Friday, October 22, 2010

Grim Tidings #25 - Kiki Jiki, the Elder Dragon?

I hinted a few weeks ago I added some new Scars of Mirrodin cards to my EDH decks, one of which being Kiki Jiki, the Mirror Breaker.

Kiki is a lovely card, but he has an incredibly R-R-Red casting cost, making him somewhat difficult to cast both in EDH and other casual “Big Deck" formats. Additionally, he’s mono-red, meaning that for EDH, he forces your entire deck to be mono-red. I’ve found that mono-red is generally pretty weak in terms of card drawing, enchantment removal, and sustainability (All of which are fairly important at any casual table).

That didn’t stop me though. Instead of steering elsewhere, I decided to focus on Red’s strengths, rather than weaknesses, and jam pack them into a powerhouse EDH deck designed to execute a very aggressive agenda based come-into-play abilities and mana denial. First off, let’s review my decklist:

Kiki Jiki, EDH

Red Creatures(24)
1 Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Anger
1 Arc-Slogger
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Changeling Berserker
1 Conquering Manticore
1 Ember Hauler
1 Faultgrinder
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Goblin Matron
1 Goblin Settler
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Goblin Welder
1 Hoarding Dragon
1 Inferno Titan
1 Kazul Warlord
1 Lightning Crafter
1 Magus of the Moon
1 Mudbutton Torchrunner
1 Ravenous Baboons
1 Seige Gang Commander
1 Stingscourger
1 Tuktuk Scrapper

Artifact/Colorless Creatures (7)
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Duplicant
1 Iron Myr
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Pentavus
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sundering Titan

Red Spells (17)
1 Blood Moon
1 Jokulhaups
1 Price of Progress
1 Ruination

1 Koth of the Hammer
1 Chandra Ablaze

1 Gamble
1 Wheel of Fate
1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Chain Lightning
1 Comet Storm
1 Flame Javelin
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Incendiary Command
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Molten Disaster
1 Starstorm

Artifact Spells (16)
1 Foryisan Totem
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mind Stone
1 Sol Ring

1 Gauntlet of Might
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Memory Jar
1 Mindslaver
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Rings of Brighthearth

1 Lightning Greaves
1 Quietus Spike
1 Skullclamp
1 Sword of Fire & Ice
1 Sword of Light & Shadow

Land (36)
28 Mountain
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Keldon Necropolis

1 Dustbowl
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland

Whew! That’s a lot to digest at first pass. I’ll break it down into functional categories for my dissertation.

Kiki, The Format Breaker
The General is important for most EDH decks, as the rules allow you to auto-tutor him from the command zone, and repeatedly auto-regrow him when he dies. These special rules are the reason why I frequently accuse EDH of being the most degenerate format all. However, that said, as long as you can abuse it more than your opponent, you’re probably winning.

Kiki is the cornerstone of everything that my decks does, and it “does” a lot... He is a self-contained engine that generates card advantage and an endless supply of disposable threats. Both he and his duplicated token have haste, making the engine very explosive to the unwary. He can only copy non-legendary creatures you control, so he needs an explosive supporting cast to accompany him.

Creature Selection
I’ve hand picked 31 non-legendary creatures in this deck, most of which have an “enter the battlefield” effect (aka “ETB”, or “comes-into-play”, or “CIP”, or “187”). Why is this important? Well, primarily is because it generates card advantage. Playing Shatter is OK, but when you combine it with a */* body that stays on the battlefield to attack and/or block turns later, you’ve gained an advantage.

Conversely, playing a vanilla */* creature is fairly unimpressive. Playing a dude that deals 3 when it CIP is infinitely better. Being able to repeatedly copy that same creature and effect with Kiki is even better, as you are essentially getting 4 effects for the price of one (original creature, original CIP effect, copied haste creature, copied CIP effect.) Of course, the copied creature token is exiled at end of turn, but that only encourages you to attack with wreckless abandon with it to utilize it before it dies. Not really a bad predicament to be in, eh?

My creature selection is packed both with low casting cost utility creatures, and solid beaters on the high-end of the curve. Huge 187 Creatures such as Inferno Titan, Crimson Manticore, Bogardan Hellkite and Hoarding Dragon present many challenges for your opponent as they pound out lots of damage in a very short time.

Besides Kiki, the second best creature in the deck is Goblin Matron. There is a surprising number if good goblins out there that trigger CIP abilities, or other synergies, the ability to tutor any of them is amazing. Combined with Kiki, the Goblin Matron solves a major weakness of mono-red, library manipulation. Copied Matrons can fetch an assortment of answers when needed: Shatter (Tuktuk Scrapper), Bounce (Stingscourger), Shock (Ember Hauler), Blockers (Seige Gang Commander), Recursion (Goblin Welder), Etc.

Myr Battlesphere
It truly insane how good the Battlesphere is in this deck. Its on the high end of the curve at 7 mana, but when it hits the table, watch out. It enters as a 4/7, with four additional 1/1 Myrs. Combine it with Kiki, and now you have two 4/7s, and eight 1/1 Myr. The copied Battlesphere has haste, so don’t hesitate to attack right away with it, tapping all eight of the newly created 1/1 Mrs, and the original Battlesphere to deal 9 damage directly to your opponent before he has to deal with the now 13/7 rolling ball of death in the attack phase. Whoa. Make sure to do it again next turn too.

Land Destruction Package
Red is the best there is when it comes to LD. It certainly crosses the line of being a dick, but no one can deny its effectiveness, en masse. I include a full compliment of CIP creatures that destroy land (Goblin Settler, Avalanche Riders, Faultgrinder, Ravenous baboons, Sundering Titan), the full complement of Strip Mine lands, as well as non-basic hosers such as Ruination, Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, and Price of Progress. The multi-color EDH’ers hate when use this tactic, but I justify it by being at such a disadvantage for playing mono-red, I ignore their complaints. (Insert maniacal laughter here.)

Disadvantages of mono-red?!? Pfft! While there are inherent weaknesses, I find it rewarding to turn them into strengths. Take land selection as an example: There’s not much you can play in a mono-red deck other than mountains, so I try to make the most of it. The two Gauntlets (of Might & Power) reward me for having lots of basic mountains. Likewise, it makes me generally immune to Ruination as well. But perhaps the best new addition to my Kiki EDH is Koth.

Koth appears all over the place in the new Scars Standard environment. Its an obvious addition for this deck as well. There are plenty of mountains to animate, so if one dies its not a real penalty. His second ability is amplified by the mountain density as well. Finally, once you go ultimate, your mountain-machine-guns are already loaded to shoot down your opponents defenses one after another. Pretty deadly with a whopping 28 mountains.

It’s hard not to accidentally fall into some infinite combos when you play Kiki. Although it’s not my preference to execute them, I can’t deny their effectiveness in a pinch. Combine Kiki with any Goblin, Lightning Crafter and Sharpshooter and its pretty much over. Does a four card combo sounds difficult? Perhaps, but when you have Goblin Matron it comes up more often than you think.

Meanwhile, the classic Goblin Welder/Mindslaver lock is present as well. Many have accused this combo of being against the casual principles of EDH, as it is highly non-interactive and un-fun for your opponent. I agree it’s a buzz-kill, but if I’ve gone as far as I have with my land destruction package, what’s one more slap in the face? Does it help any if I apologize in advance?

Wrap up
So there you have it: an expression of exactly what EDH is not supposed to be. Abusive, unfriendly, mean, and single-sided. I’m sure Sheldon Menery would shake his head in disgust if he knew what an abomination of a decklist I assembled. Oh well. It seems I only play EDH a few months each year, anyways. (Thank goodness! I don’t think I could handle playing this deck more often than that!) But for the truly despicable players out there, enjoy!!

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