Do you have that one deck you love? The deck that other people associate with you. I have that in Lorthos, the Tidemaker. It’s been my longest running deck and my favorite by far. Below I’ve broken out the things that hook me into it as well as the flaws the deck has.
What I Like About It
The Family Connection
What originally drew me to build the deck, and the main reason that I will never take it apart, is the connection to my son. When he was very young, in the 6-18 month range, he loved playing with little octopus toys. We had a few of them and they kept him occupied and happy. In my search to connect two of things that bring me happiness I built Lorthos. He’s since moved from his enjoyment of octopi, but I’ll remember the connection.
It Started Strong
I’ve brought up before that I am ruthless to my decks when they don’t perform. If a deck stumbles or does poorly, even if it is the first time it’s shuffled, I’m likely to dismantle it do something else. Only one deck has ever gotten me as excited and hooked as Lorthos did when I first played it. The deck that I expected to do poorly (it’s an eight mana commander in mono-blue built to a theme) crushed my opponents. It wasn’t just that the deck won, but everyone had fun with it (another feat only accomplished by one other deck I’ve made). It took months for the deck to pick up its first loss.
My Lorthos deck strikes a balance for me in both being powerful and thematic. Cards are largely focused on the sea-monster and tap down theme. To back up a lot of the cards that more theme based than powerful, are some of heavy hitters of blue in counter spells, mass bounce, and powerful planeswalkers. The deck also gets to use cards that are often terrible, but fantastic with my Commander. Having these kinds of cards in a deck are some of what makes Commander the format it is.
I’ve played Lorthos for so long and in so many different places that it’s become part of my Magic identity. So much so as I got tagged by people all over when Kelly Diggs wrote the fateful tale back in 2015. I still believe that this story was secretly a distortion of reality. If not, I’ll hold out hope for a UB version in Zendikar 3.
The Land Destruction Element
The deck has a heavy element of board control. This is generally seen in tapping down pesky permanents on the board or bouncing problematic cards. That’s often not an issue. The problem comes up but when after things like using Ugin‘s second ability or a mass bounce spell. When I’m playing Lorthos I’ll always tap down as many things as I can and after those style of effects, it’s often lands. This can mean that Lorthos can lock my opponents out of the game for several turns before the game ends. Worse yet is that the deck runs down hill. In this I mean that as players get eliminated, the deck gets stronger. Having 1-3 of your permanents locked down is annoying, but often manageable. Having 4-6 makes playing the game challenging. Having 8+ often means that there are no meaningful things you can do. I’m someone who wants everyone at the table to have a good time, and this part of Lorthos can make things problematic.
The Nature of Counter Magic
There is something about counter magic that rubs players the wrong way. The double standard of removal spells to counter magic is easily noticeable in games. Maybe some of this is due to so many creatures having strong enter the battlefield abilities or the fact that you can’t Doom Blade a Wrath of God. I only run six pieces of counter magic in the deck and is designed to only counter 1-3 spells per game, but when Lorthos is bearing down countering a few key spells can be game ending.
Reliance on Artifact Mana
Lorthos costs eight mana the first time and the ability costs eight when it attacks. On top of this a lot of the other threats are 6+. The deck is mono-blue so ramp is largely limited to artifact mana. If I’m able to stick a Caged Sun or three the deck is sailing high with it’s ability to use Lorthos, protect my board, and possibly play another threat all in one turn. However, in games where artifact removal is running rampant Lorthos often gets limited to one spell each turn. Sometimes this is still enough. The deck feels incredibly powerful when the artifact mana is plentiful, but can be clunky when it gets cut off.
The U Tax
Many Magic players enjoying foiling out there favorite decks. I’m no exception. Finding random EDH foils is on my agenda every year at Gen Con. That said, I’ll never get close to foiling out Lorthos. The price foil strong blue cards, let alone foil snow-covered islands, means that despite my desire to foil out my favorite deck it won’t happen. There’s just so many better things, even Magic related, that I could do with that money.
There is no secret about how much I enjoy this deck. Every set release I scour the spoiler for big blue threats (currently trying Nezahal) and other cards for this deck first. Despite its flaws, this would be the deck I would keep if I could only afford to keep one Magic deck. Do you have a deck like Lorthos? Which is it an what about it hooks you to it?
Until next time, happy brewing!
– Cowboy Kyle
P.S. My deck can be found on TappedOut here if you’re interested.