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Budget Commander: $20 "Entropic Uprising" Upgrade


We're back with part 3 of a 5-part series on the new Commander 2016 preconstructed decks where we help you guys choose the right deck for you, including an analysis of the unaltered deck, along with suggestions on how to upgrade them on a budget. Be sure to check out the previous article if you haven't already: Stalwart Unity, Breed Lethality.

This time we'll be inspecting the Entropic Uprising deck, which focuses on big explosive turns and wheeling for value.

You might like the deck if ...

  • You love having huge explosive turns when the stars align
  • You like drawing half your deck each game
  • You like filling the graveyards fast and plundering them for value
  • You prefer decks that have high variance and figuring out how to put things together to win

You might NOT like the deck if ...

  • You want to gradually develop your board
  • You don't like high variance decks and would rather play a simpler, more linear deck
  • You want to play an unassuming commander that can fly under the radar
  • You want to play a deck with White

If this deck sounds cool to you, then great! Let's take a closer look, starting with the full preconstructed list:

Entropic Uprising is all about setting up a big turn where a ton of crazy and random stuff can happen. You need to have a good deal of mana to work with, some cards in hand, and have Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder deal combat damage to a player to give all spells cast from your hand cascade. When you've set up to that, you'll be slinging spell after spell, casting a whole bunch of random stuff, drawing more cards off Windfall and similar cards to cast even more spells which cascade into more spells aaaaand all your opponents are dead!

 

The Ogre Himself

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Before I start dissecting the deck itself, let's talk about the main commander of Entropic Uprising: Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder. His body, a 5/4 with trample, is fine but not great for the casting cost. The real power lies in his triggered ability: all spells cast from your hand have cascade until end of turn. This lets you set up huge explosive turns that can randomly steal the game for you. You might cast Reforge the Soul and cascade into Whispering Madness, then cast Chain of Vapor which cascades into Wheel of Fate, all while your Waste Not bombards you with zombies / mana / card draw and your opponents watch with disgust at your amazing luck. Or maybe you cast Curtains' Call and cascade into a Worm Harvest with no lands in your graveyard, then your Goblin Spymaster cascades into a Fellwar Stone when you already have plenty of mana and you watch with disgust at your horrible luck. It's wonderful chaos: you'll always come out ahead when you cascade, but the degree of usefulness is random. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder certainly lives up to the deck name, Entropic Uprising.

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The most obvious comparison to Yidris is, of course, Maelstrom Wanderer. Even the names are similar. In a vacuum, Wanderer is the stronger card: the elemental cascades twice immediately when cast, not needing to deal combat damage to a player first or needing to cast cards from hand after. Wanderer also gives your board haste so it and any creatures you cascade into can immediately swing. Yidris, on the other hand, needs a lot more setting up. You need to trigger his ability first, and then you need cards in hand to cast along with the mana to cast them. It's more hoops to jump through, but the payoff can be much higher if you build a deck that can take full advantage of the ogre wizard.

Here are some helpful strategies to get the most out of Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder:

  • Haste. You can start cascading right away if you give Yidris haste. Popular options include Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots, which also protect Yidris from removal.
  • Double Strike. Giving Yidris double strike not only increases the chances that you can punch through your opponent's defenses, but it lets you trigger Yidris' ability twice. Yes, that means double cascade for your spells! Blood Mist is a solid way of pulling this off.
  • Alternative Casting Costs. You can only cascade into spells that cost less than the original spell; spells with big converted mana costs can (potentially) cascade into other big spells, but you'll need a ton of mana to cast multiple big spells in a turn. Fortunately, there are a ton of high cmc spells that have alternative/cheaper casting cost options. Look at delve cards like Treasure Cruise, undaunted cards like Curtains' Call, and random "mana-neutral" cards like Snuff Out and Frantic Search are great to cascade off.
  • Cards That Care About You Casting Lots of Spells. There's a couple cards out there that get better if you're casting tons of spells each turn, which you'll end up doing when you're cascading like a madman. Aetherflux Reservoir cares about that and is friggin awesome with Yidris. There's also the storm mechanic, which I'll discuss later.
  • Library Manipulation. Cascading doesn't have to be random. By manipulating the top cards of your library, you gain control of what spells you cascade into, which makes the mechanic far more powerful. Cards like Sensei's Divining Top rearrange the top cards of your library, while cards like Vampiric Tutor can put any card on top of your library.

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There are a ton of ways out there to take advantage of Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, but you won't find many of them in Entropic Uprising. That's because the preconstructed deck isn't actually built around the main commander.

 

Entropic Uprising Is A Wheel Deck

While Entropic Uprising may look like a chaotic mess (and that's how the product is described on the box), the preconstructed deck is actually a "Wheel" deck. Wheel decks (named after Wheel of Fortune) revolve around discarding everyone's hands and replacing them with new hands, while taking advantage of all that discarding and drawing. Entropic Uprising supports this heavily by running tons of Wheels (Runehorn Hellkite, Dragon Mage, Wheel of Fate, Windfall, Ancient Excavation, Whispering Madness) and then a bunch of ways to take advantage of all those discarded cards / filled graveyards with stuff that reward you for your opponents discarding (Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Sangromancer, Waste Not) or for having filled graveyards (Guiltfeeder, Spellheart Chimera, Worm Harvest, Ghastly Conscription).

So the deck's official description and name is kind of misleading; Yidris, Maelstrom Wanderer is a chaotic commander since the cascade mechanic has a "random" feel to it, but the 99 card deck in Entropic Uprising most certainly supports the Wheel theme and isn't focused on the main commander at all.

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There's nothing wrong with the Wheel approach. It's quite fun to play Entropic Uprising right off the box. It's not my favorite way of building Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder. The ogre wizard doesn't support the Wheel archetype particularly well, and especially not as well as other classic Wheel commanders like Nekusar, the Mindrazer or Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. There are two pros for building Yidris as a Wheel deck, and that's 1) you'll often have a full grip of cards to maximize the use of his cascade trigger 2) your colors give you access to all the best Wheel cards out there.

For those that do wish to build Yidris as a Wheel deck, here is a short list of notable upgrades to really push the theme over the edge:

For this article, however, I'll be focusing on a different archetype, and that's...

 

Storm

Yes, we're going the path of Storm.

The Storm archetype is a combo deck that seeks to cast as many spells as possible in one turn, then finishing with a storm card like Tendrils of Agony to kill your opponents. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder plays into the archetype wonderfully because the spells you cascade into are also cast, which ticks up the storm count and makes your finishers that much scarier.

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Storm is a very polarizing archetype. To some people, it's a fascinating combo deck that is a thrill to pilot and see played. To others, it's a dreadful experience watching your opponent play solitaire for what feels like eternity until either they win or fail to combo off, with no interaction on your part. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly one of the best ways to take advantage of Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder as your commander. In fact, I'd say Yidris is the best commander for making a Storm deck on a budget, because giving your stuff cascade is so helpful for your finishers and lets you be less reliant on expensive Storm staples to win. I personally love playing Storm and have a deep respect for people who are masters at piloting it, so I jumped at the opportunity to build Storm on a budget!

The goal of a Storm deck is rather simple: cast a lot of spells and then cast your storm finisher to end the game. You can boil down the gameplan to roughly three categories:

  1. Fast Mana. You need to generate a ton of mana to cast as many spells as possible in a single turn. You do this primarily with cards that net you a ton of mana temporarily, such as Dark Ritual.
  2. Card Draw. You also need to draw a lot of cards to keep casting more spells. You want to draw the most amount of cards possible for least amount of mana. Wheel of Fortune is a great example because it draws you 7 cards for only 3 mana.
  3. Storm Finisher. The classic Storm Finisher is Tendrils of Agony, but Grapeshot can work, as can Empty the Warrens followed by Goblin Bushwhacker or similar, or just bouncing your opponents' entire boards with Temporal Fissure.

You round the deck out with some filtering (Preordain), tutors (Demonic Tutor), recursion (Past in Flames), and mana-neutral cantrips (Gitaxian Probe) and bam, you've got yourself a Storm deck! Straightforward strategy on paper, but super complicated to play. You need to track your storm count, how much mana you have available, and what cards to spend your precious mana on in order to eke out a win. It's tough but I love it!

 

Removals

I'm keeping the Wheel theme in Entropic Uprising intact on my first pass on upgrades because it's heavily supported in the preconstructed deck and does it well. Instead, I'd recommend the first cuts to be cards that either don't fit in any supported game plan (Goblin Spymaster) or fit the Wheel theme but are simply bad cards (Ghastly Conscription).

 

Increasing Entropy on a Budget

Here's a list of $5 or less upgrade options for Entropic Uprising to give you ideas on where to take the deck. Many of these cards take full advantage of Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, with a sprinkling of general "goodstuff" cards as well:

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Here's a sample upgrade from the list for $20:

 

And here is Entropic Uprising with the sample swaps. It's still a Wheel deck but also has some sweet Storm finishers:

 

Maximum Entropy (Heat Death)

Is money no obstacle, or do you just happen to have some expensive cards laying around that you don't know what to do with? Here's a list of cards over $5 that can help any Yidris deck:

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And finally, a sample budget-less deck for you all. I went full Storm for this one, with a Doomsday combo backup. The best Storm deck I could find is Moxnix's Jeleva Storm. Yidris Storm would be very similar; while your commander doesn't help you if you're out of cards in hand like Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge can, Yidris gives you access to Green which has some sweet additions like Bring to Light. My list is a slightly tweaked Moxnix list with some Green cards added in:

 

3 Down, 2 To Go!

That wraps up Entropic Uprising. You guys have made it known that you want to see Breya, Etherium Shaper next, so I'm off to tinker with Invent Superiority! As always, your feedback is always appreciated. You can reach me by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @BudgetCommander. Thanks for reading!

 


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