Tuesday, September 3, 2013

[JT] CGC: Can you solve The Sphinx's Riddle?

I love sphinxes, almost as much as I love the moonfolk; and since I already have an EDH deck built for them (a bit out of date, but still...), a while ago I decided it was time for me to give my other loves some... well...  love.  As you all know from both my moonfolk deck and my Legend of Zelda deck (actually, going through a massive overhaul currently), I love flavor as well.  I love it so much so that I've come to realize I cannot maintain a non-flavor based EDH deck for more than a few games because they lack the fun that flavor deck bring to the table.

When it came to my Sphinx deck, I had to find some theme I could latch on to.  I knew what creature was going to be my general already since there is only one legendary sphinx that allows me to play all the others: Sharuum, the Hegemon (I want to side track here for a second and say that I REALLY hope the Esper commander deck that is coming out will have a new legendary sphinx as the commander since I am tired of showing my commander to people and having to follow it with the line "It's not that kind of Sharuum deck...").

At first I tried making it an Arcane based deck (you remember Arcane; the subtype from Kamigawa that allows you to Splice other spells onto it?  Yeah, that's the one), but it did not have that flavor punch that makes me drool over a deck.  I was still at a loss.  I needed something that was inherent to the mythos of sphinxes, and it dawned on me one day that the answer was in Sharuum's flavor text the whole time...

"To gain audience with the hegemon, one must bring a riddle she has not heard."

RIDDLES!  Sphinxes are all about riddles, and I knew that if I could translate that somehow into a theme for my deck, I'd have Vorthosian gold!  The answer to this riddle (heh heh... get it?) laid in the other Esper color card from Shards block that I was going to make absolute certain had a place in this deck: Brilliant Ultimatum.

What better way to pose a riddle to your opponents than making them choose between things?  Let's see how well this idea translated into an actual deck...

Creatures (32):
Probably my favorite sphinx
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Commander)
Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Enigma Sphinx
Sphinx Sovereign
Magister Sphinx (As much as I want to play with all of the sphinxes, I would completely understand if this ended up banned)
Sharding Sphinx
Sphinx Summoner
Cerulean Sphinx
Serra Sphinx
Sphinx of Uthuun
Jelenn Sphinx
Consecrated Sphinx
Isperia the Inscrutable
Isperia, Supreme Judge
Vexing Sphinx
Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Chancellor of the Spires
Sphinx of the Chimes (... yes...  It's in here... I kind of had to)
My very first sphinx *whimsical sigh*
Sphinx of Lost Truths
Argent Sphinx
Sphinx Ambassador
Windreader Sphinx
Goliath Sphinx
Conundrum Sphinx
Belltower Sphinx
Grand Architect
Solemn Simulacrum
Adaptive Automaton
Steel Hellkite
Gold Myr
Silver Myr
Leaden Myr

Riddles, Non-creature spells (21):
Brilliant Ultimatum
Choice of Damnations
Do or Die
Far // Away
Distant Memories
Killing Wave
Painful Quandary
Jace, Architect of Thought
Soul Ransom
Rhystic Study
Covenant of Minds
Dispense Justice
Devour Flesh
Dash Hopes
Truth or Tale
Murmurs from Beyond
Tribute to Hunger
Flooded Woodlands
Vexing Arcanix

Non-riddle, Non-creature spells (10):
Sphinx's Revelation
Mask of Riddles
Sphinx-Bone Wand
Venser, the Sojourner
Coat of Arms
Crystal Ball
Unwinding Clock
Azorius Signet
Orzhov Signet
Dimir Signet

Lands (37):
Island x5
Swamp x3
Plains x2
Seat of Synod
Ancient Den
Vault of Whispers
Vivid Creek
Vivid Meadow
Command Tower
Arcane Sanctum
Azorius Guildgate
Azorius Chancery
Orzhov Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate
Glacial Fortress
Drowned Catacomb
Seachrome Coast
Darkslick Shores
Watery Grave
Godless Shrine
Mystic Gate
Sunken Ruins
Nimbus Maze
Tainted Isle
Esper Panorama
Terramorphic Expanse
Evolving Wilds
Mystifying Maze
Buried Ruins
Reliquary Tower

Cards I am still trying to get my hands on for this deck:
Petra Sphinx
Curse of Wizardry
Esper Charm
Fatal Lore
Temporal Extortion
Imperial Edict
Library of Lat-Nam
Fact or Fiction
Thought Prison
Thran Tome
Liar's Pendulum

Maze of Ith
Isolated Chapel
Dimir Aqueduct
Orzhov Basilica
Vivid Marsh
Fetid Heath
Hallowed Fountain
Patriarch's Bidding
Propaganda (and similar effects)

So how does it play?  FREAKING AMAZINGLY!  This might be the deck I have had the most fun playing.  There's a decent bit of inherent strength in the creatures, and Grand Architect (an inclusion that I have to admit I am not completely fond of since I feel it detracts from the flavor or the deck, but sometimes you have to go function over form) allows you to pump out the larger sphinxes a lot quicker than normal.  However, there is nothing more satisfying than playing a Choice of Damnations at any point in the game to either drain them for a large chunk of life or just leave them with absolutely nothing while everyone else has everything.

One thing I want to make a note of is that this deck works a little better in a one-on-one duel than it does in multiplayer.  Being able to focus all of your riddles on one player makes them all the more potent (Can you imagine an opponent's face when you give them a Choice of Damnations and they focus on keeping a board state so they keep their creatures, and then you follow up with a Do or Die?  It might be down right cruel; certainly more so than if each of those spells targets a different player.  That is not to say that the deck cannot hold its own in multiplayer matches, but for those I find myself relying more on things like Sphinx of the Steel Wind than the riddles she would ask.

As I have said, this is probably the one deck that I have had the most fun playing.  It is the antithesis of the decks that allow little to no interactivity; it requires it. 

And on that note, I am will see you all again soon.  I don't intend to take a long hiatus again (though I also didn't intend to take these last few either).  In the mean time though, I wonder how many of your opponents can answer The Sphinx's Riddle?

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