Hey everyone, Unmistakable here,
This week I’m going to do a deck tech on a relic from my EDH past, my pal Roon of the Hidden Realm. This deck spawned out of tinkering with other decks similar to my first draft of my Karador build, gaining value off of ETB and LTB effects through different means in order to grind value out of the game, and outvalue our opponents.
- As an aside before we begin, this article heavily uses the terms ETB and LTB. In case there is any ambiguity on the meanings of these terms, I am referring to Enters the Battlefield and Leaves the Battlefield effects.
So, why Roon? Is the green splash enough to differentiate him from Brago, King Eternal? If you’re interested in an attrition-based midrange shell, then I can’t recommend him enough. The deck started as a Brago build, and while the increased flexibility of what you can flicker is very useful (shout out to Spine of Ish Sah and Reality Acid), for a creature based build Roon is far superior, due to his more combat-relevant body, and access to strong green ETBs like Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth. Brago himself is more suited to an artifact-based stax build, focussing on flickering mana rocks and using Strionic Resonator to achieve infinite mana to overcome strong effects such as Winter Orb or Tangle Wire. One more thing to note is that this deck was built very heavily towards creature-based decks, main opponents including Ruric Thar and Kaalia of the Vast. As such, there isn’t much to hate on combo decks; though the inclusion of a hatebear suite and extra tutors to find them would be my first point of improvement in that case. Without further adieu, let’s meet the deck:
Angel of Serenity – The first of our threats comes with a fair amount of complexity. Sure, it could be a triple Oblivion Ring that takes the three biggest targets; but that much aggression comes with a big target. From a politics standpoint, the angel becomes a less viable target the more you target your own graveyard. If you were to grab, say, an opponent’s Iona, or equally problematic creature, and also target a Terastodon and Armada Wurm in your own graveyard, the cries of ‘Quick! Kill it so we can get our stuff back!’ become ‘Well, maybe I didn’t need it THAT much…’ This angel is one of my favourites in the deck for just this reason. Load as much value into her death trigger as you can, and soon her already evasive body can swing with impunity.
Armada Wurm – An aggro deck’s nightmare, a few flickers of this creature clogs the ground up with large tramplers; both difficult to punch through, and a looming threat if they get out of control. Particularly weak to Cyclonic Rift and wrath heavy decks, but as a big dumb beater goes it doesn’t get much better than this.
Avenger of Zendikar – One of the more intimidating threats to see in the deck due to its instant board presence, looming threat of further landfalls (particularly from flickered elves) and the highly increased value of a Craterhoof entering a swinging for three digits. This can also handily be sacrificed to Birthing Pod to play the behemoth the turn following; this often forms the primary win opportunity for the deck.
Craterhoof Behemoth – The king. The high value finisher of the deck, a well timed Craterhoof ends the game on the spot, swinging for upwards of 40 trampling damage to each player (and often more). This guy is best on a developed board, and can break board stalls like no other. Spamming out utility creatures and tokens then dropping a behemoth is the deck’s primary finisher; and if they survive/you have that much mana (this deck ramps hard), he also makes a terrifying Rite of Replication target.
Prime Speaker Zegana – A prime weakness of the deck has been refilling your hand after clogging up the board and dropping your commander: Enter Zegana. Resolving her often rewards you with a decent threat and 4+ cards on entry; flickering her ensures you will almost never run out of options for the rest of the game.
Terastodon – Keeping with the etb creatures with lasting influence, the elephant doubles as both removal and a heady threat. He also has a political component to him, as spreading the love as opposed to bombing a player’s field is often the best way to keep hold of a game. When on the back foot, targetting your own lands can also provide you with an instant board presence; or flickering with a board wipe to follow up can lead to a one sided Armageddon.
After the threats, the next layer on the deck comes the flicker; the spells and effects that allow us to squeeze more value out of our creatures.
Brago, King Eternal – The progenitor of this project, I’d been on the fence about keeping him in the list for the deck’s lifespan: while he does flicker, and does it well, without building around him to give him unblockable (or skulk?) a 2/4 with such a splashy ability wouldn’t get many chances to connect before he’s dealt with. Despite this, here he is: stubborn to work. Though, don’t get me wrong – when the stars align, work he does, and it’s always soaked in value.
Conjurer’s Closet – My personal favourite flicker in the deck – nothing big, nothing fancy, just one flicker a turn on a difficult to remove permanent. By the time your opponents get around to answering this, it’ll already have squeezed out much more value than you paid for it.
Deadeye Navigator – Perennial contender for the banlist, it was impossible to keep him out of the deck. However, due to the meta’s climate at the time of construction, it was vowed that he wouldbe kept safe and (relatively) undegenerate; I kept the Mystic Snake lock, but didn’t add the ability to go infinite; anybody with the budget/desire to lose friends should definitely look into it however, a lot of these creatures are great when flickered hundreds of thousands of times.
Flickerwisp – A flexible piece of flickering tech, this both serves its intended purpose – flickering your stuff – but also can mess with your opponent’s board. Troublesome token? This permanently deals with it. Need to push through damage? This can remove a formidable blocker until end of turn. Ensuring you always have options is brilliant in a deck like this.
Ghostly Flicker – The closest to a ‘vanilla’ flicker in the deck (Cloudshift didn’t quite make the cut), this offers protection from removal and extra ETBs for up to two creatures you control; with the added benefit of flickering artifacts and lands too (style points for reusing a utilised Hideaway land).
Ghostway – A relatively outdated (well, as of SoI) spell; this spell was the most powerful instant flicker you could want. Load up a field with a decent amount of creatures, and suddenly this reads ‘2W: Draw X cards, destroy X noncreature permanents, search for X lands, and put X tokens onto the battlefield’. It may dodge the cut if I were to consider a place for Eerie Interlude, as it is still a powerful spell in its own right.
Mistmeadow Witch – Repeatable flickers are the best kind of flickers. Between this, Roon, the closet, and Venser, this deck has its fair share. While expensive, the fact that the witch doesn’t tap more than makes up for it, allowing for a late game mana sink to blank removal or reuse creatures.
Momentary Blink – A subtly powerful spell, this spell appears underwhelming at first; Cloudshift for 1W is nothing to write home about. However, the flashback sells it for me. When in topdeck mode an opponent can often overextend without checking all options, and this can lead to blowouts if they overextend into something that they’d rather not.
Restoration Angel – Modern mainstay, no surprise that the angel is powerful enough to get a shot here. Narrower than most of the flickers, a flash body that can save a creature or reuse an ETB effect (or evoke bad memories of INN-RTR standard by flickering a Thragtusk), this creature adds more doubt to opponents looking to get aggressive.
Venser, the Sojourner – The face of the operation; it wouldn’t be a flicker deck without the prodigal walker himself. He provides a lot of flexibility, flickering when you need him to, but also threatening a boardwide unblockable when you need it. As much as it is considered foolish to judge a walker by his ult, Venser having a +2 puts a real clock to opponents, and a successful Venser ult is not anything to sniff at.
Acidic Slime – The slime is an excellent all-round utility creature that provides flexibility in destruction targets, and leaves behind a deathtouching body to boot. Often a great tutor target, this creature is never an unwelcome draw.
Angel of Finality – This addition stemmed from a sudden rise in grave abuse in my local meta; If a meta has a Karador, The Mimeoplasm or other graveyard deck running rampant this angel will rapidly become your best friend.
Brutalizer Exarch – A flexible utility creature that justifies the (frankly extortionate) mana cost. The ability to tutor up your next draw is probably what he’ll do most, but if you need to deal with a troublesome noncreature, the Exarch is great.
Coiling Oracle – One of the most powerful early drops if you ask me; he either ramps or draws a card, both of which this resource-hungry deck loves. If ever there’s a spare flicker, the Oracle is often the correct target – this with Conjurer’s Closet generates a LOT of value over time.
Mulldrifter – Another option for card advantage, this elemental has lots of great tricks with Roon. Perhaps my favourite is to cast it for its evoke cost, and then flicker it in response to the evoke trigger, doubling the ETB effect and saving the drifter from being sacrificed. A very powerful target for Reveillark, there is no reason not to use this little guy.
Murkfiend Liege, Seedborn Muse – These are both powerhouses, providing pseudo-vigilance and a whole lot more. Hands up here, the Muse was originally Prophet of Kruphix pre-ban. I replaced it with the Muse because I prefer untapping Roon + my lands each turn for additional flicker opportunities. However, anybody preferring the flash component of Prophet (flashing in a Luminate Primordial is hilariously fun) should look more towards Leyline of Anticipation or Vedalken Orrery, which are also acceptable replacements.
Phyrexian Metamorph, Progenitor Mimic – My two choices of Clone, Metamorph’s flexibility to choose artifacts is fantastic; able to be an extra Closet or Pod is an excellent boon to this deck. The mimic, while expensive, is more of an engine than a clone; on a threatening target it poses the threat of repeated ETBs until either it’s dealt with or your opponents are straight-up valued out.
Reclamation Sage – Excellent catchall removal that can be flickered for value. The first entry will take care of their threatening permanents, such as Skullclamp or Survival of the Fittest; all entries afterwards can concentrate on utility permanents, or rocks.
Rite of Replication – Usually saved for a blowout kick-play, this sorcery also doubles as a clone – which, as detailed above, work excellently in an ETB deck. A kicked one of these landing on ANY of your threats lategame is often irrecoverable for your opponents, or can be an asymmetrical wipe if you cats it on one of your removal creatures.
Solemn Simulacrum – The sad robot distinguishes himself from the other ramp creatures for a couple of reasons; one, he also serves as a rattlesnake effect to discourage attacking/wiping. Two, I find it excellent that he can be podded into from either of your ramping elves, then throwing him back into the pod acts as a cantrip on top of what else you find. Fantastic value.
Stonehorn Dignitary – This is a quirky pick that is recommendable for a creature-based meta – but practically nowhere else. If chosen for the target of an engine, he can lock a player out of combat for as long as he’s around – which is more than annoying for a creature deck that doesn’t run much removal. Really fun in casual games, but against anybody with combo/control elements, not great.
sk">Thragtusk – Ah, the scourge of INN-RTR standard. Fallen from his high perch to dollar rare status, ol’ Swagtusk is a great cheap addition to the deck, as even in EDH 5 life and a medium-sized token is pretty good value, even if you only get one of each.
Venser, Shaper Savant – Pseudo Mystic Snake, Venser is a valuable flash creature capable of setting up blowout combat phases by bouncing an attacker and blocking another. Of course he comes with other uses as well, as his bounce isn’t restricted by target (even the stack isn’t safe!) and repeated flickers can make him a very large annoyance for anybody trying to play spells… or lands.. or the game..
Aura Shards – A Harmonic Sliver for all your creatures is fantastic regardless of deck – degenerate in a deck that flickers creatures for their ETBs. Staple in any deck that can use it, I can’t recommend it more.
Beast Within – This is one for those tricky, hard to kill permanents; mostly Lands and Planeswalkers, but will do work no matter what you need to deal with. The best part is that the token is rarely a downside – Roon can flicker it to deal with it for good.
Cyclonic Rift – One of the best blue cards still legal in the format. Huge tempo swing, if you can return more than 3 permanents per player you’ve practically Time Walked them; definitely save as a trump card.
Duplicant, Luminate Primordial, Phyrexian Ingester – Exiling on an ETB is powerful; the ability to repeat it moreso. Plus, exile over
destruction means that once a combo piece or key creature is hit, it stays hit. Definitely some of the harder working cards in this deck.
Swords to Plowshares – Perhaps the most efficient removal spell in the game, the lifegain is often negligible when it deals with a threat permanently. For one mana. At instant speed. There is really no reason not to run either this or Path to Exile – though given the choice, this trumps ramping your opponents for me.
Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate – For 2G these are some of the most efficient ramping spells you can get your hands on. In addition to paying 1G for the Rampant Growth you also pay 1 in order to guarantee your next land drop; this is a great boon to a deck that kick-starts its game plan after achieving 5 mana.
Darksteel Ingot, Selesnya Signet, Simic Signet, Sol Ring – Standard mana accelerant artifacts, the Ring and Signets are some of the most efficient rocks you can get. Darksteel Ingot looks out of place, but occasionally the indestructible is relevant. If I were to rebuild this, I’d definitely sub the ingot out for Chromatic Lantern, as a rock that taps for all your colours with a Prismatic Omen attached is fantastic.
Farhaven Elf, Wood Elves – Elves that often have their ETB abused for lots of lands and then thrown either under the bus or into Birthing Pod are always going to be good in this sort of deck. Special mention to Wood Elves for fetching nonbasic forests – Breeding Pool, Temple Garden and Dryad Arbor are all valid targets.
Sakura-Tribe Elder – While he doesn’t synergise with the gimmick, he’s the cheapest creature to put the land directly into play. Understated in power, he can also be a great attack-negator while still allowing you to ramp.
Archaeomancer – Often seen as subpar in constructed environments, this card has a lot of love to give in this build. A lot of the time, this card will return something unbelievably powerful like Swords to Plowshares or Rite of Replication, though this + a flicker engine have been assembled in order to recur and overload a Cyclonic Rift once per turn. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. It IS hilarious.
Eternal Witness – Can perform Archaeomancer’s role just as well, but with the additional benefit of hitting everything, for a smaller, albeit more colour intensive, mana investment. It’s a green staple in EVERY deck for a reason, and that reason is that a repeatable Regrowth effect is fantastic if you’re looking to win any sort of attrition battle.
Karmic Guide – A criminally undercosted card, this angel provides a second chance for any creature that has hit the yard. With the inclusion of a sac outlet such as Altar of Dementia, this forms an infinite loop withReveillark, but those did not seem worth the cost of going against theme. Regardless (and echo cost aside), such a powerful effect on a 2/2 evasive blocker that protects itself is a crazy amount of value.
Mimic Vat – As the plan of the game is to abuse etb effects, Mimic Vat allows the creation of temporary tokens of the imprinted creature. Easy to understate, it makes the table think twice about killing your Karmic Guide, Eternal Witness or Mystic Snake when their abilities can become reused until dealt with.
Reveillark – Unique in that it doesn’t have an ETB, but rather LTB, Reveillark is a fantastically efficient card that hits a large portion of the creature base. Karmic Guide, Acidic Slime, Eternal Witness, Prime Speaker Zegana (!) are all valid targets with reveillark, and each one comes with an insanely powerful effect. It doesn’t go infinite in this build, but it’s still a valuable enough recursion tool that I am more than happy to include it.
Sun Titan – The closest thing I have to a pet card, very few cards match my love for Sun Titan. Can be flickered to get repeated use of his ETB to fetch small creatures, rocks or lands (Fetchlands are even more beastly with a titan around), he then has the courtesy to do it every attack, while still being able to block. An all-star in this deck, there is almost nothing I would consider replacing it with.
Birthing Pod – In a deck filled with ETB effects, the pod is king. I’m a sucker for value engines in general, but an engine like the Pod is rare. Each turn, one of your creatures gets bigger, gains abilities, and (most importantly) triggers an entry effect. With special mention for tutoring up Craterhoof Behemoth off of the Avenger of Zendikar, the deck’s creature curve can accommodate some very valuable Pod chains.
Fierce Empath – Game going long? This guy is a live topdeck early or late, and comes down at any time to either ensure momentum (by fetching Zegana, for example) or victory (the Behemoth). Though, being an ETB, it wouldn’t hurt to flicker him a bit to have the best of both, would it?
Green Sun’s Zenith – Most often used as a 1 mana ramp spell by fetching Dryad Arbor, this spell forms a reactive purpose in this build. When you draw this the only limit is your imagination; it could be an Acidic Slime, a
Coiling Oracle, or even a Craterhoof for the win. Afterwards, it recycles itself. I’d say that that is excellent value for such low opportunity cost.
Wargate – Green Sun’s Zenith number two; this justifies inclusion through its sheer flexibility. It could be the creatures listed above, but it could be Birthing Pod. or Venser, the Sojourner. Providing a second (or third) copy of a utility effect in a singleton format is powerful.
Bant Charm – This charm is a flexible removal option. While narrow in it’s countering capabilities, a lot of things thrown at your field are instant, from counters to kill spells to burn. The most used mode is probably the second one however; the ability to tuck a creature is powerful – less so since the tuck rule was changed, but it still deals with indestructible threats such as Purphoros or Colossi while also being a Shatter and Dispel at the same time.
Mystic Snake – I have so much love for this snake. A
Counterspell with a body attached, this guy eats a spell and then turns your Momentary Blink into ‘1W: Counter target spell’ with Flashback. He has one of the most powerful ETB effects in the deck, and forms a soft lock with Deadeye Navigator.
Swiftfoot Boots – On a budget, these are fantastic general protection as well as a haste enabler for both your commander and other threats. If I were to do this again, I’d either replace or supplement this method of protection with Lightning Greaves, as the equip cost leaves slightly less room for activities, and the deck possesses practically no voltron elements.
Now, before we get started I’d like to stress one thing I’ve noticed in hindsight; in terms of game winning threats, this deck never really had any. None of the cards handles the game on its own, but the synergies between some of them and flicker help create a lock on the board. As such, to anybody looking at creating a build similar to this in any meta more competitive than durdly decks and big dumb beaters, you WILL need some more firepower (detailed below, but hatebears are also great). Besides that, a game with the deck typically uses creatures and rocks to rush out a turn 3 or 4 Roon. Once online, roon can start flickering your field in order to gain you additional value. Incredibly valuable targets in the early-mid game include Coiling Oracle, Mulldrifter or ramp creatures like Wood Elves. Once stability is achieved, the mid-late game features a series of strong threats, removal attached to creatures and card advantage effects that thin the deck and help you create your toolbox. While durdly, the deck can perform a beatdown if left unchecked, but this is plan B. Really once stability is achieved, flickering removal creatures (especially Luminate Primordial or Acidic Slime) can deprive your opponent of resources long enough for you to set up your craterhoof. An infinite component with Deadeye would create a soft lock – hard lock if you had access to slime, a creature-removal creature, and the mana combo, but realistically this is difficult to set up in this shell. Smart play is required when playing this deck, and sometimes doing people favours by stemming aggression with Roon’s ability over using it on your own things can help you survive. Despite being slow, here are ways to speed it up:
Tooth and Nail – One of my biggest regrets for not trying out in the deck. It fetches the Avenger/Craterhoof Combo, Deadeye/Mystic Snake, or something to seize board control like Elesh Norn/Armada Wurm. An oft complained about ‘One Card Combo’, resolving one of these is enough to cause a massive shift in the game’s favour, all for the low, low price of 7GG. It wasn’t included originally for the lack of instant-kill combo potential in its current state; however it could definitely bolster the deck’s already bold board presence.
Eerie Interlude – This deck finished its flickering ways long ago, but this new card from Shadows over Innistrad would definitely contend for a spot. A more flexible Ghostway, it delivers its flexibility through allowing a choice in what you flicker, allowing it to be used even when the board is filled with tokens from Armada Wurm or Rite of Replication.
Spike Weaver – An easy oversight for such a powerful effect, Spike Feeder gives Roon the time he needs to set up, fogging any unfriendly moves while handily restocking his counters when flickered; an otherwise unassuming powerhouse.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite – A powerful ‘Good Stuff’ option in that she doesn’t benefit from the gimmick; Norn shores up one of Roon’s main weaknesses while boosting his strength in the same line; going wide. Often Roon would be chipped down by small to medium sized creatures even after establishing his board presence, preventing his aggression and forcing him to sit there for fear of backlash. Tutoring up a norn could at minimum severely hamper any attempts to chip your life away, while simultaneously helping you force damage through weakened defenses by buffing your own guys.
Perplexing Chimera – This piece of tech used to be in the list but was removed due to the bad taste it left in people’s mouths; however, that shouldn’t mean I can’t recommend it. When brought online by Roon/Venser’s abilities to flicker creatures you own, instead of control, this creature allows you to steal as many spells as you can afford flickers. Also with Mimic Vat on the list, the chimera’s presence can be felt long after its death, stealing spells then mysteriously vanishing as they are flickered by your commander.
Thats it for now folks, hope you enjoyed it, and I’ll catch you next time!