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75% More Golden


Occasionally, I will remember that it’s probably a good idea to type “75%” into the search bar in the EDH subreddit to see if anyone’s asking questions. I should really do the same thing on sites like MTG Salvation, but I can’t be everywhere at once, can I? I’m only human! We’re not even a paragraph in, and you’re already on my case. Take a step back or you’ll eat through a tube, sucker.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
I clearly have some anxiety over feeling that I’m missing opportunities to engage with the receptive portion of the reddit EDH community. I’ll sometimes search for 75%, and a post from a month ago will pop up, and someone will have asked a question I could easily have answered, and I’ll feel silly for not having caught it when it was first posted. As much as situations like that can give me heartburn (staying on top of that, if not my job, should at least be my obligation), I’m starting to feel really gratified by the responses I see from people who did manage to notice the post the first time around. People are starting to answer questions the way I would, and even better than that, they add their own insights. The community taking ownership of the ethos is exactly what I want to see, and it’s amazing.

I don’t often miss posts either. One from last week caught my eye because it dealt with a commander I haven’t covered yet and also because the community did a great job of answering the OP’s questions before I even noticed. /u/DrBlanko asked about how to make his Tasigur deck a little more 75%, and the responses in the thread (the letters earlier in the sentence are blue because I linked it. Look, I don’t know how much you know about the Internet) are good ones. I kind of hoped I’d see a deck that was 75% of the way to being a good 75% build, help make a few suggestions, ask for the decklist, and take the deck through the deck garage in an article. Wouldn’t you know it? He tuned the deck himself. I could scarcely ask for more.

Tasigur is an interesting commander. He essentially draws cards, and if you can sculpt your graveyard a bit, he draws the card you want when you want it at the expense of having an empty ’yard after. Still, the card advantage is attractive to a lot of players, and Tasigur’s activated ability allows you to play him in decent colors for a graveyard deck. So what exactly was the problem?

75% (?) Tasigur ? Commander | DrBlanko

  • Commander (0)

D. Blanky (as he likes to be called) wasn’t sure where his deck was with respect to the average power level of a 75% deck. Luckily, I think (and I’m not alone) the first draft is underpowered. This saves me the awkward feeling that I’m not going to be able to “save” a deck that’s overpowered. I have held fast to one of our eight core principles concerning power level: Always start weak and improve a deck, and never weaken a stronger deck. If the deck had been too good, I probably wouldn’t have trifled with it.

Villainous Wealth
Luckily, we have a deck that has significant room for improvement and can still be well, well within the bounds of the 75% principles. If you build with the rules in mind, it’s tough to overshoot in terms of power level (the ethos is all but predicated on the notion that consistency and homogeneity are the real culprits rather than power level), which is handy for deck-building purposes. Still, people who are building 75% for a specific reason like a weaker group, a group that has agreed that most or all players should aim for 75% or because they win too often with other decks or draw too much aggro are usually hypersensitive about power level and tend to underbuilt. This is a very good thing—underbuilding is the goal, and many players come to the conclusion on their own. Now, let’s be clear, 75% isn’t an “underbuilding” principle, but what we want to do first is underbuild and then strengthen the deck as much and as often as we can while still keeping it 75%. Making a deck stronger is fun, anyway, so it’s a good thing we don’t want to weaken the decks. The majority of the time a player asks me, “Is this okay for 75%?” the deck is underpowered, and I am able to tell those players the good news.

How can we strengthen this deck? Well, I would give some suggestions of my own, but I feel that the reddit community handled it. Did some of the feedback devolve into some pedantic arguments about minutiae? Well, yes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nearly half of the comments in the thread are about the merits of Nature's Claim and Abrupt Decay, but worse things have happened. Compelling cases being made for cards I like isn’t the end of the world.

I weighed in because, not only did I happen to have an opinion, but I also happened to notice the thread, which was handy.

This could be a lot tighter and more powerful and still be 75%. I think you have too many counterspells and not enough removal for my tastes, but that certainly doesn't disqualify the deck. I might remove a weaker counterspell and jam a Desertion, for example.

I think taking a look at how Tasigur works with the rest of the deck will help you get where you need to be. Getting double activations from Illusionist's Bracers and activating him for cheaper with Training Grounds is solid. Which spells do you want to loop? How do you win with this deck? How does it scale to match the power level of their deck? Are you going to win the exact same way every game? Ask yourself these questions.

I clearly composed this response on my phone, but my point still stands—I think. I realize I always want to jam Desertion in everything, but that’s how I roll. Desertion is among the best 75% spells ever. I talk about it just about every week, but this is my article series, and I’m going to talk about it again, so buckle in. Desertion is a counterspell that takes effort to leave mana up for, so you’re not going to dump it on a meaningless spell just because you have it in hand and someone is casting something. You’re going to save it for a good creature and only counter a spell that you can’t steal with it if it’s absolutely necessary. Desertion incentivizes you not to waste it, and that’s amazing. Not only that, but Desertion helps you scale your power level to opponents’ when you steal someone’s best creature with it. You’re not summoning something an opponent can’t handle, you’re causing something he or she should be able to handle to desert him or her and fight for you. I’m so happy Desertion exists. What a spell.

In general, I prefer removal to countermagic, and that jives with our maxim stating, “It’s better to punish our opponents for doing things than it is to prevent them from doing things,” which is a pretty decent rule of thumb. People would rather you killed ninety creatures with a Damnation than cast Forbid on three spells over four turns. I’m not sure why that is, but there you have it.

I honestly think the deck can grow even stronger than his second draft, which is why I have called it a second draft rather than a finished deck. I think his second version is on the right track though. Let’s see where we ended up.

75% (?) Tasigur Version 2.0 ? Commander | DrBlanko

  • Commander (0)

There are significant improvements with the addition of cards like Training Grounds, Desertion, and Burgeoning.

I would make a few improvements.

Cabal Coffers
The land base could use Cabal Coffers to go with our Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I would also cut Vivid lands. I am starting to strip Vivid lands out of all of my decks that are fewer than fewer colors. Putting the counters on them is a pain, and if you’re running a two-colored deck, they’re bad Guildgates, which are bad Temples. Just run Temples. You can run three Temples in this deck, and I would run all of them. That’s personal taste, but the mana base is important, and these minor changes could make a significant impact in power level and consistency, something we can build a bit more and still be fine. As an aside, as a financier, I’m all but salivating at the prospect of the Temples becoming cheap at rotation. I’m already starting to trade for the cheap ones, and when they’re all cheap, I’m going to grab as many as I can for both my decks and my spec box. With all of the Scars of Mirrodin “check” lands growing expensive, I’m planning to cash in a bunch and go ham with Nykthos and Temples for my decks. Can’t wait!

I’d cut more counterspells and add more utility spells such as Cyclonic Rift. Yes, Cyclonic Rift is dirty, but we need spells like it to be able to beat full-tuned decks, and Cyclonic Rift isn’t inherently a dirty card. It’s up to you to choose which mode, and the kind of player who underbuilds a 75% deck not wanting to smash his playgroup isn’t likely to overload it just to be a tool. I’ve cast Cyclonic Rift for 2 mana quite often in Commander when the power level of the group warranted it or when my need was dire. In fact, it reminds me a bit of Desertion in that regard.

A lot of the changes I’d make would be cosmetic though. This is a pile of removal that, while it could use cards like Grave Betrayal for maximum fun and maybe Eternal Witness to help sculpt the graveyard in a more positive way, can get there. I like the feedback from the community, the fact that the deck was underbuilt at first, and the fact that a first draft hit the deck box before I even was able weigh in. A third draft might look even tighter, but I see what /u/DrBlanko is going for here, and I’m a fan.

What do we think? Did I take it too easy on him? Would you have liked to see me really knuckle down and suggest a lot of changes or was it better to highlight the suggestions made by the rest of the community? Is the deck still way, way underpowered or is it going to be fine in your meta? Do you have a list of your own you’d like me to take a swing at? Leave your thoughts in the comment section, and let’s get a party started. Until next week!

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