Maze's End to Non-Basically Speaking
Hello friends and maze runners, welcome back to EDHREC and our final Non-Basically Speaking article. This series has completed its task to identify non-basic lands that should be considered valuable staples or hidden gems based on their visibility on EDHREC.
It's been an amazing journey my friends, but I have arrived at the point where it is time to retire my article series on Commander's most popular deck building resource website. Since January 2017 we have visited twenty different commanders and the involvement of non-basic lands for utility, value, and/or their role in winning a friendly game of EDH. We discussed a few doozies along the way including a Colorless Golgari deck with Vhati il-Dal, a budget five color build with Horde of Notions, and my favorite to date, smashing into the red zone with Jolrael, Empress of Beasts and her army of forests. If you would like to take a stroll down the non-basic path of memory lane, here is a link to all of our discussions to date.
Non-Basically Speaking Archive January - November 2017
When I signed on with EDHREC several months ago I had planned on six to eight months of material and imagined a time in the future where I would wrap it all up with a discussion on Maze's End. Well, the future is now and what better way to end this series than with a conversation and decklist that utilizes non-basic lands to bring about an unconventional ending to a game of EDH?
The End Is Near
The alternate win condition for Maze's End is fairly straight forward. We activate its ability for three colorless mana, tap it, return it to our hand and search our library for a Gate card and put it onto the battlefield. If we have 10 Gates with different names on our playmat after activating the Maze, we win the game.
Step 1: Put all Gates on the Battlefield
Step 2: ?????
Step 3: Profit
In all honesty, our deck build is quite simple. We have ramp, tutors, card draw and mass removal. That's it. How do we play the deck? We ramp and retrieve our Gates for as long as it is safe to do so. When the threat level escalates we clear the area and continue on as our opponents scramble to rebuild. With this in mind, we should select a commander who can provide support as we race through the maze. A commander who would be willing to sacrifice itself to set our opponents back and give us more time to solve the puzzle. Let's take a look at Child of Alara in this A-Maze-ing End to Non-Basically Speaking.
The A-Maze-ing End
Can't Keep a Good Land Down
It's an outright shame that so many of our lands enter the battlefield tapped. This alone will always hinder our game plan and keep us a turn or two behind our buddies at the kitchen table. But fear not my friends, for we have a couple of cards that will allow us to circumvent the drawback of running the Guildgates and give us access to the mana stored within. Amulet of Vigor is an efficient solution that allows our permanents to enter the battlefield untapped so we can have immediate access to their resources.
It is inconceivable to think that Amulet of Vigor will be available to us game after game, so let's build in another unique way to negate the drawback of our lands that enter the battlefield tapped. Seedborn Muse is an EDH powerhouse that allows us to untap our permanents during each player's upkeep. If we combine the Muse with a Vedalken Orrery we can have access to our mana early and, more importantly, be able to sling our sorceries around the table at instant speed. If we throw Burgeoning into the picture, we might also be able to activate and replay Maze's End an additional time or two before our next turn.
Ravnica's Real Estate Boom
Essentially, our deck is built around a win condition that requires ten different cards to be on the battlefield at the same time while we activate an eleventh. Let's face it, we need a ton of support getting all of the intricate pieces onto the battlefield. While Maze's End is one way to pull Gates from our library and put them on the battlefield, it would be nearly impossible to win a game with it alone.
With our work cut out for us we need to establish our land search engine and get cards like Knight of the Reliquary, Weathered Wayfarer and Realm Seekers into position. Once again, Seedborn Muse can help us expedite our collection of Gates by gifting us with multiple untap phases in between turns.
However, if we really want to flood the battlefield with a multitude of Guildgates all at once we need to look no further than Scapeshift. This four mana sorcery can bring home the "W" (or would it be "AW" for Alternate Win) if we have enough lands to sacrifice and replace with the infamous Guildgates of Ravnica. While Tempt with Discovery and Hour of Promise are nifty tricks that provide forward progress to our goal, Scapeshift is the card that will blast us to the finish line.
It's the End of the World as We Know It
Let's face it. Our non-interactive strategy will look clumsy at first as we durdle around with an overabundance of tutors trying to pull off this inconceivable victory. Should our deck begin to churn and winning with Maze's End becomes a distinct possibility, our opponents will more than likely turn their attention our way.
Of course, we will be ready for them. Along the course of the game we have been deploying rattlesnakes such as Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone that will pack one heck of an explosion should our opponents' threats become dangerous. Of course our secret weapon resides in the command zone, Child of Alara. It is extremely important to remember that Child must hit the graveyard to obliterate the board so we may need a tutor (such as Trinket Mage) to pick up a sacrifice outlet like Claws of Gix along the way.
While we have very little fear of non-land mass removal throughout the game, it is an opponent's spot removal that has the power to crush our aspirations. Targeted land destruction with spells and abilities like Acidic Slime, Vindicate or Wasteland will destroy our win con and leave us looking at the remaining pieces sitting in the trash.
To prepare for untimely setbacks we have Crucible of Worlds, Life from the Loam and Sun Titan as handy tricks to reclaim the intricate pieces of our scheme.
But, let's say that we are foiled by our mischievous plan. Maybe our buddies target us with an Oblivion Sower or Oona, Queen of the Fae and one of our Guildgates are exiled. What now? Well, since our primary win con was an alternate win condition, why not include one more? With our army of tutor spells Approach of the Second Sun can serve as a plausible secondary, alternate win condition. Should plan A and plan B fail, our only course of action is through combat. Yep, it will be up to Child of Alara to smash through with commander damage.
Bringing the Non-Basic Conversation to an End
So our plan is in place. While our overall strategy is quite simple, the probability of pulling it off will be fairly difficult. But that's what is fun about EDH, pulling off the unthinkable! Before the sun sets on this article series we need to mention a few non-basic lands that could provide some decent utility in our race to the Maze's End. Per tradition, of course.
Looking at EDHREC, I was a bit surprised that only 21% of Child of Alara decks run High Market. Child of Alara needs to hit the graveyard in order to explode the board and High Market provides a durable sacrifice outlet.
Our four-step manual to operating the Child of Alara Guildgate machine clearly states the overall importance of tutors. With this in mind we might want to consider running Tolaria West. By activating the Transmute ability we are able to search our library for any land card and put it into our hand. Not only will this help us color fix or find a Guildgate, but we could also use it to find High Market or Claws of Gix if we need to sacrifice Child of Alara to wrath the board.
Thespian's Stage could also provide a few trick plays. We can use its ability to copy a Gate that has been targeted by a Strip Mine or turn it into a second functional copy of Maze's End to double-time our efforts to finish the quest.
The End of an A-Maze-ing Journey!
That's it my EDHREC friends. The final chapter in the Non-Basically Speaking series. I will be taking some time off from the EDHREC article circuit for a while, but I'll pop in from time to time with more oddball ideas and choices. Be sure to follow me on Twitter! I hope you enjoyed this bi-weekly column. If so, what was your favorite article in the series? Oh, and what am I missing to help bring about the Maze's End? Let's discuss in the comments below!
On to the Next!