A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: X.W.T.F or Xenagos Wants To be Free

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

X.W.T.F or Xenagos Wants To be Free

X.W.T.F or Xenagos Wants To be Free

So by now you should know my titles normally have little to do with what i actually write hoho.

Lets talk about mousehunt!


kidding kidding.

So I shall write a little about my current deck.

Its Land Destruction!! W00t! Whats new right =)

Anyways I think it is viable, but maybe 50/50 or 40/60

the odds are not great, just about even. Anecdoctally no less.

Thats all i can guarantee, if you like you can go play a thousand matches i don't really care =)

So this standard LD deck.

A little history: It came about from a lame bout of LD fanboyism. Where I was tired of the lack of Stone Rain.

but the existence of Peak Eruption gave me some hope.

So I tried to build something with Nylea's Presence and Peak Eruption.

It did'nt work out.

It was too hopeful of course. Nylea's Presence into Peak Eruption was magical christmas land already.

And even then it was only parity.... actually it was worse since you invested a turn and locked your mana.

not withstanding the fact that you may have gifted your opponent with a colour he/she desperately needs.

So that did'nt work out.

What did work out was the rest of the deck.

i tried Chandra, Pyromaster as well as Xenagos, the reveller dude.

And I tried Ember Swallower (I was skeptical at first) as well as Polukranos.

What encouraged me at that time was the Colossal Gruul. Even though I was at first enamoured with
Nyktos, Shrine to Nyx. By the time Collossal Gruul was a thing, I knew it was a trap.

Colossal Gruul lost traction because of a very simple thing. Its main gig was just not fast enough.

Nyktos only starts to get parity AFTER 3 devotion. Two mana and Nyktos itself, thats 3 potential mana invested to produce
devotion mana.

but still if you can survive beyond that, it gets pretty (thats why Colossal Gruul was so spectacular until it hit the faster decks).

That got me to try out the expensive monstrous effects.

In the end it was inadequate on its own, it became a side thing (3 Nyktos + 1 voyaging satyr) and more normal good quality ramp (sylvan Carytid) and Xenagos! the inspiration for this article's insipid title!


I wanted a LD deck. A real one. not combo. Not like my previous deck Noland where, it was more of a RUG control deck that locks up with LD.

I wanted a quick LD lock, but I knew that was just not going to happen in this standard.

But i was hopeful for LD plus fatties. So my angle of attack is mana superiority.

//Start Rant
Whenever you win in magic, you do it when your opponent is no longer able to interact with you.

Thats really it. All that talk about interactivity is hogwash. You win when your opponent is dead no?  when he cannot respond.

Whether your creatures are better or they have evasion, or you are in a counter lock. You got hit by massive discard. You got LDed. the end and the path to it are the same: The loser is the one who is unable to interact.

AND since the game is competitive by nature (I mean you do actually aim to win right?) people are drawn to the means to winning, i.e. something that leads to the end goal of winning. That little rant is my response to all the people out there who poo poo on combo,discard, counterspells and LD. To them, I say: grow a pair. Stop asking WOTC to pokemonify the game.

//End Rant

And what of Chandra, Pyromaster?

She's been a charm, a plinker, a onesided howling mine.

 have not really used her third ability.... hmmm anyways her second ability is particularly compelling because it fuels your LD.If you get mana superiority, the card advantage can be realised. This circumvents the fact that the card drawn by Chandra maybe lost through exile. Actually if you play her correctly, that hardly ever happens ;)

How to play Chandra correctly:

1) Your deck must not have cards that are very state dependent and reactionary (e.g. counterspells, burn) or put another way, your spells must be stuff you ALWAYS want to play. For this deck its really nice, all cards are either LD, Land or sweepers or mana ramps. All good. That is the key. So she only goes into certain decks. She is not a panacea, so stop assuming or expecting her to be one. Once your expectations are fixed and you know how and where to use her, hey she's my favourite gal at the moment.

2) First time you cast her is dicey to use the 0 ability. I normally just plink.

3) You can plink creatures too, yes she has some crowd control ability. not much, but some.

4) Draw your normal draw step card. Do not cast it or if it is a land do not play it. Use Chandra's 0 ability. Play THAT card. Tada! You have in effect drawn a card =) This is why the first point is important.

An what of Xenagos? He is mostly a ramper as well as finisher. Should be pretty obvious. His first ability helps in getting you to where you want. Be it monstrousifying your monsters or getting to overload mizzium mortars etc. And he can do defensive or offensive duty with his 0 ability. Again his third ability is wallpaper.

Xenagoes is pretty important for providing another route to ramp. The Carytids, Lantern, Nyktos/voyaging satyr and xenagos are all disparate routes to mana that can come together for a pretty big gush of mana.

So the plan is simple, disrupt their mana with LD and enhance your mana and establish mana superiority. Convert that advantage into something that you can head your opponent's way and voila! win right =)  Thats where monstrous is such a pretty thing at the moment. it is actually 2 cards in one. Almost like a delayed kicker. Say you play polukranos. The 5/5 body for 2GG is already a good deal. The monstrous is like another card you can play, so it is really a form of card advantage.

Below is the list. So far I have only used it at a local PTQ (Magic Pro Tour Qualifier Journey into Nyx 2014) where it went 2-2, I only played four rounds and dropped when someone highlighted that top 8 is out of reach. On hindsight, I probably should have played it out to prove or disprove the deck's viability.

Still the reason i am upbeat about the deck is that the two losses are one where i can see where and why I lost. Which means the problem is not the deck and is likely a serviceable problem.

I shall give a brief account of the PTQ.

First Match was a againt the white weenie with a splash of black for the xathrid necromancer i think. It was fairly close but both games I closed out faster than my opponent (and against an aggro deck that is saying something). First game I finished him with a plink from Chandra and double Xenagos (2 hasted Satyrs) for 5 damage. 2nd game ended, with the LD sputtering, but with a Monstrous polukranos beating down a Ozbedat.

2nd Match. I totally noobed out. Did I ever write that I hate to win? I really do, I feel bad for my opponent, I get stomach cramps. Anyways I totally noobed. I will be honest here. I did not really test against Mono Black so I am not familair with how I should play and so on. BUT. My opponent had a Pack rat and i had Mizzium Mortars. What would you do? Well I let the rat survive, thinking it was an enchantment for some reason (i think it might be becos it was a foreign card, I dunno, but nevertheless, my bad for not knowing the cards better). It was only when he was generating rats that I remembered pack rats wording were everything was copied. Then it hit my how dumb that last mistake was. The 2nd game I was a little tilted and mulled and draw an extra card, my opponent was trying for a game loss I think luckily it was just a forced mull. In anycase I was tilted, so its my bad. I should try harder to make sharper plays so that I at least make my opponents work for their spoils. Any ways thats not the point. even tilted and mulled, my LD sputtered. But! i had a monstrous polukranos breathing down my opponent's neck. And my opponent in response to monstrous, played devour flesh. I think he was trying to confuse me. And confused me he did, for I sacrificed polukranos instead of an elf i had. Totally noob and was just a free frag. Lesson learnt, play step by step and DO NOT let your opponent dictate the pace for you. Understand your options and play with eyes open. Try not to get tilted.

The only good thing? The pressure was off and I don;t have stomach cramps. I am such a loser sometimes.

3rd match. I was still in noob mode. My opponent was playing something similar to my first match. but she seemed to be faster. i kept a land heavy with some LD hand and she just overran me. 2nd game, I knew I had to play sharper (I mean I can't help it if the draws I get are useless, but at least i should not contribute to the problems lol). so play sharper i did, my life total went low, but Vraska came down and held fort until LD locked her out or Fatties overran her army. Not sure which. I actually did have a noob move where I let Vraska take damage even though I had blockers. I really need to stop brain farting. it stinks lol 3rd game I remembered Vraska being key but was hesitant to put more of her (I can go up to three), in the end i did not. Luckily it did not matter, as Chandra came down early and plink everything alive. LD also flowed and I think I cleared the board. To be fair she did have Spear of Heliod. I did however have 8 LD spell all capable of artifact destruction. Now. why did I talk about the hesitation of sideboarding? I think it cost me my next match. (Oh I might have sided in witchstalkers... I wished I remember which match up)

4th Match. I was up against a scry boros burn deck. Seriously i died to one thing. Chandra's Phoenix. I just blanked i did not know what to do with it. I had pacifisms, Polis Crushers, and witch stalkers. All relevant. All I did not side in. The Polis crushers I guess i could be forgiven only in the third and last game did my ember swallower get hit by a chain to the rocks. but the pacifisms and witch stalkers should have been shoo ins. Since we were mostly racing in the first two games. That should have cued me in to bring in the cheap fat. but I brain farted and was hesitant to side in white cards. Thing is I had specifically placed in Lantern, carytids to generate that mana. Why did I not have the balls to follow the plan i had mooted. Something for me to reflect on I guess.

After that I dropped and my group broke for lunch and overall I was quite happy with the deck. I thought the problems were mostly self inflicted. If mono black gets a good sweeper that could invalidate this deck but until then, I think the ramp is alright (Anger of gods can already give me fits btw).

Oh and I found another group dabbling with LD, they were going heavy on black however which I thgouht was problematic. I am not impressed with what thoughtseize can do for me mostly. And its not worth it to go heavy into black. My only splash for black was for vraska.

The list:

2 Chromatic Lantern
1 Death Rite Shaman
2 Elvish Mystic
4 Ember Swallower
4 Sylvan Carytid
1 Voyaging Satyr
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Primeval Bounty
7 Forest
5 Mountain
3 Nyktos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 Vraska the Unseen
2 Xenegos, the Reveler
4 Bramblecrush
4 Demolish
4 Mizzium Mortars

3 Mistcutters
3 pacifisms
2 polis crusher
1 turn//burn
2 vraska the unseen
4 witchstalker

I'll talk about the card choices later. Maybe =)

[20140308 15:49]

So I finally put together Mono Black Devotion. This is Nam's version from the recent PT Melbourne Journey into the Nyx. It is actually the same as the one by Turtlewald in the Super Sunday Series. But tweaked to fight against WU Control. I like the Notion Thief in the sideboard, I don;t know how impactful it was though.

Anyways, using that as the standard:

Mono Black has advantage preboard. Its about 30/70. very draw dependent.

The biggest problem are (as usual) the desecration demons. This deck just does'nt have many answers.

Vraska has been mvp, but at 5 cc and requiring an off colour makes it risky to depend on her. The mizzium mortars help some against the pack rats and specter, but thats 4 cards against a possible 8. That plus mono black devotion having thoughtseize makes it such that the deck not only has to draw well but has to be resilient in the face of early disruption.

Its tricky. But its a worthy opponent.

Its a real head scratcher too. I am thinking of how to combat this, but I am currently out of ideas. I have tried more Vraska. I am also toying with Coursers (but they do not really help against the demons).

One of the bigger problems is a big fat flyer. And flyers in general. Being fat makes it worst.

I am also looking at the BNG hydra Nessian ????. but the tribute factor and not having hexproof or at least trample, kinda sucks. I am now at the point where I am considering Arbor Colossus, Stormbreath Dragons and just running 4 plummets.

[20140525 12:35]

So its been a while since I have touched this deck, but I actually made some changes to it in it (I referred to it in my post about Mono Black Devotion)

But this is that tweaked list:

1 x Xenagos, God of Revels
3 x Polukranos, World Eater
1 x Vraska the Unseen
1 x Xenagos, the Reveler
1 x Chandra, Pyromaster
1 x Primeval Bounty
1 x Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 x Chromatic Lantern
1 x Serene Remembrance
4 x Bramblecrush
3 x Mizzium Mortars
3 x Dreadbore
3 x Gild
3 x Ember Swallower
1 x Sylvan Primordial
1 x Voyaging Satyr
2 x Elvish Mystic
4 x Sylvan Caryatid
1 x Deathrite Shaman
4 x Blood Crypt
4 x Forest
4 x Temple of Abandon
4 x Stomping Ground
1 x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 x Overgrown Tomb
1 x Mountain
2 x Temple of Malice

Partly the impetus to post the list was

1. I probably should update it and not be lazy =P
2. Sometimes the software crashes and the data is lost, so some backup is nice ;)
3. Some card choices need explaining I guess 

The biggest change? Its really a Jund deck now. I don't really like it? I would have preferred it to stay R/G. The manabase has been updated to support it.

But seriously there is a lack of removal. MBD just eats it 30/70

Its not really so hard to understand. All of MBD's cards are live against this deck (and R/G Monsters in general actually) While R/G has about 8 cards that are ... not quite live =P

The deck now incorporates Gild.

I got some comments on why not other removal from, why not instants. And I did think: Why did I not consider instants? A big reason was this:

They did not solve my problems.

Lets list em'

Devour Flesh
Hero's Downfall

Doomblade cannot hit black creatures (I was shoring against Desecration Demon... MBD... duh?)

Devour Flesh (too many decks can by pass it, IT IS extremely good against R/G  and hexproof however, that is because MBD has enough redundency. Context people. Context.)

Hero's Downfall (At 1BB, it is a risk in a tricoloured deck post Innistrad, Demon is a VERY fast clock)

So why Gild ? It is 3B, 4cc sucks, but hey this is a ramp deck (so ya, context people. Context.) Single coloured mana means it is less risky. And it exiles! Something nice against Voice of Resurgence (Something none of the big three above do.... ). 

The main grouse against it is it is sorcery. Its bad I guess. But so is Mizzium Mortars, Supreme Verdict etc. Its something to live with i guess, unless a better spell comes up. The big three up there do not cut it ;)

I have not looked at JOU (Journey into Nyx) closely, but the new 4cc black rare removal might be a good replacement. Might. I think it exiles, so thats nice. 

Oki i just looked at it:

Its actually pretty nice and might work. 4 cc. Main minus is the 2BB, double black requirement. Still being instant is a big bonus. It also scales to hit more, something nice.

The question is whether the plusses outweight the Gold token from Gild and the splashability. it may well be =) Only testing will answer that.

Other changes:

In order to fit in the Gild (as well as to have less dead cards), the Land Destruction has been scaled down somewhat. 4 Demolition removed,  but this is mitigated with the addition of the Sylvan Primodial (this gets the nod partly for reach and Xenegos, God of Revels) and Serene Remembrance.


Its really too hard to build a LD deck in standard :p But I'll keep trucking, since thats part of the challenge.

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