and we discuss them over the span of ten minutes apiece; me and Carlos are hosting, and we have two callers tagged in for any given subject. We're getting a variety of viewpoints of a huge range of topics here. 

Be advised this isn't as focused as our usual podcast, and the organization is atypical, but we wanted to do something special and give our listeners a chance to be on the show. Keeping CommanderCast accessible has always been a huge priority for me, so this seemed like an ideal expression of that.

Show notes and pertinent links below. Enjoy.

00:00 to 02:54: Intro: Introducing the podcast, your hosts, and a brief rundown of podcast news for the week.

02:58 to 1:33:05: SUPER Community: Call-In Episode: Introduction to the format for the episode; two callers, two hosts, ten minutes per caller subject. LET'S GET IT.
  • Brad's Topic: Targeting Prioritization: In light of an ongoing forum discussion, Brad would like to talk about target prioritization and threat assessment, the Achilles heel of Commander tryhards everywhere.
  • Chris' Topic: Targeted Land Destruction: In a recent deck he built, Chris has started to use target land destruction like Dwarven Blastminer and is curious about how much is enough, when you have too much, and what kind of cards that fulfill this role provide the best value.
  • Justin's Topic: Colour Preferences: How many colours do you like to use, and why? What's the advantage of mono-coloured vs multi-coloured? How do you stay away from all the 'mandatory' colour staples?
  • Jars' Topic: White-Border Only: We talk about a deckbuilding challenge where we construction the ugliest deck ever... one with only white-borders. What kind of cards do you have available? What colours would be feasible? Also, this is what Raging River does.
  • Omar's Topic: Ban List and Tuck: Porting a debate from the real, Omar brings up some people's interest in changing the 'official' rules; namely, the banned list and how 'tuck' effects work.
  • Calvin's Topic: Playstyle and Effectiveness: Have you ever built a deck that worked really well, but didn't like playing? That's what we're talking about here. How can you remedy this issue? Also some more general discussion about branching out and playing different types of decks.
  • Adrian's Topic: Scars of Mirrodin and EDH-Centric Design: Adrian presents the idea that Scars block appears to have Commander in mind more than prior blocks. What kind of impact could this have on the format? Is it good, bad, or ugly?
  • Shoe's Topic: The Ultimate Showdown: This is a multiplayer format that requires sixteen people to play. Click the link for more. It's... kind of crazy.

1:33:07 to closing: Outtro.

  • General show contact/E-Mail Andy: CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To E-Mail Carlos: cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com
  • To Tweet Andy: (at)CommanderCast on Twitter