Hey, everyone, just wanted to remind you that my latest article for the Commanders Gathering went up this week. In it, I talk all about how to get the new Magic player into Commander using the WotC decks and the M12 core set. Enjoy it here.
Hey, everyone, just wanted to remind you that my latest article for the Commanders Gathering went up this week. In it, I talk all about how to get the new Magic player into Commander using the WotC decks and the M12 core set. Enjoy it here.
Hello, hello, hello, and HELLO!
Welcome to another issue of the Sunday Reflection, where I get nice and casual with y’all. Just imagine me sitting in an easy chair next to a fireplace telling you stories of ages long gone and treasures beyond your wildest imaginations.
First of all, I want to remind you all to check out my articles at The Commanders Gathering, the fourth of which will be debuting this week. It’s a great resource for Magic: the Gathering, especially if you’re interested in the Commander format.
Next, I want to share with you one of the best YouTube channels I’ve found in my surf-searching.
XboxAhoy/AhoyXbox: One of the most professional YouTube channels I’ve had the pleasure to find. Run by just one man, it features Black Ops Weapons Guides done at a very high level. In each video, your host will provide you with a history, stats, tips, tricks, and loadouts for each weapon. In his “secret account”, AhoyXbox, he explains how he creates his videos, what’s going on with the channel, and what his future plans are. Most exciting is the fact that Activision recently hired him to create similar videos for Call of Duty Elite. Whether or not you’ll have to pay to see them is still unknown, but I’m looking forward to them either way.
Now I’d like to inform you of a change I’m making in the approach of the blog. Until now, I’ve been writing articles and publishing them in the same day. That’s worked all right so far; I’ve gotten a decent amount of hits and it’s kept me to a schedule. Unfortunately, my life has a tendency to interfere with this schedule and doesn’t always allow me to post as frequently as I’d like. So I’m going to try a different strategy. Starting today, I’ll be writing articles and publishing them several days or as much as a week later. This will allow me to take advantage of days in which I have lots of free time and not feel guilty about days that I won’t. Ultimately, it means you’ll be getting more, higher quality content and I’ll be getting a little more popularity, so it works out best for everyone. Expect to have daily articles similar to the ones in the past and some new surprises too.
Well, that’s all for today; join me tomorrow when I travel seven years into the future and discover the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.
Wazzup, fellow Lamp-carriers! First off, let me apologize for the lack of content over the past few days. I’m sure all of you were busy with your own three-day-weekend plans, though, so I hope you didn’t miss me too much
Now, on to the good stuff. My second article for The Commanders Gathering is up! You can find it here! In it I detail a rather stressful and humorous tale of a Magic game with one very stressing person.
Next, I’m going to get an early start on Spendsday Wednesdays, because you really shouldn’t be unaware of the deal I’m going to inform you of for one more second. Steam’s Summer Camp Sale is currently going on, and it’s fantastic, especially if you have a great PC. As I’m still running off my three year old laptop, I can’t play a lot of the games available, but even I couldn’t resist Serious Sam: Gold Edition at 80% off.
Well, that’s it for today; I know it’s short but I promise I’ll make it up to you.
Keep those lamps a-burnin’.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the latest issue of Newsday Tuesdays. Today, I’m going to reveal the big surprise I’ve been hinting at for a little while now. I’m also going to be a little selfish, because the latest news I’m bringing you has a lot to do with me! But it’s mostly about a great new website!
The Commanders Gathering is the place to go for great news, reviews, tips, tricks, and strategies for my favorite way to play Magic; the commander format. While the site is still in beta at the moment, content will be coming regularly from a number of writers who love to play this way. I, in particular, will be delivering a weekly article that should appear every Monday or Tuesday from now on. My very first article, Launch Into Commander, details my experiences with the Wizards of the Coast commander launch party I participated in at Critical Hit Games in Iowa City.
A great thing about the new site is that they’re looking for writers, so if you have any interest in contributing to the commander community I strongly urge you to apply. This is a wonderful way to get your foot in the door and make a name for yourself while giving something back. Commander is by far the most popular multiplayer format other than traditional Magic, and I believe its popularity will continue to grow for a long, long time. This is a great chance to get in on the ground floor of a new era of Magic. If you don’t believe me, believe my statistics; most of the traffic I’ve received on this blog has been from people searching for information about commander. My top four days with the highest views were the commander launch party weekend. People are starving for information! It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
Thanks for reading, and I really hope you check out the new site. Lamp out.
Well, so far I haven’t been able to keep up anything on Friday and Saturday, mostly because it’s those two days on which my social life usually occurs. Also, my original plan for Fridays, modern video game reviews, doesn’t seem to interest me that much right now, because, besides Call of Duty, I’m mostly playing a lot of older games at the moment. And you can get reviews for new games practically anywhere. I suggest IGN, GamesRadar, and PC Gamer to get you started. All of this is just to say that I probably will post some modern reviews eventually, but don’t expect them very frequently unless developers start sending me review copies. And they likely won’t be long ordeals either. The Wizardry 8 review took a relatively long amount of time that I can’t see happening often. Expect something more like Yahzee’s Zero Punctuation reviews rather than GameSpot’s. Not many modern games interest me, and paying 60 bucks at the launch of a new game is impossible for my current budget. Not to mention, the time it takes to complete a new game is anywhere from 10 to 100+ hours, and I am only one very poor man.
What I can tell you is that the surprise I hinted at a week ago is still on the way, and I will let you know as soon as it is official. I’m expecting news about it tomorrow or the next day.
What I’d like to use Sundays for is a more casual reflection on what I’m playing, what I’m currently into, what’s going on in my life, and whatever else comes into my mind. I naturally tend to write in this free-association style, and it’s both informative (for you) and therapeutic (for me). So let’s dive right in, shall we?
The past week I’ve been playing a lot of games from GoG.com. Most notable are The Last Express, The Longest Journey, Duke Nukem 3D, Baldur’s Gate, and Fallout. I hope to have a review of The Last Express up soon. I’m very excited about the game and it’s relatively short, a fact I always admire in a correctly priced game. I’m also still playing Pokemon White to an extent, but I’m getting burnt out on Victory Road, which I imagine is a pretty common occurrence. CODBLOPS is still fun for me when I’m not getting completely destroyed by people with better connections. I was finally able to download the latest update for the game after hooking my father’s network cable up to my PS3. For some reason the updates were just not happening with the WiFi, and I’ve heard similar stories from other people online. If only Sony could just make their system work all the time, then I wouldn’t even bother considering to buy a 360, no matter how much I yearn to play the upcoming Halo remake and Halo 4.
I’m still working on my Zedruu commander deck as well, and I think it is shaping up nicely. There are a lot of cards I don’t own that would make the deck considerably better, but that’s the fun of casual formats. Not everyone has to have every top-tier card. I’ve got my Sensei’s Divining Top and my Zedruu and my Sol Ring, and that’s all that matters. Killing someone with my Bronze Bombshell or Transcendence for the first time is still going to be fantastic fun.
I’ve been reading Matt Barton’s book, Dungeons and Desktops, for about a week now, and I find that it is a mostly adequate and accurate history of CRPGs. I started to get bored about half way through, I admit, and skimmed over the rest. To my surprise and shock, there is almost no mention of Wizardry 8. The only reference to the game is half a sentence at the end of the section covering Wizardry 7. It wouldn’t be such a problem for me if he hadn’t paid so much attention to worse, more obscure titles than Wizardry 8. It just wasn’t given its due in my mind. I was disappointed after discovering this fact and probably will return the book to my library unfinished. It is still a wonderfully informative book, though, and anyone who has even the slightest interest in role-playing games should look it up. Matt Barton has definitely done his homework in almost every regard.
As for movies, I haven’t been able to see a new one in quite some time. Despite the negative reviews, I still would like to see Green Lantern, but I won’t be shelling out nine dollars any time soon. X-Men looks good, but what I’m really excited for is Super 8. Harry Potter, of course, is a must-see, and I should have my ticket soon. If you don’t plan on going to the midnight release in your area yet, I highly, highly, HIGHLY encourage you to do so. The last movie marks the end of an era (almost as long as the time it took Duke Nukem Forever to come out) and you won’t get another chance at something like this for a long, long time.
(this trailer gives me chills every time I watch it)
And that’s pretty much all I’ve been up to for now. I have an interview with a store I’m very interested in tomorrow and I’m looking more closely at apartments. One in particular in downtown Iowa City looks like a good idea but nothing is official yet, and nothing will be until I have a job to take over from my work/study gig.
At last! The final commander deck of the five. If you’ve missed the other four, check out the other two commander articles I’ve posted. Have you done that? All right then let’s move on.
Get ready for a giant Jell-O mold with a T-Rex head for an arm, say hello to THE MIMEOPLASM, leader of the Green/Blue/Black Devour for Power deck.
It’s a legendary ooze. Can you say “awesome”? I love strange creature types. Who cares about human clerics and fungi when your team can be led by a giant slime monster? I’ll be honest and say this deck is tied with Political Puppets in my mind. I naturally gravitate to these colors whenever I build a deck, and the legendary options in this deck are absolutely stellar. The Mimeoplasm is graveyard hate and a beater, and you’ll have multiple ways to get him back if you decide to put him into the graveyard when he dies. Because this guy will die; he’s liable to be number one on your opponents’ most wanted list the moment he hits the table. Something to note about old Mimeo is that you don’t have to declare what creatures you’re exiling until he resolves, which means your opponents will have to decide if they want to counter it before they get that critical information. Just don’t betray your intentions too early! But the ooze isn’t all you’ll be getting. I’m equally excited about the other new commander options as well: Damia, Sage of Stone; and Skullbriar. First of all, Damia is a freaking gorgon wizard, which is just plain delicious on its own. But she’s also a 4/4 Deathtouching beater AND one of the best pieces of card advantage in the format. Skullbriar is great in the early, middle, and late game since his counters remain on him no matter where he goes, and you could easily stick him in the Counterpunch deck will little work. Vorosh the Hunter, while not as exciting, can still get huge and get the job done in a pinch. The rest of the deck is all about getting stuff in and out of the graveyard and taking full advantage of it just like this deck should be. Another killer creature I have to mention is Sewer Nemesis, who really will give one of your playmates nightmares. There’s so much you can do to modify this deck but I’ll leave that to you. Overall I think this is a great deck that you can’t go wrong with.
My rating (compared to the other four decks):
Fun Factor: 4/5
Value of Cards: 4/5
As you can see if you’ve read all three articles, all of these decks are good if not great, and I would recommend any of them (maybe with the exception of Mirror Mastery) to any playgroup. New groups especially, though, will get the most out of these, I feel. The decks are more or less balanced with each other, and pitting all five against each other in a huge war would be a fantastic experience. Wizards of the Coast really hit the mark with this product and I’m proud of them for embracing a format developed mainly outside of their offices.
If I were going to buy all five but I didn’t have the cash to get all of them at once, I’d likely buy them in this order:
Devour for Power
My overall rating of the entire commander deck product:
Fun Factor: 5/5
Value of Cards: 5/5
Competitiveness (in commander): 3/5 (Each deck is likely going to take an additional investment before they can compete with some of the best decks in the format, but competition isn’t really the point of commander anyway. At least, not for me.)
Well that’s it, we’re done! Keep in mind that I still haven’t gotten a chance to actually play with these decks at the time of this writing, but I’ve had a great time speculating. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as well!
But wait, there’s more? Well, I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you, constant reader, of some more of my plans for the blog if you don’t mind. First of all, I want to apologize for not doing a full review of a video game this week. I had hoped to review a video game every Friday, but I simply didn’t have enough time this week with all the commander shenanigans going on. I promise to try a bit harder this coming week, but who knows what will happen. I recently bought Dungeon Keeper, Duke Nukem 3D, and Baldur’s Gate 1 off of GoG.com, and I’d like to review one of those in the future. I don’t think I’ll be buying or renting the new Duke Nukem any time soon despite what I said in a previous article; the reviews have all been terrible and I just know it’s not worth my time. I’m going to continue with the daily columns because I think they’re a good way to force me to write every day and I really enjoy them.
Now, I have something to ask of you. I know I don’t have a lot of readers right now but I think I have enough to ask for a little feedback. So leave me a comment and tell me a few things if you wish. Did you like the content posted in the last ten days? Do you want to see more of something or less of something else? Would you like the Magic content to be relegated to a separate blog? Is the information presented here entertaining and helpful to you? What are you most interested in reading about? Whatever you want to say is fine, you have my regards no matter what.
Finally, I have a small announcement to make. I don’t want to spoil the surprise right now but I recently have been given an opportunity to contribute a little something more to the community. If it succeeds you’ll hear about it in the next week or so. And that’s all I’m going to say for now. Have fun speculating.
Until next time, thanks for reading, and lamp out.
Welcome back to my review of the five WotC commander decks! If you want to read my thoughts on Heavenly Inferno and Mirror Mastery be sure to check out part 1 of this series.
For this article, we’re starting with the Black/Green/White deck Counterpunch, led by the fungus shaman Ghave, Guru of Spores.
This guy is just plain fun. He’s not overpowered, he’s not underwhelming, he’s just cool. And he does pretty much everything you’d expect a commander in his colors to do. What I like the most about him is that he brings along some interesting choices. After you play him, will you just bash with his substantial 5/5 body? Or will you split him into five parts and hope to do some damage that way instead? With this guy you’ll always be weighing the odds and deciding when to make small bets or when to go all in. And Ghave isn’t the only guy in your deck that will be facilitating these kinds of gambles. A large number of the cards in this deck exist simply to get tokens onto the field or to provide a way to use counters, and I love that synergy. You get access to so many interesting cards in this deck. To name a few: Skullclamp, Vish Kal, Teneb, Symbiotic Wurm, Scavenging Ooze, Nantuko Husk, and, possibly my favorite new card out of all five decks, Acorn Catapult. I could write an entire article just about how much I adore Acorn Catapult, but I think it pretty much speaks for itself. This deck wants versatility and it has it in spades. The best part is you can switch to Karador between games and the deck will play similar enough that it won’t be jarring but different enough that it will make you think. Another point to make is this deck has a TON of graveyard hate, and that’s something you cannot do without in a commander deck (as you would know if you read part 1 of my How To Make a Good, Fun Commander Deck series). Overall, this deck is solid, competitive, fun, and far from game-breaking. I seriously wouldn’t be worried at all about just playing this deck right out of the box and watching it tick. Wizards, well done.
My rating of this deck (compared to the other four):
Fun factor: 5/5
Value of cards: 3/5
But is Counterpunch my favorite deck out of the five? You may be surprised to hear the answer to that question is “no.” If WotC had printed another subpar deck like Mirror Mastery, I would have been worried. But instead they printed this next deck, and I don’t know if I can say no to it. It may very well be the deck I pick up this weekend. So, without further ado, I present to you the one and only Red/White/Blue Political Puppets deck with this lady minotaur in charge:
Zedruu the Greathearted. WTF!? This gal is quite possibly the coolest legendary creature ever! Obviously, she’s probably pretty bad outside of commander. But used in her element she can be the greatest underdog (ahem, underminotaur). If you’re the player who likes to play passive-aggressive decks, this one is for you. If you want to lull your opponents into a false sense of security this one is for you. If you just want to have fun, you cannot go wrong here. I imagine this deck will be making some of the greatest comebacks people have ever seen and I can’t wait to see it in action. The deck is loaded with kookie stuff and they’re the reason that I still play Magic. I think the best scenario would be to play a few walls, give away some crap you don’t need like Howling Mine and Goblin Cadets, wait until all your opponents’ big stuff is on the table, act nonchalant, play Insurrection, and kill everybody in one turn. That’s the kind of potential this deck has. Unfortunately, I think the deck needs a lot of work to really compete. Ruhan of the Fomori is virtually unplayable as a commander and only slightly better when you give him away with Zedruu. He sucks. Numot the Devastator is cool but he doesn’t mesh with Zedruu’s idea of the deck at all, and I think this whole deck should revolve around this chick. Where’s Bronze Bombshell? Where’s Bottled Cloister? Where’s Mindstorm Crown (okay maybe not that card…)? Where are the countless other cards that you’d never want to have yourself but would love for your opponents to have? I’m not saying they all need to be in this deck, but Wizards dropped the ball on packing in some more fun ideas. Maybe they thought it was powerful enough as it is, but I can definitely see this deck losing a lot of the time before it gains any steam. If I had been designing it I would have included some more trick cards to make the deck just a little more aggressive. But that’s just me. Zedruu is still great and probably will be easy enough to find in your local dollar bin after a month or two.
Another concern with this deck is that it’s called Political Puppets for a reason. You aren’t going to be able to yell out your intentions every turn or else the table will turn on you. A lot of your success will depend on not just how you play, but how you act. I encourage this type of meta-design, but it definitely will not suit everyone, particularly the ten-year-old who just learned how to play last week and openly wants to attack everyone all the time.
Anyway, here’s my rating (if you haven’t left this page already to go design your own Zedruu deck):
Fun Factor: Eleventybajillion/5
Value of Cards: 3/5
So there you have it; I think it’s pretty apparent which commander I’m most excited about now. But hey, we still have one more deck to go over and it’s a real humdinger. The last part of this series should be up some time later tonight, possibly within the next few hours. If not, I’m terribly sorry, but I like to have a life on Friday nights too ya know?
Just in case you’ve been living under a Magic rock for the past year or so, Wizards of the Coast has decided to support the popular casual format known as commander by printing their own commander decks. After an agonizingly long wait, the commander launch parties are almost here, so make sure to get out there and play commander June 17th-20th at your local game store.
It’s hard to put into words how excited I am for these new decks. Not only do they contain many, many powerful commander cards for only $30 per deck, but they represent the willingness of WotC to directly support user-created content. That alone is worth more than any one card or deck. WotC has published other multiplayer specific decks in the past with Archenemy and Planescape, and it’s no secret that commander has been extremely popular in the WotC offices for years. You only need to look back at the last few blocks to realize they’ve been somewhat subliminally supporting the format with one or two awesome new legendary creatures per set. But the most pertinent parts of these decks are the commander-specific cards, i.e. the cards that are just plain bad in traditional Magic or that are simply unplayable in any other format (Command Tower, I’m looking at you). These cards in particular signal a change in R&D’s design philosophy, and, personally, I’m all for it. I love being able to use every card in Magic in most formats, but I think it’s about time that WotC started targeting casual Magic players in a more overt way than just printing an Un-set once in a while or printing a Knowledge Pool every so often.
One thing to note is that each deck has the following three cards; Lightning Greaves, Command Tower, and Sol Ring. Now, these cards won’t make it into EVERY commander deck, but they are some of the staples for most players. Sol Ring in particular is awesome and I’m ecstatic that WotC chose to reprint it. Now the price of Sol Rings online might actually be reasonable. Overall, I’m glad to see these cards in every deck, as most players will try to find them or want them anyway. A couple other cards I think could have been in every deck are Whispersilk Cloak and Nim Deathmantle, but those cards are much more readily available right now than the other three. Wizards probably just wanted to leave space for new, more exciting cards in the decks. I’m annoyed that Champion’s Helm is only included in one deck but people should be able to pick one up fairly cheaply after the decks are out I hope.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at the actual decks themselves. First of all, I just want to say that the art on the new cards is astounding. I don’t think the artists ever get enough credit, so I just wanted to make sure you, constant reader, noticed how great the new cards look. Unless you’re just a Spike playing purely for the competition, the money, the fame, and the glory, in which case what are you doing reading a post about commander in the first place?
Anyway, on to the decks. Keep in mind as you’re reading this that I haven’t playtested any of the new cards, and that all of my opinions are purely speculation-based at this point. First up is the White/Black/Red deck Heavenly Inferno lead by Kaalia of the Vast.
See what I mean by the art being amazing? Kaalia is outstanding, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. It’s kind of a Yugioh! card, and by that I mean that it focuses a lot on getting big monsters into play and attacking with them, and that’s about it. Now, I’m not knocking that kind of play, and I’ll even play this kind of Timmy deck every now and then. But it’s just not my style. That said, Kaalia is going to win A LOT of games by herself and this deck is one of the best of the five. One of the most political cards in the decks, Mana-Charged Dragon, is part of Kaalia’s army, and that card will make you a lot of friends around the table if you play your cards right. Now, Kaalia doesn’t have a huge body herself, so you will probably have to protect her through cards like Master Warcraft and Path to Exile, but as long as you’re playing huge threats, your opponents will likely be making some tough choices and take some heavy hits if they do choose to block your cleric all-star. Unfortunately, I’m not too excited about the other two new commander options included with this deck. Basandra, Battle Seraph is not a fun card to play and furthermore goes against much of the core strategy of the deck. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls, is not much better; with only a 4/7 body for seven mana, the ability to take random creatures from an opponent’s graveyard is not very exciting. He does have flying and vigilance, so at the very least he can be a small beater, but to make him good you are going to have to commit other cards to him. Luckily, the deck is still great despite the underwhelming commanders. You can always rely on Oros, the Avenger if you want a real alternative. And Kaalia still rocks.
My rating of this deck (compared to the other four):
Fun factor: 4/5
Value of Cards: 5/5
Up next is the Blue/Red/Green deck Mirror Mastery, headed by the wizardly Riku of the Two Reflections.
I don’t know what to think about this guy. He’s broken, obviously. And probably not in a good way. This card and deck are almost purely for the Johnny players and that’s fine. But I know that Riku decks are going to make lots of games frustrating, annoying, and not fun for lots of people. The backbone of commander is its casualness. Everyone who sits down to play commander enters into an agreement to have fun at all costs. And if the wrong player is piloting Riku, at best that player will be focus-fired on for the majority of each game. At worst, it will make people stop playing commander, at least with that pilot, and that’s a serious issue. In my opinion, Riku is just a little too easy to exploit and his abilities are not all that creative. But time will tell if Riku is as overpowered as I think. Animar and Edric, on the other hand, are a lot more interesting cards, and I would probably choose Animar or Intet for my commander if were to use this deck, just for the sake of everyone having a better time. This deck does have access to Day of Dragons, another great political card like Mana-Charged Dragon, but that’s one of the only cards in this deck that excites me. The rest are big creatures like Hydra Omnivore (admittedly the king of all beat-sticks) and cute tricks like Chain Reaction that I could probably use my own cards to fill in with instead. Overall, this deck doesn’t excite me that much, mostly because of the subpar main legendary. Most people will probably still have a good time playing this deck and I may buy it after I purchase the other four decks, but this is the one I’m least excited about.
Fun factor: 2/5
Value of Cards: 4/5
Well, that’s all for now. Soon after I started this review I realized there’s way too much material for me to cover in one night (I write these articles the day they get published don’tcha know). Join me next time for the rest of the commander decks and, hopefully, lots more thoughts on individual cards.
Until next time, lamp out.
So yesterday my friend Zach and I traveled to Iowa City in the hopes of finding some healthy commander competition. Our first stop was Gamesip, a newly opened game store in the Coral Ridge Mall. We met up with my cousin Ben there and bought some individual rares. I ended up buying a couple cards for my Dralnu deck, namely Tunnel Vision and Dralnu’s Pet. I read about the Hinder/Tunnel Vision combo online and was blown away by it. It may be a little unfun, but I only have one tutor card in my deck right now, so I was okay with playing the combo. Dralnu’s Pet I got purely for Vorthos reasons; Dralnu and Dralnu’s Pet should always go together. And since the Pet’s color identity is blue/black, it fit perfectly into the color scheme of the deck. It actually has some synergy with the deck too. It’s a good beater when the kicker cost is paid, and it’s an easy way to get some instant or sorcery into the graveyard so Dralnu can give it flashback.
Then we made our way to Critical Hit Games and promptly went to the $1 box to sift through hundreds of “just okay” rares. I ended up buying a Shadow of Doubt and a Mindslicer. After a while we were lucky enough to see some other commander players enter the store. A mom and her son who had never played commander before were looking for a game and thus we sat down to play. Ben wanted to tweak his deck so he sat out for game one. Cam, the mother, was playing Doran, the Siege Tower; her son, also named Zach, was playing Vorinclex; original Zach was playing Niv-Mizzet; and I was playing Dralnu. It was an interesting game to the say the least. BR Zach looked like he was going to win with his combo deck for sure, but I had Omen Machine in my hand. After I played it, there was little hope for BR Zach’s deck as it relied entirely on being able to draw cards. While I was dealing with BR Zach, Cam and G Zach were amassing similarly intimidating large, green armies. G Zach eventually got Vigor, Vorinclex, Primeval Titan and a number of other huge foes onto the table, and I thought that was enough. I cast Life’s Finale and sent everyone’s board back to square one. I got three creatures out of BR Zach’s deck, which, in hindsight was a little redundant. I definitely should have looked through G Zach’s deck instead, as he was the much bigger threat. Little did I know G Zach had a Paleoloth in his deck, and soon enough his army had almost fully come back to life. In the mean time all I could do was cast Dralnu with Whispersilk Cloak and hope the green force didn’t come after me. I was one turn away from recasting Life’s Finale, but I was already done for. G Zach swung with everything after using Garruk’s ultimate ability and casting Overwhelming Stampede. I took 72 damage and Cam took a sizable amount as well. We were done. Zach had a turn of being able to draw cards again since Omen Machine was gone. But he couldn’t find his combo pieces, and that was the end of game one.
Game two started much differently. Ben was ready and he was playing Geth. Ben quickly got out a large amount of small, cheap beaters and took a significant amount of health away from Zach, Zach, and I. Cam had switched to a white deck and got mana hosed for a long time, so we left her alone. But then G Zach got out Verdant Force with Coat of Arms and it was looking like this game was just going to be a repeat of the last one. But I quickly Cloned his Verdant Force, and now my army was growing large enough to rival his. After G Zach took BR Zach down to just three health, I swung with five 12/12 saprolings and Verdant Force, leaving G Zach without his own Verdant Force and only four health. I also played Omen Machine that turn and thus BR Zach was locked out again. On Ben’s turn he cast a life draining spell off the top of his deck and that was the end of the great green menace. BR Zach didn’t have a lot to do other than use his Divining Top’s deck-fixing ability. Cam, though, unexpectedly came back into the game by playing her new commander, Akroma, and then the rest of us knew we were sunk. I cast Tunnel Vision on her deck naming a card she had named earlier, but none of us knew the contents of her deck, so the spell whiffed. We DID get a look at all of her cards, though, so I felt certain that I could mill her whole deck if I just got Dralnu back. As luck would have it, I had a Hinder ready and was able to save Dralnu from one of Cam’s spells. Now that I knew which card was on the bottom, I was all set to mill her next turn. But Cam saw the plan, enchanted Akroma with Celestial Mantle, and proceeded to destroy all of us over the next four turns. By the end, her life total was well over 1,000.
And so our commander experience was over. Even though no one in our original group won a game, I think we still had a ton of fun and learned a lot. I learned that Omen Machine is a little too powerful against certain decks and not that fun to play with unless you’re running a deck with many giant spells. I’m not going to take it out just yet but it is on the chopping block. After some tweaking I think I can make it a lot better for me. It is a little too unfair against Niv-Mizzet, though. Locking someone else out of the game almost completely with one card is never the goal in commander. And even with two green players at the table, neither of them wanted to get rid of Omen Machine because it was either insignificant to their strategies or it was helping them out. So, to say the least, Omen Machine is a card I will have my eye on for a while.
I think we all would love to go back next week, especially since the new commander decks come out on Friday! There will be a lot more opponents there this time, and now everyone will have a Sol Ring. Before the announcement of Zedruu, the Greathearted, I was all ready to get the UBG deck. But Zedruu’s effect is so unique and fun, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist it. Still, not all of the cards in all five decks have been shown yet, so who knows what I’ll decide.
For you video game purists out there, I apologize for my lack of video game coverage. Do know that I just received Hyperdimension Neptunia and LA Noire from GameFly, though, so you can look forward to my thoughts on those games.
Well, that’s all for me; consider your lamp well-lit. See you next time.
The Commander alternative format is my favorite way to play my favorite card game; Magic: the Gathering. For me, it has the right mix of randomness, flash, fun, creativity, cool factor, and skill. I’ve always been more interested in formats for more than two players, and that’s usually how I’ve played Magic. As I’ve delved deeper into Commander and as Wizards has embraced and supported the format, I’ve picked up on some general guidelines for deck construction that I think are essential for almost any Commander deck to succeed. So in this article I’ll be detailing the kinds of cards you should be sleeving up. Using these basic strategies you’ll be ready for almost anything.
(If you’re new to the format, go to http://www.mtgcommander.com for everything you need to know about the differences between Commander and traditional Magic.)
1. Graveyard Hate
One of the most common resources in Magic is the graveyard, and in Commander its importance is multiplied. Since Commander is a singleton format (meaning each card besides basic lands must be unique), every single card in a deck will be carefully considered and probably dangerous. And since most players will count on being able to get their treasures back once they’re used up, you can ruin their plans by packing some serious graveyard-hating heat. Luckily, many of these types of cards are cheap and printed at common or uncommon rarities, because they’re not nearly as viable in sanctioned tournament formats like Standard, Draft, or Legacy.
Here are just some of my favorites:
And there are many, many others. Most of them are in black, blue, or white, but I find the best ones are usually artifacts, so they will fit into any deck. Moving on…
2. Mana Ramp
This is a simple strategy that most magic players should be familiar with already. Basic lands are fine, but if you really want a leg up on your opponents you need some really great mana producing engines. This is especially true when you’re playing multiple colors, which is most common in Commander. But even in a mono-colored deck, you cannot do without mana ramp; otherwise your playmates will quickly leave you in the dust. Note that some of the most powerful ramp spells printed in Magic are banned in Commander because they are downright too powerful. And if you do decide to play them anyway you will likely be kicked from the table, literally.
There are way too many kinds of mana ramp for me to detail in one article, but here are some of my favorites:
The cycle of dual lands and artifacts from Ravnica block and Shards of Alara block
Sol Ring (Luckily, Wizards is including one in every new Commander deck, so you don’t need to shell out $20 for them anymore. They are probably the only auto-include card in Commander; a card that every deck benefits from.)
We talked about recursion in the section on graveyard hate, and, in most decks, you will need it. Just make sure you keep an eye on your opponents’ graveyard hating cards so your Dredge deck doesn’t get hit with a might-as-well-be-lethal Nihil Spellbomb. White, blue, black, and green have a plethora of options in every set for recursion, but red has always been a stick in the mud about getting things back once they’re gone. And if you do manage to get something back, you will likely have to give up something else for it, as is the case in cards like Trash for Treasure.
4. Commander Hate
This seems like a no-brainer. This format is defined by those pesky commanders that never seem to stay down thanks to their special properties. But there are ways to deal with them, and some of them are even more dastardly than just killing them. Always remember that whenever you can kill a commander it will set your opponent back significantly. Each time they have to bring their all-star lead back from the command zone they will have to pay an additional two mana. In the case of cheap commanders like the newly announced Skullbriar (who costs just one black and one green mana), the additional two will likely not matter over the course of the game. But if you do manage to get rid of some of the more costly, more popular commanders like the elder dragons, the Planar Chaos dragons, Wrexial, Geth, Akroma, and the like, it can really give you an edge.
One of the easiest ways to sink a commander ship is to use the good, old-fashioned legend rule. How? Use cloning effects to copy your opponent’s commander and both will be put into the bin as a state-based effect, no matter what protective shenanigans your opponent is currently working. It slices, it dices, it makes commanders run away scared (especially Progenitus, who goes all the way back into its owner’s deck!). Clone and its friends like Phyrexian Metamorph and many others are some of the most versatile cards in commander and should be employed heavily, especially if you’re in blue.
Perhaps my favorite way to get rid of a commander for a long, long time, however, is Hinder. Hinder is a counterspell that, instead of putting the countered creature into the graveyard, lets you choose to put the creature on the bottom of its owner’s library. Do this to a commander and your opponent may not see their favorite card for the rest of the game! Unless they have a tutor handy, Hinder can ruin a player’s strategy. And Wizards was kind enough to print Hinder 2.0 for us in the new commander decks. It was just announced today as the last Commander preview card. Say hello to Spell Crumple.
I think it speaks for itself.
Well, that’s it for Part 1 of my advice for Commander basic strategy. Join me next time when I’ll be talking about synergy, versatility, re-usability, commander protection, and politics.
And don’t forget a lamp; it can get dark out there.