Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jedi Mind Tricks #2: The Rise and Fail of Uril, the Miststalker

(Contributed by Jed Humphries)

Choosing the General
When I first heard that there were going to be pick-up events for EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) at Gencon 2009, I decided I wanted to step into the EDHpool. Pastime Games (the company running all the Wizards events at Gencon) announced this around the time Conflux came out, so I immediately starting looking for generals around Alara block. Two generals immediately stood out: Sharuum, the Hegemon and Uril the Miststalker. I discovered early on with my Sharuum deck research that I didn’t have all the artifact shenanigans cards to run this deck, and I didn’t want to drop a lot of money on them, so I abandoned Sharuum.

Building the Deck
I started by research for the Uril deck. I thought that Uril was one of the best generals out there, since he had good shroud, got bigger for each aura attached to him and was a 5/5, all for 5. I saw a few different builds going on the internet. One of there had made a Saproling subtheme to their deck. I didn’t like the deck because I though it was straying away from the main point of the deck which should be to smash face with Uril as quick as possible. Another deck concept had an enchantress subtheme to key off play enchantments. I took that idea and started looking for Auras. The first three that come to mind were Shield of the Oversoul, Runes of the Deus, and Scourge of the Nobilis. I added some more big enchantments (Epic Proportions, Ancestral Mask etc.), and creatures that keyed off playing and having enchantments (Argothian Enchantress, Enchantress’ Presence etc.). After some playtesting, I discovered that the enchantress cards were not very powerful, and were not helping the deck win. I was only drawing a card or two extra per game from them, which didn’t really cut it, so they were cut for cheaper, better cards. Once I was solid in the fact that this was the way I needed to go I started tweaking the deck with more mana accelerators and more enchantment tutors to speed up the deck. I started trying to remove high cost enchants in favor for lower costed enchantments, and enchantments that bounce back to your hand if destroyed. My biggest challenge in playtesting Mike’s Zur deck because it was just about like mine deck except with the cool blue enchants, which most of the time were way better than mine. I added Krosan Grip and Lingify to try and deal with Zur. It only worked about half the time, just because WUB enchantments were just better than RWG enchantments. I have learned to try and play around them as best as possible. I came across deck in playtesting, Bert’s Reaper King deck. I didn’t really have an answer to his cards after he had stopped Uril the first time he hit the table. After playing against him, I increased my enchantment removal and added Rule of Law. I figured out a few things from playtesting. One, I could get Uril out before turn 5 about 50% of the time. Two, if I got Uril out fast enough, I could win a 1 vs 1 most of the time and sometimes win a three player multiplayer. Three, if I got mana screwed, someone started destroying my lands early on, or I was playing against a taxing deck, I was probably going to lose.

Battling at Gencon
I played in three EDH games while at Gencon.

Game One
Generals: Uril the Miststalker, Arcum Dagsson, Wort Raidmother and Oona
When we sat down the blue general players seemed to be intimidated by Uril’s initial sheer power and targeted me for all of there hate (I don’t think they intentionally ganged up on me, but all hate was directed at me). After the first couple of turns, the Arcum Dagsson player had Meekstone and Akroma’s memorial out. He played the Meekstone the turn after Uril attacked so, Uril was out of commission for a while. I didn’t even see it coming since I had never played against Arcum Dagsson. The guy playing Oona was playing an Oona Mill deck, so he was just milling everyone with an assortment of cards. The guy playing Wort Raidmother just basically kept playing cards to let him get tokens, and everyone basically left him alone. I was concerned about the blue players and they were concerned about me, so this ended up being the three of us ignoring the Wort player. The problem I had in this game was I couldn’t get a trample enchantment out or a vigilance enchantment out. The guy playing Arcum Dagsson lost because he forgot to pay for Pact of Negation. After he died (and meekstone was gone), I was really on the offensive because both the other players has a lot more creatures that me and I was still digging for a trample enchantment to kill one of them off. It wasn’t long before Wort Raidmother got out of control and killed both of us both in 1 turn (lots of tokens + Sarkan’s +1/+1 + Garruk’s Overrun = 200+ damage divided by two players).

Game Two
Generals: Uril the Miststalker, Arcum Dagsson, and Wort Raidmother.
I don’t remember much about game two, except that it was a little closer (or closer to me killing both of them). It got to the point where they were all at very low life, and either the Arcsum Daggson guy killed the Wort Raidmother player or I did, I don’t remember. All I know is that I knew I was going up against the Arcum Daggson player. I had no idea what was coming. I played some card and he countered with the card that puts it on the bottom of your deck. He plays Tunnel Vision and wins.

Game Three
Generals: Uril the Miststalker, Numot, the Devastator, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Sliver Overlord, and some other general I can’t remember.
I didn’t have an awesome start and I got a few attacks in at 10+ damage on a few generals. My problem was that I didn’t know which general was capable of “going off” the fasted” or killing me quickly. Once more creatures started getting out, I started playing more defensively, because I had no blocking creatures. Eventually the guy playing Azami basically went infinite drawing cards and taking turns, and we all scooped.

Reflections of a Jedi
Here are some things I learned at Gencon:

People Have Different Play Styles
People have different play styles than what I was use to playing. I am use to playing with a group that is all about killing opponents a quickly and efficiently as possible. Many of the guys I played against played with cards that I would have dismissed as “good” in an competitive environment. When I saw Wort ands Sliver Overlord, I kind knew what was coming, but Arcum Dagsson, Oona, and Azami, Lady of Scrolls, I was thinking, what is going on and how can they win? Even talking to Azumi player afterwards, he was saying that some of his decks don’t really have a win conditions, he just plays until opponents scoop. He said for his Azami deck that the semi-win con is making everyone else draw out by taking lots of turns (not infinite, but pretty close to it). I guess that may be a blue player’s win condition.

Not Enough Exposure to Generals
Even though I had done a lot of playtesting and tweaking to this deck, I found that many of the generals I faced, I was in the dark about since I was playing against them for the first or second time. I think this lead to me not playing quite as aggressively as I should have. I think at least, in Game Three, I could have taken out 1 or two players before I may have died, but I felt like I didn’t know what others were capable of if I started attacking too much.

No Enough Creatures
Most of the time, I found myself saying, “If I a had a creature or two to play, then I could attack”, so if I were to rebuild this deck again, I would need to find a better balance between enchantments and creatures.

The Decklist
This is the approximate decklist that I used (and I have already dismantled it in utter shame), and functionality of each card

Uril the Miststalker (General)

Academy Rector (Enchantment Tutor)
Asha's Favor (Enchantment –First Strike, Flying, Vigilance)
Austere Command (Mass Removal – Creatures, Artifacts, Enchantments)
Aven Mindcensor ( Tutor Hoser)
Baneslayer Angel (Beater)
Battle Mastery (Enchantment – Double Strike)
Condemn (Removal)
Daybreak Coronet (Enchantment – First Strike, Vigilance, Lifelink)
Enlightened Tutor (Tutor – Artifact, Enchantment)
Idyllic Tutor (Tutor –Enchantment)
Oblivion Ring (Enchantment – Creature Removal)
Path to Exile (Removal – Creature)
Replenish (Recursion – Enchantments)
Retether (Recursion – Enchantments)
Rule of Law (Anti-Combo)
Spirit Link (Enchantment – Lifelink, bounces back to hand)
Swords to Plowshares Removal – Creature)
Unquestioned Authority (Enchantment – Protection from creatures)
Wrath of God (Mass Removal – Creatures)

Anger (Gives Haste)
Bogardan Hellkite (Beater and Direct Damage)
Flame Javelin (Direct Damage)
Flametongue Kavu (Direct Damage)
Lightning Bolt (Direct Damage)
Molten Disaster (X Damage)

Birds of Paradise (Mana Acceleration)
Brawn (Gives Trample)
Lignify (Creature Removal)
Eternal Witness Recursion)
Garruk Wildspeaker (Utility)
Harmonize (Card Draw)
Krosan Grip (Artifact, Enchantment Removal)
Primal Command (Utility)
Rampant Growth (Mana Acceleration)
Rancor (Enchantment – Gives Trample, bounces back to hand)
Recollect (Recursion)
Regrowth (Recursion)
Saku-tribe Elder (Mana Acceleration)
Soul's Majesty (Card Draw)
Spearbreaker Behemoth (Gives indestructible)
Sylvan Library (Library Manipulation)
Wall of Blossoms (Blocker, Card Draw)
Wood Elves (Mana Acceleration)

Armadillo Cloak (Enchantment – Trample, Lifelink)
Mageslayer (Artifact – Direct Damage)
Mirari's Wake (Mana Acceleration)
Mystic Enforcer (Decent Creature)
Privileged Position (Enchantment – Good Shroud)
Runes of the Deus (Enchantment – Trample, Double Strike)
Scourge of the Nobilis (Enchantment – Lifelink, R/W Firebreathing)
Shield of the Oversoul (Enchantment – Indestructible, flying)
Sterling Grove (Enchantment – Good Shroud, Enchantment Tutor)

Darksteel Ingot (Mana Acceleration)
Duplicant (Removal – Creature)
Fellwar Stone (Mana Acceleration)
Relic of Progenitus (Graveyard Removal)
Shield of Kaldra (Indestructible)
Sol Ring (Mana Acceleration)
Tawnos' Coffin (Removal – Creature)

Stomping Ground
Sacred Foundry
Temple Garden
Jungle Shrine
Karpulsian Forest
Battlefield Forge
Rugged Praire
Wooded Bastion
Firelit Thicket
Reflecting Pool
City of Brass
Grand Colloseum
Maze of Ith
Kor Haven
Strip Mine
Vivid Meadow
Vivid Crag
Vivid Grove
Terramorphic Expanse
Contested Cliffs
Krosan Verge
Sungrass Prairie
Mossfire Valley
Trreetop Village
Plains x3
Mountian x2
Forest x5

So maybe next year, I may have a better version of this deck to take with me or Wizards may come out with another ridiculous general that I can take, but hopefully I have learned some things to keep in mind for future version of this deck or other deck. Any comments about this deck are welcomed.

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