Friday, August 10, 2018

Torgaar, Salt Incarnate

Preamble Ramble

I have a few problems.

When it comes to Commander. 

First is I love building decks. Commander gives me the opportunity to flex the puzzle muscle. In Pauper, my deckbuilding exercises are constrained by the established metagame. With 100 cards I can roam free. 

The problem isn't that I build too many decks, it's that I have ways I like to play and they tend to repeat themselves. First, I am a Golgari mage at heart and nearly every one of my decks has a pretty significant graveyard theme. My mono-Blue deck: Hakim, Loreweaver. Second, I love sacrificing for value. That same mono-Blue deck? You can bet it has Barrin, Master Wizard and Claws of Gix. 

So when given Black cards I tend to push hard on these themes. It's an active effort for me to not play one way. And so when I looked at my last mono-Black deck - Yahenni, Undying Partisan - I realized it wasn't doing anything unique. Especially when I placed it next to my Elenda, the Dusk Rose and a planned Slimefoot, the Stowaway deck. 

Like the Avengers, it was disassembled.

Part I

I went undefeated at the Dominaria Prerelease. I had a sweet Black-White deck that was heavy on removal and grindy value. One of the cards in my deck was Torgaar, Famine Incarnate. While I had no intention of rebuilding a mono-Black deck, the avatar lingered on my mind. 

Torgaar spoke to a different side of sacrifice - a political side. I was attracted to its ability to not only speed up the game by reducing life totals to 20, I loved how later on in the game it could be used to help out allies by boosting their health back to 20. The interaction with Dark Prophecy is was sold me on the card.

Part II

I am a huge fan of Nether Shadows. I love cards that can bring themselves back from the dead and it was the entire theme of my Yahenni deck. When I put together Elenda, she took on this suite of cards. That left many of my undying friends off limits, as well as the package of Blood Artist, Falkenrath Noble, and Zulaport Cutthroat. 

Don't worry - Grave Pact and its friends are in here. I couldn't resist the attempt to control the board through sacrifice.

So instead of Nether Shadows I went with a token theme. I want to be able to cast Torgaar early and often and generating gobs of tokens with Pawn of Ulamog, Sifter of Skulls, Endrek Sahr, and Ogre Slumlord seems like a good way to go. All those tokens mean Skullclamp and Mortarpod (I see you Carlos) do some work. 

Wound Reflection and Temporal Extortion were in from the get go. I mean, who doesn't love an "I win" suite of cards? Archfiend of Despair was another easy inclusion once it was spoiled. Torgaar was not going to be making me any friends.

Part III

Last week I had a pretty bad play experience at my friendly local game store. I was piloting my Zirilan of the Claw Dragon deck and we were down to three players after Daretti, Scrap Savant had Mindslavered me and used Zirilan to fetch out Dragon Tyrant to take out another player. With a Mycosynth Lattice on the table Daretti convinced Mimeoplasm to come at me with their Commander impersonating Hellkite Tyrant. 

Despite my best efforts to convince Mimeoplasm to not come at me and instead let me untap with mana and kill Daretti I was not successful and lost all my cards. Daretti went on to untap and win the game.

It me.

This led to a conversation with my friend Andrew about whether or not I was leaving out win conditions from my decks. It's not that winning is the only thing that matters to me, it's just that being a new dad means I don't have a ton of time to play; a third problem. Because of the time crunch I want to make sure that when I pilot a deck I enjoy the experience, but also that I give myself a chance to win.

Part IV

Last night I was able to make it to Commander night at my friendly local game store. I found some players and we got to gaming. In the first, Tatyova, Benthid Druid overtook Crosis (me), Yidris, and Naban. 

In the second game I decided to bust out Torgaar. The other Commanders don't matter much, except that one of them was Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis.

And my opening hand had Archfiend of Despair, Swamps, Cabal Coffers, and Cabal Stronghold.

I bet you can see where this is going.

After accumulating enough mana I was able to stick Archfiend. Yidris tried to take it out with Unlicensed Disintegration but a timely Imp's Mischief meant they took six damage instead. Kynaios has to pass the turn and I slammed Torgaar, targeting the group hug. I squeezed them for 32 life points and killed them.

The mono-Red Valduk player knocked me to six and then Archfiend hit the bin. No problem. Whip of Erebos brought it back at which point at I swung for lethal at the Mountain player. Helm of Posession meant I took Yidris from Yidris and swung at them.

So I had Cascade on my spells. Solemn Simulacrum netting a Toxic Deluge for zero. Hell's Caretaker got me Demonic Tutor with four mana available.

One Temporal Extortion later and I was victorious.

Just Torgaar things.

Torgaar, Famine Incarnate

Liliana Vess

Abhorrent Overlord
Archfiend of Despair
Artisan of Kozilek
Butcher of Malakir
Bloodsoaked Champion
Crypt Ghast
Dread Drone
Grave Titan
Harvester of Souls
Hell's Caretaker
Krovikan Horror
Magus of the Coffers
Massacre Wurm
Ogre Slumlord
Overseer of the Damned
Pawn of Ulamog
Pontiff of Blight
Rakshasa Gravecaller
Reassembling Skeleton
Rune-Scarred Demon
Sengir Autocrat
Shadowborn Demon
Sifter of Skulls
Smothering Abomination
Skeletal Vampire
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
Ghoulcaller Gisa
Krav, the Unredeemed
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Whisper, Blood Liturgist
Hangarback Walker
Solemn Simulacrum

Imp's Mischief
Silence the Believers

Demonic Tutor
Increasing Ambition
Life's Finale
Temporal Extortion
Toxic Deluge

Erratic Portal
Helm of Possession
Jet Medalion
Thaumatic Compass
Unstable Obelisk

Black Market
Breeding Pit
Dark Prophecy
Dictate of Erebos
Diabolic Servitude
Grave Pact
Shadows of the Past
Wound Reflection
Arugel's Blood Fast
Whip of Erebos

21 Swamp
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Cabal Stronghold
Crypt of Agadeem
High Market
Memorial to Folly
Mortuary Mire
Myriad Landscape
Springjack Pasture
Temple of the False God
Terrain Generator
Westvale Abbey
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Urborg,Tomb of Yawgmoth
Volrath's Stronghold


I played one more game that night. This time I took out Elenda, the Dusk Rose. While I did not win (that went to Tatyova, again, with Craterhoof Behemoth, again) I saw that my decks could close. Blasting Station and Nether Shadows - that's a hell of a combination when Elenda is on the table.

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