Hi Levi!

I’m a big fan of Dear Azami, and I followed every article while it was on SCG, and I was quite said when I heard that it was going to end. But luckily I decided to checkout Hipsters of the Coast and had a nice surprise seeing Dear Azami was back!

So, I need some help with my Marath Landfall deck. I wanted to build Marath deck, but I wasn’t finding a proper thematic. After some thought, I saw that Naya had good landfall colors and Marath himself could benefit from ramping and having lots of mana. I managed to get a decent list with incredible synergies, but I’m having trouble closing out the game, it seems I can’t push damage through and always get blown out.

I’d like to maintain the Landfall theme, as it’s the thematic of the deck, but I think there is a lot of free space to play around. Here is the list:

//Main
[casthaven]Marath, Will of the Wild[/casthaven]

//Synergy
[casthaven]Basilisk Collar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Evolutionary Leap[/casthaven], [casthaven]Illusionist’s Bracers[/casthaven], [casthaven]Xenagos, the Reveler[/casthaven]

//Draw
[casthaven]Harmonize[/casthaven], [casthaven]Shamanic Revelation[/casthaven], [casthaven]Skullclamp[/casthaven]

//Wipe
[casthaven]Planar Outburst[/casthaven]

//Counters
[casthaven]Bow of Nylea[/casthaven], [casthaven]Cathars’ Crusade[/casthaven], [casthaven]Hardened Scales[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ivy Lane Denizen[/casthaven]

//Lands Matter
[casthaven]Borborygmos Enraged[/casthaven], [casthaven]Burgeoning[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dragonmaster Outcast[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ghirapur Orrery[/casthaven], [casthaven]Groundskeeper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Horn of Greed[/casthaven], [casthaven]Karametra, God of Harvests[/casthaven], [casthaven]Mina and Denn, Wildborn[/casthaven], [casthaven]Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ruin Ghost[/casthaven], [casthaven]Scryb Ranger[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sylvan Safekeeper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ulvenwald Hydra[/casthaven]

//Landfall
[casthaven]Emeria Angel[/casthaven], [casthaven]Emeria Shepherd[/casthaven], [casthaven]Khalni Heart Expedition[/casthaven], [casthaven]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/casthaven], [casthaven]Oran-Rief Hydra[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rampaging Baloths[/casthaven], [casthaven]Retreat to Emeria[/casthaven], [casthaven]Retreat to Kazandu[/casthaven], [casthaven]Seer’s Sundial[/casthaven], [casthaven]Zendikar’s Roil[/casthaven]

//Ramp
[casthaven]Cultivate[/casthaven], [casthaven]Explosive Vegetation[/casthaven],[casthaven]Farhaven Elf[/casthaven], [casthaven]Farseek[/casthaven], [casthaven]Kodama’s Reach[/casthaven], [casthaven]Oblivion Sower[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rampant Growth[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sylvan Ranger[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wood Elves[/casthaven]

//Damage
[casthaven]Aurelia, the Warleader[/casthaven], [casthaven]Champion of Lambholt[/casthaven], [casthaven]Decree of Justice[/casthaven], [casthaven]Gahiji, Honored One[/casthaven], [casthaven]Inferno Titan[/casthaven], [casthaven]Iroas, God of Victory[/casthaven], [casthaven]Liege of the Tangle[/casthaven], [casthaven]Titanic Ultimatum[/casthaven], [casthaven]Xenagos, God of Revels[/casthaven]

//Defense
[casthaven]Boros Charm[/casthaven], [casthaven]Decimate[/casthaven], [casthaven]Hull Breach[/casthaven], [casthaven]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/casthaven]

//Lands
10 [casthaven]Forest[/casthaven], 7 [casthaven]Mountain[/casthaven], 9 [casthaven]Plains[/casthaven], [casthaven]Bant Panorama[/casthaven], [casthaven]Blighted Woodland[/casthaven], [casthaven]Boros Garrison[/casthaven], [casthaven]Cinder Glade[/casthaven], [casthaven]Fortified Village[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ghost Town[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jungle Shrine[/casthaven], [casthaven]Naya Panorama[/casthaven], [casthaven]Opal Palace[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sejiri Steppe[/casthaven], [casthaven]Selesnya Sanctuary[/casthaven], [casthaven]Stirring Wildwood[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of Abandon[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of Plenty[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of the False God[/casthaven]

Thanks and best regards!

Thanks Andre.

When I start looking at a decklist, the first question I have to answer is: how does it win? This question is so important that it wound up dominating a lot of the conversation I put into the [casthaven]Angus Mackenzie[/casthaven] group hug deck that I tackled last time, and that was a deck the creator admitted wanted to come in second 95% of the time.

Now the answer to that question can be almost anything—I’ve seen decks designed to “win” by turning [casthaven]Caged Sun[/casthaven] into a land and ending the game by creating an unendable string of triggers when you tap it for mana that breaks the game and forces a draw, and I’ve seen decks that want to win by repeatedly bashing your opponents with an animated [casthaven]Mishra’s Factory[/casthaven]. The important thing is that the strategy and playstyle of your deck supports your path to victory. And this is where your deck seems to get into trouble.

As you noted there’s a ton of powerful and synergistic effects in this list. Ramp into powerful cards is a tried and tested strategy, the landfall package only adds value to that cycle, and Marath’s plethora of abilities let him connect to a ton of cards in different ways. You also have amazingly powerful top-end cards that can easily end games. The problem is that the two halves don’t connect to each other in any meaningful way. I’ll get more into the specifics once we get to the card-by-card changes, but my big focus here will be finding ways to leverage your strategy into the lategame. And hopefully, a victory.

Creatures

Cuts:

[casthaven]Sylvan Safekeeper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Groundskeeper[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sylvan Ranger[/casthaven], [casthaven]Inferno Titan[/casthaven], [casthaven]Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer[/casthaven], [casthaven]Borborygymos Enraged[/casthaven], [casthaven]Liege of the Tangle[/casthaven], [casthaven]Xenagos, God of Revels[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Sylvan Ranger[/casthaven] is your only card that searches cards to your hand, and since you only have one card that wants you to hold lands in your hand I’d rather have an actual ramp spell here.

While [casthaven]Sylvan Safekeeper[/casthaven] is a good way to protect your creatures, you also want to keep as many lands in play as possible. There are other ways to protect your board that we’ll get to later. With [casthaven]Sylvan Safekeeper[/casthaven] gone, there’s no reason to keep [casthaven]Groundskeeper[/casthaven] in the list (unless you repeatedly face land destruction or mill decks, but those are fairly rare).

And now we get to the big changes. There are a lot of ways to leverage the synergies this deck has, but instead of relying on a few independently powerful bombs I want to play up the token engines you have to play a go-wide game that can overwhelm most defenses. As such we want fewer individually powerful threats and more ways to magnify the power of your whole team. This is why I’m cutting [casthaven]Inferno Titan[/casthaven], Xenagos, and Molimo even though they’re very strong cards. [casthaven]Borborygymos Enraged[/casthaven] is also a very powerful threat, but unlike the other cards you really don’t have the support it needs. [casthaven]Liege of the Tangle[/casthaven] fits both of your themes, but come with a crippling weakness because it gives your opponents an opening to wrath your lands away.

Additions:

[casthaven]Tunneling Geopede[/casthaven], [casthaven]Stalking Vengeance[/casthaven], [casthaven]Avenger of Zendikar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Glory[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Tunneling Geopede[/casthaven] is a quite little threat that can sit back and chip away at your opponents’ life totals. It’s low-key enough that it’s unlikely to eat a removal spell, but can still net you a lot of value in a short amount of time.

Your path to victory is through your creatures, which means it’s our interest to make sure that our battlefield gets cleared as infrequently as possible. [casthaven]Boros Charm[/casthaven] is a step in the right direction, but [casthaven]Stalking Vengeance[/casthaven] is a powerful deterrent to people Wrathing, especially if you make it know that whoever kills a creature takes the damage from doing so. Even outside of that role, it lets you get value from the natural ebb and flow of combat, which is always a good thing.

[casthaven]Avenger of Zendikar[/casthaven] is perhaps an obvious inclusion, but you’re a landfall deck. It behooves you to play the best landfall card in the game.

[casthaven]Glory[/casthaven] is an often overlooked card next to its brother [casthaven]Genesis[/casthaven], but when you want to get aggressive [casthaven]Glory[/casthaven] makes blocking a nightmare for your opponents, as even multicolored decks will have to do some serious thinking about what creatures they attack with, or else risk dying out of nowhere to your unblockable army. It also pulls double-duty by letting you blank removal spells and damage-based board wipes.

It’s worth noting that I left off [casthaven]Craterhoof Behemoth[/casthaven], despite the fact that it’s objectively one of the most powerful cards in Commander. I had a few reasons for doing so, but the biggest one is that I was uncertain what kind of budget you were working in and didn’t want to pile multiple ten to fifteen dollar cards onto the bill and had higher priorities. That being said, it is the best single finishing card you could ask for.

Spells

Cuts:

[casthaven]Harmonize[/casthaven], [casthaven]Planar Outburst[/casthaven]

Since you don’t have any land creatures beside the Awaken on [casthaven]Planar Outburst[/casthaven] we can safely upgrade this to a stronger board wipe.

[casthaven]Harmonize[/casthaven] is a solid card, don’t get me wrong. But I needed to make room for several additions and this was just edged out by more permanent-based card draw.

Additions:

[casthaven]Search for Tomorrow[/casthaven], [casthaven]Spare from Evil[/casthaven], [casthaven]Overwhelming Stampede[/casthaven], [casthaven]Final Judgment[/casthaven]

I mentioned when I cut [casthaven]Sylvan Ranger[/casthaven] that I wanted an actual ramp spell in that slot, and [casthaven]Search for Tomorrow[/casthaven] is it. The fact that the land comes into play untapped can lead to some of the most explosive starts this side of [casthaven]Sol Ring[/casthaven], and also makes it a not-embarrassing topdeck later on.

I chose [casthaven]Final Judgment[/casthaven] as the wrath of choice for a few reasons. You only have one piece of recursion in your deck, so permanently losing creatures is going to hurt you a lot less than most of your opponents. You also have very few indestructible cards, and in my opinion you’re a lot more likely to need to take out indestructible threats on the other side of the field than you are to regret losing one of your own.

[casthaven]Spare from Evil[/casthaven] is one of the most versatile combat tricks out there for a very low price. It can do everything from make your team effectively unblockable to let you chump-block much bigger attackers without losing any board presence, and in some cases can be used to counter activated abilities that are going after your creatures.

[casthaven]Overwhelming Stampede[/casthaven] is a one of the best [casthaven]Overrun[/casthaven] effect they’ve printed, and serves a crucial function by letting you drastically change the combat math to surprise the table. And that is one of the most important things that creature-based decks can do: lure the decks with wraths into waiting just a little too long to clear the board and use that opening to punch in for more damage than anyone was expecting.

Planeswalkers

Cuts:

[casthaven]Xenagos, the Reveler[/casthaven]

I actually like Xenagos as a card, as the amount of value you can get off of even one activation of his plus ability is insane. However, while you have a fair amount of expensive cards you don’t really have the x-spells or the repeatable mana sinks that warrant this kind of explosive ramp. You’d be better served by playing [casthaven]Boundless Realms[/casthaven] or other land-based ramp to net multiple landfall triggers at once.

Artifacts

Cuts:

[casthaven]Ghirapur Orrery[/casthaven]

I do like [casthaven]Ghirapur Orrery[/casthaven] here, but for one less mana I prefer [casthaven]Rites of Flourishing[/casthaven]. It’s possible that you would want to run both cards, but if there’s only room for one I prefer consistency to erratic power.

Additions:

[casthaven]Storm Cauldron[/casthaven], [casthaven]Eldrazi Monument[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Storm Cauldron[/casthaven] is one of the best landfall enablers out there, coming with both an extra land drop every turn and the ability to repeatedly bounce your lands. The fact that it’s symmetrical means that in can drastically hobble your opponents by drastically slowing down the rate that they can play expensive spells at.

[casthaven]Eldrazi Monument[/casthaven] is a must-have for token decks, granting evasion, a small power buff and indestructible in exchange for eating your weakest creature every turn. Sending your entire board to the skies is a great way to force damage through, and the indestructibility will blank most wraths from your opponents.

Enchantments

Additions:

[casthaven]Anointed Procession[/casthaven], [casthaven]Shared Animosity[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rites of Flourishing[/casthaven], [casthaven]Primal Vigor[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Anointed Procession[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Primal Vigor[/casthaven] are included because of their synergy with Marath, but they’re also very synergistic with [casthaven]Avenger of Zendikar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Rampaging Baloths[/casthaven] alongside several of your other cards. Obviously [casthaven]Doubling Season[/casthaven] would be best here, but that card isn’t worth sixty dollars.

I’ve already talked about [casthaven]Rites of Flourishing[/casthaven], but you want as many extra land drops as possible and increasing the rate you’re drawing cards is great for a deck that lacks a lot of traditional card advantage.

And finally we have [casthaven]Shared Animosity[/casthaven], which is the last card I’m adding in as a way to magnify the damage you’re outputting. By definition token decks have a lot of creatures that share types, and while you won’t get quite as much mileage out of this as a pure tribal deck would, but a consistent +5/+0 shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Lands

Cuts:

[casthaven]Plains[/casthaven], [casthaven]Forest[/casthaven], [casthaven]Mountain[/casthaven]

At 41 your land count was a little higher than I wanted, so I shaved the count back to 40. The other two basics are getting cut to add lands that can net you multiple landfall triggers.

Additions:

[casthaven]Gruul Turf[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jund Panorama[/casthaven]

You were already running the other two on-color Karoos and Panoramas, so it was a no-brainer to finish the cycles out. Each will let you net two landfall triggers for a single land, and having two bouncelands can even let you never run out of lands to play, assuming you’re willing to repeatedly bounce the other Karoo when you play one.

Putting it all together, here’s the finished decklist:

Commander: [casthaven]Marath, Will of the Wild[/casthaven]

Spells: [casthaven]Basilisk Collar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Evolutionary Leap[/casthaven], [casthaven]Illusionist’s Bracers[/casthaven], [casthaven]Shamanic Revelation[/casthaven], [casthaven]Skullclamp[/casthaven], [casthaven]Final Judgment[/casthaven], [casthaven]Anointed Procession[/casthaven], [casthaven]Bow of Nylea[/casthaven], [casthaven]Cathars’ Crusade[/casthaven], [casthaven]Hardened Scales[/casthaven], [casthaven]Primal Vigor[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rites of Flourishing[/casthaven], [casthaven]Burgeoning[/casthaven], [casthaven]Horn of Greed[/casthaven], [casthaven]Storm Cauldron[/casthaven], [casthaven]Khalni Heart Expedition[/casthaven], [casthaven]Retreat to Emeria[/casthaven], [casthaven]Retreat to Kazandu[/casthaven], [casthaven]Seer’s Sundial[/casthaven], [casthaven]Zendikar’s Roil[/casthaven], [casthaven]Cultivate[/casthaven], [casthaven]Explosive Vegetation[/casthaven], [casthaven]Farseek[/casthaven], [casthaven]Kodama’s Reach[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rampant Growth[/casthaven], [casthaven]Search for Tomorrow[/casthaven], [casthaven]Eldrazi Monument[/casthaven], [casthaven]Overwhelming Stampede[/casthaven], [casthaven]Shared Animosity[/casthaven], [casthaven]Spare from Evil[/casthaven], [casthaven]Titanic Ultimatum[/casthaven], [casthaven]Boros Charm[/casthaven], [casthaven]Decimate[/casthaven], [casthaven]Hull Breach[/casthaven]

Creatures: [casthaven]Ivy Lane Denizen[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dragonmaster Outcast[/casthaven], [casthaven]Karametra, God of Harvests[/casthaven], [casthaven]Mina and Denn, Wildborn[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ruin Ghost[/casthaven], [casthaven]Scryb Ranger[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ulvenwald Hydra[/casthaven], [casthaven]Avenger of Zendikar[/casthaven], [casthaven]Emeria Angel[/casthaven], [casthaven]Emeria Shepherd[/casthaven], [casthaven]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/casthaven], [casthaven]Oran-Rief Hydra[/casthaven], [casthaven]Rampaging Baloths[/casthaven], [casthaven]Tunneling Geopede[/casthaven], [casthaven]Farhaven Elf[/casthaven], [casthaven]Oblivion Sower[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/casthaven], [casthaven]Stalking Vengeance[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wood Elves[/casthaven], [casthaven]Aurelia, the Warleader[/casthaven], [casthaven]Champion of Lambholt[/casthaven], [casthaven]Gahiji, Honored One[/casthaven], [casthaven]Glory[/casthaven], [casthaven]Iroas, God of Victory[/casthaven], [casthaven]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/casthaven]

Lands: 9 [casthaven]Forest[/casthaven], 8 [casthaven]Plains[/casthaven], 6 [casthaven]Mountain[/casthaven], [casthaven]Bant Panorama[/casthaven], [casthaven]Blighted Woodland[/casthaven], [casthaven]Boros Garrison[/casthaven], [casthaven]Cinder Glade[/casthaven], [casthaven]Fortified Village[/casthaven], [casthaven]Ghost Town[/casthaven], [casthaven]Gruul Turf[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jund Panorama[/casthaven], [casthaven]Jungle Shrine[/casthaven], [casthaven]Naya Panorama[/casthaven], [casthaven]Opal Palace[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sejiri Steppe[/casthaven], [casthaven]Selesnya Sanctuary[/casthaven], [casthaven]Stirring Wildwood[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of Abandon[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of Plenty[/casthaven], [casthaven]Temple of the False God[/casthaven]

And the additions, sorted by price:

[casthaven]Spare from Evil[/casthaven]    0.15
[casthaven]Tunneling Geopede[/casthaven]    0.25
[casthaven]Jund Panorama[/casthaven]    0.25
[casthaven]Gruul Turf[/casthaven]    0.25
[casthaven]Overwhelming Stampede[/casthaven]    0.49
[casthaven]Stalking Vengeance[/casthaven]    0.49
[casthaven]Rites of Flourishing[/casthaven]    0.59
[casthaven]Storm Cauldron[/casthaven]    0.69
[casthaven]Search for Tomorrow[/casthaven]    0.99
[casthaven]Glory[/casthaven]    1.49
[casthaven]Final Judgment[/casthaven]    3.49
[casthaven]Eldrazi Monument[/casthaven]    4.99
[casthaven]Anointed Procession[/casthaven]    4.99
[casthaven]Avenger of Zendikar[/casthaven]    6.99
[casthaven]Shared Animosity[/casthaven]    8.99
[casthaven]Primal Vigor[/casthaven]    15.99

Total    51.08

The changes add up to $51.08, although I brought up several more expensive cards that would edge the power level of deck up a bit more. It is important to note that the reason I rarely include more expensive cards in my final list is that huge gaps in prices can come from tiny differences in power, especially when talking about older and therefore rarer cards. Commander doesn’t need to be an expensive format. Heck, I got into EDH originally because it was the only place I could make a reasonable deck for forty dollars. (I was a poor high schooler when I got into Magic.) All too often we overlook that fact in favor of “must-haves” and staples.

Next time I’ll be talking about what it takes to write Lovecraftian monsters, what the recent portrayals of the Eldrazi did right and what they did wrong.

If you want your deck to be featured in a future Dear Azami, send the decklist to [email protected], along with a brief description of what issues the deck is having and what budget you want me to work with.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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