Spreading the Love - Battle of the Labs: Lab Maniacs vs Lotus Labs!
(Laboratory Maniac | Art by Jason Felix)
The Battle of Maniacs
Hey everyone, Kya here once again!
I'm super excited for this week's article. To be honest, I'm not sure I have another one planned out after this. You're not going to be seeing any better from me after this one. This is it! For me, this is the article that all my work in the last year had been leading up to. The final Coup de Grace of Kya Articles!
Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but again I'm really happy to finally be writing this.
Why am I so excited, you ask? Why am I going off the walls bonkers at the moment? Because one of my EDH heroes agreed to entertain my shenanigans. That's right, the Laboratory Maniacs have decided to help me build the ultimate Chaos deck! Wahahahaha! We are going to have a friendly face-off and see who creates the true god-tier deck of chaos! Is this mash-up going to create a better world for everyone? Goodness no. The world is a much darker, horrible place with more chaos decks in it. However, assuming you survive it, it'll be a very amazing experience.
So who are the Laboratory Maniacs? In my humble opinion (which is always correct), they are the end-all be-all ultimate authority of Competitive EDH (also referred to as "cEDH.") In all seriousness, their content helped me immensely as a cEDH player, probably more than any other content creator(s).
I think one of the most frustrating experiences for someone interested in cEDH is finding reliable and frequent content on the subject. I remember searching through countless sites and videos attempting to find information on how to play the very best EDH can provide. It was this exact video that made me fall in love with the Laboratory Maniacs' work. I ended up creating one of my best decks as a result. Not only was I able to make this deck, but more importantly, I also learned how to play it! In a world of "get good scrub" mentalities and Magic Christmas Land openers you have to fight against across the table, Lab Maniacs actually takes the time to describe how to play various decks and their combinations. They're also very realistic with how the deck will play on average, which is refreshing.
If you can't tell yet, I'm a fan. Check them out.
Chaos, You Say?
So what is chaos? Chaos is the magical unicorn of the EDH realm... assuming of course that the unicorn could shoot fireballs from its mouth and warp your grandmother to another dimension upon sneezing. Chaos, in a way, is a subtype of stax. It removes the ability of players to accurately pilot their deck and forces the flow of the game into a volatile nature. This is, by far, one of my favorite styles of EDH, as it creates games unlike "the norm." Also, I find it to be a kinder middle ground to stax itself, because even though people are not playing as they want, they're still at least playing. Let me give you an example of a simple but very effective chaos card:
You might recognize this card even if you've never sat down with a chaos player. It creates a new rule into the game that immediately ruins the plans of everyone involved. Good luck playing your win condition or being a decent strategist when randomness hits the field.
You know me, though; why keep it simple? Let's add in something a little more confusing.
This is one of my favorite cards. It makes plays big and exciting, every spell creating a large chain of events that follows. Every interaction causing a bigger mess! More importantly though, it makes the caster very careful of what they're casting. Imagine casting a tutor and accidentally giving everyone a win con! Although it's silly, there's an underlying tone of caution involved with it.
Let's just blow up the game by adding one more card, shall we?
Imagine this on the field with Eye of the Storm! Get it yet? That means everyone is essentially playing other peoples' turns for the rest of the game. The last time we did this, someone had to pull out a giant whiteboard to write down the turn orders for each player. Before anyone had realized it, the table had become a game of Un-EDH.
The best part? All the while, you as the pilot are able to stay one step ahead in the confusion, because you've become used to going with the flow, no matter how violent the tides are turning.
So, Competitive Chaos?
I think if I call this Competitive Chaos, the Lab Maniacs will murder me. The truth is, due to its nature and card pool, chaos will never truly be a great contender in cEDH. This will not stop me, though! My goals of creating a chaos deck that will compete with my cEDH leagues will go on! I have a dream of being able to bring my favorite playstyle to even the most serious of situations. I'm willing to admit at this point if this was DC I'd be the Joker, because my motto will always be, "Why so serious?"
To actually get a little serious though, I do personally argue that chaos has its value. I think some of the many chaos naysayers dislike it because it simply throws people off their game. It creates confusion and discomfort for a system and set of rules everyone is used to. Disrupting that system will inevitably cause a strong emotion, but it's also important to realize this also creates a very strong opportunity to take advantage of. Mind games have always been a mild factor of Magic and I want to take this to the next level. I aim to create a system of complete uncertainty and unbalance for my opponents while I profit as the only one able to walk the plane! Of course, as an agent of chaos, there is some acceptance of knowing I will too be occasionally engulfed by its majestic fury.
The goal of these decks is to streamline the chaos playstyle to its ultimate potential. The true power of competitive decks are their speed, resiliency, and consistency. Although it won't be perfect, we're going to try and make these decks keep up with their cEDH contenders to really cause some havoc before someone combos off!
I'm hoping that some people will enjoy the below decks and share my loving view of chaos. That being said, as a performer of mayhem, it's very important to understand your audience. These decks should never be the ones you unwrap around a group of strangers. Even with your friends, I'm sure they'd enjoy these decks only sparingly. These are fun decks to escape the norm, but not to become a new norm. If I haven't made it clear already, chaos decks rock people's worlds, and many don't take kindly to it. Shaking anyone up without warning never goes well in any aspect of life, and Magic is no exception. Do everyone a favor and ask before playing chaos!
With that out of the way, let's get ready to rrrruuuumbbbbllleee!!!!
In the Right Corner, Lotus Labs
Now it's time for our Chaos Deck Face-Off! I figured we'd start off with my deck, as to save the best for last. For this deck, I'm using Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder as the representation of the purest form of chaos. I promised everyone a long time ago that I would post a more serious chaos deck, and now it's time to deliver.
Yidris allows me to access some of the best colors in cEDH, as well as provide an on-point theme of randomness. Many fear Yidris for his Storm potential in cEDH, so this sort of deck will throw people off even more. It also allows for Cascade, which may be an added bonus for rapidly slinging chaos spells. Any Yidris attack could very well be the deciding blow of the game.
The true win con will be the Labman combo, to pay tribute to my wonderful guest today! If not clear already, Laboratory Maniac only comes out when my enemies are disoriented. As you can tell, there is not a lot of room for error if Doomsday doesn't go off.
Not Really Competitive Chaos
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
So what do you think? Scary, right? It'll at least go off much faster then my normal chaotic concoctions. Just don't look up how much this deck would cost you...
And in the Left Corner, Laboratory Maniacs!
Now it's time for the Laboratory Maniacs to test their truly chaotic side! They did something much different than my deck. Having a true competitive mindset, they created something really nasty. They chose to use Narset, Enlightended Master for their commander. I have to say she may not look very chaotic, but how she plays is worlds different then what you see from so many other Narset decks. I bet no one would assume she'd pilot like this upon first view of her in the command zone!
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Now for a quick quote from Laboratory Maniacs about how the deck works:
There really aren't many chaotic effects that can be regularly applied to cEDH. The few that can are present here. First is Narset as a general. This adds uncertainty to what you will be able to do with her trigger.
Once we get past Narset, we have the following cards that add uncertainty but mostly to our advantage. Counterbalance, Expropriate, Omen Machine, Psychic Battle, and Psychic Surgery. Counterbalance, Psychic Battle and Psychic Surgery all primarily affect our opponents.
As our deck is overloaded with high-cost spells that we never expect to actually pay mana for, we get the ability to override many decisions with Psychic Battle. Surgery has potential to snipe off combo pieces and counterspells from just a fetch by our opponents, and Counterbalance can just be free counterspells.
Omen Machine adds more uncertainty, as no one can draw cards and becomes limited to what is in their hand or on top of their library. We can pair this with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir to prevent them from casting any spells off of Omen Machine, and they are then limited to their commanders and their existing hand.
Of note, this general and strategy aren't up to today's standards for cEDH; this is about as close to the peak as you can get while trying to aim for chaos in an competitive environment.
Pretty neat huh? I would love to face against this! How about you?
Who is the Chaos Champion?
I personally love both decks, but there can only be one true Ruler of Chaos! It would be biased for me to choose, and besides, I'm too starstruck to make a decision, so now it's time for the audience to decide who is the rightful Ruler of Chaos!
Before we make our decision, I wanted to add a small addition to this article. Because Laboratory Maniacs was so kind to join in on the fun, I decided to up the stakes! Behold!
The Laboratory Maniacs Trophy! An esteemed award only given to those who create the most frightening of brews. So, does Kya deserve such an honor? Or do the Maniacs go undefeated in their most chaotic of brews? You decide! Which deck do you enjoy more?
A huge thank you again to Laboratory Maniacs for their contribution to our article. I know chaos isn't their cup of tea, but they were completely willing to play along! It's always nice to see various content creators join together, even when it's over something so silly.
As you can tell, I'm a huge fan of chaos and it definitely doesn't get the coverage it deserves. In the right setting, it's a ton of fun and gives the closest experience of Un-EDH, just with legal, black-bordered cards (or white-bordered, for the devious among you).
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Have you experienced chaos? Do you have your own scary chaotic deck? Share below in the comments!
Have a great day,