Sorry for the long break guys. Ugh… Finals week was harsh. Sorry if I sucked it hard Professor… =/ (I’m sure there was a better way to put that…) I love school, but sometimes taking tests can be one of my least favorite things to do. In my EDH play group, I’ve had a reputation for using some very obscure generals. For example, I’m currently building Xira Arien “Group Hate,” which is one in a long list of “mediocre at best” generals from the Legends set. As I suggested in the title, I don’t play favorites when it comes to picking my generals. Sometimes the challenge of building an EDH deck comes not from putting a good list of cards together to abuse a powerful general, but rather making an otherwise mediocre general powerful by putting together a good list of cards. Honestly, some generals simply are beyond help… I’m looking at you Kasimir the Lone Wolf… But then there are those that have an ability that is just good enough that it speaks to you.
That brings me to today’s deck, control with Oros, the Avenger. He is one of the weaker dragons of the wedge cycle from Planar Chaos. To be fair, Treva, the Renewer from the dragons of the shard cycle from Invasion is probably worse, but hey, not everyone can be an Elder Dragon. This deck came about as a result of a friend who was looking to build around Kaalia of the Vast. I said told him, while it would be cool to build Kaalia (I mean what’s not to love, she’s sexy and likes um’ big), we already have enough Kaalia decks in the group. So, I encouraged him to build something a little more obscure. He liked the color combination, and he wanted to play control, so I thought Oros would do the trick.
The thing about Oros is that his ability isn’t exactly useful in as many situations as a player might like. On a lot of the creatures you want him to kill, his 3 damage doesn’t get the job done. His ability has a tendency to hit his allies as well as his foes, and that can make him a pain in the tail. Nevertheless, he is a recurring sweeper on a 6/6 flying beatstick, and that type of power screams to be harnessed. Of course, to get this point across to my friend who has crush on a certain cleric in custom, full-art foil who has a thing for scales, horns, and wings took quite a bit of convincing. Especially when he doesn’t think that Oros’ ability is that good. So, I advised him to not play favorites, and trust that I had something special in mind when we hit the drawing board.
One of the things that spoke to me about Oros was how his ability could translate into a lot of kills with the right help. I looked for anything that could provide deathtouch to ensure that if his ability triggered he would kill everything he came in contact with that wasn’t White. Basilisk Collar, Quietus Spike, and the suchlike seemed like they fit the bill. While we are at it, why not throw in Vault of the Archangel for good measure! There were a few other cards that provided deathtouch, but these are the best of the lot, and we have other ways of making sure our strategy is consistent. All of the deathtouch cards will make Oros a constant threat to everyone and everything, both defensively and offensively.
Since we would be running 2 equipments that we want to see every game, it seemed necessary to include both Stoneforge Mystic and Stonehewer Giant to fetch out equipments for Oros, and to provide battle tactics. Stonehewer Giant is particularly useful in this regard, because he can fetch out and attach our equipments at instant speed, ensuring that Oros’ sweeps are always an unwanted surprise, and there is nothing quite like taking out your opponent’s field, and half his remaining life from Quietus Spike! Stonehewer Giant can also provide protection for you and Oros with the right suite of equipment. Including relevant equipment like Lightning Greaves and Batterskull can protect Oros from removal, and provide a lifelinking blocker at short notice.
Considering the equipment package we are running, there is another equipment that works wonders in these colors and gives us another direction to go with our control build: Sunforger. In addition to adding 4 offense to our creatures (namely Oros), it has the added benefit of being able to fetch out any number of various instants at 4cmc or less. Spot removal, board sweepers, tutors, copy/redirect effects… You name it, Sunforger can fetch it! Toss in a Mistveil Plains, and a few ways to pop out Plains cards like using Ghost Quarter on your Flagstones of Trokair, and you have yourself a recurring control machine that can provide you with options whenever you might need them.
Now there are are a few other strategies to explore with this deck, but let’s see the 100 before we delve into those little nuggets.
Oros: Avenger Control EDH
There are quite a few synergies that exist in the deck. Perhaps the most obvious one is the number of other cards that work with those that grant deathtouch – the primary strategy of Oros. I added in cards like Balefire Dragon, Deathbringer Thoctar, and Goblin Sharpshooter, all of which can essentially perform Oros’ job when he is in the Command Zone. This allows us to give our primary strategy a degree of redundancy, and can free up Oros to do more offensive work.
Another strategy that can be utilized in the deck revolves around lifelink. Seeing as quite a few cards in the deck also grant lifelink, I decided to play up that aspect of the deck as much as I could. I included cards like Battlegrace Angel and Vizkopa Guildmage to really exploit all the damage that is being splashed around, and the Exquisite Blood/Sanguine Bond combo to end those longer games a bit faster. The best part about the inclusion of these cards is that they all have synergy independently with the deck, but work to devastating effect when used in combination with each other. Additionally, the lifelink helps mitigate the life loss from some of the draw spells, and provides fuel for the underutilized Well of Lost Dreams.
Lastly, what is a good control deck without… well, control. This deck packs some of the most oppressive control cards in Mind Twist, Identity Crisis, and their ilk. Some of the best boardsweepers with Akroma’s Vengeance, Damnation/Wrath of God, and Volcanic Fallout. And of course hosers that have the potential to completely lock some decks out of the game like Nevermore and Stranglehold. Brew that all together with an impressive suite of Sunforger-friendly modal instants, and you have yourself a deck!
It’s easy to give certain generals a bad wrap, but you shouldn’t dismiss them for what they lack in power in comparison to other generals. To me, the fun of EDH has always been to take on the challenge of building an effective deck out of a general people don’t like to use. Deck building is a fun process that can easily consume hours of my day, but being able to see all that work come together and have a deck do what it does is a rewarding experience. It’s a tough job being a Skeleton Ship. Hopefully, you don’t play favorites, and you give the Ragnar‘s of the cardboard world a chance.
Until next time, happy gaming!