Challenging The Locust God Stats with Chase
(Hour of Promise | Art by Grzegorz Rutkowski)
A Chase Rare
Welcome to Challenge the Stats! This series is based on the awesome EDHRECast segment where we pick out cards that we think are overplayed, underplayed, or sleepers to challenge EDHREC’s data on a particular commander. Here on Challenge the Stats, we occasionally bring in a guest expert, and this week I’m excited to have Chase, AKA ManaCurves, on to help us challenge the data for one of her favorite Commander decks: The Locust God.
Hi, Chase! Thanks so much for talking Commander with me today! Let’s start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into Magic, and how long have you been playing?
I have been playing Magic for over five years now. I got into it when I was in college. My ex-boyfriend was playing, and I thought it looked really cool and interesting. I was like, "Teach me, I want to I want to learn this game," and ever since then, I've been playing.
Can you tell us about all the great things you do in the Magic community?
I am a Commander content creator. I stream paper Commander and deckbuilding on my Twitch channel, which occurs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays at 6 pm Eastern. I also write articles for TCGplayer about paper Commander as well, specifically deckbuilding. I deckbuild collaboratively with a lot of people on my stream. I find it to be a really fun experience because it challenges the muscle of deckbuilding and really puts me out of my comfort zone. I've ended up building a lot of things that I normally would have never touched.
Not only do you get to challenge yourself when building collaboratively, but you also get to have a community have partial ownership of something that you get to publish. One of my favorite things, when I write about the decks that I build on stream, is that it's not just my deck – it's Jason's deck, it's Muffin's deck, it's a lot of other people who take time out of their busy schedules in different time zones and just sit down with me and we make something really cool together.
Besides Magic, what kinds of things do you like to do?
I am a really big video game player. I've been playing a lot of Skyrim lately. I also love to play Among Us, especially with other folks in the Magic community. I love to knit and I also really like to read. I've been reading a lot of Star Wars books lately and I find the lore really interesting.
Are you into Magic lore as well?
I am, and I have some of the books, but I haven't really been able to chip away at them just because there are so many. It's such deep lore and I feel like I need to start at the beginning. I currently have the Llorwyn block of books that they've released. I've only made a little indent and I feel really bad because Llorwyn is my favorite plane because it has some of my favorite creature types in Magic.
Who are your favorite commanders, and what new commanders are you building?
So, I have a lot of favorite commanders. I actually have way too many currently. My favorite commander is The Locust God. I've had that deck for as long as I've been playing Magic. However, I do have a couple of other favorites. I really love playing Emry – that's one of my ones from [Throne of] Eldraine that I find to be a lot of fun and a little bit more competitive. I really like how fast-paced she is and how infinite she can go pretty quickly. I also just recently built Rograkh and Kediss, the mono-red Partner pairs from Commander Legends and I find them to be extremely fun, too. I also really love my Chandra tribal deck, which is piloted by Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, the flip-walker from Origins. Currently, most of my builds happen on stream, but there are a couple that made me want to build them in paper. Actually, I was just writing my article about Svella, Ice Shaper. I have fallen in love with this deck. That price tag is telling me "you probably shouldn't build it," but I really want to.
(Check out Chase's Svella, Ice Shaper article here)
What brings you joy in a game of Commander?
Weird ways to win are fun, but I also really like finding fun ways to lose.
So, I really like to play weird things and see the interactions between them. I really like to stumble upon new ways to win. An example being, in my Rograkh and Kediss deck, I didn't know that Fiery Emancipation works the way it did in there. I ended up winning a little bit earlier than I expected, but it was so incredibly fun to see and do. Weird ways to win are fun, but I also really like finding fun ways to lose. I know that sounds pretty weird, but I would rather lose in an exciting, weird, and cool way. It makes the game more interesting, because I'm on the edge of my seat, and I'm like, "How are they going to do this? How are they going to pull this off?" Seeing that interaction happen is incredibly fun, and it's really cool to lose in legendary ways.
How do you feel about the future of Commander?
I think Commander is opening up more and more. Commander has already been such a big format for Wizards and I think they're finally starting to see and understand that Commander is a very big driver in the game, and they're starting to cater to that more. With the reintroduction of Partners, that opens Commander up to a whole new audience. Being able to customize your deck even more is making Commander more accessible and more exciting to play, too.
A lot of product lately has been geared towards Commander players, which, as a Commander player, I love. I definitely see Commander continuing to be a big part of Wizards in the near future, especially since we're in the middle of a pandemic. A lot of organized play and events are no longer happening, people are no longer able to do competitive matches like they would normally, or travel to play in competitive tournaments. So, Commander has been able to thrive in these circumstances through streams, Spelltable, and Discord. I definitely think that these are the stepping stones to having Commander grow even more as a format.
Can you tell us about your deck and The Locust God's general strategy?
So, with The Locust God, I have two very precise goals in this deck. The first goal is to swing out with a bunch of Locust tokens by playing a lot of wheels. Whenever you draw a card, you make a Locust, and they have haste, which makes The Locust God a very lethal commander. Now, if that's not possible, the next best step would be to deck ourselves with Lab Man or Jace effects. Having those out is a really good backup plan. But, I have to remember to not be so eager and play them and then have them get wiped off the board early.
When we're talking about wheels, I have to ask – what's your opinion on Hullbreacher?
Hullbeacher is definitely good in your Locust God deck, but I recommend playing it very carefully.
The dreaded question! I knew it was coming. I love Hullbreacher. I am of the mind that it's super cool. Hullbreacher is really, really potent in The Locust God because we run cards like Winds of Change, Wheel of Fortune, Wheel of Fate, and Windfall. So, we're going to be making everybody draw a lot of cards. Normally, that's a very scary thing to do in Commander, but Hullbreacher shuts this down. Yes, this is amazing and gives you a huge advantage, but it also leads to a lot of feel-bad moments. I actually only just recently put my Hullbreacher in my Locust God deck after owning it for a month or so, just because I felt guilty running it in there. I've played it in previous decks and it led to a lot of "this isn't good" moments. I think that kind of ties into the whole concept of when you should pace yourself playing games. I feel like I would only play my Hullbreacher if I knew I was about to win, rather than playing it in the middle of the game and then robbing everybody of their chance to play, and that's a lesson that I've learned recently. So, Hullbeacher is definitely good in your Locust God deck, but I recommend playing it very carefully.
So getting into challenging the stats, are there cards on The Locust God's EDHREC page that you don't think should be there or might be a mistake to put in the deck?
Yeah, so these are a handful. These are actually cards that I ran in my first iteration of The Locust God. He's gone through many tweaks and many changes to make him more streamlined. One of the first cards that I see on here that I would recommend probably not running would be Arcanis, the Omnipotent. He does give you the ability to tap and draw three cards, but he is very high in [mana] cost, being six mana, and that can be extremely slow in this deck, especially given the fact that he doesn't have haste. If we're playing our cards right, pun intended, we're going to be drawing multiple cards per turn anyway. So for me, I would probably recommend not putting them in there just because he feels a little bit slower. I would rather run a Bident of Thassa or a Teferi's Ageless Insight over Arcanis just because of the speed.
Another card is Jori-en, Ruin Diver. I really, really liked this card when I first saw her. I thought she had a stunning design. She's three mana, so she's really low cost to get out there. But, the reason why I took her out is that she only triggers once whenever you cast your second spell each turn, and I just didn't feel like I was getting enough value out of it. So, I ultimately decided to cut her. She's good for starting out, and maybe a good replacement for Hullbreacher, but I felt that she was just not as potent as some of the other spells that are run.
It actually hurts me to say this final one because I loved this card, I had it in a foil, I thought it was the bee's knees – and it's Mindwrack Liege. Again, it's really up there in CMC at six mana. It buffs your Locusts because your Locusts are red and blue – which is why I liked the spell because it just feels really cool to swing with 3/3s in the air rather than 1/1s. But, that secondary ability right there, where you can put a blue or red card from your hand into play, I found myself very rarely if ever using that, and it just felt weird to spend six mana to buff my creatures by only two points. Maybe if it was a four-mana...creature, I would still run it. But, it felt like I wasn't getting the payoff for that mana cost and I eventually had to chop it out of there.
On the flip side of that, let's look at some cards that maybe deserve a little bit more love. Are there any cards you think that are missing or under-appreciated on The Locust God's page?
So, this one was actually very hard for me because props to the small indie website known as EDHREC, they're on top of it, because a lot of the cards I saw in there I went, "I run this or I think this is a good addition." I was actually very happily surprised because I tend to check the EDHREC site for Locust God pretty frequently.
There is one piece that I would like to add here as one of my personal favorites. I used to run it, and I took it out, but I'm actually thinking of slotting it back in, and that's Gravitational Shift. Yes, it's five mana, so it's one mana cheaper than Mindwrack Liege; however, I like it because not only does it impact our creatures positively, but it impacts everybody else's creatures negatively. I don't know about the lovely people reading this, but I tend to be a bit cavalier with my combat steps and leave up absolutely no blockers. I know, I should be better about that, I am a professional, but I really love to swing out and swing-out hard. I feel like Gravitational Shift is one of those cards that should get more love, especially in a deck focused a lot around having fliers. They don't have to be big, beefy fliers, but sometimes that little extra oomph can make a really big difference in a combat step.
Another one that I really like is Favorable Winds. I do see it's on here, but the reason why I wanted to talk about it is because it's only in 13% of decks, and that's not a lot. I think it should be implemented more because of, again, that extra added oomph. A two-mana buff for all of our creatures with flying is really good. The Locusts can swarm and beat face, and that's what I really like. I also feel like people are less prone to attack you if you have a Favorable Winds out as opposed to a Shared Animosity. There have been times where I'll play my Shared Animosity – I won't even have any creatures on board, I just want to get it out there as quick as I can – and I'll end up regretting it because that's a very intimidating card, but people are less likely to look at you if you have a Favorable Winds out.
What are some of your “pet cards” in your Locust God deck?
So, one of my favorite cards in here is Nexus of Fate. It's the only extra turn spell I have in this entire deck. I don't typically like to run extra turn spells, but I really like Nexus of Fate because it's so ridiculous. I remember slotting it in here around the time when it was very hard to get because it was a foil and people needed it for Standard. I thought sliding it into my Locust God deck would be funny, and it ended up being actually really good. I would just wheel, and it would go to the graveyard, and I could just shuffle my deck, or I would play it and then play a wheel, and get back again and then play another extra turn. I always thought it was really funny to have that extra little bit of flavor in there that was just absolutely bananas. I know that I should probably take it out because it doesn't really fit well with the theme, but it's just one of those spells that I think is ridiculously fun to play.
Another pet card I have is actually really good to run in this deck. But again, I run it because it brings me joy and it's personal for me and it's Distant Melody. It's such a good card and in Locust God it's perfect if you name Insect. I had to learn the hard way to not name Locusts because that is technically not the creature type of the token. I really like it because it is from my favorite plane: Llorwyn, and it has my favorite creature type on it: Fairies. I've had this card for a really long time and I actually have the printing from the Sliver deck where the foiling is very interesting and weird. I just look at it and it makes me really happy. I've played it horribly when I've drawn three cards off of Locusts and I played it when I've drawn 30. I just think it's one of those spells that is just a really fun tribal spell to cast.
I just received the most amazing thing in the mail from @travis_norman. LOOK HOW CUTE!!! This is better than my judge promo Wheel 🥺🤩
I was looking for a replacement for it too tbh pic.twitter.com/zs3oxLAofv
— CHASE RARE (@ManaCurves) February 8, 2021
And my last two cards that are pet cards have special arts. One of them is a brand new one that was gifted to me by a friend. I recently had a judge promo Wheel of Fortune in this deck because I was trying to foil it out. But, I ended up selling it and I needed a new Wheel of Fortune. My friend Travis from Hipsters of the Coast drew me one off of those little gold-bordered empty cards that I think is just the cutest. It has literally The Locust God playing Wheel of Fortune, and it has the letters swapped out and it's asking you, "What should you do?" and it says "Watch ManaCurves". I just thought that it was the cutest thing ever, and I was like, "This is my new favorite card. I have to run it. I don't even care that it's not even a legal card. I love it."
The final piece I would say is my foil judge promo Sol Ring. The reason why it's a pet card is just because I got it signed by Mark Tedin. When I saw he was going to be at SCG con, I was like "I'm going to have him sign my Sol Ring," and I love it. It has been like a little piece of Magic history for me.
Are there any new cards that came out recently that you've been excited to add to your deck?
Well, we already talked about Hullbreacher, which is one that I have slowly inched into here because I was very hesitant to slot it in. In terms of other newer cards, I recently just added in three brand new cards. I added one of the modal flip lands in here, Riverglide Pathway. I typically tend to run more basics than not, but having a good mana base is a really good foundation to build your deck upon.
Another card I recently added was from the newer Zendikar Rising set – it's Sea Gate Restoration. I originally looked at the card and I was like, "It's seven mana, and I don't really feel like it's that great of a card," and then I played against it and I went, "This is really good." You have no maximum hand size for the rest of the game, and if you have a really big beefy hand, you can draw another big beefy hand, too. I felt like this was worth the mana cost to slot it in. Sometimes, when you look at the mana cost of a card you might not think it's worth it, but then you actually experience the card and realize it's really good.
And the final piece that I added is from Theros Beyond Death. So, it's a little bit older, but it's within the past year so I would consider it new – it's Nadir Kraken. I was a little back and forth on adding this card, but eventually slotted it in because it has the option to not only make a really big Kraken, but you also get tokens out of it. It's nice to generate a lot of blockers because again, I'm so cavalier with my attack steps that it will be nice to have some bodies up to protect me. And, it's just a really big Kraken that I thought was really neat. As for stuff from Kaldheim, I haven't really seen anything that makes me want to add it to my Locust God, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what else comes out in the near future.
Is there anything else unique or special about your deck?
So I briefly touched on it, but one of my favorite things about this deck is that, because I've had it so long, it's become one of my favorite pieces I've owned. I tend to cycle through decks pretty quickly because I tend to get bored. But, I've had this for so long that I began the process of foiling it out. And, I don't like to order cards online when I'm trying to foil something out – I like to hunt them in the wild. So, if I see it in someone's binder or in a display case, I snatch it up. I find that to be a very fun experience, and it's gonna sound weird, but it makes the deck more personal for me that I was able to discover the pieces of it that I needed. So, a fun fact: I'm actually trying to get all old lands, and the art doesn't matter to me as much as the border. I love the old foil shooting star lands. I think they're gorgeous. I think they're stunning. I really wish that [Wizards] still did that. There's just something about them that feels timeless to me, and that's what the majority of the lands in my deck are.
Thanks so much for talking to me, sharing your insights, and helping me challenge the stats, Chase! Where can people find you and what would you like to plug?
So, I am a content creator, I stream collaborative deckbuilding on my Twitch channel, Tuesdays at 6 pm ET and I stream paper Commander on my Twitch stream Wednesdays and Sundays at 6 pm ET. I'm actually about to start a D&D stream very soon, so I'm really excited about that because it's new territory for me. That'll be happening every other Thursday, starting towards the end of the month. I also write articles for TCGplayer about collaborative deckbuilding and those come out every Sunday on their website.
Where to find Chase:
Check out Chase's Locust God deck below!
Also, here's a link to her decklist in case you're reading this, in like, a year.
Wheel You Quit Buggin Me?View on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Don't Go Chase-ing Waterfalls
Thanks for joining us for this special guest issue of Challenge the Stats! We'll be back to our regular programming next time and you've already voted that I'll be challenging Liesa, Shroud of Dusk. This was a really close race all week, with Belbe often trailing by less than ten votes! I'm so excited Liesa won because she's my new favorite commander and a personal deck I've been playing since she was released. See y'all in two weeks!