Monday, June 22, 2020

Magic the Gathering - Commander Night Playback - The Return of King Kenny

There's nothing quite like a knock-down, drag out battle where every player gets the chance to take command of the game at least once. Three decks, all of the same relative power level, making strong plays, and sowing fear and excitement into their competitors.

This was the exact kind of match that we had in our EDH game yesterday, and I'm still thinking about how incredible it was.

Instead of adhering to our usual Cockatrice budgetless deck construction, I made the choice to run the version of Kenrith that I had built for myself in real-life, with the intention of playing it at Anthrocon (RIP travel plans). While the deck's paper variant does run a few tutors, I swapped them out for some cards in the maybeboard to adhere to our table's rules.

The partners were the first to get on the board with a turn one Serra Ascendant. With it's boosted stats, much of the early game had both Macar and myself on the back foot as we were unable to answer the threat as Tymna/Kraum flooded the board quickly and neither of us had good way to address the problem. And with cards like Watcher of the Spheres, Emeria Angel, and Shabraz, the Skyshark, their board was getting dicey.

Kraum was also performing work, dealing out a large amount of commander damage, but his innate haste made it difficult to stop him from swinging while Tymna kept her pilot aflush with cards. From the outset, Macar and I had to team up to avoid death. I managed to snag Serra Ascendant by using my Hostage Taker and casting it. 

When the partners sent a portion of their horde towards me, Kenrith's ability, bolstered with the extra mana from Dictate of Karametra pushed my life back above 30 so I could use the Ascendant to block. They had a Jeskai Charm ready to bounce it back to their library, but at least I still took the moral victory by blindsiding them with that play.

Meanwhile, Macar was slowly chipping away at the flying army we were both up against. That all changed when the fire nation atta- I mean when they dropped Nevinyrral's Disk. Thanks to their board state, they were able to use it skillfully. They were able to use Clock of Omens, and the gold they had build up with Macar, to untap the Disk immediate on the turn it was played. Additionally, they were able to crew enough vehicles to activate the Westvale Abbey on their board, transforming it into Ormendahl, Profane Prince before wiping the board. And as luck would have it, all of that commander damage made Kraum and Tymna the more tempting target for Ormendahl's wrath.

This brought both of them in a stand-still, which allowed me enough time to regroup before I made my next move, replaying Kenrith, dropping a Smothering Tithe, and building up a stack of treasure. In order to further their dominant position, Macar summoned an Archfiend of Depravity. It was a mistake I would make them regret making.

With my newfound reserves, I deployed Syr Konrad, the Grim and resurrected my Hostage Taker using Kenrith's ability. Apparently, an indestructible demon summoned through blood sacrifice is no match for a pirate with a cutlass. Sure, I would not be able to cast him because he turns back into Westvale Abbey, but that also means that when I had to sacrifice her to the Archfiend's ability, it would come back as a land, instead of a 9/7 creature with a ton of powerful keywords.

Sadly, my little synergy wouldn't last too long, since Macar had one last trick up their sleeve. Back when we were still united against the partners, I had allowed them to swing in with Conqueror's Galleon to transform it into Conqueror's Foothold, which they used to bring back their Clock of Omens. Additionally, they used brought back Macar and used Ashnod's Transmogrant on it.

This allowed them to enter a loop. Since Macar was now an Artifact, Clock of Omens could tap him and another untapped artifact, targeting Macar with the untap effect. This would cause Macar to untap, which allows him to exile a creature and create a Gold token. Said token and Macar could then be tapped to untap Macar, allowing him to exile every creature on board.

One Time Wipe later, and we were good to be started once more. My first order of business after that was to use my Ashen Rider to exile the Clock of Omens. On the following turn, I managed to play my Deadeye Navigator and flicker my Ashen Rider enough times to take care of all the remain threats on board, including the Foothold and an Inspiring Statuary.

Through the two of them were able to use a Crackling Doom and a removal effect to kill both creatures, and Bojuka Bog away my grave, it was too late. Both of them were running on fumes, and thanks to Kenrith and my mana reserves, I was able to make up the difference and close out the game with a few final swings.

This is the kind of Commander game that I can't get enough of. Everyone was having a great time, and we all had a chance to show off what our decks are capable of. Moreover, I am relieved to see that this deck I built in paper, although not fully optimized with the big budget staples and fetch lands, is more than capable of holding it's own without while still being fun to play against. My fear was that it would either be so strong that no one would want to play against it, or so weak that it couldn't compete, so seeing such an excellent match play out brings me no end of joy.

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