It’s Christmas time! Normally that signifies a time of joy and selflessness. Forget all that nonsense. This week I want you all to tap into those dark holiday memories, the ones where you didn’t get what you really wanted. If you’re like me, then you probably grew up not getting what you asked for (*ahem* NES) because it was too expensive. Well now we’re grown, and that means we don’t have to settle. We could do the normal adult thing and go buy what we really want, but that won’t fill the void that our unfulfilled childhood desires left. No, see this week we’re flipping the script and rewriting what the holidays are about because sometimes people just don’t get it. It’s been said that it’s far better to give than to receive, and we’re about to beat this principle relentlessly into the skulls of our enemies. Get ready to shorten those Christmas card lists, because we’re spreading holiday salt with Merieke Ri Berit.
Well this is interesting. It’s never been said that Ice Age was thin on interesting cards. For Esper (blue/white/black) CMC we get a waifish *1/*1. To be fair, we do get a decent ability to make up for the lackluster stats. We get to steal a creature if she remains tapped. This power isn’t unchecked though. She has a couple of drawbacks built in to keep things balanced. First off, she doesn’t untap during the untap phase. This would normally seem like a lump of coal to me, but I think we can make this work. Next, she relinquishes control of the creature when she untaps or leaves play. Wait, what’s that last part? The creature is destroyed and can’t be regenerated?! I take it back, that’s not a drawback. Being that this is an activated ability I would say we have quite a few ways that we can abuse this. Let’s go shopping!
To really teach the tenets of good tidings we really need to hammer out some ways around that pesky untap issue. Thankfully someone listened to our hastily scrawled Christmas list and printed a plethora of cards to help us accomplish this. Aphetto Alchemist is the cheapest creature with the untap effect tacked on. We also have Fatestitcher in the 4 CMC slot that can do this. We don’t want to get too lost on creatures that accomplish this as there are several. Running too many leaves us with a lackluster deck of underwhelming untap lackeys. This can be remedied by a few extremely useful artifacts, namely Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright’s Stone. Let’s look at a comprehensive list of our untap enablers.
As you can see, we went with a majority artifact based strategy to untap our commander because the creature based approach is so susceptible to board wipes. Our format loves board wipes, so we must respect and build around that. With the untap issue addressed, next we’ll move on to another key element of the deck. Taking what’s rightfully ours.
People are stingy these days. Good presents are few and far between, so it’s up to us to run some spells that allow us to appropriate those presents for ourselves. Now this is where most people would really hone in on a specific angle of theft, and usually it’s creature theft. This makes sense because our format sure does love creatures, especially if they have a crazy ability printed on them. I’m not against this, but I’m not entirely all-in on it either. In the true spirit of greed, I want everything. The creatures, the artifacts, the enchantments, the stocking, the stocking stuffers, their dignity… You get the point.
As you can see we are spreading the odds and threatening presents of all varieties. This gives us tons of leverage versus non-creature oriented strategies to keep us relevant as a threat. It also allows us to fill gaps in our draws by allowing us to take our opponents spells and permanents, which in turn creates gaps for them. Never let it be said that the spirit of giving is lost upon us.
Inevitably our toys break. Little miss theft untaps because of whatever shenanigans we employ and before we know it we are desperately trying to figure out how to get He-Man’s head back on (bonus points if you ever figured out you must squeeze and then push, which sounds inappropriate). As we move past our questionable feelings of our childhood memories we come to find that perhaps there is a way to keep our toys from breaking. It’s time for some duct tape and some ingenuity.
Making things indestructible seems the most obvious route to go with. This ensures that once our present is safely where it belongs, it remains there despite her untapping. As a bonus we get access to one of my favorite EDH cards, Sundial of the Infinite. How does it work you ask? Basically, it goes like this. Our commander becomes untapped or leaves the battlefield, which puts a trigger on the stack to destroy the creature. In response to the trigger, we tap the dial to end the turn immediately which prevents the trigger from being observed. It’s not the most elegant way around the issue, but it is one of the cheapest.
Finally, we must do something about how brute force our approach is. Don’t get me wrong, channeling your inner kleptomaniac should usually harken to primal tactics. EDH is a format of style as well as substance. We must come up with some spectacles that mirror the majesty of the season. All of this is just a thematic way to say we’re going to run some combos and synergy. Superfluous writing, it’s my gift to you. You’re welcome.
Combo 1: Merieke Ri Berit + Mind Over Matter + Harvester of Souls = Untap the commander, destroy the stolen creature, draw a card from the dead creature, tap the commander, steal another creature, discard the card we just drew or one we don’t need, untap the commander, repeat until you draw the answer. Huge shout out to one of my readers on Reddit for suggesting this. Thanks ABX1224!
Combo 2: Settle the Wreckage + Oath of Lieges + Herald of Leshrac = Enemies play lands, we encourage them to do so, we help them do so, this helps us do the same, we thank them by then taking the lands we gave them. This is almost more of a Thanksgiving combo than a Christmas combo. Too soon?
Combo 3: Oath of Lieges + Land Tax + Bounce/Sac/Fetch lands + Roil Elemental = We use bounce, sacrifice, and fetch lands to keep our land count low on the field to allow us to fill our hand with basics to fuel the elemental’s ability. As a bonus, land theft from the herald triggers the elemental’s ability as well. Now that’s just mean. You take a land from them and then take a creature in their upkeep? Ho ho ho indeed.
There are some other nifty synergies in our deck as well, but half of the fun of presents is unwrapping them. It’s the surprise of it all. That’s what makes the experience so great, unless you are our enemies. If you’re one of them, which you aren’t, then the surprises from this game are likely a milkshake made of shattered dreams. Enough words. Let’s look at our final list of who’s naughty or nice.