EDH Benchwarmers — Roon of the Hidden Realm

It is very hard to build a deck when you limit yourself from using any of the suggested cards on EDHREC. I’m just saying, making a Roon of the Hidden Realm deck that doesn’t use Deadeye Navigator or Mulldrifter is a weird and wild experience. Why am I doing this? So that we can have this talk. This talk where I show you it’s very hard to make a working deck with the cards I’ve left myself.

So just to recap, we can’t use Deadeye Navigator, Momentary Blink, Eerie Interlude, none of that stuff. Plus no Mulldrifter, Armada Wurm, Acidic Slime or anything you’d automatically think goes well with Roon. Unless that is, you’re like me and immediately thought of my cool buddies, the splicers.

“Yeah she’s really nice and everything, but one of her mechanical fingers is just a drill bit and that’s too unsettling.

The splicers are a couple of awesome Bant-coloured ETB creatures from Scars of Mirrodin block. They each make 3/3 golems when they enter plus grant all golems a sweet ability like vigilance, regeneration, etc. So looks like we’re not completely screwed when it comes to making lots of creatures.

Now since we can’t rely on any other source of flickering our monsters (aside from the sorcery, Flicker) Roon is very, VERY important. This means he needs to be protected with less than traditional means. No boots or greaves however, means the door is opened for cards like Whispersilk Cloak, and Neurok Stealthsuit. Another form of protection that works well in Roon decks is counterspells. You’ll likely be holding up mana to make Roon’s ability work at the last possible second so why not have another use for that mana if things don’t go your way. Sadly, your classic Counterspell is off limits. That does leave the door open for almost as good Negate, Swan Song and Dissipate. Each of those you could make an argument for being as good as Counterspell in EDH so maybe this bench is warmed with better spells than we thought? Maybe we entered this deck thinking our non-creature spells would be full of Sammy Hagars when it turns out there’s a couple of David Lee Roths in there!

Why does David Lee Roth always look like he just caught the end of his donger in a drawer?

Speaking of David Lee Roth, when you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel you sometimes find some true gems like Mangara of Corondor. On the surface Mangara isn’t a terrible card, you can exile something at the cost of exiling itself. It’s slow but not all together useless. Now combine him with Roon and things get interesting. The trick is to activate Mangara’s ability and then flicker him with the ability on the stack and bingo, you just exiled any creature permanently and Mangara is safely back in Corondor, or wherever it is he likes to go after leaving existence briefly…it’s probably a Van Halen concert.

Other sweet DLR’s (Imagine if this article went crazy viral and everyone starting calling good yet bad Magic cards David Lee Roths?) include Ulvenwald Hydra (it’s a little Prime Time!), Deadwood Treefolk (amazing card in any Roon deck) and Knight of the White Orchid. Each offering a service slightly worse than another card I’m not allowed to use. Sort of like when your work bans Reddit and you have to read the reposts and terrible jokes over on 9gag or even worse, Buzzfeed. Yuck!

10 punchlines under popsicles that will SHOCK YOU.

So by this point you may be wondering if this deck has a plan or a direction or a “way to win”, and the answer is, of course we have a way to win, just like Van Halen had a way to win when they booted out original bad boy David Lee Roth and went with the king of being unable to follow basic traffic laws, Sammy Hagar. Except while VH’s plan was to introduce more piano and write more songs about when something is or isn’t love, our plan is to make a lot of tokens and crush our opponents. I guess in a way, Van Halen crushed its opponents with rocking ballads and high-pitched vocals over blazing guitar solos, but I digress.

Life Pro Tip: If you dressed like Hulk Hogan in the 80’s you could tell cops to piss off and they’d just do it.

Some key token makers you’ll find on Roon’s bench include the aforementioned splicers, Walker of the Grove, Birthing Hulk, Myr Battlesphere and the lesser known Springjack Shepherd. In addition to a token strategy, we’ve got some classic Bant +1 counter synergies with graft cards like Novijen Sages and Plaxcaster Frogling.

The interesting thing with this deck that I have to say, is about half of it is really a “leave the battlefield” deck because, while Roon triggers ETB effects, he can’t make them happen at instant speed and since all the instant speed flickering is forbidden to us, the only instant speed tricks we can pull involve leaving the battlefield. Meadowboon, Deadwood Treefolk and Slithermuse all end up being the best tricks you can pull with this version of Roon which isn’t better than a regular ETB but is certainly interesting.

Your ETB triggers will almost always therefore happen on an end step, which means combat helpers are largely useless and a lot of ETB effects lose a ton of value. That is, of course, unless you have Vedalken Orrery. Vedalken Orrery is the Eddie Van Halen of this deck. He makes everything around him better, he is the best card in the band, and he is lightning quick. He makes ETB effects (albeit in your hand) instant speed and allows you to keep mana up at all times for whatever situation may arise. He really should be in a better band/deck when you think about it. This guy played on Beat It! Vedalken Orrery TAUGHT ITSELF TO PLAY AND THEN WAS THE BEST AT IT.

Mom, put my Rockband guitar back in the basement!

Van Halen metaphors aside, is this a viable deck on its own? Are Roon players missing out on some incredible hidden secret the way some Karador players are? I wouldn’t say that, but what I would say is that Roon can be used in so many other, more interesting and creative ways than he is being used right now. These new decks that I’m not seeing are represented in various cards in this deck. Tokens, Grafting, Elementals, Golems, all still use ETB and LTB effects and make Roon a great general, they just do it in a less Deadeye, Mulldrifter-y way.

Child of Van Halen
Creature – Baby Angel 1/2 Flying Vigilance
When Van Halen Baby enters the battlefield ROCK YOUR JOCK OFF.

Anyway, 1984 is a great album and so is the self-titled debut but stay away from the Hagar stuff unless it has “Right Now” on it.

Oh yeah here’s the deck list.

Roon’s Benchwarmers

Commander (1)
Creatures (49)
Enchantments (1)
Instants (4)
Artifacts (5)
Sorceries (2)
Lands (38)

One day this will be cool again.

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Andy is a writer, comedian and EDH fanatic from Toronto. He co-hosts the Commander's Brew podcast with Sean Tabares.