For the Fun of the Game #3 – Choosing Colors, a General, and Build
The most common questions for new (or veteran) EDH players/deck builders usually are, “What colors should I play?” or “Who should my general be?” My take on deck building actually starts before this. The first question I ask: “What type of deck do I want?” Loosely speaking, a handful of deck types present themselves in EDH: Combo, General Damage, Mill (give it a shot!), Toolbox, or Regular Damage/Jack-of-all-trades. If I don’t have a general in mind, this template usually works wonders. (Don’t misunderstand, if you have a general in mind, or know what colors you want to play – feel free to make a deck that way. Usually if you do, you still will end up in one of the previously mentioned types, and if you don’t know, it’s probably a Regular Damage deck. I only explain what I know/what I use to build my decks If I’m at a loss.)
Now, once you have a deck type in mind, you find a general that lends itself well to that template. Gatherer works wonders for this type of work, also, knowing the color pie helps a ton. If you know you want a combo deck, you may want to include blue for counterspells to protect your combo. Some generals that lend themselves to certain deck types are as follows:
Combo: [c]Sharuum the Hegemon[/c], [c] Rofellos, Lllanowar Emissary[/c],[c]Rhys, the Redeemed[/c].
General Damage: [c]Rafiq of the Many[/c],[c] Adamaro, First to Desire[/c]
Mill: [c]Oona, Queen of the Fae[/c], [c]Szadek, Lord of Secrets[/c]
Toolbox: [c]Sliver Overlord[/c], [c]Rafiq of the Many[/c], [c]Gaddok Tegg[/c].
Regular Damage/Rock/Jack of Trades: [c]Teneb the Harvester[/c], [c]Wort, the Raidmother[/c], [c]Rith the Awakener[/c], [c]Progenitus[/c].
As you can see, some generals overlap, and that’s why it’s important to ask yourself all of the questions, not just one. With the deck type, colors, and general in mind – then you can proceed to the building process.
Before I jump right into deck building, I do want to touch on one thing. This template works well if you have access to the cards, but in EDH that seems to be what overwhelms people the most. The top aim of this format is fun, so say, for writing’s sake – you started playing in Lorywn block and loved treefolk. Then feel free and have fun if you want to build a [c]Doran the Siege Tower[/c], deck. Or if you started in Mirrodin block and really love artifacts, maybe you want something esper and have the artifacts to back it up. You can really use whatever cards you have in your collection or whatever you have fun playing. There are a lot of lists with “good generals” or “must have cards” but take all the advice sparingly. Elder Dragon Highlander prides itself on fun times. Plan accordingly! And don’t stress out, especially during deck building.
And now back to the article at hand. With your deck in mind, and your cards at your side – it’s time to build. The bullet points that follow simply show some cards you may underestimate or not even think of when building decks. Of course, they are split by color. (and also keep aware, some cards are good in certain decks and downright useless in others. With my imaginary general [c]Doran[/c] for instance, walls become downright beatsticks and cards like [c]Defender of the Order[/c] become white [c]Overrun[/c].)
[c] Swords to Plowshares [/c] (better then [c]Path to Exile[/c] since the life gain matter little)
[c] Wrath of God [/c]
[c] Akroma’s Vengeance [/c]
[c] Oblivion Ring [/c]
[c] Tidings [/c]
[c] Rhystic Study [/c] (Though immensely frustrating to play against)
[c] Hinder [/c] (putting their general at the bottom of the deck is fun)
[c] Spin into Myth [/c] (see above)
[c] Rite of Replication [/c] (Thanks @strammermax)
[c] Avatar of Woe [/c] (many players equates to large graveyards)
[c] Decree of Pain [/c]
[c] Liliana Vess [/c]
[c] Damnation [/c] (Thanks @cyrax777)
[c] Vicious Shadows [/c]
[c] Bogardan Hellkite [/c]
[c] Word of Siezing [/c] (Steal planeswalkers!)
[c] Akroma, Angel of Fury [/c]
[c] Eternal Witness [/c]
[c] Mana Reflection [/c] (Pet card for all of us MTG Radio-ers, its fantastic)
[c] Sylvian Scrying [/c]
[c] Sylvian Library [/c] (I didn’t know the Sensi has a green top too!)
[c] Solemn Simulacrum [/c] (Everyone loves a sad robot)
[c] Sword of Fire and Ice [/c]
[c] Sensi’s Diving Top [/c]
[c] Expedition Map [/c] (Can get any land, lovely in singleton)
Now, with all this in mind, all deck builders, especially those fined tuned in Standard, Limited, Extended, Vintage, Legacy, Two-Headed Bear Claw Death Match Single Elimination Magic (okay, maybe the last one doesn’t exist, but it should) need to remain aware of balance. As a multiplayer format, EDH decklists often look different than any other decks. Some cards and combos that shine elsewhere falter in EDH ([c]Channel[/c], [c]Fireball[/c] a prime example unless paired with ridiculous life gain to immediately end the game in the casters favor by extinguishing all opponents life totals), and vice versa ([c]Eye of the Storm[/c], [c]Knowledge Exploitation[/c] never saw play in the boring competitive magic scene.) Some cards simply aren’t as good in EDH, most notably, one for one cards. One for one accomplishes little in the grand scheme of an EDH match. That stands to reason why board sweeps, non targeted (group? Communist? I am not sure how to word this) discard, and more random effect spells (or downright bomby spells) lurk within the lists that exist all over the internet.
One last thing to wrap up the article, about my old [c]Wort, the Raidmother[/c] deck. This deck, which did include the above mentioned [c]Channel[/c], [c]Fireball[/c] combo – had two strikes against it. The reason we pulled it apart (and built many other decks) – it just got boring. In one versus one matches the deck held its own and quite well, but at a multiplayer game, the targeted land destruction and direct damage made the deck falter. My final point being, don’t ever grow afraid to pull apart an EDH deck. If it becomes too tuned for single player, or just becomes far less fun – pull it apart! Build some new decks! This format should never become stale.