This week I get to give someone else a moment in the spotlight. Fellow Nu Gamer Isaac Dietz was kind enough to share his Maelstrom Wanderer list with me and explain some of the finer points of Cascading for more value than you can shake an Isochron Scepter at.
Lands: 38Alchemist’s Refuge
Kessig Wolf Run
Temple of Abandon
Temple of Mystery
Temple of the False God
The Good: This deck is chock full of value and Cascading off an 8 drop (twice) with Wanderer means the deck can quickly flood the board with powerful permanents. Isaac also includes a suite of cards like Treachery and Bribery to play everyone else’s good stuff against them. The icing on the cake is the element of chaos the deck brings with cards like Possibility Storm which is not only flavorful, it also disrupts an opponent’s attempt at playing counter-magic or removal. The Wanderer also gives all its buddies Haste which means the beat-down can come out of nowhere and be quite devastating.
The Bad: The deck is somewhat dependent on Wanderer and can have a difficult time if he gets sent to the bottom of the library. Because the deck is so dependent on a high casting cost creature, much of the early game is dedicated to ramping. If an opponent casts an early Vandalblast and takes out all of the Wanderer’s mana rocks, it will be much harder to get the ball rolling.
Key Cards: This list includes a wide variety of interesting synergies which abuse both the Cascade ability and the Stack. Spelljacking Wanderer while he is still on the Stack and recasting him off of Spelljack lets you net more Cascade triggers at instant speed. Species Gorger is another sweet piece of tech. Since casting the commander from our hand means we don’t have to pay the increased casting cost, Species Gorger lets the Wanderer get his double Cascade trigger in each turn with ease. There are also a few “take another turn” cards like Temporal Mastery which, when Cascaded into, can be utterly back-breaking.
Philosophy: Few commanders can boast such raw power simply by being cast. Playing 7 drops “for free” is a strong strategy and whether it’s Cascading into Avenger of Zendikar and then Boundless Realms or just bringing down the Hasty beats of its commander, Maelstrom Wanderer offers both power and flexibility in terms of deck design. The themes of randomness and chaos make this a fun deck to pilot and even in a format where variance from one game to the next is common, Wanderer pushes that variety even further.
Going Deeper: Isaac mentioned that the original incarnation of this deck was much more calculating and malicious, abusing tutors like Brutalizer Exarch to set up some extremely powerful Cascades. Mass land destruction was another theme in the deck’s initial design. Playing Wanderer and Cascading into Jokulhaups was generally cause for his opponents to rage-quit since the Stack resolves Jokulhaups before Wanderer, stranding everyone with nothing while the Wanderer beats wholesale face on a 3 turn clock. Tooth and Nail was another card in the initial build that almost guaranteed a win on the spot. As Isaac put it, “my playgroup tends to groan when I pull this deck out.” While he does swap in these powerful cards when playing competitive games, siding them out for casual play makes the game more fun and interesting for everyone at the table.
When looking at the targets for Cascade, Isaac has mainly included powerful permanents that should end the game in short order or spells and mana rocks which allow him to easily re-cast Wanderer. While I would like to suggest certain cards for this list, I can easily see that including tech over game-winning 7 drops would decrease the deck’s overall power level. Cards like Sensei’s Divining Top would be useful for setting up better Cascade triggers but Cascading into Top, particularly after working so hard to ramp into Wanderer, seems like a bummer. Prophet of Kruphix is a card I love playing in just about every Green/Blue deck but Cascading into it when your opponents are beating you down isn’t going to turn the tide in your favor. If you build your own Maelstrom Wanderer list, consider each inclusion not only in the context of the overall deck but also how it would play out if you hit it with a Cascade trigger.
My thanks to Mr. Dietz for allowing me to feature his deck in this article. I both fear and look forward to playing against it in the future. If you have a deck list you would like featured on The 99, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org As always, I hope to see all of you at Nu Games on Thursday nights for EDH!