Monday, June 1, 2020

Commander Night Playback - Enigma's Birthday Bash

Finally, after two long weeks of no Commander gameplay from my playgroup due to extenuating circumstances, we managed to gather enough players for a round of my favorite Magic format. And on my birthday, no less.

That's right, we're playing Tiny Leaders! No, wait. I mean EDH. Of course, I mean EDH.

We only had time for one match, but it was a good one. I played a deck helmed by Tayam, Luminous Enigma. My opponents ran King "Drivin'" Macar, and Gavi, Nest Warden respectively.

There were a number of solid synergies and combos that I saw from all of us at the table. The game lasted about 1.5 hours, so we all had opportunities to pull off our own impressive combos.

Macar was the first to get truly scary, or at least troublesome. Normally, Macar is not a threat because the best way to tap him is through combat, so he can be easily blocked and killed. This is where the "Drivin'" Macar aspect of the deck comes it... thanks to vehicles.

The one in question was Aethersphere Harvester. Using it's crew ability, they tapped Macar, allowed him to untap and activate at the start of their turn without subjecting him to the rigors of combat.

Additionally, they were intending to set up ways to tap and untap him even more times. First, they played Clock of Omens to use the Gold generated by Macar to untap key artifacts. Then, they played Silverskin Armor in the hopes of turning Midas Automotive Services into an artifact to continuously tap and untap, which Gavi countered by cycling Decree of Silence for free. Still, it was impressive in it's own right, and it kept me from committing too strongly to the board without a sacrifice outlet available to me. Macar managed to get an Umbral Mantle equipped later, but rarely did they have the mana to make much use of it.

As for me, I don't think I ever had a chance to take the spotlight, but I managed to make my own moves when I could and protected myself from the worst of it. Every time one of my creatures was about to get exiled, my Altar of Dementia was there to build up my graveyard and keep them "in circulation". When my graveyard was about to be exiled, I used an Elixir of Immortality to shuffle them back into my deck so that I still had access to them at some point. It made it difficult to get a foothold, but I was able to keep some form of engine in the form of Sylvan Library, and my Planeswalkers that were being largely ignored.

Among them, the one that exceed my expectations was Ajani, Caller of the Pride. It's a simple ability, just putting +1/+1 counters on creatures, but it helps keep Tayam stocked with counters we can use to activate that recursion ability. In the brief moment I had Winding Constrictor and Evolution Sage on board, my favorite lion man was carrying his weight even more so. I even managed to get his loyalty high enough for his ultimate... except Macar had an Archfiend of Depravity keeping both myself and Gavi in check. Here I was, thinking I was being all sneaky and slowly building up to my ultimate, but in turns out that it's hard to be sneaky about it when the effect I'm building up to is literally written on the card.

Naturally, the archfiend was also impacting Gavi's ability to generate tokens, so they were willing to ignore me for a time. I could only be thankful that my board couldn't be completely wiped by Macar, thanks to Yawgmoth, Thran Physician being on board. This may very well be the only time where his "Protection From Humans" clause was ever relevant, but because of it I was able to keep another value engine on board.

Eventually, I was able to use Ajani's second ability to give him double strike and flying, forcing Macar to use the Archfiend to block my attack. Unfortunately, this was when Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to exile my Yawgmoth and my Altar of Dementia, but I did sacrifice one to the other to keep it in circulation.

And my other Planeswalker, Liliana of the Veil, was able to start taking center stage afterwards. Despite being mono-Black, Macar was sorely lacking in recursion, or they weren't drawing into it. This meant that with the looming threat of Gavi on the other side, there was much stopping me from whittling away at their creatures. This pressure left me free to cast a perform a Pernicious Deed to reset the board. While I had intended to use Eerie Ultimatum to reestablish, it would have been Neutralized if I had done more that resurrect Liliana to get rid of Ulamog.

This prolonged attrition between the three players left all of us without much. So when Gavi managed to acquire a nearly full grip of cards with Boon of the Wish-Giver, she was basically free to dominate the endgame. Specifically, with The Locust God and a Psychosis Crawler. After performing a Cyclonic Rift to dispose of any final resistance, Gavi managed to take the win.

I genuinely can't complain. Each player managed to get their own blows in, impacting the game for the other two. Though I wish I could've gotten my engine fully online, I did managed to use Tayam enough to feel satisfied. I'll likely keep playing him a bit more and experiment to see how I might be able to modify the deck further.

A good way to end my birthday! :D

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