Jojo Asuncion-Barrientos

A Response to Brainstorm Brewery 411: October 2, 2020

Well let's address all the things now.

Standard: Uro got banned, to no one's surprise. People are gonna have replacements, either Cultivate, Azusa or otherwise. Does Not change much of the deck, however kills a deck trying to fight it.Does the meta recover? I'm not sure, we need to WAIT… and see. Seriously, NOT EVEN ONE WEEK post paper release and the community was CRYING for a ban.

Secret Lair RC No ban: I think everyone is blowing this way out of proportion. And is literally skipping one key critical factor… What if No one cared, and getting outraged over this particular secret lair is just another part of crying wolf, because the community has quite literally complained on EVERY SINGLE RELEASE OF PRODUCT. So even tho now the community is detesting WotC and Commander RC, I think everyone is really just getting angry for the sake of getting angry.

I think the Ponder Podcast has touched on a very important point, about not having a singular hobby, because in this case that everyone has invested emotionally into a single part of this hobby, that it has become somewhat toxic in community forums and what not. I would give them a listen.

Anyway, on to Brainstorm Brewery.

Guest today is Paul, @PrFeudo on twitter. They say hes a walking dead expert… I'm not too sure if that's a solid thing to say.

Breaking Bulk:

Let me explain this really fast.
These are not cards to speculate on, these are cards to find in your bulk boxes and random piles you might have. I won't really go into grave detail over the cards picked here.

Guest Paul: Undercity Informant
Okay this ones comical, so it's in a combo deck… which usually I follow the rule of thumb of “don't spec on combo cards” however, this is a good play.

Corbin: Migration Path
For a while I forgot that it had cycling. So yes, break this out of bulk. Ikoria is pretty recent so I would definitely find in bulk of that set. Do remember that got opened with good significance due to the alternative art cards.

DJ: Hornet Queen’s Hornet token.
This is 4 bucks? Uh yeah okay sure. Break this out if you find it.

Jason Alt: Reap
Well i guess Sow this one and you can reap your rewards? Get it? No? okay…. 

Pick of the week:

Guest Paul: Shark Typhoon
At 15 dollars USD? Even though it is seeing eternal play, I don't think this can go anything higher than 20 USD for normal copies. 

Corbin: Rite of Replication
Not really? These are peaking at 5 dollars again, and I'm not too sure if it will go to 10? Assuming it dodges a reprint in Commander Legends (most likely in set.) this could go to 10 non foil. 25 for the foils in the same.

DJ: Ghalta, Primal Hunger
DJ is not wrong here, this card is SURPRISINGLY cheap. The foils are well past gone so they are not worth speculating. Also it's a relatively simple card to play. I like this. 

Jason Alt: Quirion Ranger
Mmmm…. No. By the logic of this being used as a combo piece with Ashaya. No. Rule of thumb (coming from friend and fellow financier Brendan C.) Don't spec combo pieces.

Personal Pick of the Week, Migratory Greathorn Alternative Art Foils ONLY.
So I managed to score 2 of these at Sentry Box at a buck a piece… and I think theyre a good chance to go to five, ESPECIALLY if you get super lucky and get an alternative language one. EDHRec’s numbers aren't amazing, 2155 decks. And the top 4 decks are mutate which already have very little creatures that mutate. It's enough to make the decks viable, however the numbers don't lie on this card. It's not a lot. I think you could score a few of these before the set rotates.
I would have put scute Swarm here however… Scute Swarm literally popped before I got a chance. If you have any, move 'em. I don't think that price will hold. We have not reached max supply. (maybe in a week or two)

Anyway have a good week! Pay attention to the graphs, and prepare for Black Friday deals.

Jojo “RedPhoenixCasts” Barrientos

November 3 - Late

I'd like to open this weeks blog with another toast and roast segment. I didnt think I'd do these again, but here we are.
Toast to the artists who did the Secret Lair: Extra Life 2020. These arts are amazing, adorable, admirable and exceptional artistic work. Roast to the Judges who took said art and made terrible cards.

Roast to the idiot who leaked Commander Legends cards. You know who you are, and you know what you did.

Moving on to Secret Lair: Extra Life 2020
Honestly, I truly believe that WotC could do the process of Extra Life Secret Lair better. 
Even tho the value of the set this time around is worth 200USD out of the foil cards, however the quality issues have NOT been addressed. And people are getting stressed out about this product.

Most likely Im probably buy these second handed, once the supply goes deep on the market I have a feeling that a few of the cards will be worth it once they arrive in 2021, like I have been doing for the spring releases of this years secret lair.

Speaking of Extra Life, I'll be streaming for Extra Live super early in the morning 1am-3am Sunday Nov 8th. It'll be MTG Arena. Come say hi before going to be please, and Please donate to my Extra Life!
On to BSB.

Breaking Bulk:
Corbin: Trailblazer's Boots
Non-basic landfall makes these extremely worth it to break out of bulk. 
DJ: Benelvolent Offering
That's definately worth breaking if you have commander bulk product.
Jason Alt: Argothian Elder
Sure? however i wouldnt predicate it on a single deck Jason...

Pick of the Week:
Corbin: Crypt Breaker
mmmmm this going to ten seems like a stretch... Also pioneer hasnt really been played since covid happened... Im not in full agreement. maybe if pioneer survives Covid...
Jason Alt: Manascape Refractor
Again... predicated on a single deck is a bad idea. so no Jason Alt... dont.
DJ: Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
I like this really, even all the alternative art versions are worth picking. Try to get greedy on the price up here.
Jojo Barrientos
Sent from an actual computer, not just thumb mashing the tiny keyboard on my resistance communicator on Kaladesh.

How putting powerful cards doesn’t always make your edh deck powerful October 11, 2020
A thesis and expansion of deck construction philosophy.

I would like to open this thesis with a background check on myself.

My name is Jojo Barrientos, I’ve been playing MTG since 2012, commander for 7 of those years. Over the years I've built and taken apart decks of various colors, strategies and motives. My current quiver of decks is Atraxa Superfriends with no creature support, cEDH Opus Thief Breya, Kess Revel in Riches combo, and Kruphix Big Mana combo.

And over the entire time, I have developed my own style of commander decks.

I personally think my style is adaptive with a sense of control with a tendency of midrange.

Finally, my style plays to the thesis of this paper, “how putting powerful cards doesn’t always make your edh deck powerful”.

Some examples I’m including in this include:

Smothering Tithe, Necropotence, underworld breach, Rhystic study, Alluren, Yawgmoth’s Will, Cabal Coffers, Time Warp and cards similar to.

To understand this, we need to start with a base point. The easiest way to begin is using Jason Alt’s 75% ethos, By his definition “...meaning they are 75% of the way to an optimal build and just good enough to beat a deck built to be 100% optimal if I play tight and get lucky.”

Does this mean you can play these cards? Absolutely! In all honesty, contrary to the thesis, I would assume that if you would have the spendable cash, to put those cards in your deck.

HOWEVER, I would stress that your win percentage would only increase marginally.

Compared to a dedicated strategy based on synergy (ie Elves, Vampires, Revel in Riches, Felidar Sovereign) I think JUST slapping powerful cards will not increase your deck's win percentage.

Let’s take a look at that through the lens of my Kess deck. The win-condition is Revel in Riches.

The most notable cards in this deck are Revel in Riches, Doomsday, Demonic Tutor, Time Warp and Brass’ Bounty. The game plan is to use Revel in Riches alternative Win condition to win the game, to execute this, Demonic Tutor is used to obtain cards like Swarm Intelligence or Double Vision, as well as Revel in Riches, and Brass’ Bounty.
To deal with opponents, there's a swath of counterspells, removal and certain creatures to make it difficult for opponents to attack into.

Also, there's Bribery and Acquire which I personally find funny because tutoring up your opponents best cards is something I have fun with.

Now why Kess? I think she's a perfect candidate for Jason Alt’s 75% ethos as he states it. Listening to Brainstorm Brewery over the years, Jason advocates that the 75% ethos allows for powerful cards, however this does not include competitive commander level interactions like Thassa’s Oracle and Demonic Consultation to win the game (although you could make a case for it since Doomsday is in there)

The reason why I’ve put cards like Bribery and Acquire is to emphasize the fact that my game plan doesn't have to revolve around a certain combo, or specific interaction, and can be flexible to obtain certain creatures that can be beneficial.

But I also have really strong cards like Demonic Tutor and Doomsday. Doomsday is only used when I have the setup to win. Also Demonic Tutor is very flexible and tends not to go for a combo piece.

Addressing the cards I’ve listed, I would like to go in depth with them individually.

Demonic Consultation/Tainted Pact: I’m gonna talk about Tainted Pact and Demonic Consultation in the same context here, however Tainted Pact requires a little bit of deck ingenuity to get it to work properly. Consultation is INSANELY powerful, however is usually used as the combo piece to Thassa’s Oracle or Jace, Wielder of mysteries. I don’t think every blue/black based deck needs to run this since the win condition is often hard to attack against in a causal setting and often ruins the fun by ending the game much sooner than expected. However in cEDH where this combo is often the easier combos to tackle, interaction to this is plenty. Often you’ll see players attack it from the angle of countering either one of the two pieces or attacking the Oracle’s ETB trigger with Angels Grace, Trickbind or Stifle.


I think newer players misunderstand this card. Losing your draw step and taking damage in Commander does not matter, what matters in Commander is acquiring resources and out-valuing your opponents.

However, this card is not needed except for the upper echelons of EDH. Utilizing your life total as a resource should be a normal thing in edh, the only exception being new players who haven’t understood this or specific strategies that require a certain life total. However, I think Necropotence is very overkill in decks that aren’t setup to use it properly, meaning that it wouldn’t be best if you jammed it into a black (black meaning it contains black, not just mono black) deck.

Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe:

I’m grouping these two together due to the fact that they achieve one goal, to punish the opponent for playing the game. Either it’s a tax effect on mana that way your opponents cannot play the most amount of spells per turn, or it puts an advantage by giving you extra draw or extra mana. However these are only accelerators to a strategy and should not be included in a decks strategy to win.

Alluren (Specifically in Chulane, Teller of Tales):

The reason this card is in this list is because it makes the deck play the same… Every… Single… Time.

The entire strategy becomes tutor Alluren, play Alluren, Play chulane, play Whitemane Lion, bounce Whitemane Lion, replay till you draw… but one card of your deck, play Thassa’s oracle, pray for no countermagic.

And I’ll be honest, that’s pretty boring, and assuming that you’re playing cEDH at that point, you might as well not play that deck against casual tables. There’s no replacing Alluren because I cannot come up with any card that does the same that isn’t some wild combination of Leyline of Sancity + several mana producing creatures + Intruder Alarm.

To wrap up, A good strategy executed well will triumph over strong cards. Meaning you don't always have to put powerful cards to make your deck powerful.