Combining Hobbies - Etrata, the Night Haunter
(Macabre Waltz | Art by Jim Murray)
In the Grim Darkness, There Are Only Counterspells
Hello everyone, Kya here!
Everyone have a good start to the holiday season? I sure hope so! It's already December, and I know I'm excited!
...or at least I would be if I wasn't dating a monnnnsssstttterrrr! That's right, this month's article is designed to drag you right in the middle of my real-life drama. Well, actually it's about one of my favorite genres: horror. But make no mistake, people: every venom-filled word I've typed for this article is attributable to that special someone.
What caused all this drama, you ask? Well, apparently some people in this household think I have too many Warhammer 40k armies. Apparently glory doesn't belong to the universe's best Primarch of all time, Konrad Curze. For those who are unaware, he's basically space Batman. A really-really-passionate-about-stopping-crime space Batman. And his favorite genre is horror, too! Plus, just look at this face:
Isn't he just dreamy, in a nightmare sort of way? I think so, at least.
Why are we talking about some character in another universe? Isn't this site about EDH? Well, Kya found a way around this little 40k embargo: making another 40k-inspired EDH deck! After all, if I can't have my main man in miniatures, I'll have him in spirit with cards! Let's see how a certain someone likes to be the target of divine (and partially insane) justice!
Primarch of the Night Lords
As I mentioned, the goal of this month's article is to build a deck as a tribute to my fictitious beloved. I promise I won't go too far into 40k lore, but, as mentioned before, Konrad is a dark and twisted Batman, more or less. Like Batman, he uses fear and terror on his enemies. The shadows are his greatest weapon.
How are we going to translate this to a commander? He'll have to be Dimir, as we'll need intelligence and ruthless cunning as a good representation of our Primarch. With color identity nailed down, we'll have to look through our database's selection of Dimir commanders to find someone truly worthy of the mantle! After looking up and down EDHREC's Dimir Selection, I immediately found the perfect candidate:
That's right! It's like Wizards saw the perfection that is Konrad and demanded they have their own Night Haunter. Like Konrad, she stalks the shadows to await those who need punishment. Even the card's abilities mimic the philosophy of the Night Lords. By setting examples of the few, the rest will fall in line!
This is what we're planning for our deck today: we'll sniff out a few of our opponents' guilty creatures and send them to the Shadow Realm. After a few of these, our opponents will be running for the hills, assuming they're not too scared of the horrors we have in store!
One thing to address is that Etrata has a big flaw for EDH that's pretty apparent: she doesn't like to stay on the field. That's perfect for us, though, because that's exactly how the Night Haunter likes it! After a swift attack, it's time to hide back in the shadows to keep our enemies in a panic, never knowing when she'll strike next. In a way, this even provides us some much-needed protection; after all, you can't board wipe something that isn't there! But how do we deal with her constantly returning to the command zone?
I Am the Night
This is how we get around this commander's pesky little problem. Right as she's about to disappear, we return her to our hand to fight another day. Think of these cards as being Batman's grappling hook and smoke bombs. One second, our commander is there exiling creatures, the next, she's safely retreated into our hand before the stack can resolve and
shuffle her into the library send her to the command zone.
It also keeps her cost low. That commander tax is going to hurt if we keep letting her ability resolve completely. Returning her to our hand in response to her trigger means we can avoid the command tax each time. Poor space Jim Gordon is going to have to turn around quick if he wants to catch up with our lovely lady.
On a slightly serious note, I would avoid one-time spell versions of these effects. Permanents that allow us to bounce or blink Etrata to avoid the negative impact of her trigger are useful because we can use them over and over, but one-time instants are just too difficult to time and don't do much without her ability. There are plenty of permanents with handy abilities like this, so stick to those.
You're Not the Devil... You're Practice
Of course, this isn't a Kya-approved deck without some level of nonsense. Here we'll add in the same old amazing two-card combo you know I love to play: Spark Doubling our commander, then Rite of Replicating the double! Getting multiple nonlegendary copies of our lovely ladies can knock multiple players out in just one hit! Of course, we also have Helm of Host, which allows us to keep the original Etrata on the field while we finish off a player. The only thing that would stop our plan is if our opponents don't play creatures, but then again, if our opponents don't play creatures, that's great for us too!
(Also, small lore tidbit: it's clearly obvious there's an Eldar Spirit Stone in Helm of the Host that has Konrad's soul in there. They're not killing off my favorite character. That's just silly. Anyhow...)
Oh, did I mention yet Space Batman can see into the future? That's right, Konrad Curze was gifted (well, cursed) with various grim futures that awaited him and the Imperium. We're obviously going to have to add this critical facet of Konrad's into our deck if we want to make it a true tribute to him. We're just lucky that most of these cards are really helpful, as well! Except you, Traumatic Visions. Curse your perfect name and your prohibitive CMC!
The Night Lord's Legion
As great as the Night Haunter is, he can't bring justice to the universe by himself. He's going to need his legion to spread his work across all those who think they can get away with being naughty. But how do we find cards that all represent the VIII Legion?
Well, I don't know, so I'm going to cheat. Why bother finding cards like Etrata when I can just keep playing Etrata? Once her attack goes through you can use our Ninjas of Terror to bounce her to your hand to avoid her going back into the command zone.
(For those who don't know how this works, a creature is considered 'an attacking creature' during all five phases of combat: Beginning of Combat, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, Damage, and End of Combat. We can therefore use a Ninjutsu ability to replace Etrata in response to her ability, because she is still an attacking, unblocked creature even after she has dealt damage.)
What's great about our lovely Ninjas is that they're versatile on their own. Even if your opponents don't have creatures to exile, you can benefit from our little legion's various abilities. You get to choose which does damage! Isn't that crazy? Also, obviously Yuriko is a stand-in for Sevatar, Prince of Crows as Cruze's right-hand man!
Okay, we can try a little. I'm just antsy to get to the next part of this article. We don't need Ninjas to replicate the spirit of our favorite Legion. By using terror in combat, we can gain advantage on the battlefield and win the war! As a side note, Living Wall may be a bit of a puzzling choice, but it's a tribute to Konrad's Screaming Gallery. Don't Google that one.
Interesting art, huh? That, my friends, is a very-dedicated-to-yoga Basal Thrull. Another strange tidbit? There's actually a few different arts of this Thrull. You're welcome for the world's strangest fun fact.
Anyways, it's high time I get to my favorite part of this article before I get sidetracked by someone who showed their loyalist colors again. One of the coolest things that got me into Magic: the Gathering was the dark tone this card game can project when it wants to. I brought this up once before, but the focus of that article was slightly different. This time, instead of talking about the negatives, I wanted to build a deck that showcases some of the most grotesque and twisted cards that the minds at Wizards had to offer. After all, their lore can get pretty grim and dark, too, and this deserves a mention every once in a while. For those horror lovers who are interested, here're some examples of what I mean:
Okay, they're not the worst, I still have to keep this somewhat PG. I mean, they're not as bad as Brain Maggot or Pulling Teeth.
What? You can't blame me for those ones. You put the mouse over those cards' names.
After you're done shivering, let's resume this article! Like any true Night Lord, our goal is to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents through the most gruesome methods possible. By collecting an assortment of disturbing cards, we can terrorize the battlefield with every spell we cast. Although I love these particular cards, I can see how they can be a bit much for some. However, it isn't just the shock factor of some of the more visual daunting cards I listed. Sometimes I simply just love the darker tones in general that you find in some Magic: the Gathering cards. Want to surprise some of the newer players but not gross them out? They might appreciate some of the older cards like Mutilate by Eric Peterson or just oddball dark cards like Word of Command!
Well, I think we've accumulated the perfect balance of fear and fast attacks to induce terror in every criminal in the Universe! Let's put it together, shall we?
The Night Haunter
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Want to know the best part about this deck? Even when we lose, we can easily state that defeat is nothing compared to vindication. High five the person who gets that reference... in case you all read these articles in groups, for some reason.
I'm sure there are some people out there who are a little surprised to see something as dark as the Night Lords represented in today's article. That was a little bit of the point, though. Some people are quickly surprised by how dark some of the planes in Magic: the Gathering can be. For example, there's little that the Night Lords have done that wasn't done on Innistrad. Need proof? There are countless stories, art, and flavor texts that serve as good reminders. Even if you want to be lazy, the word "flay" is used in over 10 cards. And believe me, I'm not complaining! As mentioned before, this is exactly what brought in horror-lovers such as myself into this hobby. My favorite? It's still when Liliana mind-controlled a Zombie Crocodile and ate a Demon. The description was gruesome on how she felt every nerve of the Crocodile and enjoyed the process of consumption as if she was doing it, herself. Or just the entire unravel of Amonkhet's dark truth itself. And this is the fairly new stuff!
What does everyone think? Even if you don't know much about 40k or Konrad, you can already see why I need a Night Lords army, right? We could all use a little space Batman in our lives. If nothing else, my new deck will have to do in the meantime.
Does anyone else create decks based on other hobbies or lores? Are you upset that I based a deck on a character named Konrad and didn't use Syr Konrad, the Grim? If so, let me know about it in the comments. Or just use the excuse to tell my fiancé how wrong he is. That works, too.
Until next time,