Saturday, January 18, 2014

Command of the Situation


As I mentioned the other day, Wednesday night also saw my first games of Magic in the Commander format.  Basic rules are the same, but for the following exceptions:

1. Starting life is 40
2. Decks are 100 cards
3. You can only have one copy of each card, other than basic lands
4. One of your cards is your commander; it must be a legendary creature, and you can only use colours in your deck that correspond to those of your commander.  When not in your hand, the battlefield, or exile, the commander resides in the command zone, and can always be cast from there; each casting beyond the first adds 2 to the mana cost.
5. In addition to the usual win conditions, if your commander does 21 points of combat damage to an opponent, they lose.

Also known as Elder Dragon Highlander, the format started as a casual thing among long-time Magic players, and the rules are maintained by a cabal of "senior" players, rather than Wizards of the Coast.

The format is insanely fun.  Games are longer, more lands and mana are played, and as a result, you get to play fun, ridiculously mana-costly cards that from what I gather, simply don't see play in "normal" formats.  Basically, you get to do all the cool stuff that attracts some people (like me) to the game in the first place, and that I was disappointed to find out I didn't generally get to do.

My kind of fattie.
To put this into perspective, I played two games Wednesday night, lost both, and had a terrific time playing both games.  The second game looked like I had it in the bag, then Otherdave played a creature that made it impossible for me to block, and while I had responses in my deck, they weren't in my hand.  One massive swing later, and OD had the game.  That kind of "out of the blue" swing seems pretty common in the format, is a guaranteed recipe for gits and shiggles.

Otherdave was running a Sliver deck, which basically means he had ridiculous synergy (every card in his deck, pretty much, does something to buff every other card in his deck).  I was running a deck commanded by this guy:

He's pretty straightforward, rewards aggressive play, and I've tried to build a deck that capitalizes on that; lots of recursion, sacrifice, and creature enter / leaves mechanics in the deck.  I'm doing this on a budget (another fun thing, you can build a reasonable deck without having to pay for premium, high-demand standard / modern cards), so I'm sure there's more expensive and effective cards I could play, but most of the cards fall into the $.10 to $.50 range.  

Both Otherdave and I have been nosing around ideas for other decks as well.  I can't see myself actually buying one for a while, but I've had a few ideas, (leaning towards R/W or R/W/U.  There's some Theros cards that are intriguing me, and I've got a pile of penny cards in those colours from the stuff the Beloved got me at Christmas.  Building / designing these decks is almost as much fun as playing with them.

I'll close out with my current list.  There's a pile of cards I could add here, starting with lands, to improve the deck, and over the long term, no doubt I'll be making some additions.  I'm really looking forward to playing more of this.

Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper
Corpse Blockade
Corpse Hauler
Dawntreader Elk
Death Cultist
Garruk’s Horde
Garruk's Packleader
Gatecreeper Vine
Golgari Guildmage
Harvester of Souls
Hythonia the Cruel
Korozda Guildmage
Liliana’s Reaver
Lobber Crew
Manaweft Sliver
Molten Primordial
Nearheath Stalker
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Sepulchral Primordial
Smolder Initiate
Sylvan Primordial
Terrus Wurm
Trestle Troll
Tymaret, the Murder King
Vastwood Hydra
Voyaging Satyr
Woodborn Behemoth
Ratchet Bomb
Gruul Keyrune
Other Spells
Act of Treason
Alpha Authority
Breath of Malfegor
Burst of Strength
Dark Prophecy
Devour Flesh
Diabolic Tutor
Grim Return
Ground Assault
Harrowing Journey
Horncaller’s Chant
Howl of the Night Pack
Into the Wilds
Life and Limb
March of the Returned
Mind Rot
Natural End
Pit Fight
Portent of Betrayal
Prey Upon
Primal Visitation
Ranger’s Guile
Rescue from the Underworld
Rise from the Grave
Spider Umbra
Tin Street Market
Verdant Haven
13 Forest
7 Mountain
14 Swamp
Encroaching Wastes
Ghost Quarter
Golgari Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Opal Palace


  1. I'm actually reading this with my cards piled on my desk :P

    I've never played that format, it does sound really fun! I'll suggest it to my friends and see what they think, i'm currently loving big red-green monsters so this would be perfect to let them have a real romp!

  2. It's perfect for big gribblies; the mana curve is long enough to get a good selection out reliably, and you get to play with cards that just aren't viable in normal play.