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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-10 1:31 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Man, I really wish I could be of more help here because I traded into a foil Savra some years ago and started trying to brew around her for a LONG ASS time. I think my first Savra build was somewhere around the original Innistrad set, and it was basically crap until somewhere around Born of the Gods, if memory serves.

For some reason I don't have a list on my blog, or at least not that I can currently find. But I do still remember some of the most important principals that led me to a fairly successful build.

1. Run ALL the Grave Pacts. This effect is one of the most important in the whole deck, so throw that Dictate of Erebos in there. Don't worry about too much redundancy. Your various grave pacts will quickly become THE main removal targets so you're going to need backups. Plus they do stack, so occasionally there will be times having 2x Pacts will actually matter. Probably not often, but still. You want to have as many of these as possible to maximize your chances of drawing them, AND to maximize your chances of at least one of them sticking around.

2. Make Tokens. This one should be obvious to you already, but it is equally crucial to the one above. Also, should go without saying but black tokens are worth about 10x more than green tokens, but Black AND Green tokens are the holy grail. BUT... here's a mistake I made early on: Don't neglect green tokens entirely! I had too many games where I was gaining life off Savra but unable to Grave Pact everyone with her. I had too many green token producers to be effective. But I swung too far in other direction in response, and failed to take into account that her Pact effect costs you life. It sucks to admit, but you NEED a healthy amount of lifegain to stay alive while Savra wrecks everyone's boards. One of the trickiest parts of getting this deck functional, for me at least, was finding the right balance. It's probably somewhere around 75% black tokens, 25% green.

3. Sac Outlets are a token's best friend. Again, pretty obvious, but worth mentioning as it's crucial to the deck. You have 'em, but the question is always going to be, do you have enough to basically always have one? I can't answer that for you of course, but if the answer is ever "no", then you don't have enough. One of my low-key MVPs in my list was Helm of Possession - it's a sac outlet with huge upside, basically being a Vedalken Shackles for B/G. Also this is the weird deck where something like Diabolic Intent is almost strictly better than Demonic Tutor - the additional cost of sac'ing a dude is likely to be pure upside 90% of the time!

Now, much of what I said above is probably not revalatory for you at all. But the reason I spelled out all of that obvious stuff is this: if it's not one of the three things above, or in some way synergizes with, or supports the above three ideas, then it probably is doing more harm than good.

Looking through your list I see a lot of disparate subthemes like dredge, reanimator and +1/+1 counter things. A smattering of these things is fine. But I think you dedicate too much space overall to these other distractions. Savra should be a Grave Pact deck first and foremost, and is only incidentally a graveyard deck and only when she has the spare time to be.

That's part of the problem with Golgari - but it's a problem a lot of other color pairs WISH they had - the Golgari do a lot of neat and different things. It's hard not to try to do all the things Golgari can do in one deck. I could easily build 4 or 5 different Golgari decks and have them all be very different from each other. But ultimately I have a feeling - just from looking at the list of course, but also from my own struggles with Savra early on - that your deck's biggest weakness is lack of focus.

The biggest thing is the +1/+1 counter subtheme - I don't think that really belongs. This just isn't the sort of deck that has time to get cute with Corpsejack Menace and Varolz. Reanimator stuff is fine - I wouldn't dream of building a Golgari deck without some reanimation - but I much better like the ones with synergy overlap such as Dread Return or Underworld.

Some of the Dredge stuff is probably a necessary evil to enable Worm Harvest. And Worm Harvest is a necessary evil to enable Savra. I'm pretty sure I had some of these same cards, but Grave Shell Scarab is probably way to under-powered to really be worth it. I played a lot of the Scarab in standard back in the day so I love the card, but it felt under-powered even then.

But getting back to the matter at hand, you probably need to ditch about 50-60% of all the stuff that isn't on-theme for one of the main three principals above, and try to make as much of your off-theme things like reanimation, ramp, removal, draw, etc. have some form of synergy overlap as possible. I think you especially need to beef up your token production. Abhorrent Overlord and Bloodline Keeper, Ghoulcaller Ghisa (makes tokens AND is a sac outlet!), and of course Grave Titan were some of my MVP token-makers.

Also, you might as well throw in the other Fleshbag variants - Merciless Executioner, Plaguecrafter and even Barter in Blood. These are great on their own, helping to stem early pressure but also interact wonderfully with the various Grave Pacts later on.

The new guy, Izoni makes tokens that are black and green! But he requires some level of commitment to the dredge plan, so if you are really wanting to keep this aspect of the deck intact, I suggest Izoni as another payoff card for that plan.

Also, btw, Skulltap instead of Skullclamp... wat?

Well, I hope this is somewhat useful to ya. Even though Meren is just objectively a better commander than Savra, Savra is the Golgari commander I am most passionate about and just typing this out has made me want to ditch my current Hapatra list in favor of revisting the OG Queen! I spent about two full years and some change fiddling with my Savra list, sometimes tweaking it, sometimes outright rebuilding it from scratch. It was never my BEST deck but it got to where it finally functioned the way I wanted it to and won a few games.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-10 4:24 pm 
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Joined: 2011-Jan-02 5:25 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Costa La Haya, capital del ducado Holanda
That is an interesting epos, Thaumaturge. You should do this for every thread. And in case your internet filter is too strict,I'm saying this without sarcasm.

Too lazy to quote on the phone, but regarding:

Grave Pacts: I agree completely, this is what I found with Glissa as well. After 20 years I'm a bit done with it for a while though.

Counter subtheme: this is an excellent observation. Again, my Glissa: I'm rebuilding it, or trying to. Should I do more with Arcbound modulars (rethorical question)? I think not, because I am not considering Hardened Scales. There are so many strategies to push, but so little space. Perhaps you end up with a glass cannon if you focus on fewer strategies, but it makes the deck more recognizable.

How did your deck get better with Born of the Gods? I'm not seeing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-11 1:02 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Shabbaman wrote:
That is an interesting epos, Thaumaturge. You should do this for every thread.
LOL, thanks but I don't get quite so passionate about everything I build. I can only do this for the ones that are really special to me, and Savra happens to be one. Most decks I would not spend two friggin' years trying to make work, but this one I just had a feeling I'd get there and I more or less did.

Shabbaman wrote:
How did your deck get better with Born of the Gods? I'm not seeing it.
It wasn't specifically BotG but rather a slow trickle of cards over those two years that made the deck better . In particular, more and better things to make armies of black tokens with. Also a Grave Pact with Flash was a pretty big get. Okay, that wasn't until Journey but I DID say my memory was spotty about the timeline. I think there'd been stuff in the commander decks as well that was good, but I don't recall what all it was.

Also it was just a matter of me taking a while to figure out a lot of what I posted in my wall of text above. I spent a LOT of time trying to shoehorn other things to make the deck be about more than Grave Pacts. Once I realized that playing a commander that is essentially a Grave Pact but trying to pretend the deck wasn't a Grave Pact deck to its core was self-defeating. I was trying to make the deck more "interesting" or "fun" than what I thought a Grave Pact deck could be but all that did was make the deck less effective on all axes.

So, it was a culmination of me finally embracing what the deck clearly wanted to be, and WotC printing enough incidental support to make it work.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-11 11:41 am 
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Joined: 2010-Jul-18 9:59 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
thaumaturge wrote:
Words of mutha-flippin' wisdom, yo. Laying down the truth bombs like it ain't no thang. For reals, yo, you betta get back up this thread and read that post cos that shiznizzle is on fleek, wattup!??!?!!

I mean, you're 100% right (among other things that's why I like reading what you put here - you've got your head screwed on right and I think we think in similar ways).

The +1/+1 stuff is in there because I tried to jam everything I could find with Scavenge in there when RtR came out - it was balls, so I took most - but not all - of it out again. The rest needs to go.

Dictate of Erebos: I don't own one, but all right. If we're going to do this thing, let's do it properly. (Adds to wishlist on cardkingdom)

Tokens: Yeah, will work on it. Izoni is going to help a ton here, gotta pick one of those up sooner rather than later. I don't want to run Avenger of Zendikar becuaszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz but I'll try to add some more mass green token making for when I need it, as well as most if not all of the black token makers you mentioned - in particular Ghoulcaller Gisa is pretty amazing looking.

Grave-Shell Scarab is, in theory, here to provide an at-least-once-per-turn black and green creature to sac, since you can dredge it back to your hand with it's own sacrifice ability. It's been in the deck since I built it as at the time there were very few green and black creatures.

Stuff to definitely add:
Dictate of Erebos
Ghoulcaller Gisa
Plaguecrafter
Abhorrent Overlord (will have to pull it out of Ghost Council, but that's ok)
Grave Titan

Stuff to maybe add:
Merciless Executioner (Redundancy is good, but redundancy for your redundancy might be a step too far)
Barter in Blood (I had this in for a long time, but the number of times I didn't have two creatures + Savra to sac were quite frankly embarrassing)
Bloodline Keeper (slow, often gets killed before it can make a token)

Cards to cut:
Grave-Shell Scarab
Lotleth Troll (I really like this guy though, gotta find a home for him somewhere)
Mortivore (it's never as big as you want it to be)
Corpsejack Menace
Courser of Kruphix (is only in here because it's good, not because it really interacts with the rest of the deck)
Varolz,... maybe. I'm not on the scavenge plan any more, but he's a green and black creature and a sac outlet, so he'll probably stay.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-12 12:38 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Cool, glad you found something in my ramblings you could work with!

thaumaturge wrote:
Merciless Executioner (Redundancy is good, but redundancy for your redundancy might be a step too far)
Barter in Blood (I had this in for a long time, but the number of times I didn't have two creatures + Savra to sac were quite frankly embarrassing)
Bloodline Keeper (slow, often gets killed before it can make a token)

Fair points on all of these. You probably don't need EVERY Fleshbag in existence (I do, but that's because they annoy my group). And Bloodline Keeper was definitely a prime removal magnet for me as well. Still found it worth having, as the more of these "must answer" army-in-a-cans you have the more likely you are to exhaust everyone's removal a get a couple to stick. Greaves can also help a lot. Still, I don't think he's a must have - the point isn't to run him specifically, just to have more token-makers overall. It's sort of about quantity over quality in this case, though quality certainly still matters!

On the Barter in Blood point you shouldn't run into that problem very often at all once you reach a desirable concentration of token-making. On the other hand, at that point you might not need them.

Another factor for me, though, is that I find Barter to be best in a slow deck and you described this one as slow. Most games with my Savra deck, I would cast Barter early, often losing nothing or maybe a Wood Elves at worst. It was mostly used as a pre-Savra play to clear the board of early dorks before the Queen comes down. Or, if drawn late, then having spare tokens should bascially NEVER be an issue - if it is, that's a sign you aren't token-y enough.

But having said all this, the pace and rhythm of your games may still not be ideal for this kind of play. It worked well for me, but YMMV as always. If it didn't work for you before, no reason to go back to it now. But as the token-making capacity increases it could reach a point where it becomes good again. I'd just keep in the back pocket for later, just in case ya need it.


Here's another idea for ya, though it may be either too cute or too expensive, or both:

Back when Griselbrand was legal (for, what, a month?), my Savra deck did suddenly become oppressive-ish for that brief period. The reason: Jarad's Orders + Necrotic Ooze + Griselbrand. The "combo", if you can call it that, is simple. Cast Orders, find the two creatures mentioned, dump GB in the 'yard, then next turn (or this turn if you have 8 mana), cast Ooze and start drawing 7 at will.

Anyway, that was fun, but man am I glad they banned Grizzlebees. However, the new guy out of Ravnica, Doom Whisperer or whatever he's called, is ripe for similar abuse with Necrotic Ooze. In fact it probably has BETTER synergy with Ooze and the Golgari mechanics overall (obviously still nowhere near as powerful... just more synergistic).

I'm not SURE this is the right deck for that little package but if you are keeping some of the dredge plan around to fuel Izoni and Worm Harvest anyway, then this could be a potential way to turbo-charge that aspect of the deck.

It's something I'm dying to try out, if I can get my hands on that stupid new Mythic, but I guess it's kinda having a moment and is now like $25 or so. :|

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-12 4:55 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Costa La Haya, capital del ducado Holanda
I rate Merciless Executioner very high. It might not be the best card to rip off the top, but I never find it a bad play. The card can trigger all kind of stuff: whenever sacrifice triggers, dies triggers, nontoken triggers. It is one of the little things that would make things work in my decks. And it even does something useful on its own.

Having said that, I don't know what the correct number of executioners is. I've run two for the last few years, but I'm not sure if three is the better number. Yes, you can go overboard with redundancy, as you can achieve the same thing with more draw and (or tutors). Redundancy can go bad if you add similar cards that are worse. In this case, look at Slum Reaper. That wouldn't be my fourth executioner (because it isn't one).

Having said that, I think I need more draw in all my decks.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-13 9:02 pm 
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Joined: 2010-Jul-18 9:59 pm
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Speaking of sac outlets: Mind Slash?

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-14 12:08 am 
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Mind Slash needs mana to activate and has an effect without synergy with your general. I'd play it in Nath. In this deck, I'd rather play, dunno, Vampiric Rites.

The art is great though, and I have fond memories playing it. I still have a copy of Inquest where the card was used in a Delraich deck.

EDIT: instant speed sacrifice outlets suck. That's pretty much it.

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-15 12:23 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Viperion wrote:
Speaking of sac outlets: Mind Slash?


Sadistic Hypnotist is much stronger... but I don't run it myself because it's too mean. Once you get your token-making going, it's trivially easy to just Hellbent everyone on the spot. So maybe Mind Slash is a more casually-appropriate alternative? I dunno, could be good but I've never used it. Try it out and let us know - maybe I'll get some tech for you!

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-29 10:36 am 
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Scourge of Nel Toth seems good in here (and in Sek'Kuar, as well)

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-29 10:54 am 
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thaumaturge wrote:
Viperion wrote:
Speaking of sac outlets: Mind Slash?


Sadistic Hypnotist is much stronger... but I don't run it myself because it's too mean. Once you get your token-making going, it's trivially easy to just Hellbent everyone on the spot. So maybe Mind Slash is a more casually-appropriate alternative? I dunno, could be good but I've never used it. Try it out and let us know - maybe I'll get some tech for you!


The clutch play with Sadistic Hypnotist is to target yourself to pitch dredgers and reanimate targets. Can't do that with Mind Slash.

Does your deck make enough mana to cast, recur, and recast Josu Vess?

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 Post subject: Re: Viperion's 32 deck challenge: BG/Golgari: Savra
AgePosted: 2018-Oct-29 11:41 am 
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It might make enough to cast, sac, and reanimate, but re-casting is probably out of the question (all on the same turn, anyway) - although with an Ashnod's Altar I get all the colourless mana I need from the first cast with four zombies left over (and four sac triggers to boot).....

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