sábado, 28 de abril de 2012

Heartless Hidetsugu

"Hidetsugu held over a dozen oni in blood oath. At his touch, rock scorched. At his word, cities burned"

Heartless Hidetsugu is a global life burner that can end the game with only one activation of his ability.

Heartless Hidetsugu is one of the most violent and hasty Generals in the format. He works as a 'Voltron', a term that most Commander players have adopted to refer to Commander decks that focus on winning WITH their General. Now, this is not exactly a 'Voltron' General. Most 'Voltron' defeat their opponents by dealing the ruling 21 COMBAT DAMAGE. For those of you that didn't know it, in Commander a player can be defeated if he or she gets 21 or more combat damage from a single General. That means, for example, if Heartless Hidetsugu manages to deal 21 or more combat damage to a single player, that player automatically loses the game. Thats what Voltron decks do. But it will be very difficult to deal 21 combat damage to every single player with Heartless Hidetsugu alone, so we will actually focus on his activated ability. You still have to deal 40 damage, instead of 21 to every player since this is not considered combat damage, but this deck features several ways to:

1) Get the General out FAST.
2) Activate his ability more than once every turn.
3) Double the damage his ability deals, which results in total/nigh-total life drain to every player.
4) Protect Heartless Hidetsugu and yourself, from him.

This deck is pretty straightforward. It can work as a combo-deck or as a slower, still very fast and powerful life-burner. Since red doesn't have any recursion, tutors or mana-acceleration, I will just put every scarce substitute for these in the following section:

You want to drop at least one of the following during the first four turns: Sol Ring, Thran Dynamo, Extraplanar Lens or Gauntlet of Might. This will hasten your life-burner lock.

I will break this down to you now: MONO-RED IS THE MOST DIFFICULT COLOR TO PLAY IN COMMANDER. Most red spells are linear, limited and random. Only seldom does a red spell offer a global effect or recursive properties to abuse. You will have to play with what you draw on your first hand and hope to top-deck at least one of the several variants of the combo pieces that you might be missing.

Now, for what Red lacks in resources and variety, it more than makes up for speed. Most red spells are incredibly cheap. Also, this particular deck only needs to focus on its narrow mechanics to win. Thats half a pro, half a con. Besides, it doesn't matter much if you are always left wide open. You will usually end the game pretty quickly. For that, we need stuff that gives Haste to our General:


It is actually a little tricky to get Anger in your graveyard, but you can always cast him and chump-block any incoming attacker. You actually want the sources that you don't require any activation cost. Lightning Greaves is prefect because it also gives protection in the form of Shroud to your General. Lightning Mauler and Battle Rampart are the other two 'free' sources of Haste.

You don't have to worry about Hall of the Bandit Lord taking extra life from you because the fewer life you have, the less damage you take from your own General's activated ability.

Thousand-Year Elixir is by FAR the greatest source of 'haste' that you can have because it actually serves a dual purpose that we will discuss later.


Now I will break down the combo for you. It is only a two-piece combo, one of them being your General, Heartless Hidetsugu, and the other one of the following damage doublers:

The combo is simple: Heartless Hidetsugu takes half of your opponent's life away and one of the above doubles it, making it a total-life swing. There are still a couple of little problems with this:

1) The combo will kill you too.
2) The combo won't kill anyone with an odd-numbered life total. This is because Heartless Hidetsugu deals damage ROUNDED DOWN. A player with 39 life will still have 1 life left because your General will actually deal 19 damage, and doubling it will result in 38 life total, not 39.

But no worries! This deck features a healthy selection of sources that deal precise and controllable amounts of damage to tweak your opponent's life total BEFORE you unleash the combo.



They look a little awkward since they deal so little damage. But you only need to deal 1 damage to 'fix' your opponent's life total into an even number, or your OWN life total into an odd number. Remember, you can also target yourself with all of them.

We also have some small global damage dealers, but they are a little more difficult to control. They are better suited for mass removal than for life burn. Still, they come in handy:

As I just mentioned, You will not always have Furnace of Rath, Gratuitous Violence, Dictate of the Twin Gods, Overblaze or an online Quest for Pure Flame on the battlefield. They are only three in a 99-card deck that doesn't feature any kind of tutoring or delving, besides Gamble, which is useless when your hand is empty or near-empty.

In other words, in most matches you will only have Heartless Hidetsugu to deal damage more slowly. Instead of one-shotting your opponent's life total, you can also focus on activating your General's ability more than once during a single turn.


This array of artifacts all untap your General so you can use and reuse his activated ability repeatedly, all as fast as you can.

Puppet Strings and Thousand-Year Elixir are the cheapest and easiest ways to untap your General after its first activation. Also, Thousand-Year Elixir gives pseudo-haste to Heartless Hidetsugu.

Rings of Brighthearth doesn't untap your General, but it does copy his activated ability. It doesn't double the damage, since the effects go to the stack and the artifact's effect resolves first, then your General's, but you can still deal 30 damage to anyone who has 40 life.

Thornbite Staff can be very good or very bad, depending on how much carnage is going on in the board. Imagine activating your General's ability every time a creature dies... But it actually works as a political card that will make your opponents think twice before using their removal. They might probably choose to remove your General first, so we also need a good selection spells and permanents that will protect Heartless Hidetsugu from cruel hate.


Since you are depending so much on your General to win, you will need to quickly equip Heartless Hidetsugu with one or more of the following:



Another way of winning with your General is to give him Lifelink. These three equipments do it:

You see, when Heartless Hidetsugu has Lifelink his non-combat damage will result in also increasing your life total by an equal amount. Imagine that you equip Heartless Hidetsugu with Basilisk Collar and take 20 life from each of all four players in the table. Instead of ending up with only 20 life, you will have a grand total of 100 LIFE!!! This is why I said earlier that it doesn't matter much in the early game if you don't that many ways to protect your life total. Your opponents will still receive the damage while you just keep on getting more and more life points.

Yet another way to prevent your General from killing you is to use effects that prevent damage:


With these, you can prevent the damage that your General deals to YOU.

Pentagram of the Ages is a bit expensive, but it will negate the damage that your General's activated ability deals to you. 

Fortune Thief is the best option for protection against your own combo.


Besides Breath of Darigaaz and Earthquake, these are the really helpful removal spells for this deck:

All is Dust is actually great in this deck because you pack a LOT of artifacts and they will not get sacrificed for the Eldrazi sorcery. Blasphemous Act can be unleashed when the battlefield is overflowing with a sea of creatures for only one Red mana, then use another seven during the same turn to cast Heartless Hidetsugu again during the same turn. Another good creature sweeper is Chain Reaction. Also, both Blasphemous Act and Chain Reaction work very well with Coalhauler SwineShattering Pulse is a Reusable artifact removal spell at instant speed. A mono-colored Red deck like this one can use Ruination because almost every land that it uses is a basic land card.


You will need some disruptive effects to help you hold back your opponents.

Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon can completely halt your opponent's progress once they are in the battlefield. Commander is a format in where a lot of multicolored spells and Generals are played, so expect to represent a lot of trouble with only on these pesky permanents.

Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs works better as a defensive permanent. Your opponents will prefer not to attack you when you have him out. Urabrask, the Hidden gives haste to all your creatures AND taps all opposing creatures entering the battlefield.

Price of Glory will annoy most control spells. Their counters will be useless. Also, they will be obliged to play their removal spells at sorcery speed. Stranglehold will shut down most combo decks and Time Warp-based strategies.

Damage prevention and life gain can be a pain to this deck. However, you also make use of this kind of effect so you should play Leyline of Punishment ONLY when your opponent manages to prevent the damage that you are dealing with your General. Most of the time, Leyline of Punishment will be a dead card in your hand, but you can't afford to be left unprotected from stuff that will mean the end of your whole game.

Insurrection has been known to win whole Commander matches by itself. A lot of players hate it because it can send perfectly crafted boards positions to complete waste.


This deck uses just a few non-basic lands:

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Shivan Gorge help you manipulate your opponent's life total. Hall of the Bandit Lord gives Haste to Heartless Hidetsugu and Buried Ruin helps you a little by bringing back any lost artifact from your graveyard to your hand.

For the basic lands, we have 33x Snow-Covered Mountain. We want the 'Snow-Covered' variants because of Extraplanar Lens.


Here is a complete decklist for your reference:

            1x Heartless Hidetsugu
Artifacts (26)
            1x Mask of Avacyn
            1x Basilisk Collar
            1x Batterskull
            1x Caged Sun
            1x Darksteel Plate
            1x Extraplanar Lens
            1x Gauntlet of Might
            1x Gauntlet of Power
            1x Hematite Talisman
            1x Pristine Talisman
            1x Jandor's Saddlebags
            1x Journeyer's Kite
            1x Lightning Greaves
            1x Loxodon Warhammer
            1x Nim Deathmantle
            1x Pentagram of the Ages
            1x Puppet Strings
            1x Ruby Medallion
            1x Sol Ring
            1x Swiftfoot Boots
            1x Sword of the Paruns
            1x Thornbite Staff
            1x Thousand-Year Elixir
            1x Thran Dynamo
            1x Umbral Mantle
            1x Whispersilk Cloak
Creatures (13)
            1x Anger
            1x Battle Rampart
            1x Cinder Pyromancer
            1x Cunning Sparkmage
            1x Goblin Fireslinger
            1x Jeska, Warrior Adept
            1x Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
            1x Lightning Mauler
            1x Magus of the Moon
            1x Prodigal Pyromancer
            1x Vulshok Sorcerer
            1x Urabrask the Hidden
            1x Fortune Thief
Lands (37)
            1x Buried Ruin
            1x Hall of the Bandit Lord
            1x Shivan Gorge
            33x Snow-Covered Mountain
            1x Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Instants (2)
            1x Overblaze
            1x Shattering Pulse
Sorceries (9)
            1x All Is Dust
            1x Breath of Darigaaz
            1x Earthquake
            1x Flame Fusillade
            1x Insurrection
            1x Ruination
            1x Gamble
            1x Blasphemous Act
            1x Chain Reaction
Enchantments (10)
            1x Blood Moon
            1x Fervor
            1x Dictate of the Twin Gods
            1x Furnace of Rath
            1x Gratuitous Violence
            1x Leyline of Punishment
            1x Price of Glory
            1x Pyrohemia
            1x Quest for Pure Flame
            1x Stranglehold
Planeswalkers (2)
            1x Chandra, Pyromaster
            1x Chandra, the Firebrand

Burn them all!

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