Hello everyone, and welcome to Izzet Week. I was going to do my usual thing and build a deck based on the [card niv-mizzet, dracogenius]guild leader[/card] printed in Return to Ravnica, but the universe decided to intervene and have me build something even more interesting.
I had been thinking about the card Epic Experiment in Commander already, and watching Travis Woo’s videos and stream got me even more interested in the card. I knew it would be tough to build a deck that did cool things with Epic Experiment, but I was ready to try.
I was having an idle chat with my long-time friend and fellow Magic writer Chas Andres on Facebook, when he asked if I took “Deck Doctor submissions” for my column. He mentioned that he and his fiancée Emma were working on an Epic Experiment deck in Commander and that it needed some tweaking. He said the point was to ramp up to a huge Epic Experiment, fork it, and win with some storm spell, an epic spell from Saviors (for extra epicness), or something similar. Naturally, the deck features Riku of Two Reflections so that spells can easily be forked. Here’s the initial list I was sent:
Decree of Annihilation
Fact or Fiction
Muddle the Mixture
Past in Flames
Peer Through Depths
Petals of Insight
Reach Through Mists
Reins of Power
Rite of Replication
Sift Through Sands
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Simic Growth Chamber
Let’s go over some of the card choices and then talk about how the deck plays.
This card does one very important thing: It lets us go off at instant speed. The fact that it comes with a hilarious Dragon attached to it doesn’t hurt. We might be better off with Vedalken Orrery, though.
While it doesn’t seem like good value to try to replicate Epic Experiment, there are lots of cards in this deck that want to be replicated, like the ramp spells, some of the big win conditions, and any Regrowth effects. Replicating Twincast and its family members also doesn’t hurt, as it effectively allows us to replicate on the cheap. If we can keep the Djinn on the table, I’m sure we can extract some value from it. I used to use this card in my 60-card casual coin flipping deck (which I’m planning to resurrect as a Commander deck at some point) to copy cards like Stitch in Time and Fiery Gambit.
These are our lovely ramp spells. There aren’t enough of them, most likely. It’s tempting to try to cast them to get to Riku earlier, but we really want to cast them after we cast Riku in order to blast out multiple copies. Two Kodama’s Reaches is better than one, and I’m not just talking about having Cultivate.
These are our Fork effects in reverse alphabetical order. They are in reverse alphabetical order because there are not enough of them. That made sense in my mind.
Boom! This is a great way to fuel an Epic Experiment. However, it’s very dependent on your opponents tapping out, costs five mana, and is less useful with fewer players in the game. I’m not convinced this card is the card we’re looking for.
These are some of our ways to draw cards. Non-tutor ways to go find Epic Experiment, basically. While I did, once upon a time, have a hilarious Kamigawa block deck that went and found The Unspeakable, I knew two things about that deck:
1) That deck was bad, and
2) I should feel bad.
I love that we can summon The Unspeakable in this deck by casting these spells. But given that the spells do nearly nothing on their own (with the exception of Peer) and with the additional knowledge that The Unspeakable is not exactly a force to be reckoned with by the time we can “cheat” him into play, those need to go.
• I never could stand Minds Aglow.
We want to hit these when we cast Epic Experiment so we can clear the board. I’m pretty sure we’ll need more of these effects as well.
Then we’ve got the win conditions:
I think we need more extra turn effects. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be happy about playing something like Time Stretch, but this is such a goofy combo deck that a couple of unfair cards won’t ruin the fun, in my opinion.
So I goldfished this version of the deck about 20 times, and I made a few discoveries:
This deck has 34 land.
It’s a three-color deck that wants to play Riku on turn 4 when possible and then cast an enormous X-spell. It has 34 land. That’s not going to go well for us.
There’s not enough acceleration.
We want to fork our ramp spells with Riku, but we need to play them to get to Riku quickly. We’ll need some more mana acceleration, probably of the artifact variety, so that we can play that first and then cast the land-finders.
When it doesn’t have to mulligan into oblivion for one of the above reasons, it’s painfully slow.
Fixing the above, however, will probably solve this problem!
I spent a little time tinkering, and came up with this list:
Reins of Power
Past in Flames
Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fate
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Simic Growth Chamber
So not only did we fix the land issue, we’ve solved some other problems with the deck. Let’s take a look at some key cards I added:
This card is brilliant. With sufficient mana, we can cast quite a few large Epic Experiments. It also opens up another combo option for us. With a Rude Awakening on the stack, this wonderful little fellow and his weird oxygen tank let us generate infinite mana! Just spend four mana copying Rude Awakening, untap all your lands, tap all your lands, and repeat! Normally I don’t go in for infinite mana combos, but this is an exception. This deck is so goofy that I think it’s probably fine. It’s easy to disrupt—it’s not like it’s Palinchron/High Tide—and it relies on an easily Murdered 2/2. Plus, we don’t have anything other than a huge Epic Experiment to dump the mana on, so it’s not like we can always kill the whole table.
We needed some more mana acceleration, and cards like these (and the already-included Joraga Treespeaker) will help us get to a big manasplosion without wasting our ramp spells before we cast Riku. Speaking of Riku and ramp spells, we added a few nice ones:
These will help us in two ways:
1) More ramp spells to double with Riku will help us thin our deck out.
2) More ramp spells means that we can cast one before casting Riku without feeling like we’re wasting it.
We also needed some more ways to find Epic Experiment, so we added these:
So, just one tutor, but we’ve also got some more Wheel-type-effects to make things easier. We can go look for Epic Experiment and discard extra lands and spells we don’t need right now. With Time Reversal and Time Spiral, we can even reload our library with cool stuff for Epic Experiment!
How does this work out in practice? Well, I was so excited about this deck that I bought into it on Magic Online and goldfished it a little bit. I’ll be playing it in the Casual rooms soon, so look for Raging_Levine! Here’s a video of me goldfishing it so you can see just how cool it is:
As you can see, I’m discovering the combo potential of Nivix Guildmage as I play. Hopefully by next week I’ll have time to record myself playing the deck in an actual game so that I can bring you the action. I’ve really started to warm up to playing Commander on Magic Online.
So what am I hoping to do with this deck? Well, I’ll certainly be talking more about it next week, so I’d love your feedback in the comments. I’ve got some great suggestions from my friend Elliot Raff that I’ll be including next week (along with his version of the deck) and I’m interesting in adding Intution, Goblin Electromancer, and Arcane Melee, making better use of Firemind’s Foresight, and finding better win conditions that fall between Undying Flames (ugh) and shouting PALINCHRON PALINCHRON PALINCHRON on the casual-competitive spectrum. Bye for now!
@RagingLevine on Twitter
Raging_Levine on MTGO