The Paper Tiger: RogSi in the cEDH Meta
The Paper Tiger: RogSi in the cEDH Meta
If you’re so damn good, why aren’t you winning?
As I beat up on RogSi for not having a great track record winning cEDH events, let me clarify that I don’t really mean it. Sample sizes within each event are tiny and even across a bunch of events the sample size for one deck is still tiny.
It is a little bit weird how several players think the deck is CLEARLY the best deck, and yet it’s not regularly taking down tournaments. Less sensationally, I’ll just say that while I personally do have RogSi in my top tier of decks, I don’t think it’s the best deck and I think several players substantially overrate it, including Enby, the character from this recent video on RogSi’s power level:.
Enby states in that video that RogSi uses its free commander to generate a mana advantage, which is certainly true as evidenced by the cost-reducing effect that having a creature and a commander on board for free provides. But then Enby goes on to say that RogSi is also the best deck at “having it” (being able to go off and do something very powerful) in moments when the opponent’s shields are down. This is where I believe I start to drift away from some conventional thinking about RogSi.
Let’s define the term “Action” to mean something we can spend mana on that gets us significantly closer to winning the game. Not all action is the same, Ad Nauseum isn’t the same as Wandering Archaic (I’m told), but all decks need to find action to win.
In the linked video, and in arguments from the RogSi proponents elsewhere, it’s sort of just stated as fact that RogSi has action more than other decks, but why that's the case is either unstated or stated by reference to “threat density” which is essential action per 100 in the decklist.
I think a big reason the deck doesn't perform as well in tournaments as proponents expect it to is that not all action is the same. Action in the command zone dramatically raises the floor that a deck has for action and will allow a deck to more consistently convert a mana advantage, and (listen carefully) rebuild towards a Plan B when the table stops your Plan A.
RogSi has a threat & action-dense decklist, but the 2 cards it has access to every game aren’t action spells. So, we observe that Malcolm outperforms RogSi in events, and it could be because Malcolm decks have action density that is less theoretical (in the 98 only) and more practical (distributed amongst the 98 and the Command Zone).
The Paper Tiger’s Plan Patterns
RogSi is a potent deck that you have to be aware of, respect, and consider playing if simply looking to try out the best decks. But you also need to be aware that if you and your friends all love the deck, you will end up playing in pods with multiple RogSi that can mask the weaknesses and drawbacks of playing the deck.
RogSi Weakness 1: Going off first means running into interaction first
RogSi goes off fast and often puts the entire table to the test. That’s not all it does (it’s not K’rrik), but it’s built to do that a significant portion of the time since otherwise decks like Malcolm/X, Tymna/X, Najeela, etc. will have a commander out and the advantages that the Son of Rohgahh provides will have shrunk significantly.
Well, when this is your game plan, everyone tends to still have their Force of Negation or similar cards when you’re going off. This makes it harder to win in practice than it is on paper.
And this weakness is masked when another player on a similar strategy is in the pod since a big percentage of the time you won’t be the first one trying to go off.
RogSi Weakness 2: Nothing in the Command Zone provides an Action Floor to help you rebuild when stopped
When you are stopped, there’s no Tymna or Najeela to lean on to crawl back into the game via combat, no Kraum or Thrassios to draw cards at a rate you joke about in Discord but that in practice makes a big difference.
And once again, this weakness is masked when another player on a similar strategy is in the pod since the many Wheel (Draw 7) effects that these decks play will bring you back into the game often enough to have you not realizing how glass cannon you actually are vs. a more standard representative sample of tournament opponents.
Rograkh decks can be very strong, but Tymna decks are actually the class of cEDH at the moment. Ben Loeb’s win at Silicon Dynasty with Tymna/Malcolm followed Brian Coval’s win at Octoberfest with Tymna/Kraum. And that’s not just a “scoreboard!” check, it follows logically from how damn strong those decks are in nearly every type of pod, and how high their floor is during multiple rounds of play.
The RogSi standard for deckbuilding is a great yardstick to use if you’re aiming to be slightly worse than the Tymna decks. I’d rather aim higher.