This month I get the rare treat of featuring a guest deck list from none other than our own Nick Painter!
So how did Nick get started down the road to Rhuin?
“I was gifted the Derevi Commander Precon a year ago for Christmas from my girlfriend. It was my first true Commander deck and I quickly realized there was at least two competing sub themes. I originally tried to use Derevi, liking how the casting cost from her ability was going to always make her easy to cast. After one game with Roon I quickly realized I wanted to go in the ETB direction. It reminded me of my Master Transmuter Esper deck which was one of my first and I liked a lot.”
Were there any other cards that didn’t make the cut after testing?
“I recently tried See the Unwritten and it seemed lack-luster. Angel of Finality seemed to have very limited usefulness. Flickerwisp was redundant and only useful when I could cast it with flash. Aethermage’s Touch is cool, but hard to rely on. Just like Jace’s Mindseeker. Recently dropped Primal Command cause one mode seemed decent while the others seemed useless. And 5 for a creature tutor never thrilled me. Clone got replaced for the new and improved Clever Impersonator. Never tried Mercurial Pretender. Cackling Counterpart was fun, but often a dead card in hand. I tend to value creatures over other card types in this deck.”
Are there any particularly bad match-ups for the deck?
“I’m not really sure if there’s a glaring weakness that causes me to lose to the same thing often. A bad draw can always happen and sometimes I just don’t have a tools I need in hand. I can usually shut down any creature based decks and do very well in the late game. So I guess decks that can win fast might be my biggest hassle. Otherwise its a super controlling deck once shop is set up. And I’m not lacking ramp with access to green.”
Roon is all about value. Any creature with an “enters the battlefield” ability can be used and abused with the rhino’s ability. On top of that, Roon is a solid creature and having Vigilance means he can attack into an unfavorable board state and just blink away whatever might kill him. Most Roon decks are trying to play the long game by utilizing the deck’s tool box of creatures to answer whatever threats are played and eventually overcome the opponent with card advantage. The creature package for Roon tends to be rather similar from deck to deck. Cards like Acidic Slime, Bane of Progress or Sun Titan are obligatory in any Roon deck but Nick has included a few cards which are stand-outs for me:
Lavinia of the Tenth is something of a criminally underplayed card in EDH. While her Pro-Red isn’t typically very notable, being able to come down and hold an entire army of tokens in check or turn off certain artifacts makes her some exciting tech in certain situations. I also like the inclusion of Ephara, God of the Polis as a source of card draw which is hard to get rid of. There’s also enough creatures in the deck with White or Blue mana symbols to get to seven Devotion and animate Ephara. I have seen several lists that run Prime Speaker Zegana as the primary card draw engine for Roon but I like Nick’s decision to run Ephara instead. Zegana requires so much more investment to be as relevant and although you can draw more cards off of one of her triggers I think this deck gets better value from flickering something like Thragtusk and drawing a card from Ephara. I like the inclusion of Stonehorn Dignitary and Sunblast Angel as ways to keep attackers in check or play politics at the multiplayer table.
The creature list is very tight but if I were trying to make cuts for other cards, I would take out Brutalizer Exarch, Chancellor of the Spires and Spike Weaver. The Exarch is expensive for what it does. Even though it is repeatable tutoring or abusable non-creature removal, I would rather have Worldly Tutor in its place. There is enough non-creature removal tacked on to other creatures in the list that I think he wouldn’t be missed. I have seen the Exarch in several Roon lists though so perhaps I haven’t put in enough testing time with it to see it shine. Chancellor of the Spires feels like a redundant and more mana-intensive Diluvian Primordial. While it should be noted that Chancellor doesn’t exile the spells you cast with it, leaving them in the yard to be re-cast when you flicker the Sphinx, I’m not sure how often that becomes relevant. Sure, you could keep flickering Chancellor with a counterspell in the yard of some type of removal to keep your opponents on their toes but I think seven mana is a lot for something that isn’t on the verge of winning you the game outright. Perhaps Diluvian Primordial is the weaker link of the two but I would look to cut the more mana-intensive card first. Spike Weaver is cute but there is enough defensive creatures in the deck that I don’t know if it’s necessary.
Moving on to the Instants and Sorceries, we have very little to go over. Although we’re in Blue, the deck probably has enough answers to not need countermagic and Roon is good enough at dodging removal that even a Wrath of God doesn’t set him back by much. Absent is the holy trinity of White removal; Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile and Condemn but again I think the deck wants to go all in on creatures and cuts had to be made somewhere. War Gate hasn’t performed admirably for me in my Bant decks but sometimes you just need to tutor an answer onto the board. I might try Chord of Calling in its place. While I am a huge fan of Curse of the Swine, I really like Polymorphist’s Jest since it can act as removal for troublesome things like Sigarda, Host of Herons or Geist of Saint Traft.
Moving on to the Artifacts, Conjuror’s Closet is a staple for blink decks and Thousand-Year Elixir is very important for decks with commanders that abuse a tap ability. I also like Strionic Resonator here as a way to double up on the value of ETB triggers. I considered Illusionist’s Bracers in this slot since you could equip them to Roon and blink two things for the price of one. This seemed like a good idea until I realized that you probably flicker Roon as much as anything else and the cost of re-equipping him every time you had to blink him seemed like too much of a downside in the end. The Bracers also don’t let you get twice the triggers on something like Acidic Slime which can be far more powerful than simply blinking two different creatures. Aura Shards and Leyline of Anticipation are our only two Enchantments and I can’t think of better inclusions. Aura Shards definitely qualifies as an EDH staple and being able to flash creatures in with the Leyline is very strong as well. If we wanted to play a more durdley game, I might try and force Conjured Currency as a way of stealing opposing creatures but a 6 mana Enchantment is a pretty bad topdeck and in most cases is a win-more. Speaking of expensive Enchantments, Nick mentioned that he had considered Dismiss into Dreams but eventually dropped it. The same goes for Sundial of the Infinite which allows Roon to permanently exile something. Both of these cards, while powerful, create a very un-fun game and I applaud Nick for his choices to exclude them.
Venser, the Sojourner is easily one of my top five favorite Planeswalkers and a perfect fit for this deck. I like his versatility and synergy here and resolving his ultimate is a near-guaranteed win.
Thanks again to Nick for giving me his list to go over. I hope you are all enjoying watching the Pro Tour this weekend and I’ll see you down at Nu Games on Thursday night for EDH!