- If I’m in green, I snap up any and all land ramp spells, especially spells that toss lands onto my battlefield (and only my battlefield). Yes, even over the bombs. How many ramp spells am I going to stumble over? Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Hunting Wilds, Ranger’s Path, Skyshroud Claim, Explosive Vegetation, Oracle of Mul Daya, Wood Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder. Maybe Rampant Growth. Maybe Farseek. The two that give me lands-to-hand that I compulsively draft are Shard Convergence (if I’m in three or more colors) and Yavimaya Elder. All told, there are just over over a dozen cards, out of a pool of hundreds. I’m going to see bombs and removal wheel, because the cube is stuffed with crazy bombs and good removal. Good ramp is much more rare.
If I’m not in green, two words: mana rocks.
- Also high on my priority list: card draw and tutor effects. I will first pick the shit out of Phyrexian Arena or Consecrated Sphinx over just about anything other than Sol Ring.
- I don’t prioritize mana fixing enough. I keep thinking “Aw hell, that Bayou will wheel.” And then it doesn’t. And I kick myself. Have I learned this lesson yet? Noooope. Because I’m too busy grabbing—
- Board wipes. This girl loves her mass removal. Many people find Wrath effects annoying. Me, I like a good board reset—to the point that I’ve hurt myself in the past because I blew up the board when I didn’t need to. Hurr de durrr.
- Sam refers to cards that confer a delayed benefit, such as at an upkeep, vs. a card with enters-the-battlefield triggers, as “X and do nothing” spells. I don’t think they’re quite that awful (I’ve seen Mind Unbound go off in big and hilarious ways because people underestimate it), but man, it’s hard to argue with a good ETB trigger attached to a body. For example: I used to understimate the power of Acidic Slime, but over time, I’ve become a true believer. It not only gives me a whole host of options for shit-to-blow up, it has a deathtouch? Sa-weet. Gimme.
- I like drafting under-the-radar Commanders, or running a Commander with an expected archetype and flipping that upside-down (or sideways). I recently drafted a Glint-Eye Nephilim Deck that was secretly a Maelstrom Wanderer deck. Why? Two reasons: because people can see Maelstrom Wanderer coming, and because I drafted Rune-Scarred Demon early–I mean, holy balls, Rune-Scarred is bonkers in Commander in general and Commander Cube in particular. I basically crammed in a bunch of tutors, a bunch of fatties with ETB triggers, some removal, and cards like Vicious Shadows to push through damage. And honestly, Glint-Eye is no slouch. I dropped him turn 4 consistently, before anybody else had blockers up, and he drew me cards like a boss until he ate spot removal, which was fine, because that meant less removal for Maelstrom Wanderer.
I gotta say, cascading into Rune-Scarred Demon? Deee-licious.
- I like Clones. A lot. If I spot a Clone early on, I grab it and pretty much commit to blue unless it becomes obvious that other colors are way more open. They’re so deliciously efficient. You have a dude with a ridiculous effect attached to it? I’d like it too, please, and at a steep discount. My appreciation for Clones became even more acute when I first started playing against Uril, the Miststalker several years ago. Four-mana sorcery speed kill spell for Uril? Perhaps not the most efficient, but fuck, I’ll take what I can get and stall for a couple more turns. Especially near and dear to my heart are guys that allow me to re-use their copying effects, like Shapesharer (in my experience, it’s a pretty great rattlesnake for a lot of Commanders), Vesuvan Doppelganger and Vesuvan Shapeshifter. A couple of under-appreciated clones: the ones that target dudes in graveyards, like Body Double and Dimir Doppelganger (graveyard hate AND a clone? Don’t mind if I do!). The best one to date, in my opinion? Sakashima the Impostor. You can bounce Sakashima back to hand to re-copy something, or you can have two completely broken legendary creatures at your disposal. I once saw Sam drop Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite on turn five, only to have our friend Squeek go “Oh yeah? I HAVE AN ELESH NORN TURN FIVE, TOO, MOTHERFUCKER!” and drop Sakashima. It. Was. Hilarious.
But my actual favorite? Evil Twin. It’s not the fastest, and it’s not the most powerful (Phyrexian Metamorph can copy swords and crazy shit like Darksteel Forge), but holy shit it it’s the funniest.
What are some of your patterns when Commander Cubing? What are your tricks to get ahead, and which cards do you go for compulsively, even when the Efficiency Angel on your shoulder hollers “Not good enough for a slot,” because the seductive whisperings of the Flavor Über Alles Demon on your other shoulder have won the day?
Building a magic deck is kind of similar to opening a restaurant. Being both a foodie and a commander connoseiur, I thought it would be fun to build a theme deck around two of my favorite passions.
My first step was in finding the right executive chef to run my kitchen. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger seemed like an ok choice, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth , was very flavorful but would be a bit restrictive, whereas Teneb, the Harvester gave me more options but wasn’t super perfect flavor-wise. After inquiring around a bit more I found the perfect fit:
Karador, Ghost Chieftan is the perfect balance of thematic flavor and gave me access to a whole slew of cards by being knowledgeable in cooking in 3 different colors of mana. I imagine Karador giving out the big orders as the head chef with Vorinclex being right behind him as his soux chef supplying him with tons of mana.
I definitely still wanted to include Kozilek, Butcher of Truth but station him in the protein section where he could Slice in Twain all sorts of delcious things. Its a rather large job, so to help out Kozilek, I figured Buthcer of Malakir, Mindslicer, and even Butcher Ghoul would all be useful.
Its important to have a good relationship with your suppliers, and that is where Teneb, the Harvester is really going to shine. In conjunction with Soul of the Harvest and Harvestor of Souls, I expect to always have plenty of Fresh Meat and to Cultivate enough goodies to Feed the Packs of other planeswalkers sitting down at the table with me.
One of the biggest things that food service inspectors will nail you for is Contamination. I plan on running a very tight kitchen that is very careful to Wipe Clean my counters and be careful that our “spirits” don’t Oxidize and turn into Acidic Slimes.
The full list of the “staff and recipes” featured on this post can be found at: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/chef-edh/
Lets face it, land ramping is one of the most dominant and easy strategies in Commander. It is very easy to do, and most of the cards themselves are pretty inexpensive (Kodama’s reach, Cultivate, Explosive Vegetation, Reap and Sow, etc.). The most expensive ramping card is big Primeval Titan aka Prime-time aka P-tits, and for any seasoned commander player, you have probably seen this card fought over like frat boys at an open keg.
I have played many ramp decks in all different formats, and the goal of a ramp deck is to amass more resources than your opponents first, and then capitlize on that advantage by using big haymaker effects that threaten the board state to an uncomfortable level (Blightsteel Collosus, Woodfall Primus, Eldrazi, etc.) or refill their hand with more threatening effects (Soul’s Majesty, Consecrated Sphinx, Recurring Insight, etc.). Ramp decks use their first few turns to jump them straight into the end game, and while everyone else who is playing fairly normal cards that cost 5, maybe 6 mana on turn 5, ramp decks are playing cards that cost 9 or 10 mana, on that same turn, and are basically way ahead than everyone else. Even with a table full of people attacking the ramp player and utilizing all their resources against him/her, it can be very difficult to really fight against the raw and stable resources that land ramp strategies produce.
Land Disruption, especially mass land disruption is the conventional answer to this, but it is so socially stigmatized, because the land disruption is either inefficient, or really good against ramp, and all other decks too.
Also, another issue with Commander is that it can be difficult for players who are new to Commander to enter Commander and play a fun game with somebody who has been playing Commander for awhile. Even if they have been playing magic for awhile, staples from legacy don’t always translate well into staples in Commander. I feel that the ownus does partially rely on older players to have decks that can interact with these newer players, and while it can be fun to build a silly thematic deck, even thematic decks run into power creep problems, and figuring out what cards are too-strong and too-powerful.
So to combat these issues, my two favorite cards that I run in every deck with green are the following:
Either one of these two cards can basically do the work of 3 to 5 regular ramp cards. In ramp decks that care so much about positive tempo against everyone else on the board, these two cards mitigate that tempo completely. The big ramp player still has more lands than the other players, but the difference between 5-9 lands is very different than 9-13. Since everyone can play big haymaker spells, the ones that the ramp player is pooping out don’t feel nearly as scary when everyone is down resources.
These two cards are especially good at balancing a table of newer players to older players. I have had a collective voyage for 12 before, and had everyone but the “best” player find 12 basic lands, because the “best” player had too many duals and special utility lands that all he could find was 6 more basics.
I am also always happy to draw these cards no matter what point of the game I’m in, because I engineer my deck with these cards in mind. Lands are always a good thing to have early, mid, or late game. One of the worst feelings in playing magic is that, “if I only had one more mana, I’d be fine feeling”, and these cards help curb that feeling away. You can also think of them as a more efficient Explosive Vegetation or Cultivate.
Also, I like playing games where everyone can cast spells, and hate boring one-sided games. These cards help make sure that nobody gets that “if I only had one more mana” feeling. Everyone can play their cool spells, and that makes the most enjoyable, fun and memorable games.
I’m always happy to have them in my deck whether it is against experienced players (its karma/political points), inexperienced players (it can make them happy to cast their spells), and mixed tables (balancing the power levels so everyone is having a good time).
Other players can’t be too mad at you for playing these cards too. You are still letting the ramp player play his spells (you are actually encouraging him to play more fun spells), you are just taking away their unfun-advantage of dominating the board by themselves. Also, players with expensive mana bases could always just run more basic lands.
p.s.: On a side note, Oath of Lieges also does a similar effect, and is outside green. It isn’t as explosive, but still quite good for all the reasons mentioned.
I have the lucky privilege of playing with two very different playgroups. One I play with at home with all of my other co-bloggers, and the other is at college where I was one of the founders of its current Magic the Gathering Club. With how much fun playing Commander Cube at home is, I definitely wanted to share that with my college buddies, so here’s our start-up story on creating our Commander Cube, and tips for starting your own.
Who’s cards are we going to use?
This was the first question that we came up with. We have two pretty experienced players in our club who have been playing Magic for a long time, myself and an one underclassman who both have pretty large collections of cards. Thankfully, both of us have enough “good/broken cards” that we have amassed through drafting and playing constructed formats over the years that were sitting in very large binders that each of us individually probably could have supported a cube by ourselves. However, since I was graduating this year, I thought that it would be sad to put a bunch of effort into a Cube, and just have it dissolve so it went to the other underclassman. We toyed around with the idea of doing a joint Cube and combining our card pools together, but that had the potential to get sticky with me leaving soon. It also left no ambiguity who would be holding the Commander Cube box-o-cards, which was nice for us as well.
For other people interested in starting up a Cube, if you don’t have one person who has been playing for forever I personally don’t think its a terrible idea to pool cards together. Considering you are probably all friends with the people you want to be Cube drafting with, you might even be sharing a card collection with someone already. However, if you are deciding to have multiple contributors I would make sure that you kept a very clear list of who’s cards are who WITH THE CUBE, so no hurt feelings would happen.
What do we want to spend money on?
Being Magic players, (and especially because we are college students) we like to save money wherever possible (ironic because Magic is expensive, and college is very expensive). However, it would not be good of us to all just trash these really expensive cards that are imperative to the cube. So we all pitched in and by each paying $7, we got sleeves for all the Cube including sleeves for basic lands. We would all be getting enjoyment out of playing the Cube, and by spreading the love we didn’t put the burden on any one person. We also didn’t make the person who was supplying the Cube chip in, because we were using his cards. Also, this initial investment payed for extra sleeves in case any sleeves got kinda gross from wear from playing the game (although I don’t forsee that as a problem, but better to be safe than sorry).
We didn’t spend any money on cards, and while our friend had a lot of the really broken expensive cards (Force of Will, Survival of the Fittest, Wasteland) he didn’t have every original dual land or a big daddy Jace, the Mindsculptor. The original dual lands are really nice to have because they help make 3 and 5 color decks work, so we just went to our computer lab and printed up some proxies and were/are very happy with them. I leant my Jace, and would take it home after we drafted, but there is a printed off proxy in there right now which is perfectly fine with everyone in our playgroup.
I highly encourage the use of proxies, at least for the original duals because they are super spendy, and help make the format easier. Also, if you don’t have enough generals for your cube, I think that is totally worth proxing up.
How do we want to draft this?
Pack one was all of the Generals. We did this because it allows everyone to help decide what color options we want right from the start. I believe we talked about this earlier in the blog, but to reiterate, by having you pick the Commanders first, it can help give you some direction, and so nobody gets kinda screwed wanting to build something like a wedge deck, but not being able to because the wedge generals were snatched up out of hate in the regular packs, so they are forced to go awkwardly into Atogatog.
After the General’s pack, we then draft the rest of the cards with 6 packs of 15 card boosters (Just to clarify, we don’t include basic lands or tokens in those “boosters” like you would get in a regular booster pack ^^) I feel that 90 cards +your general’s booster pack picks (you can play for instance Hannah, Ship’s Navigator in Sharuum the Hegemon) is generally a really good number if you think you want around 65 playables. If you want to, you can do it with 5 packs of 15 card boosters, if your cube isn’t big enough, or you have a large number of people playing. Or you could in theory do 7 packs of 15 card boosters if you have enough cards to support your players. But I feel that 6 packs kinda nicely doubles what a normal draft is like, plus you have that extra general booster pack of cards.
Another option of drafting this that I heard from Samwise isn’t as time intensive is to just do a general pack and then just do 3 packs of 15 card boosters. This makes it more similar to regular drafting, which can save time and deckbuilding, and get into quicker more reliable games than you do with the standard 100 card highlander decks.
How do I modify the cube?
I would be on the lookout for is how much love you are giving to niche-style decks. As much as I love silly decks that go crazy off of Krak’s Thumb or Donate-ing Zedruu the Greathearted decks, generally speaking you are probably going to be better off just making those decks and playing normal commander with them, instead of sticking them in your cube. For instance, we had lots of the stuff that fits into most standard Zedruu decks, and while some of it got picked earlier (like Vedalken Plotter) a lot of it just tabled. I liked that there are enablers for things like a big recursion style deck with Merfolk Looter and Buried Alive, but some cards felt a bit too corner case and kinda forced into the cube because they were good with a certain general in regular commander. That isn’t to say don’t put in fun cards that are kinda group huggy, or require a coin flip, but rather put in cards that are usable in multiple different decks, and if they have a group hug or a coin flip to them all the better. Some niche cards can be fun to see, but too many niche cards, and can feel off balance and too-hands-on.
That being said, you don’t want to be too-hands-off with your Cube either. One of my favorite things about Cube drafting, is that by making the Cube, you will have some control over what people are playing. Everybody doesn’t all play abusive answer-me decks (aka sit down and all massive land ramp/value decks that copy Primeval Titan and Consecrated Sphinx all day) that race to ramp and then win. Instead you see more variation, and you have people who play cards that are answers to the board state. Cube drafting forces people to interact more with each other because of the limited number of cards that are available. This is a very roundabout way of saying that I think that while you should have value engines (like Mistmeadow Witch+Mulldrifter) and huge bombs (like Insurrection) that are fun for Commander, you should make sure that you have good balancing answers in your cube like Pithing Needle and Withered Wretch and that a good focus would be to have a good mix of threats to answers.
There isn’t a really good answer to best modifying the cube, and I think that feedback from your playgroup on things they liked and things that they didn’t like and balancing the group’s love of certain archetypes would be the best avenue to go down.
Hello internet! Sorry we have been away for so long, but with summer here and more time on our hands, lets get to some good old commander fun.
Today I’ll be discussing the card that was previewed today for the this summer’s core set M13: Door of Nothingness
You can read the sweet original article here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/rc/201
This card has been around for awhile, and was originally printed in Fifth Dawn, and once again in the original Planechase. With introductions out of the way, let me flat out say that I hate this card.
First off, you don’t really have the time or mana to play this in most real one-v-one casual games, so this card sits in the multiplayer realm, of which Commander is king. And even here it doesn’t have a place, because you can only play it in 5-color decks. From here you don’t have as many fun-flavorful choices outside of Reaper King. For example if you are playing Horde of Notions you can be going elementals as a subtheme and don’t need this, Sliver Queen /Sliver Overlord can have a slight sliver theme, and if you are running just straight good-stuff with any of the aforementioned generals or running one of the goodstuff generals aka Cromat/Child of Alara/Progentius you are trying to stuff as much other goodstuff into your deck. Reaper King gets mentioned because he at least could have the best potential to have an artifact subtheme, but even then its kinda shaky. To conclude this long-winded point, this door doesn’t have a place in most decks.
Secondly this card undermines all of my favorite parts about Commander. Commander to me is enjoyable because it is the best way to use Magic as a medium to generate friendships and have fun together. While winning is fun and all, I am a big believer that as long as everyone had fun and it was an interactive game with big moves, back and forth play, and fun interactions, even I get comboed out with a Deadeye Navigator combo, or Overrun by an army of Elf Tokens, I’m happy if we all had a fun game. Its ending games with a kind of win-win mentality, where it was more about the story of the game, and the epic journey of getting there that was the fun part. I’m especially likening this to Dungeons and Dragons, and the joy I get out of that Wizards of the Coast game as well.
Back to this card I’m talking about for the post. I feel that this one isn’t a win-win, or even an I-win, it is a you-loose card. Boooooo. By playing this card you are intentionally kicking someone out of the game. I suppose that sometimes there will be an archenemy that rises up on a table of players and getting out this artifact could help knock that bully out of the game. However, in the few times that I have seen this played, there wasn’t anybody who was clearly in the lead and was controlling the board to an unfair state. I’ve only seen it activate once and it took out the player that had started to empty his hand on the battlefield first (and while he could have legitimately won, it would have taken much longer for him to really taken him a while to generate anything). The game went on for awhile and my poor friend just had to sit there and be unhappy while he waited for another game to finish. In summation, when this card activates, all it does is create bad feelings and people sitting out of the game.
Also, it takes a lot to get this to activate. The only time I saw this work (out of the 5-ish times I’ve seen this played) it took a lot of work to activate all on one turn. It is a bigger mana investment than Emrakul because of all of the colored mana. And you also have to have an untap effect in order to activate it. Furthermore, you only get to take out one person for all of that work. Rings of Brighthearth could net you another person, for additional mana plus having Rings out on the field, or you would need some Artifact recursion looping, like Sharum. And for all of that work you could be playing something that wouldn’t be dead in your hand all early game and didn’t need this stupid ridiculous combo that with all that mana and artifact untapping and recurring, you could be doing it with something else more fun. The slot that this fill in an EDH deck is a late game one, and I’d rather have my late game mana spells pretty much win the the game instantly (Tooth and Nail, Insurrection, Time Stretch, etc.) or ones that are good early as well as good late (Capsize, Sadistic Sacrament, Comet Storm).
I think the only thing that would make me happy about this door is Willbender or the not-really-playable-but-super-cool-and-techy Reroute. Tee-hee.
p.s.: We will have a much bigger set review for all of m13 coming up soon. So be on the lookout.
Hello loyal readers,
I’m clearly not the best at updating blogs and stuff in a timely fashion (I swear I’ll post more soon), for that reason, along with a few others, I finally got around to making a magic-related email address. You can now contact me at EDHcube@gmail.com for any Commander/EDH or other magic related questions or comments (sweet ideas for blog posts are always welcome!)
Go turn some cards sideways,
Which card do you first pick and why? Assume that your group has decided to draft your generals at the end instead of at the beginning. How would that pick change if you had drafted a certain general beforehand, instead?
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Artisan of Kozilek
Thrun, the Last Troll
Tower of Fortunes
This is not the most serious deck I’ve ever made. This is a tribute to the most serious deck I’ve ever made.
Continue reading One-Drop EDH
This is a guide for building a Commander Cube. If you want to make your own, this is a great place to start.
First I’ll give you a little background on how I created mine.
I love building decks, especially EDH decks. About a year and half ago I started building new decks pretty much every week. I don’t have an unlimited budget to support having dozens of EDH decks built at once, so what I decided to do was to start turning my collection into one of each EDH staple. The idea was to have a big box full of really good cards that I could pull from and be able to make a deck on the fly. After awhile it dawned on me that what I was really doing was creating an EDH cube, about that time the MtG Commander Decks came out, so I decided to call it the Commander Cube because I adore alliteration.
The best thing about cube (from the builder's perspective) is that you get to decided what's balanced and what isn't. Another thing is that its harder for players to abuse the really broken cards because you often have to build around them to make them really disgusting, which is very hard to do in a cube draft.
Once I decided to make the plunge and turn my collection into an Commander Cube. I took some time to do some research on cube design, and if anyone had done EDH cube in the past. There are a number of good resources out there for standard cube design, but I was surprised to find that there really wasn’t much about drafting commander decks. The only thing I could find were some whisperings about it in the somewhat obscure “format variations” forum on dragonhighlander.net. It was somewhat helpful, but did not contain a lot of details, and didn’t look like it was exactly the way that I wanted to go with it.
The first thing I wanted to determine was how many cards I was going to need to have in my cube. In order to do this I took a look at how a normal cube draft goes (or any booster draft for that matter). Most of you reading this will probably already know that you draft three 15-card booster packs and then construct a 40-card deck when you do a normal booster draft. I asked myself: if it takes 3 boosters to make a playable 40-card deck, how many would it take to build a 100-card deck? Well, 100 is 2.5x 40, so if we multiply 3 by 2.5, we get 7.5 packs. What I decided to do was to have each player draft seven 15-card packs, as well as draft some number of generals at the start of the draft. Initially each player got a pack of seven generals (commanders) and we drafted those. After a while it became clear to me that seven was a bit high, so I changed that number to four, and moved 20 multicolor legendary creatures into the packs to serve as back up plans for people during the draft.
Continue reading So you want to be a wizard…
In yesterday’s commander cast, Andy announced a new contest! Here’s a link to the rules. In short, he asked for a full cycle of 4-Color Commanders.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. I wanted to share with everyone to inspire other people to make some awesome Commanders because there aren’t any 4-color ones right now. I’m not hellbent on winning, so feel free to build off of my ideas (just don’t copy them exactly, obviously).
(My friend already pointed out to me that Fugazi is the name of band, it was unintentional and I haven’t gotten around to changing it yet.)
Here are some notes on my design process:
Continue reading CommanderCast 4-color commander contest.