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Advanced Multiplayer Strategies: The Hull Breach Effect


Hello awesome readers and fellow kitchen table aficionados! If you enjoy playing Commander multiplayer or in other formats multiplayer too, I have a fun series of articles designed around advanced multiplayer strategies that you might not be familiar with. The goal of this series is to unlock your multiplayer potential and should be a great launching point for new Commander players that have only traditionally played duals or are early in the gaming.

Today we are starting with an Effect that I found and wrote about back in 2007. Today we are going to look at the Hull Breach effect and how to play cards like it and others with the potential for multiple targets for you to smash appropriately and then how to keep your spell resolving.

Hull Breach

Let's start by looking at the multiplayer classic common in its first printing self-titled Hull Breach. Because this was printed at common, it's legal for formats like Pauper or Pauper Commander or Acid Magic (Pauper, Highlander and Five Color combined) by the by. This is run in 37,762 Commander decks over at EDHREC, so it's still a cheap two-cost Gruul colored spell with three options. You can destroy an artifact, you can destroy an enchantment or you can do both! We all know how strong a 2-for-1 can be in multiplayer since that's card advantage from your removal card. We all aim for either cheap things that have multiple targets (Beast Within, Chaos Warp) or cards like this that can take out multiple targets like Crush Contraband or Into the Core. What we'll be doing for the rest of the article is identifying Hull Breaches and talk about how people often misplay them and bring out the bad guys and to prevent that.

The Limitations of a Hull Breach

Let's start by looking at a Hull Breach in real multiplayer gaming. Let's assume we are playing a game with four total players whom we will call Player One, Player Two, Player Three, and you. Let's also assume that you are playing Commander so you know everyone's color identity and deck archetype prior to playing the game.

The Alela could be Faeries-matter or flyers matter or just Esper artifacts/enchantments matter to net the triggers. Xolatoyac is likely Islandwalk or +1/+1 counters matter. Wyleth is Voltron, Auras or Equipment. So that gives you a strong idea of what you are running up against.

  • You: Mayael the Anima. You are running this three mana lover of five-powered dorks that can drop them with her tap of six mana from your library to the battlefield for free.

In the first five turns, here is how the gaming goes:

Player One - Dropped first turn Sleep-Cursed Faerie, second-turn Signet, third turn Alela, fourth turn Propaganda activate and swing for two cards, fifth turn nothing swing for three dorks.

Player Two - First turn Birds of Paradise, then Sylvan Library, Cultivate, fourth-turn Commander and make their Forest an Island untap it, fifth turn swing, make an Island, tapped two counter lands to cast Farseek, untap them. He drew two extra cards from the Library.

Player Three - First play is third-turn Wyleth, fourth turn enchant with Etali's Favor, discover three, cast for free Spirit Mantle on him, swing for two cards and cannot be blocked with Spirit Mantle by dorks. Fifth turn cast Hyena Umbra, swing for three cards drawn.

You - First turn ETB land, Rampant Growth, third-turn Mayael, fourth-turn drop Spellbreaker Behemoth, fifth turn you top deck Hull Breach, and this is a busy board. You want to cast it!

What do you want to target? Well, the best enchantments are either the Sylvan Library to set your deck and draw in a 40-life environment, or Propaganda to stop your attackers. What about the Aura deck's Spirit Mantle letting them swing in without blocking either? Good thought, but they are likely to have more evasive auras. I would argue that Sylvan Library is worse than Propaganda against you since you are not going wide with the tokens but big with the effects and you are in green's ramp and have 6 mana available already. You assess similarly and agree that the Library is the worst target.

So, you cast that Hull Breach, and then since you can target and knock out an artifact for free, you target Player One's Signet, the only artifact on the battlefield. That's the correct play, right?

But then you walked right into the Hull Breach Effect!

Everybody has untapped mana, and two have Blue in their color identity for counter magic. By targeting both Blue players, you are twice as likely to get countered since you targeted the Signet. If you had only targeted the Sylvan Library, then you only have one player who could counter this. Sure, you might have gotten it to resolve and get you a two-for-one, but now Player One could really want to protect their mana base and would counter. Also, if you just solo-targeted the Sylvan Library, then if Player #2 went to counter it, Player #1 might counter to take out the most abusive enchantment, and if you point out that you saved his Signet, you might get a friend or a counter to counter the Player #2 removal spell. Sure, this was just a one for one trade this way. What if Player #1 were tapped out and you took out Signet? Then you might make them mad at you since many won't like their mana rocks dying, and then they might start to swing your way with the flyers which is an even worse result since your color combo big stuff tends to be on the ground. That's the Hull Breach Effect! Don't make too many targets or enemies.

Hull Breaches in Action:

Now let's turn to Hull Breaches in action, like the aforementioned Into the Core at instant speed exiling two artifacts permanently no indestructible saving or bringing back with Academy Ruins effects! Or Crush Contraband an instant speed Hull Breach that also exiles too.

Let's look at Hull Breach effects!

Decimate is the obvious choice. Still in Gruul, sorcery speed and double the cost, this must destroy artifact, enchantment, land and dork. Note that if your foes don't have it, you'll have to target yourself, and note that if you don't have the target available, this is uncastable. I once had a foe who had a Volrath's Stronghold, Etched Oracle he was bringing back, Mind's Eye drawing him the cards and Mirari's Wake abusing mana ramp (enchantment). That was ideal and back in the days when everyone was playing Five Color. But that's no longer the point today but this classic stands. With the Hull Breach effect in mind, don't cast this and then mix your targets to more players, but focus on as few as possible. As you can see, this powerhouse can cause you to overcommit targets and then bring the heat. Love this card loads when timed or played well.

Casualties of War costs two more, and adds in a planeswalker potential target, but they are all options, so you can always play it and timed for max removals and skip what might not make friends.

Molten Collapse

Now let's turn to Rakdos sorceries! The one just printed will destroy either a dork or a planeswalker or a 1 drop or fewer nondork nonland like Sol Ring or Skullclamp or a token. And if you descended you can do both, but destroying someone's Sol Ring could really start the bad feelings and start the Hull Breach effect. Fumarole costs five and swaps three life to destroy both a land and a dork. It's like colorshifted take on Decimate and you can get two-for-one, but if target one player for a dork, you might want to stick with them for that land too. This was reprinted as six-mana Plague Spores but the land has restrictions. See also Fissure Vent that will destroy an artifact and/or a nonbasic land. Into the Maw of Hell will destroy a land and shoot a dork for 13 likely killing it and is great with burn Commanders or those that care about excess damage. Also don't sleep on Stomp and Howl or Vandalize.

Now let's turn to kicker spells that destroy more than one thing. The classic is Orim's Thunder. It was heavily played in multiplayer since you can Disenchant at instant speed for one more mana and then toss a kicker for just one more to shoot a dork for damage equal to the cost as well. Nice combo of removal!

Gleeful Sabotage
Primitive Justice

Now let's turn to spells that are initially one for one but can be more with additional resources. The mono-Green one costs two, Naturalizes two possible targets at sorcery speed, and then you can tap two untapped Green dorks to fork it once. The Gruul one costs two Red to start, destroy an artifact so it's a Shatter, and then you can spend a bunch of extra mana to destroy more artifacts and possibly gain life! You also have flashback here like Dire-Strain Rampage or Wreck and Rebuild.

Now let's turn to the mono-Green selection! Rain of Thorns costs six, is sorcery speed, and can Hull Breach three things, the artifact and enchantment as expected and then lands too. Nasty, but, again, run them as much as possible for one player. Force of Vigor costs four at instant speed and is an instant speed Hull Breach for two more mana, and you didn't change colors. And if it's another person's turn you can cast this for free if you are tapping out as a pitch spell to exile a green card in your hand. You can play into this by tapping out on your turn to keep your foes from thinking you have a response. Another instant speed potential two for one in this color is Relic Crush.

Cabaretti Confluence
Cosmium Confluence
Fiery Confluence

Now let's turn to the Confluence series of sorceries that let you do one of three things up to three times. If they answer a permanent then you can choose that twice or three times on resolving to get a two or three for one like Hull Breach. The Cabaretti one will let you make a copy token that has haste, give a player a boosted size and first strike, but it's here for that middle ablity to exile an artifact or enchantment. Cosmium one costs five, can search out Caves, put counters on a Cave, or destroy enchantments. See also Righteous Conflence to exile enchantments instead. Fiery Confluence can shoot each dork for one for removal, each foe for two to kill, or destoy an artifact. Great quad of options.

Now let's look at some Mardu answers. Malicious Affliction costs two, and you destroy a non-Black dork. Then when you cast it, if a dork under anyone's control died? Copy this for another removal spell. Note that works for tokens too, there is no non-token language anywhere, and anyone can control it. With the Hull Breach Effect in mind, target the same player's stuff.

Wear // Tear costs two to Shatter or one to Demystify, which are the normal costs without any additional prices. Then you can fuse this and cast both and destroy your two targets. Like Hull Breach, this will destroy an artifact, enchantment or both.

Consign to Dust will destroy one artifact or enchantment. Then you can strive it for three mana each time to destroy more, and Green is the color of ramp. Silence the Believers will exile a dork and then for free, their Auras too to prevent recursion like with Rancor or indestructible tricks. Then you can strive this for three as well to exile more and more things and it's also playable with Cabal Coffers. As Hull Breaches with the strive, make sure you choose your targets carefully.

Windgrace's Judgment
Guff Rewrites History

Let's turn to instants that answer things that scale up with your foe count in Jund colors. The Golgari five-cost will destroy anything that ain't a land from any foe. Now that there is an "any" word here so I suspect you can choose not to target some folks to keep them happy. Guff will force everyone (you too) to shuffle a target you choose to their library that isn't a land here too or an enchantment either. Then they reveal cards until a nonland is revealed and cast the nonland for free. Note that there is nothing here like sharing a card type or just putting a permanent into play. You can target your tokens like Treasures or 1/1 dorks get card advantage and do that for friends or those to make nice with the same shuffle idea. Both will scale up in multiplayer and then can be played politically to make or keep friends.

Let's finish with our only X spell on today's list: Heliod's Intervention can destroy X artifacts and/or enchantments, or a player like you can gain double X life to keep yourself alive out of nowhere or to help a friend you made with your Hull Breaches or to make a friend since you just saved someone from a lethal attack. It's here for the first choice. Taking out a bunch of artificial stuff at instant speed can really break a board or is a great tap out EOT and then you untap and take your turn with enchantment and artifact dorks dead to swing past or Ghostly Prison effects keeping you down or tempo laden things like Rhystic Study or Smothering Tithe. White does have ramp of Plains like Knight of the White Orchid and Archaeomancer's Map or the aforementioned Treasure making Tithe which you can lean into here to blow out stuff.

And there we go!!! I hope you enjoyed my first in a new series of Advanced Multiplayer Strategies - next week is the Density of Creatures!

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