- COMMANDER - INTRODUCTION, MAGIC 2013, BANNINGS & A COMPETITION! - by Jack Amy (Views: 571)Thursday 28th June 2012
WRITER PROFILE: JACK AMY
Lifetime Pro Tour Points: 0Magic Achievements: -Favourite Format: CommanderFavourite Colour: WhiteFavourite Card: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Goblin Guide
Hi, and welcome to my new monthly article about commander and casual magic.
I started playing magic at the release of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. A small group of us went and picked up an intro pack and the promo Grave Titan that came with the game. We all left saying that we wouldn't buy any more cards and that we'd just enjoy the game at home. This lasted about 2 weeks.
The four of us that regularly played found that playing the same decks against each other can get quite stale quite quickly, so in an attempt to mix it up I picked one of the pre-constructed Archenemy decks as we had all enjoyed the format in DotP. The reality was very disappointing, and we played only a few games before the schemes were stored away.
A couple of weeks went by and we all decided to give multiplayer magic another go. The four of us picked up a different commander pre-constructed deck, and played some big deck multiplayer magic. It was a huge success within our small playgroup and was now my favourite way to play the game. Even now, almost a year later, having played competitive standard, draft and sealed, commander remains my favourite format.
What is Commander?
Commander (also known a Elder Dragon Highlander, EDH for short) is a (usually) casual, (usually) multiplayer format. It's purpose is for people to relax, socialise and enjoy playing magic a different way.
You can find the rules in detail elsewhere, so I'll just cover the basics for now. Each player chooses a legendary creature to be their commander, and your deck can only contain cards that are in the same colours are your commander's colour identity. For example, if your commander was Captain Sisay, a White/Green commander, then your deck may only contain white, green and/or colourless spells.
Decks must contain exactly 100 cards including the commander, and with the exception of basic land (and Relentless Rats) you cannot include multiples of a card in your deck. Commander has it's own banned list that can be found at the bottom of this page.
The game starts as normal except that your commander starts the game in the command zone, and can be cast from there whenever you would be able. Anytime your commander would be sent to the graveyard or exiled, it instead returns to the command zone, where it can be cast again for an additional 2 mana for each time you commander has returned to the command zone. For example, the third time you would cast Captain Sisay from the command zone she would cost 6GW. It is because of this function of the game, that players aim to build their decks around the abilities of their choice in commander.
Players start the game with 40 life, but if a player takes 21 combat damage from a single commander, they lose the game.
As commander is a format all about legendary creatures, I thought I'd take a look at the new legends from Magic 2013.
Odric, Master Tactician
Creature decks are always going to struggle when facing down the large number of wraths that dominate in this format, but a creature heavy deck is where Odric wants to be.
While I'm sure there will be a place for Odric in standard creature heavy decks, allowing your small army to navigate around pesky Batterskulls and claim victory by knocking away the last of an opponent's life, Odric, Master Tactician just doesn't impact the game all that much when up against multiple foes, all at 40 life.
Recommended General: Rhys the Redeemed or Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant / Rune-Tail's Essence. These are two powerful generals that call for creature heavy builds. If Odric has a place in commander, it's here.
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Getting additional value out of your instants and sorceries is something I could get onboard with, it's just a shame that it's in the form of unexciting 2/2 fliers.
If your determined to play with Talrand as your general, start by looking at spells with buyback, flashback and retrace. In the correct build, Talrand, Sky Summoner may have potential.
Recommended General: Azami, Lady of Scrolls. Talrand isn't looking to get into any fights, so being able to build up a force of fliers while at the same time being able to draw additional cards, to cast more spells, therefore creating more fliers, makes Talrand seem like a good fit to be fighting alongside the Lady of Scrolls.
Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
The first commander deck I built myself was Thraximundar, and I can tell you right now, this isn't Thraximundar. Nefarox does nothing when it comes into play, and it's restriction to attacking alone to make opponents sacrifice their creatures means it doesn't even have a place in a Thraximundar deck.
Recommended General: Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. One thing Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis and Servant of Nefarox have going for them are they are the only mono-black creatures to have exalted, giving Skithiryx more impact when it only has to hit twice for a kill.
Krenko, Mob Boss
Turn 3: Cast Goblin Chieftain
Turn 4: Cast Krenko
Turn 5: Enchant any other creature with Breath of Fury. Proceed to win the game if one player has no blockers.
Well… if only it were that simple. By far my favourite legend from the M13 lot. It can bring a lot of power to the table quickly and easily, but more importantly, making a huge rabble of goblins is fun, and that is what commander is all about.
Rating: 10/10 (Goblin Tribal), 1/10 (Anywhere else)
Recommended General: Self or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. I will be talking more about Krenko in a bit.
Yeva, Nature's Herald
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is considered to be one of the best blue creatures in commander, and while Yeva doesn't hinder everyone else, being able to play your creatures at instant speed is never a bad thing. Worth running with creatures that have strong ‘enters the battlefield' triggers such as Acidic Slime and Terastodon. The new beast Roaring Primadox is worth mentioning also, as it lets you reuse your triggers again and again.
It's worth noting that you probably shouldn't run Yeva as your general. If it's there for everyone to see, you lose the element of surprise.
Recommended General: Any creature based, heavy green deck. I can't really pigeonhole Yeva to a single commander, as her power lies in her versatility.
While we're here, lets take a look at the 2 new Planeswalkers.
The new Ajani brings very little to commander. Giving a single creature a +1/+1 counter is not going to impact the game in a noticeable way.
Ajani's (-3) however can be very powerful given the correct commander, making it that much quicker to inflict 21 points of general damage.
Now a Planeswalker ultimate is usually a game-changing affair, and Ajani is no exception. But as with all ultimate abilities, Getting Ajani up to 8 loyalty may be too much to ask. The exception, as with most Planeswalkers is Doubling Season. With this in play, Ajani becomes a three-mana put 80 or so 2/2 cats into play, an unlikely event, but awesome when it happens. Then someone plays Wrath of God. Ouch.
Recommended General: Uril, the Miststalker. Uril can very easily reach 11 power with a couple of auras. Giving Uril flying and double strike until the end of turn seems like a great way to kill a player, and maybe make the rest of the table enemies.
This is the real deal. Liliana's (+1) allows you to find any Swamp, not just basic swamps, which include original and Ravnica dual lands. While this may not rival Land Tax as far as sheer card advantage is concerned, the mana fixing and card advantage here is certainly appreciated. The true power of this ability is made evident when any player has Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on the battlefield, as you can now search for any land every turn.
Liliana's (-3) ability is, to state the obvious, more powerful in a mono-black deck where it can be used reliably as reusable removal. She can even deal with late game threats such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. This ability loses a lot of its power in multicolour decks, but can still be used to deal with small creatures with irritating abilities.
Liliana's ultimate (-6), while powerful, is just the icing on a very full and rich cake. Use it when you need the mana, if you fell like Liliana wont survive another turn round the table, or if you're lucky enough to pull this off turn 6 or earlier. If your deck plays card like Consume Spirit or Exsanguinate, this emblem is golden.
Rating: 8/10 (mono-black), 6/10 (elsewhere)
Recommended General: I was going to say Griselbrand, but due to recent bannings you'll have to look elsewhere. Any mono-black general wants her, as does any multicolour deck with a high enough swamp count.
Krenko, Mob Boss Commander
As I mentioned earlier, Krenko is by far my favourite legend from the M13 set. With a large back catalogue of goblins to chose from (211 mono-red, not including any new goblins from M13) and powerful red spells, it shouldn't be too challenging to make a tribal deck around Krenko.
The Boring Stuff AKA Lands
There's no complex mana-base to be had here. I'd recommend running between 36-38 land, most of it basic, with a few utility lands thrown into the mix. A basic example would be:
30 Snow-Covered Mountain
Mouth of Ronom
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Temple of the False God
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
The Fun Stuff AKA Goblins
Naturally, we're going to want to be running a lot of goblins. While I mentioned that there are a lot of different goblins out there, many goblins are only good in old fashioned, one-on-one, 20-life magic, and most of the rest are just plain awful. So, onto the decent ones…
Goblin Assassin: Possibly one of my favourite Krenko interactions. Sure, you'll lose a few goblin tokens in the process, but it deals with opponents who play tricky and powerful creatures.
Lords; Goblin Chieftain, Goblin King: When the majority of your creatures will be 1/1s, these lords will allow you double, triple or quadruple the power you have on the board.
Goblins (and giant) that make more goblins
Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
Mogg War Marshal
Chancellor of the Forge
Kiki-Jiki and Friends
Any goblins with strong ‘enters the battlefield' effects are going to be strong in this deck, and by including one of the most iconic goblins in magic, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, you can reuse the abilities again and again.
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Goblin creatures that synergise well with our other critters.
Horde of Boggarts
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Zo-Zu the Punisher
A few of creatures that aren't goblins, but worth playing anyway.
Avatar of Fury
Magus of the Moon
The Strong Stuff AKA Other Spells
Coat of Arms
Gauntlet of Might
Gauntlet of Power
Breath of Fury
Price of Glory
Price of Progress
Red Sun's Zenith
Word of Seizing
And there we have it, the first decklist of the series. If anyone has any comments or suggestions for this deck or an idea for another, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the article.
Recently Banned Cards
Griselbrand: It feels a shame that the ban hammer hits a card like this, but understandably so.
Yawgamoth's Bargainshows us that being able to exchange 1 life for 1 card is overpowered, and doubly so in a format when you start with 40 life. Attaching a similar ability to a 7/7 flying lifelinker that can also be your general and therefore played reliably and repeatedly, or cheated into play from elsewhere. I guess I'm just going to have to find something else to do with my oversized Griselbrand.
Sundering Titan: A powerful ability that's just too easy to abuse and in a multiplayer game it will very rarely have any backlash. Anything from Flickerform to Splinter Twin and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker just leads to degenerate board states that are fun for no one.
Also of note is Worldfire, while not receiving a pre-ban may be next in line. A very powerful and wholly un-fun card on its own, but as a friend pointed out to me, when Worldfire and Inferno Titan are suspended simultaneously by Jhoira of the Ghitu you can kill 7 opponents with a single swing.
The Ban List
That leaves the updated ban list looking like this:
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Library of Alexandria
Staff of Domination
Sway of the Stars
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all again next month.
- Martyn Leggett - June 29, 2012, 11:29 Awesome first article mate. Good job.
- Kyle "Soki" Wright - July 3, 2012, 21:04 Sweet thread bro
may need to look at pauper edh might be a way to douse the fires of overpowerment that have struck lately.
decent format, decent column keep up the work
p.s. your ginger!
- Simon - July 4, 2012, 11:20 Hey, nice article Jack, hope to see more :)