Cut – The Second Serving

Travis Stanley • April 19, 2021

Riku of Two Reflections is a special card for me. Whenever I want to build a deck, he always comes to the forefront of my mind. Yes, I know, arguably blue/green are the easiest colours to build around especially with red as a support color, but hear me out! Riku allows you to do so much in those colors and does everything that you ask of him and more. A value engine time and time again, Riku doesn’t disappoint me no matter how many times I see him in the Command Zone. I think I might go build another Riku deck…but before that let’s see what this round of CUT has to offer!

As the saying goes, measure once, CUT twice!

CUT is the series where we see EDH deckbuilding being put to the test through different challenges every week. If this is your first time here, welcome, also check this out to see what CUT is all about. Today, we’re announcing the first winner of our CUT Finals, drum roll please….

 

Congratulations David!!

David started off the first round swinging with a strong showing by his Ravos, Soultender/Tormod the Desecrator partner Commander deck. Riding that success to the finals, he created a wonderfully crafted Shrines deck led by Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Thank you David for being a part of the first CUT article, congrats on the win.

A big thanks to Ben for his entries Araumi of the Dead Tide and Harald, King of Skemfar for also being a part of the very first CUT article. Both of his decks were excellent reads and a fun, personal take on some widely played strategies. A big thank you to Ben!

I hope to see both of them in future articles!

Onto this week’s entries, and boy, do we have some really spicy entries this time around. Just a reminder of the challenges that our deck builders were given back in the last article:

  • Commander must be from Kaldheim
  • Must include 10 or more enchantments
  • Cards must be Pioneer-legal

Presenting first is Cody, take it away!


Maja EDH Pioneer Landfall Tokens

Maja, LandStorm

Commander (1)
Enchantments (12)
Creatures (26)
Artifacts (5)
Instants (8)
Lands (38)
Sorceries (7)
Planeswalkers (3)

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I don’t know why, but when I saw the enchantment rule, Maja, Bretagard Protector just screamed at me as being the obvious choice. I’m not sure if it was because I thought that I could use the Siona, Captain of the Pyleas and Shielded by Faith combo, or because there are a lot of really good land based enchantments in the Pioneer format. Either way, I chose Maja, Bretagard Protector and never looked back. Ultimately, this is a token deck that uses landfall as its engine to get going. Once lands start to fall, you simply overwhelm your opponent with creatures and drop one of the various pump spells to end the game quickly! Let’s look at some of my favorite interactions!

All About Those Land Drops

Being a landfall deck, the first thing we need to do is to make sure we have ways of getting multiple land drops a turn. Fetchlands are a great way of doing this. Unfortunately, all traditional fetchlands are banned in Pioneer so we have to use some less mainstream choices. Blighted Woodland, Warped Landscape, and Fabled Passage are our new fetchlands. Luckily, we still get all the goodies for recurring those fetchlands. Crucible of Worlds, Ramunap Excavator, and Ancient Greenwarden let us play lands from our graveyards and reuse those fetches all over again. Cards like Scapeshift can be huge, giving us a ton of landfall triggers in a single turn. Cards like Wayward Swordtooth and Azusa, Lost but Seeking allow us to play multiple lands a turn provided they are in our hand.

Tokens!

Of course, all those landfall triggers don’t do much without something to trigger off of them. Felidar Retreat, Retreat to Emeria, Zendikar’s Roil, and Maja herself give us tokens whenever a land enters the battlefield. Anointed Procession doubles all tokens that are generated, and Divine Visitation makes all of our little guys into big, scary, flying angels. What’s better than making a 1/1 when a land enters the battlefield? Making two 1/1’s! What’s better than that? Making two 4/4 flyers with vigilance! Those things end games in a hurry.

Game Enders

Alongside Divine Visitation, we have a couple more ways of ending the game. Normally I would like to use something like Craterhoof Behemoth, but alas, he is not Pioneer legal. So we will have to use his two neglected brothers, Decimator of the Provinces and End-Raze Forerunners. Both of these large piggies (why are they pigs? Craterhoof isn’t a pig but apparently his effect is?) give our team +2/+2, trample, and haste which should be enough to end a game once they come down. The three emblems on our planeswalkers will also go to great lengths to end games for us.

Fun Interactions

Some fun things that really make this deck a joy to play include some wacky plays, like wiping our own board. Settle the Wreckage on ourselves while we have Anointed Procession out can give us MASSIVE landfall triggers, likely putting the rest of our basic lands onto the battlefield. Maja with Harmonious Archon makes every other creature smaller than ours, which makes blocking a nightmare for our opponents. Scute Swarm and Scapeshift are the things Arena and MTGO crashes are made of. These things make me smile and I hope they do the same for you!


Thanks Cody, hopefully this Landfall-ing strategy will land you in next week’s article!

Next up is Mikhail! Let’s see what Mikhail brought to the table!


Narfi EDH Pioneer Zombies

Narfi’s Magical Multiverse Tour

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (3)
Creatures (42)
Sorceries (6)
Instants (2)
Artifacts (1)
Enchantments (8)
Lands (37)

Narfi, Betrayer King, was starting to lose his lust for life on the plane of Kaldheim. Although he drew his power from the snow below his feet, he was getting tired of watching over the zombies and craved for some warmth in his life that he all but gave up to serve Egon, God of Death. But Egon was… gone… so Narfi decided to break out that spark he found a while back and explore the planes of the multiverse looking for that warmth. Little did he know, zombies were everywhere he went and they were ready to bring him back to Egon, or “death” as it were.

Maintaining his connection to the snow, Narfi first jumped to the plane of Amonkhet. He heard that it was a desert plane so it had to be warm, right? Not long after, he saw hordes of zombies led by Death’s Majesty herself, Liliana Vess. The horde caught up to him pretty easily and brought him to the underworld. But because of his connection to snow, he was able to come back and his travels had just begun.

Next he was off to Theros, an enchanted land he heard had beautiful landscapes and gorgeous temples to its gods. Surely, Egon wouldn’t dare send his kin to get Narfi, where he would have other gods to contend with. As it turned out, Egon and Tymaret were old pals, so it wasn’t long before more hordes of the undead caught up with Narfi. He noticed on this plane that the gods were much more powerful, and devotion from their subjects brought them to the plane. The underworld of Theros was very crowded so he figured he’d get out of there quickly. Unfortunately, Liliana was already there and forced him to go to Innistrad.

A plane Narfi knew he did not want to go to was Innistrad. A plane known for Zombies, immediately he saw so many Zombies that he didn’t know what to do with himself. Hordes came from all around, enchanted by the very plane they were in, but they were just content leaving him alone as they saw him as a friend. He was surprised how many of them looked so different, so unique, and he was intrigued. Maybe being a Zombie king could be more interesting than he thought? With this experience behind him, he decided to go back to Kaldheim with a new lust for life… or death.

A Tribe Called Zombie

Fun little story aside, Narfi is a lord that works well with tons of Zombies from all the sets in Pioneer. The main goal of this deck is to put out as many Zombies as possible, including lords, and swing in to knock out opponents. Death Baron and Lord of the Accursed pump your team and can give them pseudo-evasion whether that is with menace or deathtouch. Eternal Skylord straight up gives your tokens evasion which should be the majority of your Zombie army.

Just When I Thought I Was Out

This deck is resilient by having plenty of recursive effects even including a slight reanimator theme. Liliana, Death’s Majesty can reanimate for her minus and when she doesn’t have enough loyalty, she fills your graveyard and makes you more Zombies. Dread Wanderer can reanimate itself if you are low on cards and Relentless Dead can even reanimate any Zombie in our graveyard if we have the mana for it. Narfi’s recursive ability allows you to sacrifice him to abilities like Fleshbag Marauder, or Sidisi, Undead Vizier and be able to return as simply as tapping three snow lands. This means most of our mana base is snow basics so we can reliably bring back Narfi whenever he hits the graveyard. The king reanimator is The Scarab God, allowing you to sculpt your hand with it’s scry ability, fill the board with 4/4s, and drain out your opponents.

Finishing Strong

Building up a board state seems simple, but how would you seal the deal? First way: Ultimate a Liliana. Each one of her ultimates is game breaking and it’s worth losing your board to protect her and get to that ultimate. Another endgame spell is any one of the sorceries with X in its cost like Dark Salvation or From Under the Floorboards, that can put out a ton of Zombies on the battlefield. Being limited to Pioneer legal cards makes this tough since you can only make so much mana without mana doublers. Finally, another dimension this deck has access to winning is through Embalmer’s Tools, allowing you to mill out your opponents over the course of a few turns if you have a significant board state.


Great stuff Mikhail! Will this King and his zombie army be enough to dredge on to the second round? You decide!

Finally, I present to you Eli!


Esika EDH Pioneer Gates/Gods

Esika God/Gate Tribal

Commander (1)
Creatures (31)
Sorceries (12)
Instants (7)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (7)
Lands (36)

For my first (and hopefully not last) CUT deck, I have decided to build an Esika, God of the Tree god and gate tribal deck. The main goal of the deck is to get out either The World Tree or Maze’s End and activate their abilities to win the game. Now let’s dive into exactly how to play this deck.

Finding the Right Lands

Circuitous Route, Gatecreeper Vine, and Open the Gates will allow me to get Gates into my hand, allowing me to win more quickly with Maze’s End. Cards that can tutor for any lands include Hour of Promise, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Nylea’s Intervention, Scapeshift, and Sylvan Scrying.

Protection

Possibly the most important protection piece in the deck is Tale’s End. The reason it is so important is that it is one of the only cards in the game that can stop a Strip Mine or Wasteland activation. Most decks don’t run much permanent/land removal, so often the only way this deck’s win condition can be interacted with is with those cards. Shalai, Voice of Plenty and Heroic intervention are what can give my gods hexproof. Sphere of Safety can be a nice pillowfort card when I don’t have enough devotion, and Crucible of Worlds/Ramunap Excavator can retrieve my important lands in case they are put into my graveyard.

Prevention

I have a few cards in the deck that hinder my opponents strategies and buy me more time to assemble my win. Rest in Peace, Soul-Guide Lantern, and Tormod’s Crypt all shutdown graveyard strategies. Solemnity shutdowns counter decks. Tergrid, God of Fright allows aristocrat strategies to benefit me. Confounding Conundrum and Blind Obedience keep my opponents from gaining too much mana advantage too quickly.

All Stars

This section is for the most important/powerful cards in the deck as well as strong synergies that I haven’t mentioned previously. Purphoros, God of the Forge is definitely the most important god in the deck since he allows me to deal massive amounts of damage with the World Tree’s ability. Nikya of the Old Ways is an interesting card that I decided to include in the deck, because she allows for a turn 6 win with The World Tree, or possibly even earlier depending on previous turn’s ramp. She doesn’t inhibit the deck as much as you might think, because on cast all of my gods are creatures, and not much of the deck is made up of noncreature spells. My final all-star is Scapeshift, because Scapeshift.

Overall, this deck serves as a way to play two unique strategies in a fun manner. If you have any questions about this deck, feel free to comment on this article and your questions will probably be answered.

Thank you, Eli! Hopefully Esika can open up the Gates to Round 2 for you.


 

Now that our deck builders have laid their decks out for all to see, it is now in your hands to decide who moves on to the next round. As always the poll can be found below. This poll will close a week from when this article goes up, so make sure you vote! Let me know below what you would’ve done with the challenges, or which deck you loved above all others, in the comments below or on twitter @chipman007!

Remember if you don’t love it, CUT it!

If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of a future CUT! Article feel free to send an email to the.only.travis.stanley@gmail.com