Welcome back to another edition of General Medicine! This week, we’re taking a look at a brand new Jund commander, and an Elder Dragon at that. I’m talking, of course, about Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire.
Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire is the latest in a long line of Jund-colored commanders who play around with sacrificing things. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher is an extremely popular and powerful commander, Shattergang Brothers (from the same product) has been sacrificing everyone’s stuff for years, and while neither Kresh the Bloodbraided nor Sek’Kura, Deathkeeper mentions the word ”sacrifice” in their text boxes, it’s essentially what their decks do most of the time. Jund embodies death and reaps the benefits by inflicting death onto others and even itself over the course of the game.
Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire is in a completely new boat, however. His ability, to some, screams “control” rather than “self-sacrifice.” After all, he’s not intrinsically able to sacrifice many things in one turn to get a bunch of Grave Pact triggers, at least not to the same volume as the aforementioned commanders. Still, he channels the raw power of Etali, Primal Storm, though with less efficiency and more control. We’re going to try and make use of this.
It’s fair to say that Jund has everything it needs to be effective in EDH, because it’s perfectly true. It’s not very constructive though, because it’s fair to say that about every three-color combination available. With green’s ramp and black’s card draw, Jund has access to two pillars of the format. Red, meanwhile, is more often heralded as one of the worst colors in the format, and I while would say that that’s a difficult thing to argue, red still brings some very powerful staples to Jund in the form of Chaos Warp, Terminate, Blasphemous Act, Vandalblast, and Xenagos, God of Revels. In short, though red is perhaps the least standalone of the three colors in Jund, it adds a lot of power to the color combination.
Personally, I’ve played several Jund decks in my time, and I’m liking the combination a lot. I’m too much of a blue mage to be comfortable with extended lack of proper countermagic, but other than that, Jund is the entire package. The best ramp in the game, check. Efficient sweepers and spot removal, check. Powerful card draw, check. Powerful threats, check. What I’m really missing personally is a commander that ”clicks” for me, which I haven’t found yet. Perhaps Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire is that commnader for me, and perhaps he is also that commander for this week’s submitter: Alex.
Without further ado, let’s meet this week’s patient: Alex’s brew of Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire:
Link to the deck on Deckstats: Click!
Alex has made a very neat submission to General Medicine, detailing exactly what his deck wants to do: he wants to make use of the commander’s triggered ability to the fullest extent. He wants to sacrifice his stuff to turn it into better stuff, and he wants to make use of Vaevictus’s sacrifice triggers to create added value.
In a related sense, the deck uses the ever-awesome Primal Vigor as alternative win condition. Resolving it will result in the entire deck getting put onto the battlefield at the same time, because he has no other instants or sorceries. This includes enough raw combat power to finish off most opponents, and also several infinite combos to immediately end the game. Spicy!
Alex writes that the deck needs more haste outlets, and could use some more ramp or fixing. I think that the amount of ramp cards probably isn’t the issue; perhaps we could sort it out by lowering the average converted mana cost of the deck. We will also add a few more ways to get haste onto our commander (luckily, we’re not lacking for options in these colors). We are missing some card draw however, which might add to the sense that the deck isn’t working properly, since we might run out of cards to play if opponents hit us with a timely board wipe. We will try to sort this out as well.
He also writes that the deck feels clunky, which I can understand looking at the list. I often make the mistake myself to fill my deck with too much goodstuff cards, too much removal, and not enough card draw. In Alex’s case he’s got some great synergies going between his cards and there’s a clear engine at work but, again, should he run out of cards it’s easy to see that the deck will grind to a halt. We will fix this, as well as help Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire manipulate the triggered ability.
Inputting Alex’s deck into this very site generates a pretty good set of cards suggested for the deck, even despite the fact that at the time of writing, there are only a handful of Vaevictus decks in the database. The top ten cards are all lands, funnily enough, but the three I’m going to zero in on are the temples: (Temple of Abandon, Temple of Malady, and Temple of Malice). While these cards aren’t exactly expensive, the latter two have been gaining in price and are sitting at about $4-$5 currently. I’d expect these to be reprinted in the future, so no need to invest anything, but I’d say if you don’t have them, shelling out for these is a good idea. They are all well worth their places in two- and three-color decks, and especially in this deck. When we want to manipulate the top of our deck, scry becomes extra relevant the longer the game gets.
Speaking of manipulating the top of our deck, some of the top suggestions allow us to do just that. Alex has not specified a total budget for the deck, but says he’d rather not spend more than $25 on a single card, which I can understand. Sensei’s Divining Top falls within that budgetary frame, though just barely, and it needs to be in the deck. Old-school classics like Scroll Rack and Mirri’s Guile are unfortunately more expensive, though I’d say Alex ought to regard these as possible future inclusions should he come across them.
Viscera Seer is probably the most obvious inclusion EDHREC suggests, and the one I would give my highest recommendation. It’s cheap, in every sense of the word, it’s a free sacrifice outlet, and it manipulates the top card of our deck. In short, it does everything the deck needs. Another suggestion is the classic Call of the Wild, which we can set up with our top-deck manipulation, and since we have so many creatures, it even has a fair shot of flipping a creature blind.
The self-imposed deckbuilding restriction of “permanents only” is a fine choice, in my opinion, as it makes for a cool deck challenge and a powerful Primal Surge. This automatically disqualifies a few cards which would otherwise be quite brilliant. Vampiric Tutor, Worldly Tutor and Noxious Revival are all fantastic in the deck. Liliana Vess makes for a good permanent substitute for two of these, however, and is repeatable at that, so it truly belongs in the deck.
Lastly, adding more haste enablers to the deck is a matter of preference. Hall of the Bandit Lord, Flamekin Village and Hanweir Battlements are all fine choices that fit in a land slot. Anger always a good card as well. However, my top pick for haste effects is the ever-powerful Xenagos, God of Revels. It not only grants haste to any creature you want, it also turns our commander into a powerful two-turn clock.
This leaves us with the following changes to Alex’s deck list:
Aside from the cards already discussed, we also have Ophiomancer. This is one of the best “rattlesnakes” in the format, discouraging opponents from attacking us. It also provides a nice sacrificial token every turn; we can sacrifice the Snake token at the end of an opponent’s turn with Viscera Seer, for example, and immediately get a Snake token back at the next upkeep. Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is more scry for the commander, and also draws us cards consistently, so it definitely belongs in the deck. Phyrexian Arena is just plain good, and Reassembling Skeleton is a neat utility card for sacrifice shenanigans. World Shaper is a nice way to get rid of chaff on the top of our deck, and has nice synergies with the land-sacrificing cards in our deck.
As is usual for the cuts, they’re difficult to make. That’s actually one of the perks of sending your decklist to someone else, as Alex has done. For example, I find it difficult to cut cards from my own decks because of nostalgic or sentimental reasons, but a fresh pair of eyes could be more critical than your own, which helps find weak spots. For cuts, I’ve focused on cards which are admittedly powerful, but don’t add enough to the deck’s overall theme or plan. Sword of Feast and Famine, Helm of the Host, Eldrazi Monument, and so on are powerful, but costly, and don’t help Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire with what he needs most. Arcane Lighthouse is a neat utility card to have, but with Ravenous Chupacabra out of the deck, little else requires targeting. Vindictive Lich is a sweet card, but can and often will turn the table against you, since you’re often making more than one enemy if the card is used to its full extent. Sprouting Thrinax is actually pretty good, but is a lot harder to cast than Ophiomancer, has a limit to how many tokens it can produce, and makes tokens that are worse than Ophiomancer’s deathtouching Snakes.
In the ‘Other Options’ section I’ve left cards that are either a bit too expensive to fall beneath the $25 limit, or cards that would be good if Alex wishes to expand upon the sacrifice theme of the deck (though if that is the case, I think another commander might be better suited).
The changes leaves the following deck list:
I hope Alex is happy with my suggestions, and I think that the new deck will work even better for him than his old brew. The cards added are mostly staples, but for good reason. Moving forward, the mana curve is still a bit high, and the average CMC of the deck is at a whopping 4.02, and that could be lowered quite a bit. Specifically, the five-drops are numerous and starting a game with more than one of them in hand might lead to a slow opening. If even more ramp is needed, I’d recommend Alex to look at cards like Dawntreader Elk and my favorite underplayed ramp card in EDH, Diligent Farmhand.
Did I miss out on any cards? What cards would you consider for the deck yourself? Leave a comment below, and help Alex with his deck!
General Medicine is a bi-weekly column where I take a look at your EDH deck, run it through our own EDHREC analysis, add some twists and turns of my own, and present your deck with an analysis for the world to see, right here on this site! Sound exciting? Want your sweet brew featured (as in, picked apart, analyzed, and written about – it’s not as scary as it might sound!) in my series?
Here’s what you do:
I am not using some sort of first-come, first-served policy, I am choosing the most interesting deck, and I am also looking at the best write-ups! Make sure you read the submission guidelines above, and take your time when writing me your e-mail; the better the write-up, the higher the chance I pick your deck! And if you’re not picked next time, fear not – I will be keeping any unused lists and write-ups in my log, from which I will pull the nuggets every other week.