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Daretti cEDH Primer
Hellbent Stax is a disruptive mono red deck with a graveyard-centric gameplan. Easy access to discarded artifacts paired with looting effects generates (virtual) card advantage while stax pieces hinder spell casting. A high density of layered artifact- and graveyard-based winning lines makes it possible to use the tempo advantage gained to assemble a game winning combo.
My personal goal is to write a comprehensive Daretti Stax Primer for competitive EDH. Feel free to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts and ideas. There is always room for improvement and opportunities to learn something. Everyone overlooks things and makes mistakes, as I for sure did when writing this Primer.
Hellbent Stax is my concept for a competitive Daretti deck. It combines disruptive stax pieces with aggressive but disadvantageous ramp and a lot of card filter effects. Going Hellbent is less of an actual goal and more a side effect of aggressive and disadvantageous ramp and many card filter effects including Daretti, Scrap Savant's first ability and the limited draw power mono red has to offer. Usually you don't want to be in top-deck mode, but you will often get there anyway. As a player you must mentally accept Hellbent as a state and take advantage of cards like Anje's Ravager, Bazaar of Baghdad and Sandstone Oracle. My basic assumption for Hellbent Stax is the following:
While the game is staxed it is better to rush through the deck to assemble a game winning combo than it is to play it slowly keeping cards in hand that could be useful only later.
Unlike other stax builds that aim to slow down the game and grind it to a halt by attacking mana sources with Static Orb, Winter Orb or land destruction, this build tries to hinder spell casting with cards like Chalice of the Void or Nullstone Gargoyle. In addition to that, tax effects and specific anti-meta card choices disrupt common winning lines used in my meta.
Being able to perform under the circumstances you have created, the plan is to dig into your library with your Commander, looting effects and wheels to assemble a wincon while everyone else is still struggling.
The following cards characterize my Hellbent Stax build:
- Chalice of the Void
- Nullstone Gargoyle
- Anje's Ravager
- Sandstone Oracle
- Semblance Anvil
- Mesmeric Orb
- Treasonous Ogre
Power Level, Budget and Proxies
Playing mono red means playing with restrictions. Red has almost no access to tutors for artifacts. Daretti is a great value engine but doesn't fix the problem with the missing tutors. Unlike Godo, Bandit Warlord, Daretti is not a combo piece accessible in the command zone. Smart guys with lots of experience who know more about cEDH than me currently list Daretti as a High Power Commander, but not as fringe competitive. From my personal experience with Daretti in cEDH I'd say that the deck is fringe competitive. Hellbent Stax can compete in cEDH pods and win games, because the deck is - believe it or not - constantly able to attempt to win between T4 and T7 (average is T5,5 when goldfishing, for more details see my ongoing google sheet Goldfishin' Hellbent Stax).
The deck is meant to be played in competitive pods. If a mono red deck shall keep up with UBGx lists, there can be no mercy and no budget limitation. If you - like me - can't afford to buy cards like Lion's Eye Diamond or Bazaar of Baghdad, use a proxy. No one with a truly competitive mindset will judge you for doing so. Competitive Magic is about the skill of the pilot and not the amount of money they are able or willing to spend on Magic cards.
There is currently no option to modify the casting costs of single cards. Cards like Chalice of the Void or Walking Ballista shouldn't go into the stats as cmc0 cards. On the other hand cards like Possessed Portal and Nullstone Gargoyle are not meant to be cast.
The adjusted average cmc of the list are:
- 2.00 without lands and
- 1.38 with lands
You can check it out on deckstats. The numbers are higher than other cEDH decks, even higher than other reanimator lists, but Daretti offers better cardfiltering.
Hellbent Stax Daretti - to play or not to play?
Not everyone likes to play heavy control or mono red. The build (and Daretti as a Commander) will suit your playstyle if you
- like disruptive control and stax
- like nonlinear play patterns
- want to draw a lot of cards
- take risks by discarding cards or your entire hand
- want to play a graveyard centric strategy
- want to play mono red in cEDH but not Godo, Bandit Warlord
This build (and Daretti) is probably nothing for you if
- want to play a top tier cEDH control deck
- can't decide what card to discard
- have trouble discarding your entire hand
- want a combo piece in the command zone
- Null Rod, Collector Ouphe and Stony Silence see much play in your playgroup
This is a competitive deck. We play to win - by any means necessary. The deck does what mono red stax decks can do best - slow down the game to prevent faster decks from winning. You then start digging for the cards you need and hopefully win the game. The overall gameplan can be broken down in three stages: staxing, grinding and winning the game. Those often correspond to the commonly used differentiation of game stages: stax early game, grind mid game and win mid or late game.
In comparison to other competitive Daretti builds, this one tries to ramp and grind more aggressively. It uses more disadvantageous cards to produce fast mana to get out a stax piece quickly and it tries dig deeper into the library. The list is a stax deck for sure, but in the Daretti spectrum between combo and control it's more combo oriented and plays less stax.
Ramp - Fast Mana and Big Mana
There are currently 18 cards in the list that allow you to cast Daretti on T3 or earlier. I do not count Mishra's Workshop (even though it sometimes pays for Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith), Lion's Eye Diamond (which has a heavy drawback and therefore can't be used freely) and Scorched Ruins (which produces only colorless mana). I do count Dockside Extortionist which can easily be a ritual that produces four mana. I also count Expedition Map which finds a land that you can drop on T3 that taps for two mana like Ancient Tomb, you can count that too. That is a lot of slots for fast mana. But 18 cards sum up to a chance of about 85% to cast Daretti on T3 and that is exactly what we want to do in the majority of games, and once Daretti resolves you can start to discard redundant cards.
Big mana can either be slower mana rocks like Metalworker, Thran Dynamo, Gilded Lotus or Chromatic Orrery that generate lots of mana during the next turns or faster cards similar to rituals like Dockside Extortionist or Treasonous Ogre. I opted for a mix. Metalworker and Basalt Monolith are set because they are combo pieces. Chromatic Orrery is a combo piece too, produces the most mana and can be welded in easily on turn two which makes it pretty fast. But it's a weld-in only most of the time. The other slots are for the faster ritual like effects, Dockside Extortionist and Treasonous Ogre. I feel like Thran Dynamo and Gilded Lotus are too slow for my meta, maybe for cEDH in general, and more than five slots for big mana is presumably too much. Before Chromatic Orrery was spoilered, I was happy with four slots for big mana, but I had to make room for the card.
You find in depth analysis on stax, grinding and winning in the corresponding sections. The following subsections give a short overview for the early, mid and late stages of the game.
Early Game (T1 - T4)
Hellbent Stax plays like almost all cEDH decks. You build up a board state during the first two or three turns. The goal is to cast Daretti on turn two or three, but there is a decent chance to do it on turn one. You should take a mulligan if you don't see a chance to cast Daretti or something with impact on turn three when looking at your starting hand. The impact of stax effects often depend on how early they apply which makes it even more important to be the first in turn order.
With all the cards that provide fast mana there is a high chance that you will produce two or even three mana on turn one. This can be used for stax pieces like Chalice of the Void (X=1), Cursed Totem or even Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon and Trinisphere. Few things are more satisfying than a turn one Blood Moon. People often aren't aware of the fact that a Daretti deck can "win" on turn one by resolving a Moon-effect.
Another common play pattern is to discard a cmc-wise expensive card like God-Pharaoh's Statue, Nullstone Gargoyle, Alhammarret's Archive and Chromatic Orrery with Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice or Thrill of Possibility to weld it back in the next turn with Daretti.
Lion's Eye Diamond offers ridiculous but risky turn one plays. It gives you the mana to cast Daretti and it lets you discard your hand. If you manage to cast another artifact or your T1 land drop is an artifact land you can trade your hand for T1 Daretti and an impactful artifact. The following artifacts are often worth the risk:
The next three cards only if you go first and even then it's presumably to though to discard your hand:
The first stax pieces should be played as soon as possible. Depending on your position in turn order and the amount of tutors that have been played, it should be on T2 or T3, latest on T4.
Mesmeric Orb mills and thus generates virtual card advantage (I'll explain that later). If you have nothing better to do during the early game, cast Mesmeric. It stops top-deck tutors and the cards milled over the next turns can be valuable.
The later early game, when Daretti is online and everyone else has cast their mana dorks, hatebears and low cost Commanders, is often the sweet spot for a board wipe.
Mid Game (T5 - T8)
Once your stax pieces are online and your opponents winning lines are (temporarily) interrupted, you should start to dig into your library to find more stax pieces and to assemble your own combo.
During the mid game you want to draw a lot of cards. With the Hellbent Stax build you often have only a few cards or none left in hand when the early game ends. T4 or T5 is the perfect time to refill your hand with a wheel effect. Wheel of Fortune has the benefit of having each player discard their hand, which means you can force your opponents to discard the cards they have tutored for during the early game. Sandstone Oracle refills your hand too. Memory Jar is quite expensive with cmc5. If you cast it, you presumably won't have much mana left to spend for the cards you draw, especially when you played tax effects before. Therefore I like to discard Jar early on and weld it in when I have enough mana. But sometimes you have to cast it and wait for the next turn to activate it.
Another card that draws a decent amount of cards is Anje's Ravager. I'd say it is mono red's TymnaDorks all-in-one card. Draw three cards with a creature that has to attack. Being a 3/3 makes it even more safe to attack. In fact, you have no choice. Unlike TymnaDorks, Ravager doesn't have to get through, because it's ability triggers on being declared as an attacker. I often discard Ravager the turn after Daretti entered the battlefield, when I have the mana to pay for the Madness cost. With that turn and the precombat main phase of the next turn, you should be able cast all remaining cards from your hand.
Alhammarret's Archive doubles your draw. I prefer to weld it in, but sometimes it's worth the five mana to cast it before you activate Daretti to get those two extra cards.
Mystic Forge helps to grind during the mid game. It's effect is rather slow in comparison to wheel effects, but when you have enough top deck manipulation (Daretti, Codex Shredder, Bazaar of Baghdad, Faithless Looting and other looting effects, fetchlands, ... ) and enough mana, things get out of hand pretty quickly. With all the mana positive rocks and the low amount of lands you often dig 5+ cards per turn deep into your library. Experimental Frenzy (currently not in the list) does basically the same thing. It lets you also play lands, but you lose access to the cards in your hand.
Mid game (sometimes late early game) is the time when you should have mana available for instant-based interaction, if you have drawn any. Both Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast allow you to participate in a counterwar (same is true for Deflecting Swat) or to remove a combo piece, if it's blue. Abrade, Barbarian Ring and Walking Ballista can get rid of creatures like Collector Ouphe, Dockside Extortionist, Barrin, Master Wizard, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Godo, Bandit Warlord and many more. Abrade also hits artifacts like Isochron Scepter or Null Rod. Your best and most expensive piece of interaction is Chaos Warp. Depending on what kind of combo or stax piece you anticipate, it's probably not worth to save three mana. Nobody expects a mono red deck to interact anyway. Just bluff and let your opponents deal with a threat, especially as long as the spell is on the stack. That's what you have to do often, because both the amount and the quality of cards mono red has for instant speed interaction is pretty low.
The Hellbent Stax build is designed to go Hellbent. Therefore you shouldn't be too cautious with those few cards of instant-based interaction. If you for example have Anje's Ravager and Pyroblast in your starting hand, there is a high chance that you have to discard the Blast by T4 or T5, if you don't use it. So don't hesitate to get rid of that Mystic Remora or Rhystic Study, even though Remora will be sacrificed anyway. Hellbent Stax wants to fire out a salve of noncreature spells early on. Blasting the Remora is often better than complying to the Fish-Pact, because you can't develop your board with mana dorks, hatebears or a Dark Confidant.
Sometimes it's possible to make the first winning attempt. Starting hands that offer this possible are very rare and it's often not possible to protect your combo, if it involves casting a spell. Even if your opponents tap out, it's most likely that at least one of them has a (free) counterspell in his or her hand. Therefore it's better to wait until an opponent has failed his attempt to win the game, until the first counterwar has happened and everyone else is tapped out. If the missing combo piece can be welded in and you can win on the spot without casting a spell (or if the combo lets you draw your deck first so that one or more counterspells won't stop you from winning), you should go for it and try to win that game.
Late Game (T9+)
It's hard to predict what's going on late game. Games often don't last that long. But when they do, it can get very tough. Depending on how many stax pieces resolved, the game is all about attrition and card advantage, especially if there is another stax deck in your pod. Creatures and other permanents become more relevant. Commanders will be played for the second or third time and beatdown becomes a threat to those, who have been greedy with their life points. But that's how it is playing a stax deck.
People will notice that when you are performing well while they cannot advance their gameplan. Daretti will draw a lot of hate. Politics can be relevant at this point. Try to redirect combat damage at other players, who need their life as a resource. Mono red is definitely not on Ad Nauseam. Explain to your opponents that your stax pieces are preventing a third opponent from winning. There might be situations in which a counterwar happens because one of your opponents tries to remove a stax piece EOT before his turn so he can perform his combo.
Many potential combo pieces will lay in your graveyard or on the battlefield, visible for everyone. Be aware of that.
The classic stax strategy is to win through resource denial, card advantage and attrition. Even though it's possible to grind an cEDH game to a halt by denying your opponents all their resources and win by drawing more and losing less cards than your opponents do, that strategy is in my opinion not strong enough to compete in the current meta - at least not with mono red. The game is too fast and mono red cannot reliably find the necessary cards. When fast combo decks can constantly attempt to win on turn three, there is no time to find a second card that breaks parity on a symmetrical stax effect like a card that produces tokens for Smokestack. Thus I try to only play stax effects that are asymmetrical on their own. This is true for cards like God-Pharaoh's Statue or Stranglehold, but also for Moon-effects or Lodestone Golem because of the way the deck is built.
Resource denial is difficult in cEDH. It's often not possible to effectively attack all three major mana sources (lands, artifacts and creatures) at the same time or in the time window fast combo decks offer. Not to mention enchantments like Carpet of Flowers, Utopia Sprawl or Smothering Tithe. Therefore this build's main goal is to attack spell casting and interrupt winning lines. Spell hate and the graveyard-centric strategy, that is implied by Daretti, work well with a mono red deck, because red can't keep up in card quality when it comes to instants and sorceries. Having ability-based access to the graveyards allows us to attack spellcasting aggressively with cards like Chalice of the Void and Nullstone Gargoyle.
Everyone has an idea of what tempo or tempo advantages means. A common definition is that Tempo is the pace at which one plays threats. This can be achieved with mana efficient “on curve” plays. If tempo is related to a single Commander, it often stands for a build that wins faster(Najeela Tempo vs Najeela Stax). You could also use the term to relate deck archetypes to others. A fast combo deck like Selvala Brostorm or Turbo AdNaus has a natural tempo advantage over slower control decks like Niv-Mizzet Curiosity (when goldfishing).
I prefer to use the term tempo advantage to describe the current state of the game:
The player who has progressed his own gameplan the most in relation to their opponents, in other words who is closest to victory, has a tempo advantage.
According to my understanding of the term, if a player gains tempo advantage and keeps it throughout the entire game, that inevitably leads to victory. The problem with my definition is that the information you need to determine who has a tempo advantage is hidden if you are participating in the game. Since cEDH is not about winning through combat or burn, you can't tell from someone's board state or their life points how far they have advanced their gameplan. You simply can't see whether your opponents have their combo pieces in hand or struggle with their draws.
Even though you can state that the first player in turn order has a natural tempo advantage. Playing on curve and using slot efficient combos of only one or two cmc-wise cheap cards (including a Commander if possible) helps a lot to (start with or) gain and keep the tempo advantage. Most cEDH decks play on curve and have more speed than mono red Daretti in assembling their combos, because each other color has better tutor effects.
Tempo advantage seems to be a volatile thing, if you don't have all the information. One lucky draw can change everything. Someone can be totally shut down by a stax piece even though he has all combo pieces in hand. But when he (or she) draws that removal spell, he is back in the game. This seems like a huge tempo gain, but you could also say that the player already had advanced his gameplan far before.
Stax pieces kill your opponent's tempo because they are meant to disrupt their gameplan. Many stax effects are symmetrical. I try to avoid those cards, but some are just too strong to not play them. Grafdigger’s Cage, Torpor Orb or Cursed Totem for example. Losing signature cards Goblin Engineer and Goblin Welder, rituals like Treasonous Ogre or Dockside Extortionist and combo pieces like Walking Ballista or Underworld Breach hurts. But those stax pieces cards are necessary, because most decks find their combos faster than a Daretti deck does. When you find yours, you can use Daretti to sacrifice the disruptive artifact and combo off.
Although the wording of many cards implies a symmetrical effect, many effects aren’t symmetrical due to the way the deck is built. Blood Moon turns everyone’s nonbasic lands into Mountains, but a mono red deck is not be disrupted by that. Lodestone Golem hits only nonartifact spells of which we don’t play much. Trinisphere hits everyone but the average cmc of a Daretti deck (2+ or 2,5+ if you count cmc-wise expensive artifacts, what you shouldn't do, because those aren't meant to be cast) is higher than the average cmc of most other cEDH decks. For the same reason Chalice of the Void on X=1 hits other decks harder. Even Nullstone Gargoyle can be asymmetrical. You don’t necessarily have to cast a spell to assemble an artifact-only combo. Daretti can play around by discarding and welding-in artifacts.
Other stax pieces are one-sided on their own. Tangle Wire taps twelve cards under your opponents control, but only three (other) cards you control. Close to Time Walk, isn’t it. God-Pharaoh’s Statue or Stranglehold affect opponents only.
Disruption and Removal
The cards meant to control the game can roughly be divided in two categories: cards that disrupt or prevent your opponents from casting spells and activating or triggering abilities on one side and cards that deal with what is coming through on the other. Nonbasic land hate, tax effects and abilities that counter spells fall in the first category. Mass and spot removal and spells that counter spells belong in the second category. A card of its own kind is Possessed Portal. The card has a devastating impact on the game, but it's more of a one-card wincon and thus is discussed in the corresponding section.
Disruption Reaction Blood Moon Red Elemental Blast Magus of the Moon Pyroblast Grafdigger's Cage Deflecting Swat Cursed Totem Anger of the Gods Phyrexian Revoker Rolling Earthquake Torpor Orb Blast Zone Stranglehold Abrade God-Pharaoh's Statue Barbarian Ring Lodestone Golem Chaos Warp Trinisphere Walking Ballista Sphere of Resistance Thorn of Amethyst Chalice of the Void Nullstone Gargoyle Ensnaring Bridge Tangle Wire
Anti Tutor Side Effects
In addition to those cards listed above, there are some cards that can by chance be used to control the game. Codex Shredder, Mesmeric Orb and Grinding Station mill. This can be used to control the top card of your opponent's library. The cards shut down Imperial Seal. Codex Shredder and Grinding Station also shut down instant-speed top-deck tutors or Noxious Revival, unless a card like Brainstorm is used to draw the card put on top before the mill-ability resolves. Geier Reach Sanitarium can be used against top-deck tutors too, if your opponent has an empty hand after the resolution of their top-deck tutor. Burning Inquiry (currently not in the list) can be used in the same way, but not at instant speed. Inquiry can also be used to mess up your opponent's hand (and maybe your own hand too) when they pass their turn after they've cast a to-hand tutor. Same is true for Wheel of Fortune which can be used as a discard effect. Memory Jar can be used to prevent an opponent from winning on their turn when activated before their main phase, for example to answer Ad Nauseam cast during the end-step before their turn.
Anti-Meta Card Choices
What cards you need to successfully pilot a stax deck strongly depends on the decks you play against. Playing stax requires you - probably more than other archetypes - to build accordingly to your meta. To a certain degree stax is anti meta magic. Don't copy my list. Get to know your meta and adapt!
The most frequently used wincons are probably
- Demonic Consultation
- Ad Nauseam Storm
- Underworld Breach Storm
- Food Chain
- Isochron Scepter
- Dockside Extortionist loops.
You might also play against
- Time Twister loops,
- Worldgorger Dragon or Leonin Relic-Warder loops
- Birthing Pod into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker lines
- Earthcraft and Squirrel Nest
- Sensei's Divining Top loops
- Breakfast with Hermit Druid or Cephalid Illusionist
- Lion's Eye Diamond with Auriok Salvagers
- Freed from the Real with Bloom Tender
- Razaketh, the Foulblooded Reanimator
- Notion Thief Wheels
- combat combos with Najeela, the Blade-Blossom and Godo, Bandit Warlord.
When playing stax you need to know how your opponents wincons, their combos and finisher, work to interrupt them effectively. There are only a few tutors in mono red and you often need those to find the missing piece for your own combo. Even though it’s often smart to use your first tutor for the most effective stax piece. Therefore you need to know, if the stax pieces you have drawn are sufficient or if another card is better for the current match-up (if you can to tutor for one).
How-to Disrupt - Spell-Based Loops and Storm
The majority of the commonly used wincons include a spell-based loop. This is true for Food Chain, Isochron Scepter with Drametic Reversal, Underworld Breach lines, Sensei's Divining Top and Dockside Extortionist loops. From the stax player's perspective spell loops are similar to spell chains created by Storm decks. A very effective way to attack spell-based loops and Storm are tax effects like Lodestone Golem or Trinisphere. Storm turns of Ad Nauseam often start with free mana and rituals in the cmc1 slot like Dark Ritual, High Tide or Rain of Filth. Those can be attacked with Chalice of the Void on X=1.
How-to Disrupt - Ability-Based Loops
Many spell-based loops are also ability-based. Isochron Scepter has to be activated and the ability of Dockside Extortionist must trigger on entering. Same is true for mana abilities like Food Chain or Lion's Eye Diamond. A pure ability based loop is Worldgorger Dragon with Animate Dead. Birthing Pod lines into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and the good old combo of Earthcraft and Squirrel Nest are ability-based too. Infinite-outlet Commanders like Thrasios, Triton Hero and Urza, High Lord Artificer or a tutor-commander like Yisan, the Wanderer Bard or combo pieces like Najeela, the Blade-Blossom and many more have activated abilities. Commanders like The First Sliver, Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger or Naru Meha, Master Wizard have triggered abilities. All activated abilities can be interrupted by Phyrexian Revoker. Even mana abilities and abilities of lands. Cursed Totem deals with creatures that have activated abilities and Torpor Orb deals with ETB triggers like Birthing Pod lines into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (strictly speaking, neither Pod or Kiki have an ETB, but the cards they tutor or copy have). Some triggered abilities are too specific. There is no answer for The First Sliver's on cast triggers or The Gitrog Monster's trigger (who cares, if you - like me - have no idea how that shit works exactly).
How-to Disrupt - Non-Loop Wincons
The Consultation combo is presumably the most played non-loop (backup) wincon. Thassa’s Oracle, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and Laboratory Maniac win the game when you draw from an empty library or resolve Oracle’s trigger. Tainted Pact and Demonic Consultation get you there efficiently by exiling all cards from your library. Breakfast with Hermit Druid uses self-mill and return Thassa’s Oracle from the graveyard. Cursed Totem stops Hermit Druid, and Torpor Orb helps against Oracle. Same is true for Geier Reach Sanitarium, even though it doesn't stop Jace or Labman. Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast can hit Jace or Labman in response to the draw effect or during the upkeep before the draw step. The Blasts can also destroy Thassa’s Oracle in response to its ETB trigger, if its controller has left cards in his library to avoid losing to instant draw. When you destroy Oracle before its ability resolves, its controller's devotion to blue may be lower than the number of cards left in his library. If the combo fails that way, there is a high chance that the player won't be able to make another winning attempt. But Thassa’s Oracle can be reanimated easily. It would be a shame if someone had a Grafdigger's Cage in play, which stops Reanimate and tutors like Neoform and Eldritch Evolution.
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade with either Omen Machine or Knowledge Pool wins via hard lock by passive abilities. Spot removal helps here. Blood Pod can win with Kiki-Jiki-Pod lines, but also by disruption and beatdown. Same is true for Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. The redhead performs excellent under stax. Board wipes help against beatdown (backup) plans.
My Personal Anti-Meta Choices
The selection of stax pieces in the list is optimized to perform well in my personal meta. I need wipes that deal three damage. I need tax against Turbo AdNaus and Food Chain decks, and I need cards against ConsultationOracle. Sometimes I need combat control, but I don't face go wide strategies. Thus I don't need Silent Arbiter or The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. I don't face Tymna, the Weaver or Najeela, the Blade-Blossom , and I don't need graveyard hate at the moment.
The idea behind the Hellbent gameplan is to dig faster and deeper into your library to find what you need and discard everything you don't need. The ongoing process of drawing and discarding (or vice versa) works better when you play many permanents - most of them artifacts - and less cards that depend on the circumstances (like spells that need a target). Discarding artifacts is no substantial downside, because the deck has easy access to the graveyard with Daretti, Goblin Welder and the other recursion effects. With the graveyard being an active zone for artifacts, you generate card advantage by discard artifacts in exchange for card draw.
This build is designed to grind. Nothing is more frustrating than finding the right stax pieces and then being out valued by your opponents. Most cEDH decks can generate a lot of value, which means card advantage. The word "draw" is written on most of the strongest Commanders, including Tymna the Weaver, Thrasios, Triton Hero, Kenrith, the Returned King and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus. It's written on Daretti, Scrap Savant too, but in combination with the word "discard". Nevertheless being your Elder, Daretti is your primary way to generate card advantage.
Card Advantage and Ways to Generate It
Card advantage means more than just drawing cards, even though raw draw is often the easiest and strongest way of getting card advantage, because most cards are active cards in your hand. For clarification of the concept and the terms card advantage, card disadvantage and quality advantage, I recommend the following article written by Leo Bartolome. He defines the term as follows:
Card Advantage is the action of acquiring more active cards than your opponent. When your opponent gains card advantage, you generate Card Disadvantage.
Quality Advantage is the action of improving the quality of your active cards without changing the number of active cards relative to your opponent.
For us Daretti players, the magic word in Bartolome's definition is "active". With the graveyards being an easy accessible zone, filling it with cards, in particular with artifacts, generates card advantage. Thus Mesmeric Orb and Codex Shredder produce card advantage by milling cards. Daretti and other filter effects provide not only quality advantage, but also card advantage, when an artifact is discarded. Similar to a Legacy Reanimator deck, you don't plan to cast the cmc-wise expensive artifacts like Nullstone Gargoyle, Sandstone Oracle or God-Pharaoh's Statue. Discarding those means sending a card that's inactive in your hand to the graveyard, where it's now active.
Dumping Dead Cards
When building a deck, you should try to avoid nonbos. Mono red stax doesn't have the luxury of avoiding all negative side effects. Cursed Totem stops mana dorks and some of the strongest commanders like Thrasios, Triton Hero or Urza, Lord High Artificer, but it also stops some of the deck's strongest creatures: Goblin Welder and Walking Ballista. Even though Daretti can get rid of stax pieces that are artifacts, drawing an Imperial Recruiter with Torpor Orb on the battlefield makes Recruiter an inactive card, if you need Torpor Orb to keep your opponents in check. Unless you draw another dead card, you technically have generated card advantage, when you discard the inactive Recruiter with Daretti to draw a new card.
Negative and Virtual Card Advantage
In addition you can generate card advantage in a negative way, for example with a board wipe that destroys more cards from your opponents than from yourself. Removing commander creatures is a special case, because those cards are active or will eventually become active in the Command Zone.
Good news is that stax pieces often generate - some say "virtual" - negative card advantage. By definition it's card advantage when you turn inactive more cards from your opponents with a stax piece than from yourself. You often can't see virtual negative card advantage a stax piece generates, because it prevents your opponents from casting cards they have in their hand, which is a hidden zone. Sometimes the effect is quite obvious. When you hit a multicolored deck without basic lands with Blood Moon, you can see their ABUR dualland landbase becoming useless Mountains. From a card advantage perspective you've traded 100 for 1, which in other words is a lockdown. There might be a Mox Diamond, a basic Forest or something else in your opponent's deck that could help. But a 97 for 1 trade is still ridiculously good. When you look at the mana curve of cEDH decks, you can see that Chalice of the Void on X=1 shuts down between 20 and 30 nonland cards from your opponents. Most competitive Daretti lists have between 10 and 15 cards in the cmc1 slot. That's (virtual negative) card advantage, and Daretti can turn your inactive cmc1 cards into active ones. The downside of virtual card advantage is, that it vanishes if the causing card leaves the battlefield.
Protect Daretti to Maintain Card Advantage
Those observations show clearly how important it is to have Daretti or Goblin Welder on the battlefield. The "yard advantage" gained by accumulating artifacts in your graveyard vanishes, when you lose access to the graveyard. It's just virtual card advantage. Protecting Daretti means preserving your virtual card advantage.
The biggest threat for Daretti are creatures, often Commander creatures. People are often not willing to spend a counterspell of spot removal to get rid of Daretti. There are more dangerous threats in cEDH. This might be different if you are close to the Emblem. Mass removal like Anger of the Gods and Rolling Earthquake deals with smaller creatures. Ensnaring Bridge deals with big boys like The Gitrog Monster, Kraum, Ludevic's Opus and Kenrith, the Returned King.
There are different ways to win the game. Most combos are rather engines that once assembled find the card(s) to actually finish the game with. A combo that lets you draw your deck will more often lead to victory than a combo that just produces infinite mana with a finisher in hand. With all cards from your deck available, you get access to countermagic and one or more backup plans. A common pattern for a winning line of three steps would be to assemble a combo first that lets you draw your deck, which allows you to assemble a second combo that generates enough mana to thirdly cast a spell that burns all your opponents' life points.
Some stax pieces are meant to stop combos. Thus it's important to be aware of what stax pieces you need against your opponents and which of your own combos can be executed with those pieces in play.
Another way to win the game is to lock down all your opponents indefinitely. This is a different form of combo. Instead of maximizing your chance of winning the game, a lockdown minimizes your opponents chances of winning. Technically you don't win on the spot, but over the course of the game, you will. If you aim for a lockdown, beatdown is a viable wincon. For example turning Mycosynth Lattice into a creature with Karn, the Great Creator.
This subsection lists the main combos and gives a short description of how to execute them.
Sensei's Forge (draw deck)
With all three pieces in play you can tap Sensei's Divining Top to draw a card and put it on top of your library. Mystic Forge or Experimental Frenzy (currently not in the list) let you cast Sensei's Divining Top from there for free because of the cost reduction by Semblance Anvil. You can now draw all cards from your library.
Metal Domination (infinite mana, life, draw deck)
Metalworker can produce large amounts of colorless mana. Staff of Domination can untap a creature and itself for four generic mana. With three (or more) artifacts in hand Metalworker taps for six (or more) mana. You are now infinite and can use the mana to draw your library or gain life. The life gain isn't very useful unless you have to use Rolling Earthquake to finish the game.
Basalt Rings (infinite mana, draw deck, recursion)
This is actually another way to loop Sensei's Divining Top (or other cards that let you draw), but the Basalt Rings combo also generates infinite mana. Unlike the combo of Metalworker and Staff, Basalt Rings is not affected by summoning sickness. This is very important if you want to win during your combo turn. Let's start with Basalt Rings before we get to the loop of Sensei's and other possible loops.
With Basalt Monolith and Rings of Brighthearth in play and two generic mana to start the whole thing, you can generate infinite colorless mana. The idea is to copy the activated ability of Basalt Monolith which untaps it. The ability costs three generic mana, but the copy of Rings cost only two generic mana. With two untap effects for at total of five mana and six mana being produced by tapping Basalt twice, you go infinite. But you need to invest some mana before you start netting mana. Lets say Basalt is untapped. You can tap it to produce three colorless mana. You can use that mana to activate its untap ability. You now need to invest two mana from other sources to pay for Rings triggered ability that lets you copy the untap ability of Basalt while it's on the stack. After the resolution of the first untap ability (the copied one) but before resolution of the second (the original one) you must tap Basalt for three colorless mana. After the resolution of the second untap ability you are back to the starting point (untapped Basalt) with three colorless mana in your mana pool. You can use that mana to pay for Ring's triggered ability during the next cycle.
Infinite mana allows you to use Sensei's Divining Top and Rings of Brighthearth to draw your deck. Activate and copy the draw ability of Sensei's. The original Sensei's ability resolves even though Sensei's can't be put on top (because the copy which resolved first already put it there). You can cast Sensei's after you have drawn it with the second draw effect and repeat the process.
Instead of Sensei's Divining Top you can also loop Codex Shredder and cards that either draw, filter, mill or tutor. A shout-out to MrPonzi with whom together I realized that this draw-deck combo lines exist besides the Sensei's loop. With Rings you can copy the recursion ability of Codex Shredder. You can target Codex Shredder with the copy because it is a legal target at this time. With the original ability you can return one of the following cards to start a loop: Grinding Station, Mind Stone, Memory Jar, Soul-Guide Lantern (currently not in the list), Gamble, Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice, Burning Inquiry (currently not in the list), Thrill of Possibility, Wheel of Fortune and Chaos Warp. Red mana can be produced by looping Shredder and Lotus Petal or Lion's Eye Diamond. Chaos Warp is a tricky one, because you use it to loop Daretti.
Sensei's can also be replaced with Voltaic Key and Mystic Forge. Cast cards from the top until you hit a card that can't be cast. Exile it with Forge and use Rings and Key to untap Forge. Due to the fact that the activated ability of Forge costs life you shouldn't exile cards that can be cast from the top of your library. Watch out for a different card like Staff of Domination to continue with if you are on low life.
Finally Deserted Temple and Geier Reach Sanitarium can replace Sensei's. You can use the mana from Basalt and Rings to draw and discard with Sanitarium. Then you untap Sanitarium with Temple and copy the ability targeting Temple itself. You can also use Temple and Rings to filter the infinite colorless mana to red mana with a land that produces red mana.
Mesmeric Monolith ("draw" deck)
Basalt Monolith can be tapped for three colorless mana and be untapped for three generic mana. With Mesmeric Orb triggering during that process, you can mill any number of cards for free. You can do this until you find what you need and weld it in with Daretti or another card. Being able to mill your deck can be very powerful with Underworld Breach or Scrap Mastery. Both can be returned with Codex Shredder, which in turn can be returned with Daretti. A winning line could be to mill yourself, weld in Shredder to return Breach, cast Breach, get free rocks like Mana Crypt and Lotus Petal, then mana positive rocks like Sol Ring and Mana Vault, then Dockside Extortionist (and Treasonous Ogre if necessary), then Rings of Brighthearth to go infinite with Basalt Monolith (see above Basalt Rings), cast Walking Ballista and burn face. Free mill can also be used for top deck manipulation with Mystic Forge or Experimental Frenzy (currently not in the deck) in play.
Breach Loops ("draw" deck)
There are two different loops: Breach Station and Breach Wheel. The Breach Station line is more resilient, easier to execute and Grinding Station is overall the better single card in comparison to Lion's Eye Diamond. A shout-out to CeroSpace and Keska who knew it before me. There is a third line which includes Underworld Breach, but I do not count that one as a loop. You will read more about Underworld Gamble in the subsection Strong Synergies.
- Semblance Anvil
- an artifact with cmc2 or less
The idea is to cast one of the free to cast artifacts mentioned above from the graveyard using the Escape mechanic of Breach. When the artifact enters the battlefield, Station triggers. In response to the untap trigger you activate Station to sacrifice the artifact and mill yourself for three. Your are now back to the starting point. The loop allows you to put a number of cards of your choice from your library into your graveyard equal to the number of cards that were in your graveyard when you begann the loop.
With enough cards to pay for the Escape costs you can cast an infinite combo plus a finisher. Scrap Mastery makes it possible to return a combo and a finisher both artifact-based paying the Escape costs only once. The five cards you have to look for are Scrap Mastery, Chromatic Orrery, Rings of Brighthearth, Voltaic Key (see below Voltaic Orrery) and Codex Shredder. In total you need eight cards in your graveyard (the five mentioned above and three cards to pay the Escape costs of Mastery). The minimum number of cards in your graveyard to start with is one. Why? Because Grinding Station sees itself entering the battlefield and triggers. Therefore you have one free activation before you actually start the loop. You can sacrifice one artifact which must not necessarily be part of the combo. This artifact plus three milled cards are put in the graveyard. Those four cards plus the one you started with sum up to five cards, which is exactly the number of cards you are looking for. Now you start the loop. When you found all cards you were looking for, there are at least nine cards in your graveyard, one more than you actually need.
How do you pay the casting costs of Scrap Mastery or the single pieces? Even if you have to start the loop with a cmc0 artifact or a mana neutral rock like Basalt Monolith, you will eventually find a mana positive rock to continue the loop with, hopefully Mox Opal which also produces red mana.
What if you start with zero cards in the graveyard or you expect counterspells (your opponents should have used them on Breach though)? There are not only ways to net mana during the loop. You can also net cards. Mesmeric Orb triggers once during the loop when Station gets untapped. If you also find Basalt Monolith, you can stop the Breach Station line and continue to perform the Mesmeric Monolith combo line. Codex Shredder with costreduction is free to cast and can be tapped to mill yourself for one before it gets sacrificed. Another card that helps filling the graveyard is Dockside Extortionist. Station triggers for each Treasure and you have to respond to each trigger. Each Treasure token created beyond the first (you need those three to make up for Dockside which is no artifact) nets three cards or one mana of any color. If Abrade has been milled, you could kill Dockside an do the interlude it again.
With Underworld Breach on the battlefield and the LED plus Wheel in your hand and/or graveyard you can start to cast Wheel over and over again to fill your graveyard with the cards you need to finish the game. Wheel lets you discard the six cards you need to escape LED and Wheel plus an additional one card that fills the graveyard. LED produces three red mana which pay for Wheel's mana cost. A typical winning line would be resolving Breach mid or late game with a decent amount of cards on your graveyard. Depending on the amount of cards in your graveyard and library you should be able to resolve at least one spell like Scrap Mastery to return an artifact only wincon to the battlefield (see subsection Finisher).
Voltaic Orrery (infinite mana, draw deck)
Tap Chromatic Orrery for five mana, untap it with Voltaic Key for one mana, copy the ability with Rings for two mana targeting Key itself. This nets you two colorless mana (which can be spent as if they were red mana if necessary). Use the infinite mana to draw a card with Orrery. Then use Key and Rings to untap Orrery and draw your deck.
Scorched Temple (infinite mana)
This combo works like Voltaic Orrery (see above), but with lands instead of artifacts. You tap Ruins for four colorless mana. You untap it with Temple for one generic mana and copy the untap ability with Rings targeting Temple with the copy. Both lands untap for a total of three mana. You are now back to the starting point with one colorless mana left in your mana pool. You can use the infinite colorless mana to untap a land that produces red mana. You can also untap Geier Reach Sanitarium and draw your deck or Bazaar of Baghdad to mill yourself.
Shredder Mastery (infinite recursion, mana, draw deck)
Mastery and Shredder can return the other one from your graveyard. The way both cards interact allows to generate lots of value if sequenced over two turns, but they also create an infinite loop if you can produce ten mana (or more) including two red mana from artifact sources (this includes artifact lands). Half of that mana can be produced with Chromatic Orrery. Krark-Clan Ironworks (currently not in the deck) is great in this set-up too. If your artifacts can produce more than ten mana you also also have infinite mana. You can use the mana to draw of Mind Stone or Chromatic Orrery. Outlets like Grinding Station and Memory Jar doesn't require infinite mana. The combo needs many pieces, but you should keep this line in mind, especially with new Chromatic Orrery.
The combos in the subsection above need one of the following cards or combinations of cards to win the game.
This is self-explanatory.
There are different ways to mill your opponents. The most commonly used combination of cards requires:
Tap Codex Shredder to kill your opponent. Then activate Voltaic Key targeting Codex Shredder. Use Rings of Brighthearth to copy the untap effect and choose Voltaic Key as new target. Let the both untap effects resolve and do it again until all opponents are milled out. If you haven't milled out yourself and there are seven or more cards in your library and if you have access to Wheel of Fortune, cast it and win on the spot. Otherwise pass the turn and win unless someone can do something at instant speed during their upkeep. Angel's Grace will save an opponent for one turn. This can be critical if you milled yourself too.
It's also possible to use the following cards:
With Staff and infinite mana you can tap and untap a creature your opponent controls. Mesmeric Orb triggers when the creature (and when Staff) gets untapped. This mills everyone including yourself. Pass the turn and win the game.
Finally you can also use:
With infinite (colorless) mana Rings and Shredder can loop any (colorless) card. Station can be sacrificed to its own ability milling any player for three. Looping Station lets you mill out each opponent.
This subsection explains who you can lock down your opponents indefinitely.
The Portal Grind
Possessed Portal is an insane card. No card draw and it triggers at the beginning of each end step, not only your own end step. Breaking parity on Possessed Portal is really hard. But actually you don't have to in the first place. All we want is to delay the game with Daretti on the battlefield to get the Emblem, because it's able break parity on Possessed Portal.
Before you start the Portal Grind you have to do some math. You need to count everyone's cards in hand and their permanents on the battlefield. If someone else is far ahead, for example because he resolved a Dockside Extortionist and created a huge amount of Treasure tokens, this player profits the most, because you will have to sacrifice Possessed Portal to its own trigger before that player runs out of cards. Take into account cards like Squee, Goblin Nabob, Drownyard Temple or Crucible of Worlds, which reduce the number of cards you lose during the Portal Grind.
For a successful Portal Grind you should be able to protect Daretti. Since the cards in your opponents' hands are hidden, you should count the potential damage done by creatures on the battlefield and by Commanders, which could enter the battlefield and attack before your opponents run out of resources.
If you play it right, Daretti, Scrap Savant is the only card left on the battlefield and nobody has cards in their hands when you sacrifice Possessed Portal for its own trigger. During the next turns you should be able to get the emblem without losing Daretti and draw an artifact to weld Possessed Portal in. At the beginning of your end step, Emblem and Portal triggers. You can stack the trigger so that the Emblem brings back the artifact first. You can sac the returned artifact for Possessed Portal. In the end step before your turn, you can sacrifice Possessed Portal to its own trigger. This allows you to draw a card in your draw step and use Daretti's first ability. The Emblem then returns Possessed Portal at the beginning of your end step denying your opponents to draw.
The Portal Grind can be perform in other ways. With Goblin Welder you can sacrifice Possessed Portal EOT before your turn so you can draw. You can weld Portal back in during your turn to deny your opponents their draws. This needs two activations of Welder over a turn cycle. Therefore you can't perform it only every second turn cycle (you could turn Welder into an artifact with Mycosynth Lattice and untap it with Voltaic Key or something else, but that's convoluted). With enough loyalty counter on Daretti you can substitute the second weld-in. A sac outlet like Krark-Clan Ironworks (currently not in the deck) can replace a weld-in too if you constantly draw and cast artifacts. A draw engine like Anje's Ravager can break parity on Portal without the Emblem, if you manage to sacrifice Portal EOT before your turn and get it back online after Anje's Ravager attacked.
Karn Lattice (currently not in the deck)
You presumably have heard about this one. It recently got banned in Modern. Mycosynth Lattice turns all permanents into artifacts and Karn, the Great Creator acts as a one-sided Null Rod, that stops your opponents from activating activated abilities of artifacts including mana abilities. On top of that Karn, the Great Creator can turn Mycosynth Lattice into a 6/6 creature that can block for Karn or attack for the win.
Mycosynth Lattice is also great with Vandalblast and Gorilla Shaman (both currently not in the deck). Since both cards and Karn, the Great Creator attack artifacts, the Mycosynth lockdown is in general better in a meta with many non green decks that rely on artifact ramp.
There are card interactions that I don't always end up being a game winning combo. But those strong synergies can be very useful to advance the gameplan by creating a reasonable advantage.
Underworld Gamble (potential one-card wincon)
Underworld Breach lets you escape Gamble from your graveyard over and over again. Doing this two or three times can be very powerful. The combination of cards can also lead to the perfect storm with enough fuel in your graveyard. Cards to start TPS with can be Dockside Extortionist (Abrade can kill Dockside so you can escape it again) or Treasonous Ogre for mana. Next step could be Basalt Monolith and Mesmeric Orb to mill yourself and win the game. If you start with Gamble to search for Underworld Breach the whole thing becomes a one-card wincon. The perfect setup for TPS would be 18 cards to exile for escape (a minimum of 9 cards is necessary, if you do not discard a single one of the cards you tutored for but the chance increases with step because you are down one card each step). In addition you need 2RRRR if you cast Dockside Extortionist or additional two generic if you cast Treasonous Ogre.
> Single Cards
This section is for explanation on single cards that are included or excluded in the deck.
The following cards are in the list for testing purposes:
- Nullstone Gargoyle (good results so far)
- Sandstone Oracle
- Dire Fleet Daredevil
- Semblance Anvil
- Scorched Ruins
- Deserted Temple
The next cards in line for testing are:
- Reforge the Soul / Magus of the Wheel (more wheel, more gas)
- Fork / Reverberate (more interaction)
- Burning Inquiry, Zurzoth, Chaos Rider (more chaos)
- Devastating Dreams (more wipes, very risky but interesting, hits lands and dorks)
Why Do You Play?
This section is for explanations on single cards that are currently in the list. Cards with similar effects are grouped.
Blood Moon / Magus of the Moon
Blood Moon wins games since 1994 (at least until Arcum's Astro Lab was printed). It's a staple in many formats. Incredibly powerful and we can play a second copy of the effect with Magus. There are people who scoop if a Moon effect resolves. If there is a chance to play a Moon effect on turn one or two when the counter shields are down, go for it.
Chalice of the Void
Stops so many powerful spells the other four colors have access to. Very powerful turn one play for X=1. If drawn later you it depends on what combo you expect from your opponents. Even X=0 can be useful if you expect a combo that includes cc0 spells like Lion's Eye Diamond. In response to a main phase Ad Nauseam you could weld in Chalice from the graveyard in response to counter cc0 rocks.
Powerful stax piece and combo breaker. Turns off all those mana dorks and commanders with activated abilities.
Protects Daretti and synergizes well with the overall Hellbent gameplan. The card wasn't part of the deck for a while, but due to a meta shift it has made its comeback.
God-Pharaoh's Statue / Lodestone Golem / Sphere of Resistance / Thorn of Amethyst / Trinisphere
Tax effects are very strong, especially Trinisphere. They slow down the game and stop combos that include spell loops. Depending on your meta it's smart to play even more tax effects. Damping Sphere would be the next best option. I'm on the fence with Thorn of Amethyst. The card's effect is a good one but not one of the best among tax effects. It doesn't hit Food Chain or Dockside Extortionist Loops. I mean Barrin, Master Wizard and Emiel the Blessed Loops. Thorn taxes DrakkisLoops for only one mana though. Most of the time Thorn taxes only our own Commander because Daretti is the only noncreature Commander.
A meta dependent card. Stops many combos line and like Underworld Breach, Hermit Druid and other reanimator strategies. It also stops Commanders like Kess, Dissident Mage or Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and into-play tutors like Eldritch Evolution or Neoform.
This card is currently being tested. The first impressions have been very promising. A symmetrical effect that hits the first noncreature spell cast each turn. It hits fast proactive decks the most because those decks often don't have the resources to cast a noncreature spell before they start start their combo. Instants can be played around which might be a loophole other decks can make better use of. The flying 4/5 body protects Daretti well though.
Single target stax effect. Unlike Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass, Revoker stops mana abilities which makes it very useful against combos including Food Chain, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds or [Lion's Eye Diamond (including your own LED). Revoker can be found with Imperial Recruiter and it kills Tymna the Weaver in combat.
Insane card. Can win games on its own. More about this in section Win, subsection Lockdown.
Stops tutors, fetchlands and commanders like Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and Godo, Bandit Warlord. Many cEDH decks run 10 fetchlands and 10+ tutor effects. The card doesn't affect tutors like Demonic Consultation, Tainted Pact or Lim-Dul's Vault. Stranglehold also stops extra turns, but that part is often not relevant.
Asymmetrical stax piece that kills the tempo. Tangle Wire taps 10 permanents of each opponent over four turns, but only 3 other permanents you control. Why? Because you can stack Tangle Wire's triggers in a way that you remove a counter before you tap your stuff. When cast on T3 or T4 after Daretti has resolved, you often get two turns in which your opponents be able to make relevant plays. Those turns (T4 - T6) would otherwise have been turns in which at least one opponent were able to attempt to win. Digging with Daretti while Tangle Wire kills the tempo allows you to find the stax piece you need.
Meta dependant stax piece. Stops many combo lines including Thassa’s Oracle, Dockside Extortionist loops, Birthing Pod and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker lines or Worldgorger Dragon. Also stops Godo, Bandit Warlord and Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. Urza, Lord High Artificer doesn't create a Construct token on entering, which can be a hard-hitting threat.
Anger of the Gods / Rolling Earthquake
Kills dorks and hatebears, especially Collector Ouphe and Drannith Magistrage. Rolling Earthquake functions as a backup wincon for Walking Ballista. You will often have the most life because Daretti absorbs damage and the mono red player is never on Ad Nauseam. If you don't have the most life, Staff of Domination offers life gain.
Blast Zone / Barbarian Ring
Mass and spot removal on mana producing lands is slot efficient. Both effects allow you to get rid of Collector Ouphe. Zone can also destroys Null Rod, Rest in Peace, Stony Silence or Drannith Magistrate.
Abrade / Chaos Warp
There is no Abrupt Decay and no Assassin's Trophy for mono red, but both cards allow us to get rid of many threats, especially Drannith Magistrate and Collector Ouphe (you see those two are annoying). Chaos Warp hits everything including enchantments and basic lands.
Deflecting aka Dino Swat is a sweet card. It acts most of the time as a pseudo counterspell. You either can redirect the target of a removal to another target or you change the target of a counterspell to Swat. It also affects abilities. It's possible to redirect the activated ability of Aetherflux Reservoir to kill its controller. Or you redirect Bojuka Bog's ability to save your precious graveyard.
Pyroblast / Red Elemental Blast
Both cards are cEDH Staples and mono red has access to them. Can be used to get rid of Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora or other blue permanents. But most of the time, the Blasts will be defensive counterspells.
The primary way to win the game with infinite mana. But Ballista is also a mana sink, spot removal and a blocker. Don't wait to cast Ballista until you have produced infinite mana. Ballista can not be welded in. But there are enough ways to return it from your graveyard to your hand.
An artifact that doubles draw is too good to not play it, imo. This list contains many looting effects and a bunch of huge draw effects.
Raw draw power on a stick. Empty your hand early game, grind with Ravager mid game. Can be cast with Madness for only two mana when being discarded.
The closest thing to future sight we have access to and a combo piece. No drawback like Experimental Frenzy and Forge is an artifact. It lets you cast and play less cards than Frenzy but it's exile ability can be used more than once with untap effects. Use shuffle effects from fetchlands when you can't cast the top card.
The card was banned from tournament play before it had seen play in tournaments. That was in 1999 but the card is still super strong. With enough recursion you can rush through your deck to find what you need.
This card is currently being tested. I have been running this Sandstone Oracle in a casual version of Daretti. It synergizes well with the Hellbent gameplan and often draws up to seven cards. But even if it draws less than seven cards it's maybe worth the slot. The flying 4/4 body can block many threats like Kess, Dissident Mage, Kraum, Ludevic's Opus or Aven Mindcensor.
Wheel of Fortune
Red Staple. Refills your hand and forces your opponents to discard what they already have tutored for with Demonic Tutor or with a top-deck tutors like Imperial Seal (make sure to cast Wheel after they have drawn the card they used the top-deck tutor for). Watch out for those situations in which you can make dual use of a wheel effect. Even a T1 Wheel can mess up with your opponents starting hands. If you see a chance for a T1 Wheel of Fortune observe your opponents' reactions to their cards closely. If the majority of them seem to be fine with their hand and no one mulligans down to very few cards, go for it.
Bazaar of Baghdad
Disadvantageous card filter on a land that doesn't produce mana. Few Daretti decks play the card because you will eventually run out of cards after two or three activations. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should stop activating the ability. Every artifact that goes to the graveyard is virtual card advantage. In combination with wheel effects, constant draw from Anje's Ravager or Alhammarret's Archive things can escalate pretty quickly. In addition to that good old Squee, Goblin Nabob (currently not in the deck) can compensate for the third card being discarded.
Faithless Looting / Thrill of Possibility / Tormenting Voice
Card filter or looting effects can smoothen your draws and plays. You can discard cmc-wise expensive artifacts or excessive lands. I like those cards a lot and they are important if you run a decent amount of weld-in only artifacts like Nullstone Gargoyle or God-Pharaoh's Statue.
Geier Reach Sanitarium
This card is anti ConsultationOracle. Force your opponent to draw a card from their empty library before the triggered ability of Thassa’s Oracle resolves.
Sensei's Divining Top
Card filter and combo piece. Staple. Because of cards like this, the list has fetchlands in it.
Map finds utility lands, combo pieces or a land to be dropped on T3 which can be tapped for two mana, most likely Ancient Tomb.
One of the few tutors mono red has access to. It's either a Demonic Tutor for cmc1 or red's version of Entomb. Gamble can be used in each game stage. T1 to find Mana Crypt. Later in the early game it can find the perfect stax piece. Mid game for you can search for Alhammarret's Archive, Memory Jar or Possessed Portal or a missing combo piece. Make sure that you cast Gamble before you activate Daretti. Gamble can be a one-card wincon, if you search for Underworld Breach and perform the perfect storm (see section Win, subsection Strong Synergies).
Entomb and mini Goblin Welder combined in one card. The tutor effect is very valuable for the deck that leaks tutors. The restriction of the activated ability makes the card fair, but there are enough powerful artifacts to be welded-in that costs 3 or less mana. Being unable to get those cmc-wise expensive cards Engineer is perfect for either stax or combo pieces.
Tutor for Walking Ballista is what most people think first. But going straight for Ballista is often not the safest attempt to win a game. It's often better to use a draw-deck combo. Therefore Recruiter should also be considered as a tutor for another tutor. Goblin Engineer or Dire Fleet Daredevil (if you need an unconditional tutor) are useful targets if there is enough time. The most interesting stax pieces to tutor for are Magus of the Moon and Phyrexian Revoker. Goblin Engineer finds stax pieces too.
A tutor effect on a land has to be overpriced. But those five mana doesn't matter because Fair finds almost everything that you want, and even the life gain can be relevant if you have to use Rolling Earthquake as a finisher.
Recursion on a land saves slots. Buried Ruin is a very valuable card that your opponent often miss.
Combo piece, unconditional recursion and mill for a little bit of extra value or to counter top-deck tutors. Activate Shredder EOT before your turn if possible to be able to react to top-deck tutors like Mystical Tutor or Vampiric Tutor. Even if those are cast during your opponent's upkeep before their draw step you are able to mill the card they searched for because you will receive priority after the tutor has resolved.
Signature card of the deck. Amazing T1 play if followed by a looting effect on T2. Welder is of incredible value throughout the whole game. Welder can be activated at instant speed. This can be used to interact, especially interrupt a combo. Welder can generate mana early on by welding artifacts that don't untap out and back in. The card generates card advantage with Memory Jar or Sandstone Oracle, and Welder can return destroyed stax or combo pieces or just reanimate a cmc-wise expensive card.
What looks like a casual EDH allstar can often win games because you get all of your combo pieces into play at once. Can be looped with Codex Shredder]. Mastery also wipes all your opponents' artifacts (yours too).
Trash for Treasure
An additional weld-in effect can be very useful with many cmc-wise expensive artifacts.
What an incredible card. Who would guess that red would get a pseudo Yawgmoth's Will. It's probably a necessary printing, because red seems to get all the newer cards for Storm and graveyard-centric spellslinger strategies. This card is just ridiculously powerful for graveyard recursion and it's mono red. The combo with Lion's Eye Diamond and Wheel of Fortune is probably not the best we got. It's getting disrupted by many of our own stax pieces. But all cards are useful on their own and the combo only need us to cast Underworld Breach from our hand. The other two cards can then be cast from the graveyard. Underworld Breach can also be used for endless value. Gamble finds what you need and it can be cast whether you keep the card or discard it. Due to the inclusion of Mesmeric Orb, Gamble can be a reasonable one-card wincon (see section Win, subsection Strong Synergies). Breach lets you recast Blood Moon. It lets you mess up everyone's hand with Burning Inquiry, which can be cast three times in a row. Breach also lets you recast Abrade when your opponents are playing the stax game too with Collector Ouphe and Phyrexian Revoker.
Dire Fleet Daredevil
The card is currently being tested (Fork/Reverberate would be the alternative). Would you play Imperial Seal for 2R? Probably not when newly reprinted Grim Tutor could put the card in your hand for the same cmc. Would you pay 3R for a Demonic Tutor which would be the same as playing Diabolic Tutor? The answer is no, unless you are playing a mono red deck that is starving for tutor effects. But Dire Fleet Daredevil can also be removal or a wheel or whatever your opponents already have played. You can exile a counterspell and use it to protect your combo. In addition to that Daredevil is a decent defender and blocks TymnaDorks all day long.
In combination with Rings of Brighthearth this land becomes a combo piece or an infinite mana outlet that lets you draw your deck with Geier Reach Sanitarium, mill your deck with Bazaar of Baghdad or filter colorless mana into red mana. Temple can also be used in a political way. You can untap an opponent's land so they have the mana to cast a counterspell.
Station is a combo piece with Underworld Breach and a finisher with infinite recursion (see section Win, subsection Combos and subsection Finisher). Station's untap ability triggers when it enters the battlefield. Milling cards generates virtual card advantage. Mill is also useful to manipulate the top card of your library when you have Mystic Forge in play or the top card of an opponent who has used a top-deck tutor.
The card is a combo piece that also mills huge amounts of cards which generates virtual card advantage. It can accidentally mill your opponent's combo pieces and stops top-deck tutors like Imperial Seal, unless your opponent finds a way to draw the card before their upkeep.
Rings of Brighthearth
Combo piece and value engine. Copies many abilities including the loyalty abilities of Daretti.
The cards currently being tested in the slot of Cloud Key. Combo piece and symmetry breaker for tax effects. Unlike Cloud Key or other cost reduction for one mana, Anvil works around Sphere of Resistance or Thorn of Amethyst.
Staff of Domination
Combo piece, utility card and mana sink. Taps hard-hitting attackers like Kenrith, the Returned King or Kraum, Ludevic's Opus. Also untaps Goblin Welder or Metalworker and draws a cards EOT before your turn when you have nothing else to with you mana.
Combo piece and pseudo ramp. Nets mana when you untap artifacts that tap for two or more mana. Can untap Great Furnace or Moxen to filter colorless into red mana.
No pain, no gain. Staple. Play it. 'Nuff said.
Chrome Mox / Gemstone Caverns / Mox Diamond
Fast mana with drawback. Almost always worth the card disadvantage. There are currently 28 red cards in the deck of which I wouldn't exile six (Wheel, Magus, Moon, Gamble, Engineer, Welder). The other 22 cards sum up to a chance of 87+% to have a red card in your first main phase (starting hand plus draw). I'm fine with that chance.
City of Traitors / Sandstone Needle / Crystal Vein
Lands that tap for two are useful to ramp out stax pieces like Blood Moon and Daretti as early as possible.
Jeweled Amulet / Mox Opal
Conditional fast mana. Amulet is a mana battery that needs to be charged first. It can produce the third mana on T2 which can pay for Blood Moon.
Fellwar Stone / Mind Stone
This is fair Magic. Cmc2 rocks that tap for one mana. Rock solid.
Mana Vault / Grim Monolith
Fast mana on artifacts which can be welded out because they don't untap unless you pay 4 mana. Nice for shenanigans with Goblin Welder, if you can weld out and back in mana rocks that doesn't untap.
Lion's Eye Diamond
Combo piece and ritual. It's very risky to discard your hand because a counterspell trade two for one or better if you discard many cards with LED. Can pay for Daretti when the command tax gets too high. LED can be used with Rings/Basalt/Shredder to filter infinite colorless into infinite red mana.
Mini ritual for fast mana. Useful in the early and mid game. Should be discarded later on. Lotus Petal counts for Mox Opal and can be fodder for weld-in effects later on. Petal can be used with Rings/Basalt/Shredder to filter infinite colorless into infinite red mana.
Vintage powerhouse. Allows ridiculous T1 plays like Trinisphere. Workshop is sometimes a dead card. It can't pay for Daretti unless you can filter Workshops mana with mana rock like Basalt Monolith.
Mana Crypt / Sol Ring
Ridiculous cards that wouldn't be legal if we weren't playing a format with a banned list that addresses casual gameplay (except for Flash, thanks a lot Rules Committee for banning the card).
Combo piece and a mana battery which boosts you next turn. But Basalt is also mana neutral which allows you to cast it, tap it and use its mana to cast Daretti and then sac it to weld-in something else with Daretti.
Again a mana producing combo piece. Orrery can be a huge boost when welded in early, for example with Goblin Welder or Trash for Treasure. It can tap for five which allows you to cast Daretti right away and you still have one mana left. But you can also cast cards from the mana Orrery produces that would have been otherwise weld-in only cards. This means you either get a pseudo counter shield because you can weld in the card if it gets countered or you generate tempo advantage because you can use the weld-in effect on another card if the spell resolves. In the mid or later stages of the game it can draw a card.
The third mana producing combo piece. This can easily produce 6 to 10 mana on T2 (if cast with Workshop on T1) or T3. Make sure you hold on artifact lands if possible. Metalworker doesn't produce much mana by the end of mid game or later because you won't have many hand cards unless a wheel effect resolved.
Dockside Extortionist / Treasonous Ogre
Both cards are rituals that allow explosive (combo) turns. Dockside creates Treasure tokens which can be used later or to weld-in an artifact or as fodder for Possessed Portal. Treasonous Ogre is not as good in a Daretti deck as it is in a Godo, Bandit Warlord deck. But it's still an up to 13-for-4 ritual and it's red mana.
A combo piece and ramp. Don't play it with a Moon-effect on the battlefield because the replacement effect still applies. Can be useful with both Static Orb and Winter Orb.
Darksteel Citadel / Great Furnace
Artifact lands are useful for Metalcraft on Mox Opal or with Metalworker] and they can be sacrificed to weld-in an artifact. Make sure you tap them for mana before you sacrifice them. But artifact lands can also be welded in for a Grim Monolith or Mana Vault if you don't plan to untap those during the next turns.
Arid Mesa / Bloodstained Mire / Prismatic Vista / Scalding Tarn / Wooded Foothills
Shuffle effects can be useful with Mystic Forge or Experimental Frenzy (currently not on the list). Their activated ability can be copied with Rings of Brighthearth for little advantage in the mid or later stages of a game. Fetchlands synergies well with Crucible of Worlds (currently not on the list) because they go back to the graveyard from where you played them which ensures the land drop each turn.
Y U No Play?!
This section is to explain why certain cards, combos and interactions are currently not in the list.
Mycosynth Lattice / Karn, the Great Creator
Karn, the Great Creator is presumably the best planeswalker to be included in the 99 cards of the deck. The most interesting passive ability is a one-sided Null Rod that cuts all your opponents off their artifacts. This includes ramp (yes, mana abilities are affected) and combo pieces like Lion's Eye Diamond or Isochron Scepter. This creates a lockdown with Mycosynth Lattice which turns all permanents into artifacts. Both activated abilities are useful. But it's hard to protect Karn without Lattice on the field and even with an animated Lattice that can block there are attackers with evasion or high power and toughness like The Gitrog Monster or Kenrith, the Returned King that can't be stopped. Karn is also not an artifact which means it's hard to get the card back once it's in the graveyard. Another reason why the lockdown combo is currently not on the list is that Karn (and the cards discussed in the next paragraph, those are also nonartifacts) are strong in a meta with much artifact-based ramp. That's currently not the case for me my meta.
Winter Orb / Static Orb
Both Orbs can be very very powerful cards. They slow down the game. Many or probably most people who play Daretti swear on both Orbs, but I think both cards are too slow for cEDH. Unlike Urza, Lord High Artificer, Daretti can't break parity on both effects without another card. Winter Orb attacks only lands which leaves our artifacts, creatures and enchantments. Static Orb leaves out enchantments only. But being able to untap two lands per turn plus a land drop is enough mana for UBGx decks to perform. A Consultation build only needs up to three mana to tutor with Imperial Seal, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor or Neoform and three more mana to cast Demonic Consultation and Thassa’s Oracle and win on turn three without a board state and without being disrupted by Winter Orb or Static Orb, even you you had them enter pregame like a Leyline. Same is true for mana efficient combo like Food Chain, Hermit Durid, Intuition Breach piles and many more. Both Orbs are best when you catch all opponents tapped out. But if you hit all but one opponent, that player will presumably still be faster than you and must not fear interaction from the other players.
Meta-dependent tax effects. Damping Sphere limits many if the two mana producing lands and Mishra's Workshop. I wouldn't play it unless there are a lot of spell-based loops or storm decks around (Ad Nauseam or Necropotence).
Crazy effect that fundamentally changes the way the game is played. You can play around by discarding or welding artifacts in. You can also use the effect to dig into our library. It doesn't affect spells that are cast from other zones than the hand. That means spells can be cast from the graveyard or the command zone. Daretti and other Commanders can be cast safely. Same is true for spells cast via Mystic Forge, Underworld Breach or with Kess, Dissident Mage. Tax effects affect each spell that is cast. This means both spells cost more, the first one exiled with Possibility Storm and the second one that is revealed and can be cast without paying its mana cost. This really locks down the game.
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Tax for creature-heavy metas. Hard to get rid of. Nullifies mana dorks and slows down TymnaDorks archetypes and go-wide strategies like Tana, the Bloodsower in Blood Pod or Najeela, the Blade-Blossom.
Trading Post / Kher Keep
I'm not a fan of Trading Post. The card has many abilities but I find none of them good enough to play the card. Life gain doesn't matter. The 0/1 token can block or be sacced to Possessed Portal, but they never trade with the attacking creature. Same is true for Kher Keep. Sacrificing an artifact to draw a card or a creature to return an artifact can be useful but those abilities aren't worth the investment of four mana plus the activation cost.
Crucible of Worlds / Squee, Goblin Nabob
Both cards function as a pseudo Phyrexian Arena in combination with discard effects. While Squee is free and useless without a discard effect, Crucible costs three mana (like Phyrexian Arena) and secures your land drops, especially in combination with a fetchland, but that's not as important in cEDH as it is in casual and the trick doesn't work with a Moon effect on the battlefield. Three mana for almost no impact is much. There are a bunch of useful utility lands that can be played again. But in the end both cards, Crucible and Squee, are too slow in comparison to cards like Anje's Ravager or Wheel of Fortune.
Basically a second but worse copy of Mystic Forge. Very powerful effect when your curve is low to the ground and/or you play a lot of cost reduction. This build currently contains too many cmc-wise expensive cards to make good use of Experimental Frenzy.
Ugin, the Ineffable / Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Both Ugin planeswalkers are cmc-wise very expensive spells. Little Ugin is a combo piece due to the cost reduction and a value engine. Big Ugin is a one-sided wipe and a value engine too. Both aren't artifacts though which makes both cards quite bad in this build.
Krark-Clan Ironworks / Scrap Trawler / Myr Retriever
The core the the infamous Modern combo that lead to the ban of KCI. The idea is to use the loophole of sacrificing artifacts with KCI during the process of paying the cost of an activated ability (for example Chromatic Star). The triggered abilities of Trawler and Myr can be put on the stack until you finished paying the costs (which you overpay in order to sacrifice all artifacts). When the payment is done and after the ability you paid for was put onto the stack, you have to choose targets for Myr and Trawler. You can get back everything sacrificed with KCI and net mana and/or draw a card.
Engineered Explosives / Ratchet Bomb
Limited board wipes that hit only cards with a specific converter mana cost. Engineered Explosives can be used at cc0, 1 or 2. Three different colors are difficult to produce. Ratchet Bomb is quite slow in comparison to EE. Both hit Moxen, tokens or mana dorks most of the time. I don't like that they affect my own board.
Beacon is often not necessary. A red mana from a basic Mountain is often more useful early game than casting Daretti without the command tax later. When the tax becomes too high the reason is often that you can't protect Daretti. Losing a land for only one activation can sometimes be worth losing a land. I prefer to have another Mountain in my list that produces red mana.
Fork / Reverberate
Very promising cards. I'm looking forward to test those. Like Dire Fleet Daredevil those can be anything your opponents cast that and instant or sorcery. Fork will often be a counterspell, but also a tutor or Ad Nauseam or something else. Daredevil has the upside that you don't have to target the spell while it is on the stack and the downside of being a telegraphed counterspell.
Reality Scramble is an into-play for a specific permanent type. With Daretti being a planeswalker you can Scramble it away to find one of the following planeswalker: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon for value or Ugin, the Ineffable, which can be a combo piece with Sensei's Divining Top and Mystic Forge, or Karn, the Great Creator for control and lockdown with Mycosynth Lattice. Also works well with Enchantments because you can find Underworld Breach and Blood Moon. Karn and Lattice are currently not in the deck and there are too many enchantments so you can't rely on that line.
Salvaging Station / Flayer Husk
Salvaging Station is a value engine that demands a lot of devotion in terms of slots. Even the better cards Mishra's Bauble, Urza's Bauble and other cc0-1 artifacts stand alone are not good enough.
Oblivion Stone / Nevinyrral's Disk / Darksteel Forge
O-Stone is quite expensive and Disk is quite slow. Darksteel Forge has almost no impact in cEDH because it doesn't help against exile, bounce or counterspells and there are only a handful of artifact creatures that profit because they don't have the stats to survive combat on their own.
Ruination / Wildfire / Jokulhaups
Mass landdestruction is not a viable strategy in cEDH, imo. MLD is slow because you want to hit opponents when they played their last land which is often the third or better the fourth landdrop. The cmc-wise most interesting card is Ruination which ignores mana dorks. Wildfire is pretty expensive, but it doesn't affect our artifacts. Jokulhaups doesn't leave anything relevant behind except for Carpet of Flowers, which will be inactive for a while, and Smothering Tithe. Another issue is the fact, that the Daretti, Scrap Savant Emblem itself won't win you the game.
Pithing Needle / Sorcerous Spyglass
Precise but meta-dependent tools. When you face Commander like Thrasios, Triton Hero, Urza, Lord High Artificer or Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and/or Isochron Scepter and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Unlike Phyrexian Revoker both cards can't stop mana abilities.
A meta-dependent stax piece that stops creature-based strategies. Four mana of which two are red is quite expensive. Mana dorks and a T2 Tymna the Weaver aren't affected unless you are going first. But once it comes down, Aether Flash stops Najeela, the Blade-Blossom and Birthing Pod lines. It also hits Yisan, the Wanderer. It doesn't help against Thassa’s Oracle though.
Cloud Key / Foundry Inspector
Both cards are combo pieces with Sensei's Divining Top and Mystic Forge (or Experimental Frenzy). I'm currently testing Semblance Anvil in that slot, which enables the combo even if a tax effect like Sphere of Resistance is on the battlefield.
Ghirapur Aether Grid
A control card for a creature-heavy meta which can also be a combo piece with infinite mana and both Monoliths or Rings/Key.
Mentor is a meta-dependent hatebear that can be useful against grindy midrange decks with Thrasios, Triton Hero or Kenrith, the Returned King. Also useful against DramaticScepter. If the combo nets one mana and you need four mana to activate Thrasios/Kenrith, Mentor deals 10 damage per card drawn. It deals 6 damage per card, if the combo nets 2 mana, and 4,5+ damage per card, if the combo nets 3 mana.
Painter's Servant / Grindstone
An artifact-only two-card combo, but it can only mill one opponent when tapped and both cards are quite useless on their own. But who says that you have to your opponents?! You could also mill yourself, return Underworld Breach with Codex Shredder and storm off.
Shock on an artifact. Spellbombs can replace themselves when they are not needed. Pyrite can be a combo piece together with Codex Shredder and Basalt/Rings for draw and a finisher once you have infinite red mana. A very versatile card. If it only were three damage.
The card that gave the archetype stax its name. Nowadays it is still strong, but too slow.
Randomness and chaos is not for everyone. The card is more of a discard control tool than a looting effect. The idea is to play it after your opponents have played their lands and after they have developed their board. When they have started to develop their hand with tutors it's time to play Burning Inquiry. With many cards and most wincons being artifacts the random discard should hit your opponents harder. Or it doesn't. Who knows. One red mana might be worth the gamble.
> Starting Hands
This section is about starting hands. I will not discuss hands containing zero or more than four lands, which are obvious mulligans.
Hand Number 1
- Wooded Foothills
- Magus of the Moon
- Staff of Domination
- Tormenting Voice
- Mana Crypt
- Rolling Earthquake
- Alhammarret's Archive
What do we got here: Crypt, a land that produces red mana and Magus. Perfect T1 play. There is also Rolling Earthquake to kill mana dorks that were played before Magus resolved. You have 2 draw steps to find a land to drop on T2 and Tormenting Voice as a backup plan to find the land. You could discard either Staff or Archive. If you draw the second land you can cast Daretti on T2 and discard Archive and Tormenting, then cast Staff on T3, sac it to weld-in Archive and start digging with Daretti and Archive on T4 while Magus cuts off your opponents from mana. If you draw two lands, you could also cast Archive on T3 and start digging one turn earlier.
My recommendation: Keep that hand, it's perfect.
Hand Number 2
On T1 you have Mountain into Sol Ring into either Sphere or Grim. Grim means 8 Mana on T2, but you have nothing to do with it, except for casting Daretti and hoping to draw something. I wouldn't discard Magus, Chaos Warp or Sphere though and you don't know what you will draw. T1 Sphere seems to be the right move with Sol Ring to pay for the symmetrical effect.
This means Daretti will cost 5 mana on T2, but with Tomb that's no problem. T2 Daretti means you could discard Grim which isn't mana positive due to Sphere and one of the cards drawn on T1/T2. You could also play Magus on T2 and stax the board even harder. This wouldn't be the perfect on curve play, but maybe the nail in the coffin.
My recommendation: Keep. Double stax or T2 Daretti.
Hand Number 3
- Scrap Mastery
- Wooded Foothills
- Inventors' Fair
- Alhammarret's Archive
- Possessed Portal
- Ancient Tomb
No card with cmc less than 3, means T1 land and go (hold back Tomb to not reveal that you will have three mana on T2). With Ancient Tomb you can cast Trinisphere on T2, which is nice if you are first or second in turn order. Daretti can be cast on T3 and there are two or maybe three cards that can be discarded. Archive and Portal, maybe Mastery. No second source for red mana makes Mastery a dead card, but you don't want to play it early on anyway. If you draw a fourth land, you could hard cast Archive instead of discarding it and draw four cards with Daretti right away. That might be enough to start the Portal Grind on T5. You could also try to start a Portal Grind on T4 with Daretti and Trinisphere on the battlefield and Scrap Mastery in your hand. Inventor's Fair is a tutor of which you don't have many, but there is no perspective to use its ability.
My recommendation: Keep. You see a hand with potential. Ramp, T2 stax, T3 Daretti and different ways to proceed.
Hand Number 4
Ramp only. T1 Daretti with Crypt, Diamond and Mire. If you also cast Vault, you have something to sacrifice, but there is nothing to weld in. You have to draw a control piece, a combo (LED is a combo piece though) and more gas. You have to rely on Daretti's looting, but you have no way to protect your Commander. A T1 Daretti can be activated at least three to four times, which means you see 12 cards including he cards you draw during your draw step. But a T1 Daretti draws hate.
My recommendation: T1 Daretti is tempting, but I wouldn't keep the hand if I still had a free mulligan.
Hand Number 5
- Mox Diamond
- Sandstone Needle
- Bazaar of Baghdad
- Goblin Welder
- Prismatic Vista
- Lodestone Golem
Four lands isn't a great first impression, but Bazaar does not produce mana and therefore should not be counted. Needle and Diamond make it possible to produce 4 mana on T2. This mana could be used to either cast Lodestone Golem or Daretti. Needle enters the battlefield tapped, but Mox can pay for Welder on T1. Whether you play Daretti or Lodestone on T2 depends on what you draw. Bazaar and Daretti will let you dig deep. On the other hand Lodestone slows down the game and blocks TymnaDorks. If another land shows up, Daretti can be cast on T3.
My recommendation: Keep.
Hand Number 6
- Mishra's Workshop
- Memory Jar
- Goblin Welder
- Burning Inquiry
- Gemstone Caverns
- Blood Moon
- Chromatic Orrery
A hand with Workshop and Blood Moon has nonbo potential. A hand with Welder, Memory Jar and Orrery could be gas. Caverns is the only red source and Burning Inquiry is not a reliable looting effect. There is no perspective to cast Blood Moon and even less to cast Daretti. Does this hand offer reasonable plays? I don't think so.
My recommendation: Take a mulligan. There are too many if and when.
Hand Number 7
- Wheel of Fortune
- Mana Vault
- Phyrexian Revoker
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Scalding Tarn
- Mystic Forge
- Red Elemental Blast
Only one land, but interesting ways to go. If you don't draw a land, the most reasonable play seems to be T1 Mana Vault followed up by either Sensei's and Wheel or Daretti on T2. If you draw a second land on T1, SDT followed by T2 activation of SDT and Scalding Tarn and maybe another activation of SDT, but only EOT before your turn to be able to use Blast. Vault and Wheel could then be cast on T3, maybe with the side effect of counteracting your opponents' tutor spells. With the hand being refilled and Vault remaining tapped, a T4 Daretti to weld in Forge would generate lots of value in combination with SDT. Forge and SDT are also two third of a draw deck combo. Revoker is not the best stax piece, but the card is an answer to specific threats.
My recommendation: This is a keep. No stax, but a clear plan to generate tons of value.
Hand Number 8
- Lion's Eye Diamond
- Torpor Orb
- Sandstone Oracle
- Scrap Mastery
- Darksteel Citadel
- Mystic Forge
- Crystal Vein
Two lands of which none produces red mana. No general stax (Torpor is very specific), no filter, no ramp except LED. However, with LED comes Oracle and Citadel which is an artifact. This makes it possible to weld in Oracle on T1 and draw a fresh new hand of seven cards (or less of you are the last in turn and your opponents all played at least two cards). How? Play Citadel, cast LED, discard your hand and sacrifice it for three red mana, cast Daretti, sacrifice Citadel and return Sandstone Oracle to the battlefield. Is this risky? Yes. Daretti can be countered. Is it worth the risk? Yes. Losing your T1 land drop in exchange for T1 Daretti, a 4/4 flying blocker and seven new cards is worth the risky, imo.
My recommendation: Keep. This is madness?! No, this is Hellbent.
Hand Number 9
- Wheel of Fortune
- Gemstone Caverns
- Prismatic Vista
- Underworld Breach
- God-Pharaoh's Statue
- Mana Vault
We have fast mana with Caverns and Vault which allows a T1 Daretti and discard fodder with GPS. We also have Vault which doesn't untap and therefore should be welded out on T2 to bring back GPS. The asymmetrical tax effect really hurts our opponents. We have two third of the Breach/Wheel/LED combo, but casting Wheel on T2 means discarding Breach. But you can't tell yet whether this is an option because we don't necessary draw a third land. The Mountain has to be exiled for Caverns.
My recommendation: Keep this hand. Your opponents will moan when GPS hits the field on T2.
Hand Number 10
Ramp to cast Daretti in T3. In addition you have looting and interaction. No artifacts to discard, but Mastery is a a card for the late mid game anyway. But there is no stax piece and no card draw.
My recommendation: If this is the first hand you have drawn, take a mulligan. If it's the second hand, you can keep it.
Hand Number 11
- City of Traitors
- God-Pharaoh's Statue
- Walking Ballista
- Scrap Mastery
- Rolling Earthquake
City of Traitors makes it possible to cast Daretti on T3 which is okay. There is nothing to do on T1 because it wouldn't be smart to play City to cast Ballista. On T2 you can either cast Ballista or Earthquake, but againt it wouldn't be smart to cast Ballista before you have cast Earthquake. If your opponents rely on mana dorks, a T2 Earthquake can slow them down and a T4 Ballista will mow down the green grass grown in the meantime. GPS can be discarded on T3. There is no artifact yet that could be sacrificed (I wouldn't sacrifice Ballista though), but it's most likely that you draw one with the up to eight cards you will see until T4. Mastery is as always a dead card until Daretti has filled the graveyard.
My recommendation: Keep the hand if you expect mana dorks. Otherwise take a mulligan.
Hand Number 12
- Lodestone Golem
- Wooded Foothills
- Barbarian Ring
- Tangle Wire
- Inventor's Fair
- Sandstone Oracle
Four lands and three cards with cmc3 or higher. This hand presumably leads to nothing else than defeat.
My recommendation: Take a mulligan.
Hand Number 13
- Chalice of the Void
- Jeweled Amulet
- Darksteel Citadel
- Fellwar Stone
- Barbarian Ring
- Nullstone Gargoyle
Two lands, two cards for ramp, a cheap and a weld-in only stax piece and two cards for interaction. Pyroblast might be a dead card with Chalice on X=1, but Daretti can solve that problem. The hand is not super fast, but it can lead to a strong lock with both Chalice and Gargoyle which also is an excellent blocker. You can either cast Chalice on T2 which might delay Daretti or you cast Fellwar and Daretti on T3. On T4 you can cast Chalice and weld-in Gargoyle. Don't play it the other way round.
My recommendation: Keep. Spellhate at its best.
Hand Number 14
- Rings of Brighthearth
- Basalt Monolith
- Faithless Looting
- Rolling Earthquake
- Scalding Tarn
A two-card combo and a finisher in your starting hand. On top of that a counterspell and a looting effect, but only one land and a tutor. What do we do with this. You will get to see four cards including the two draws for turn to hit your T2 land drop with Looting. You could also use Gamble to search for Mana Crypt which speeds up things. Except for Earthquake, discarding any of those wouldn't really hurt. A greedy player would use Gamble for Mana Crypt and may overlook the fact that Earthquake is a bad finisher when you lose life points through fetchlands and Mana Crypt. To start the combo you need at least two mana. If you sequence casting Basalt and Rings over two turn, you need five mana during the second turn plus one red mana to cast Earthquake and another red mana to protect the combo with the Blast. Seven mana is a lot even if Gamble finds Mana Crypt. Daretti can be used to replace the cast of the second artifact, but even if you can resolve Earthquake on T4 or T5 you are at least at 39 life points, with a 50 percent chance to be on 36 and a 25 percent chance to be on 33 life points. Earthquake can't finish the game in that scenario. And you will most likely be stopped by a counterspell when you attempt to win first.
My recommendation: The hand is tempting and I'm a greedy player who often makes bad decisions. It's hard to find all pieces with the tutors mono red has to offer, but this deck is not a fast combo deck. It is a stax deck and the hand offers no clear winning line. One should play it accordingly to the game plan and take a mulligan, but some men just want to see the world burn.
Hand Number 15
- Darksteel Citadel
- Arid Mesa
- Anje's Ravager
- Possessed Portal
- Great Furnace
- Staff of Domination
No ramp and no cards with cmc less than three. There are three cards that work well together (Ravager, Trinisphere and Portal), but this deck is a cEDH deck and starting to participate in the game on T3 feels like casual magic.
My recommendation: Mulligan.
> Change Log
In this section I keep track of changes and give a short explanation why cards are added or cut. Most changes are adaptations to my meta or cards I run for testing purposes. Latest changes come first.
Turns out BreachStation is superior to BreachWheel. Adding Station without replacing Lion's Eye Diamond increases the density of combos and Possibility Storm had to go. I still like the card and it deserves to be tested again.
Inspired by Moonsteak's list I decided to add more cards to increase the combo density. Both lands combo with Rings of Brighthearth and can easily be found with Map which made a fast comeback. Map is just too good with a land-based combo, a land-based filter for red mana and a land-based infinite mana outlet.
Inquiry was neither bad or good. I presumably haven't tested the card long enough, but I needed a slot for the new combo. Another nonland card had to go and I decided to cut fast mana because Map can be used to ramp out Daretti on T3 and Ruins also ramp.
More spell hate to fight Ad Nauseam, especially Blue Farm Turbo AdNaus, in my meta. Experimental Frenzy is currently not on the list and I've noticed a general shift towards a reanimator strategy in the deck which means less nonbo potential with additional tax effects.
There have been many cmc-wise expensive inclusions lately. Chromatic Orrery, Nullstone Gargoyle, Sandstone Oracle and others which are weld-in only cards. Even though I don't count their cmc when I calculate the mana curve, this can't be done with Experimental Frenzy. There are shuffle effects and cards for top deck manipulation. But in the end the raw number of cards with cmc4 or more matters. I feel like there are too many on the list at the moment.
Simian Spirit Guide speeds up the list even more. I also considered Surly Badgersaur (same cmc as Frenzy), Soul-Guide Lantern (there is no graveyard hate in the list atm) and Thorn of Amethyst (with Frenzy out, there is less nonbo potential for another tax effect). Simian Spirit Guide made it for now because it's the most unconditional card.
The new card from M21 Chromatic Orrery is an interesting one. Color fixing, huge ramp and card draw. Adding four or more mana makes a card a combo piece to generate infinite mana with Rings of Brighthearth and Voltaic Key. On top of that Chromatic lets you draw a card when you tap it. With Rings and Key and infinite mana you get infinite untap so you can draw your deck. Chromatic Orrery ramp can be pure gas when welded-in early. Drawing a card is always nice even though five mana is overpriced.
Trash for Treasure comes back because there are a lot of targets now and having an additional weld-in-effect that costs less than Daretti is hopefully paying off.
Something had to be cut. Squee and Sweltering Suns are our for now.
More protection for Daretti. I have trouble protecting Daretti against commanders like Kraum, Ludevic's Opus and Ukki, Stalking Shadow. Both have evasion and hit hard.
Something had to go and I've chosen Welding Jar. It hasn't been very useful lately due to a meta shift towards fast combo.
I'm not sure whether this is the correct cut, but I want to make room for Deflecting Swat. I don't see Null Rod very often in my current meta and there aren't a lot of other problematic artifacts too.
It has turned out that it's too hard to trigger Ghirapur Orrery's ability constantly.
Mesmeric Orb costs less and mills huge amounts of cards. Since the deck has easy access to the graveyard, milling can provide card advantage. The combo of Mesmeric Orb and Basalt Monolith lets you mill cards until you find what you need. Mesmeric also stops top-deck tutors like Imperial Seal and it can by chance mill your opponent's wincon.
> Final Words
You made it to the very end. Congratulations. If you want to dive deeper into Daretti, get more inspiration and read about other people's ideas and thoughts, take a look at the following decks and Primers:
Guerte's Degenerate Artifacts [Primer]
discord collaboration cEDH optimized list [Primer] by Guerte
Keska's Daretti Spaghetti [Primer]
PeaceandMusic's Daretti [Primer]
CeroSpace's Daretti loves Spaghetti [Primer]
wspedroo's Daretti Trashmaster
Ecch1's Daretti Blueprint
twoandablue's MUDdy Stax
Gate88's Daretti with Forge
alwayssleepy's Dumpster Fire
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