The Skeleton Takes On Flesh: Kumena Deckbuilding Part 2

Deck Building is one of the quickest ways to tighten up your EDH game. There are a lot of facets to deckbuilding that as you master them you can brew stronger decks. As you brew stronger decks you will be in competition to win more. In the past, we have talked about your deck report and how it is important to build one for each deck before you ever sleeve up a card. Here is an example of building a deck from start to finish using the deck report process. Laying all the information out the article becomes quite intensive and long. We will break down the article into three parts.

This process can be used for any deck build. In this example, we will use a tribal value build as an introductory look at using this process. Tribal decks are easy to get to the focused level of power in a deck and can sometimes reach optimized depending on how heavily into your tribe you build and cards available. The deck should end up as a solid seven or eight on the power rating and should be able to win some games outside of cEDH. You can read about how Commander Clinic Rates decks here.

The Card List 

Now we fill in each package with cards as this site grows I will be adding lists or cards in each color for different card packages and I will be ranking them according to general power. This will make selecting cards easier for each package. When selecting packages these power lists will not always be optimal so when you select your packages of cards, feel free to select more than ten cards and adjust them according to your commander and how your deck wishes to accomplish each package.  

Card Draw/Quality: 

Here is where using Gatherer helps. A search of merfolk with text that says draw a card netted twelve possibilities that were reasonable outside of Kumena. I ranked them according to getting multiple triggers or the total number of cards drawn then mana cost We do not want to fill all twelve card draw card quality slots with merfolk though we do want a little variety. We will fill five slots and try to place additional card draw into other slots. As we go through the cards we will attempt to pack these cards into other packages. Unfortunately only Thrasios can fit in a package other than merfolk. We will also want at least two of the merfolk slots to be card draw merfolk as well. Two cards are tutors and it went to the top half of the list. The ability to tutor up merfolk even if it just goes on top of your deck is very powerful for a deck that wants toolbox effects. If we need to draw a lot of cards then allocating two of our five merfolk card draw engine to tutors is not wise so we will move one into the merfolk slot. Kumena is a wild card since she is our commander we will use her in the merfolk slot rather than count on her for card draw or synergy. Cards that made the cut are in bold. 

For draw spells outside of merfolk when you look at top ten cards in each color of our Simic color pairing plus artifacts the list contains thirty cards to choose from and we need only five cards. There are already three cards in the card draw package that are mana cost five or more so we want to fill in where we can with spells that are lower on the mana curve. While consecrated Sphinx is a staple in most decks we will pass on it despite the potential huge payoff because of its mana cost and high potential to be removed before it sees one turn around the table. Kozilek is normally a choice for my decks as it protects against mill and has a four-card payoff on a must answer threat is often worthwhile. While he could fit in as a bomb to win the game he really is a stand-alone card and does not synergize with the deck and what it is trying to do. Intuitively, I think we can find some better bombs than Kozilek for this deck. If not, then we can revisit adding him to our deck if our bombs need an upgrade.  

While costing five mana both Kindred Discovery and Vanquisher’s Banner can draw several cards a turn and fit well in the tribal theme. Oracle’s Vault,  Lifecrafter’s Bestiary are both tempting cards because they are lower on the mana curve. Oracle’s Vault also has the additional benefit of being able to cheat cards into play as the game progresses. Unfortunately, if we keep our curve low the card ability is not as beneficial as it can be in other decks. Finally Drawn From Dreams is a top ten blue card because it digs seven cards deep and puts two cards to hand. While strong we want repeatable card draw or a massive payoff.

In the end, Rishkar’s Expertise is worth the six mana for the large card draw payoff and the ability to cast a card… any card CMC 5 or less for free. This gives additional value for the card and mana spent. Azami Lady of Scrolls and Archivist can be a part of some wizard synergy while Bounty of Luxa and Drum Hunter can fit into the mana ramp package. Drum Hunter is not a strong card but it packs a little extra card draw on mana ramp. I will use it but it will be the first card cut if I need to upgrade my mana ramp package. The list I worked from is below. It’s ordered by card strength with cards selected for our packages in bold and mana cost in parenthesis (). You will notice that these cards are from the top of the list. When fitting cards into a deck that can fill multiple packages, often cards that are weaker can be selected because they fill multiple functions.  

Mana Ramp/Color Fixing

There is little mana fixing in the merfolk tribal creatures. Kiora’s Follower untaps a permanent. Sea Scryer taps for 1 colorless mana or color fix blue mana for 1. Stonybrook Banneret reduces the casting cost of merfolk and wizards by one. While it isn’t traditionally mana ramp, cards that reduce mana cost of a card in effect ramp you. Kiora’s Follower will more often than not be used to untap merfolk for effects or to give a creature pseudo-vigilance. It is better to include her in the merfolk package than in the ramp package as it better suits her use. The Sea Scryer and the Banneret are worth including to the three ramp spells we already have.

This leaves five card slots for additional ramp spells. Zendikar Resurgent, while costing seven mana, doubles our land-mana generation and it allows us to draw a card every time we cast a creature spell. Since this deck is full of creatures we will include it over the other mana doublers such as Mana Reflection. We could include other mana doublers but we will choose not to in an attempt to keep our curve down. Casual commander often does not target lands for destruction we will use the final four slots for mana ramp that pulls lands from our deck rather than artifacts. The reasoning is artifacts are often targeted quicker for destruction than lands. By pulling lands out of our deck it thins the deck of them allowing us to draw our gas more as the game progresses.

The following is the list of top ten mana ramp cards. Skyshroud Claim and Hunting Wilds are similar we could include both for redundancy but instead, we will take a risk with a cheaper casting cost Harvest Season and wait until we have several merfolk tapped. This synergizes with our commander, Kumena, who taps merfolk. It should be noted Bounty of Luxa ramps only half the time. This is a fringe card that we will observe play when it comes out and take notes on it. When it ramps it ramps for three mana as opposed to one. This provides potential for explosive turns when it is on the field. The list of ramp cards I worked from is below with the chosen in bold.

Removal

Removal is not about the best and most powerful in this deck but to fill specific roles and answer threats. Cyclonic Rift is must removal in blue and Curse of Swine exiles multiple problems though it can get expensive to wipe the board. Because you pay X mana it can leave your board alone. Aetherize will save us if someone mass attacks us after a board wipe. The fourth mass removal is between Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral’s Disk. The stone can activate the turn it comes down but it will cost eight mana which will not allow most board states to rebuild that turn. Mid-game the stone takes at least 2 turns so we do not gain tempo versus the disk. For this reason, we will take the disk so that we can rebuild our board faster when we pop it. We also have Kiora’s Follower in the deck so if she is on the battlefield we have the ability to drop the disk, untap it with Kiora and then pop the disk. We can’t count on this combination but it is in the deck.  

For single target removal, we want to target permanents if we can. Imprisioned In The Moon, Beast Within and Acidic Slime mostly do that. Capsize also works and if we have extra mana floating around we can use it again and again. Rapid Hybridization is cheap simple destruction and Brittle Effigy allows us to exile instead of destroy to deal with difficult creatures. The effigy can also be a deterrent for opponents to attack you. An on the board threat to exile can cause opponents to attack elsewhere if you build a reputation of using such cards only when opponents attack you. If our opponents are attacking each other we often don’t care who takes the damage as it weakens our opponents and strengthens our position. We should have creatures on board to help deter attacks but the effigy gives us more time to build. 

Below is the list of removal cards we chose for the removal package.

Mass Removal

Single Target Removal

Merfolk

We already have five merfolk listed. We will look for the five lords first in Gatherer. While I was looking for merfolk that ramp and draw cards I saw islandwalk as a keyword on many merfolk so we will add some of that as a theme. Beefed up Merfolk that can’t be blocked will help us grow out of control. We will start with five islandwalk creatures and adjust if necessary. We do not just want islandwalk on a card but islandwalk and an ability to gain value for the card. With ten cards allocated to lords and islandwalk plus five cards already located, leaves ten more merfolk for our package that does not have an additional purpose in the deck. We will look to fill these slots with special abilities as opposed to raw power. We want abilities that are repeatable or will help us repeat their abilities. This will add value to our merfolk engine. So we first go to gatherer to look for the cards we want again we will prioritize by ability and mana cost. To help make decisions in ranking the cards I notated which merfolk were wizards as this will help synergize our deck. Cards on the merfolk ability list marked with a * are also wizards.

Lords

Islandwalk

Abilities

In searching for cards there were only two sets primarily to choose from for green merfolk. Most played around with counters and had rudimentary buff up strategies. They would require more card slots to work as you build your board so I mostly passed them over. Sigil Tracer can be wizard synergy so we will move him there for an extra card slot. Also, I am not impressed with the Rootwater Commando as an islandwalk merfolk. He does not bring anything to the table than just being unblockable for this reason we will cut him and add another merfolk with an ability. My merfolk search also brought up some merfolk tribal spells. Merfolk Commerce is worth a synergy slot include even though it has nothing to do with wizards. The ability to untap all merfolk to use their tap abilities again or to give them pseudo-vigilance is quite powerful.

YOu will notice when I have been listing cards I have been going significantly over the number of cards needed for the package. It is easy to overlook a card so it is better to list them all. Also, there will be times when you change your mind of the strength of a card that will go in a specific deck. If you didn’t list them all the opportunity to adjust cards would be unavailable.No one is infallible on a first run of a deck build. Because of this give yourself every chance to make adjustments to the deck that will make it stronger.

Synergy 

We will look for some wizard synergy and will do a gatherer search for the “Wizard” in its text. We also would like to flood more merfolk on the battlefield. This is so we can take advantage of tapping merfolk effects. If we can tap generic merfolk it can leave our actual cards to do other things. To find this effect we turn to gatherer for the card text “merfolk token.” We first look for enchantments as their abilities are repeatable. Gatherer revealed Deeproot Waters. My search revealed seven additional synergy cards. They are listed according to the strength of the card. 

I think most of these cards are stronger than Archivist, for this reason, I will remove Archivist and add a synergy card. We only have six slots so we need this package to be as tight as possible. We will replace it with Deeproot Waters. That will help explode our board. Galicaster Colossus definitely makes the cut. Judging card strength is a push for the last card slot with Coastal Wizard, Information Dealer, and Glen Elendra Archmage. While digging for a win condition and bringing it to the top of the deck is good with Information Dealer there is not much of a counterspell package in the deck. Most cards that beg to be countered are not creatures so Glen Elendra will work for what we are trying to do with the little counterspell control we can fit in the deck. What we really want to do is prevent our opponents from winning the game with an unstoppable combo. This card can give us two chances to accomplish that. 

Bombs 

These are cards for explosive endings. My first thought is Craterhoof Behemoth to pump up the team and swing for the win. If we are looking to win by going wide with trample and a pump, then Triumph of the Hordes does the same thing but gives our merfolk infect. Both will be must include. Genesis Wave was a consideration to put a lot of merfolk on the board at once. It is a possibility but my merfolk would have to wait a turn to attack and odds are there will be a board wipe.

I skipped that bomb for another card but it is a viable solution. Three cards were possibilities for the final bomb. Rivers Rebuke adds some additional control and can clear the board for my hordes to attack. Overwhelming Stampede will add power and trample to my creatures for additional evasion and the win. Praetors Council brings your graveyard to your hand. Praetors Council is not a win outright but the additional resources of getting all those cards back should lead to a win.

Which card of the three can vary depending on your meta.  With all things being equal, I chose Overwhelming Stampede. This is because I have some wizard ability to double instants and sorceries and it’s more efficient. Let us say, for example, my biggest merfolk is four power, I have five merfolk that can attack and I can only copy the Stampede only once. The first stampede gives each creature +4/+4 and when the second stampede resolves the creatures gain an additional +8/+8 for a total of +12/+12 for each creature If I attack with all five merfolk I will be dealing and additional 60 points of trample damage without any other synergies. The board state described is actually a modest one and the numbers can get much more out of hand. This is why I chose Overwhelming Stampede.  

Bombs Final

  • Craterhoof Behemoth
  • Triumph of the Hordes
  • Overwhelming Stampede

 

Conclusion

We have now fleshed out the card packages we designated last time. But we are not done yet. This is the first pass. Most people when they deck build have blind spots. We want to be aware of our blind spots and fix them if possible. Next time we will cover this and go over building a mana base for the deck.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email us at commanderclinicmtg@gmail.com. Also please like us on facebook and like the post or follow us on twitter @clinicmtg. Your support means a lot and we thank you.

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