Archetune-Up - Saskia's Legendary Nouns
(Saskia, the Unyielding l Art by Greg Opalinski)
People, Places, and Things
Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!
Over the past few articles I've been talking about blue quite a bit, so this week I decided to do something a bit different with a deck that uses every color but blue! Instead of choosing some combination of Partners, though, I decided to go with the tried-and-true method of turning our creatures sideways and inflicting massive amounts of pain on our opponents with Saskia, the Unyielding! In this deck, Saskia doesn't let just anyone into her army, though. You have to be recognizable. Your reputation must precede you. You have to be a legend.
Average Saskia Legends by EDHREC
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Saskia has an incredible number of themes to pick from, as you can see here:
Tribal decks, +1/+1 counter decks, a handful of combat-focused decks...if you want options, they're there. I'm in four colors, though; I really want to flex that advantage by running the best cards from each of those colors. And just what kinds of cards tend to be the best? Legendary ones, of course!
This Deck is Going to Be...
In some articles I can only take a couple of on-theme cards from a page before I'm forced to add support cards to smooth the deck out; the Wrexial Article from two weeks ago is a perfect example of this. That wasn't an issue this time, though: every card from the Legends Theme actually happened to support the deck while also being a legendary permanent of some kind!
The first cards we're going to touch on are the legends of legends: the Gods. Iroas, God of Victory was the only God previously in the list, and while he's perfect for the deck, I also think that there are a few others that can join him on Saskia's personal pantheon.
Erebos, God of the Dead was the first God I added to our list. Like all Gods, he has a great stat-line for his cost, and his two abilities put in a lot of work for us. We're always seeking to be the aggressor, so preventing our opponents from gaining life with his passive is something we appreciate. Erebos's Greed-like ability is also an effect we can always take advantage of. I wanted to do my best to tie some of our card draw to on-theme permanents, and Erebos is a perfect example of that. We can often spare two to four life each turn in order to dig deeper into our deck and ensure our cards keep flowing.
In this deck, we're looking to push damage through, and a great way to do that is through forms of evasion or trample. Blue is often the color of unblockability and is the color most likely to grant flying to our team, so I decided it would be a more fruitful endeavor to try and find cards that will provide us trample, instead. Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma just missed the mark, as not many of our creatures have four or more power. Nylea, God of the Hunt, on the other hand, is exactly what we want. The ability to provide trample to our team without stipulation, as well as being able to pump our creatures, is awesome, especially if we're attacking a player singled out by Saskia. This is a deck that often just plays on our turn, which means that we don't need to leave mana up at the end of our turn. This in turn means that we can translate any extra mana into damage, which goes a long way in outpacing our opponents.
Our final Godly inclusion was the usurper himself, Xenagos, God of Revels. Xenagos plays a similar role to Nylea, pumping a creature on our team and applying much-needed pressure against our opponents' life totals. Our creatures may not have a whole lot of evasion, which leaves them vulnerable to being chump-blocked, but the fact that Xenagos's ability also grants haste is just as important as his doubling of stats. Dropping a creature every turn and being able to swing with it in the same turn can put opposing players off-balance, especially when said creature's stats are so greatly increased. I think this baseline is quite good, and it only gets better once we're able to provide a creature with evasion or trample. I've seen Xenagos close out too many games to count, and I'd be foolish not to include him now.
The legends I added to the deck aren't only Gods, though. There were quite a few powerful legendary creatures in the deck already, but I wanted to curate the list a bit more, lowering the curve, cutting some of the chaff, and adding in a few fun picks from the page, itself.
In my effort to round out the list with some lower-costed aggressive legends, I eagerly added Kunoros, Hound of Athreos. Three great keywords, an on-curve body, and extra text that hampers graveyard strategies? I'm in love! Kunoros also provides both aggression and defense. He's able to attack and block each turn, he has to be blocked by at least two creatures, and he also gains you life as he does it! Thanks to the way that Saskia's ability is worded, if Kunoros connects to a player, Kunoros is the one dealing the damage a second time, meaning three more life for you! To go along with this, there are quite a few anthems in the deck, and they only makes this angry pupper even better. Overall, I was really excited to find a slot for this card in the deck!
On Twitter I often mention how my favorite EDH deck of all time is my Gonti, Lord of Luxury list. As such, I'd be doing My Lord quite the disservice if I did not include them in a deck involving some of the best legends. While not as aggressive as some of the other creatures in the deck, Gonti allows us to reach into the top of an opponent's deck and snag a card. While this deck can't abuse that effect nearly as well as a Gonti-centric deck can, we do have a couple synergies like Chainer, Nightmare Adept, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand if the situation ever presents itself. Even without these, Gonti is able to cantrip and will often be an unblocked four damage towards whoever Saskia calls out. Having a deathtouch blocker in a pinch is also something I'll never complain about!
Earlier I'd mentioned that we had a number of anthems in our deck, and...well, our large Cat...Deer...Beast...friend, Gahiji, Honored One, happens to be one of them. An alternate commander from Commander 2013, Gahiji is a fairly middling legend with about 300 decks to their name. While people may be lukewarm on them leading a deck, Gahiji is awesome in our 99. They encourage aggression from our opponents towards one another, and they also buff our team in the process! A +2 power to an entire player's board is nothing to scoff at and can be used as political leverage to try and get your opponents to off each other and make your job even easier. Even if you can't, the base rate of a sizable anthem with an equally sizable body, alongside the incidental damage boost you give to your opponents to use against one another, makes Gahiji well worth trying, in my opinion.
...Wait For It...
Not all legendary permanents I added are creatures, though: half of the list is made up of legendary items or places, and they all happen to be artifacts! Let's see what tools and Equipment we can outfit our army of iconic creatures with.
Wherever the God of the Dead is, his weapon, the Whip of Erebos, is sure to follow. The passive ability of giving our entire team lifelink is the main reason for Whip's inclusion. I discussed at length my opinions on the various ways to gain life during my Licia Article, and my thought process hasn't changed. Lifelink is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to gain life in the game. Being able to pump up our life total simply by doing what the deck wants to do (attack) makes it very difficult for our opponents to keep up with us.
When a card has four lines of relevant text, I pay attention. The Immortal Sun is a Swiss Army Knife of an artifact that provides a bevy of utilities for our list. From locking down planeswalkers to drawing us extra cards to lowering the costs of our spells to even buffing our entire team, The Immortal Sun does it all! I'm usually not one for including six-mana cards that don't do a whole lot the turn they're played, but I will make an exception for this one. Its utility far surpasses the downside of sometimes crumpling to a stray Disenchant.
Speaking of cards with ridiculous text boxes, we have one of the the poster children for green's egregious power creep over the past few years: The Great Henge. This card is a suped-up mana rock that provides two mana, two life, draws you cards, and makes your creatures bigger when it enters the battlefield! Wait, you want something else? Sure, why not? The Great Henge can add cost reduction, as a treat. That seems fine and not at all incredibly pushed. This card is perfect for this deck (and most green ones), sure, but I'm also quite salty that it saw print, in case you couldn't tell. Regardless of my personal gripes against it, The Great Henge is an easy inclusion to this deck and provides an incredible amount of utility, much like The Immortal Sun, above.
What would heroes of legend be without equally-as-revered weapons? Luckily, we don't need to imagine that as there are quite a few great pieces of Equipment listed on this theme page.
Earlier I had mentioned that this deck was interested in trample, as well as how lifelink worked really well with Saskia's ability to have creatures double their damage. Well, the Shadowspear provides both of those abilities, and more! Trample, lifelink, +1+1, and the ability to strip hexproof and indestructible from our opponents' creatures, all on one Equipment? Sign me up. There isn't much more for me to say aside from how great of a card it is. Shadowspear is one of the best Equipment printed recently, but it does have some competition...
...such as Embercleave, which battles with Shadowspear to take the mantle of best Equipment printed since New Phyrexia. Embercleave is at the other end of the spectrum as Shadowspear in terms of power level; what Embercleave lacks in utility it makes up for in brute force. It buffs our creature, gives it trample and double strike, can have its cost reduced, and it also auto-equips when it first enters play. If Shadowspear is the early-/mid-game stabilizer that helps put us in a position to outpace our opponents, then Embercleave is the Equipment that closes games outright. Often, it will read as "pay five mana, destroy target player targeted by Saskia," and that is the type of card that I can get behind.
Rounding out our list of legendary weapons is Blackblade Reforged. This sword of renown acts like an Embercleave-lite. It has the ability to pump up our creatures by an incredible amount, though it doesn't provide any evasion, so we'll need to do that, ourselves. That shouldn't be terribly hard, though, thanks to all of the trample that we've injected into the deck. I opted to include Blackblade Reforged over Hero's Blade, the other Equipment that was in contention for this slot. I like Hero's Blade's free equip cost, but I believe that Blackblade Reforged will do more for us throughout the course of a game. Blackblade will always be three mana to equip in exchange for a much higher payoff than Hero's Blade's initial free equip cost. With that said, if you don't agree, outfit your heroes as you see fit. There is a plethora of weaponry at your disposal to try out!
Decks like this one are some of my favorites. I really like working within themes (in case you couldn't tell) while not necessarily restricting myself to a tribe. Yes, restriction definitely breeds creativity, but it is also nice to have a loose guideline of the things you want and to be rewarded with numerous options and paths to build around.
This is the kind of deck that can be personalized and tuned to an individual to an incredible degree. When your only restriction is that the creatures in your deck need to be legendary, you can mix and match as you see fit. Whether it is a deck consisting of legends, artifact tokens, or even fliers, I encourage you to brainstorm one of these tribal-lite decks. It's quite a fun exercise in brewing and deckbuilding!
Once again, we've reached the end of the line. If you’d like to reach me, I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy) and have an email that I do my best to respond to (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! I'll see you next week, my friends!
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