Commander 2020 – New Decks and Fun Times

Building Tariel | MAGIC: THE GATHERING

While I normally would write about Warmachine at this time in the month, I simply have nothing to report. I was going to have a tournament to talk about, but the current Pandemic shut down that thought, as well as anything else along the lines of the miniatures game. Thankfully, this has allowed me time to work on paying attention to the new Commander decks and MTG sets coming out while honing my own, so let’s chat about those, shall we!

New Decks

While just this past August, we saw new commander decks come out at their normal time, we were warned that with the release of Ikorea, Lair of Behemoths, there would be 4 more commander decks coming out to start what Wizards have called a year of commander.

These decks have been previewed now, and they seem pretty cool The guys over at Command Zone have done upgrade and preview videos on them all, so I’m not going to go in-depth on any of it, and instead add links here.

Enhanced Evolution – Sultai (Black-Green-Blue) Mutate – A new bestow-like mechanic that turns creatures into enchantments, if desired.
Deck List

Ruthless Regiment – Mardu (Red-White-Black) Humans Matter – A deck that focuses on playing and using humans
Deck List

Timeless Wisdom – Jeskai (Blue -White- Red) Cycling – a Deck that focuses on Cycling and getting value from cycling
Deck List

Arcane Maelstrom – Temur (Blue – Red – Green) Instants Matter – a deck that works toward improving the instants in the deck.
Deck List

Symbiotic Swarm – Abzan (White -Black-Green) Tokens Matter – A deck that focuses on putting on ability tokens everywhere.
Deck List

All of these decks sound interesting, but the one I have my eye most on is the Arcane Maelstrom. Blue Red and Green are a fun combination, and there are tons of instants in the deck which I’d like to use, and doubling them with Kalamax seems really cool.

My Own Decks

While all of the above are cool decks, and I have the Morph and Artifact decks from years past, The most fun I’ve had is brewing my own decks. As I’ve mentioned here before, the White Stag I’ve been chasing is this Land-Destruction casual deck that both are fun to play against and blows all the land up for the win. I’ve got some ideas on that once again.

I’d been reading up on the basic components of a Commander Deck, ones that allow it to both be the deck it is and also to prevent it from getting rolled over. To that end, I grabbed my decks and started tweaking them to meet that format.

Demon Speeding:Sek’Kuar the Deathkeeper Jund (Black – Green – Red) that is focused on sacrificing imps to bring out huge demons

This is a deck that I came up with because the thought of a coven of witches (Lyzolda the Blood Witch, Savra, Queen of the Golgari, and Sek’Kuar, The Deathkeeper) summoning Imps and sacrificing them to summon demons is a cool premise. When I last played it, it was cool, because it could get a lot of cards into its hands and pick up demons, but the demons didn’t really move the board state forward. So, I pulled it apart a bit and coerced it to meet what it should be able to do. I’ve still got some tweaks to make to it to push it more into the theme, but for now, it’ll function.

Graveball: Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord – Golgari (Black-Green) that is focused on making huge creatures to toss at the opponents

This deck focuses on Creatures like Lurgoyf, Splinterfreight, Ghoultree, and other big nasties. They need a pile of creatures in the graveyard, so there are a number of cards that let me look at the top X of my library, scoop one into my hand and then pitch the rest to the yard. Once they are in the yard, I want to be able to put them on the battlefield, so I supplemented all of that with some direct animation. If giant death monsters don’t do the table in, I always have my Commander, who can toss big creatures directly at the opponent’s faces, if they aren’t paying attention.

Burning Minds: Niv-Mizzet the Firemind – Izzet (Blue-Red) that simply draws cards to deal damage.

A simple, stupid, and fun deck, I took out curiosity because it is such a simple win condition. That said, I do have a couple of cool win conditions in the deck, like Enter the Infinite. Its nothing to complicated, but it is a bunch of fun to draw the whole deck and, in that way, burn everyone up. The ramp package isn’t green, so its a bunch of draw-card artifacts, just in case.

Riku of Two Reflections (CMD)

Seeing Double: Riku of Two Reflections – Temur (Blue – Green – Red) that focuses on doubling both its spells and its creatures, and your spells and creatures while it’s at it.

This is a personal favorite, and I know Riku is a pain, however, the concept of stealing and copying people’s stuff is just too much for me to resist. Clones and forks and artifact clones and stealing permanents is just so much fun. Who doesn’t want to use Yavimya’s Embrace on the opponents Avacyn! who doesn’t want to Rite of replication the opponents stolen Blightsteel Colossus? or double-fork your opponents expropriate? Its a flashy and fun deck that doesn’t really have a ton of oomph on its own and relies on the opponent’s stuff to win, for the most part, though Terastadons are nothing to giggle at.

Bloodlust: Kresh the Blood Braided – Jund (Black – Green – Red) that puts +1/+1 counters on everything in order to make Kresh huge and kill everything.

This is one of the first decks I created because Kresh looks fun, and he is. The only thing I’ve really done with the deck is to focus it harder and harder on Kresh. Now, the deck has tons of equipment to give him all sorts of abilities like Hexproof, Shroud, Trample, and first strike, as well as a slew of ways to put more +1/+1 counters on him. If doubling Season wasn’t a bajillion dollars, this would be the perfect place for it. Instead, workhorses like Corpsejack Menace, Deaths Presence, and others attempt to rocket Kresh up to absurd levels before he wields World Ender or simply explodes and kills everyone. With Momentus fall, you can even get super-value out of him if the board stalls out.

And last, Collective Destruction: Oros, The Avenger – Mardu (White – Black – Red) that aims to blow up all the land and win the game right then.

This is the deck that has eluded me for years because while I want to and love destroying lands, I get that that isn’t fun most of the time. I played only 1 or 2 land destruction games, either 1v1 or multiplayer, and it simply wasn’t fun for anyone. Now, I have an idea that I think might work.

The goal here is to destroy all the lands once. Just once, and with the game that way. I have several ways of doing so: Radiate + Roiling Terrain, Radiate + Poison the Well, Obliteration, Radiate + Star of Extinction, Jokulhops, Decree of Annihilation. The payoff here, are Cards like Liability, Last Laugh, Dingus Egg, and Bloodchiefs Ascension, alongside Furnace of Wrath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, Fiendish Duo, and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. On the surface, these will all take me down with it, but I have planned cards like Glacial Chasm+ Darksteel Garrison, Avycin, Angel of Hope, and Purity to keep me safe. I aim to hit that big red button (I really just want it to obliterate) and be the last one standing. However, with the rest of the deck, I want to make sure I still have the same type of interaction that is expected in a Commander deck. One that plays and has fun and does cool things, even if I don’t get my “ultimate” play off. Obliterate, Furnace of Wrath, and Avacyn of Hope will definitely come out of left field.

I’m still working on it, and hope to have a decklist out soon. We’ll see!

Cool Cards I found

Along the way, I was able to find some really cool cards. Ones that I’d not really looked at, and that seem to be either overlooked because better cards are out there, or simply good only in the context I need them to be.

Oblivion Strike – a 4 CMC exile is pretty solid, and though black doesn’t lack for removal, I do think that destroying creatures is often not enough, so having this in the suite is solid.

along that same line, Cannibalize is hilarious to me. At just 2 CMC, its a great exile spell, with a small bonus of 2 +1/+1 counters for the opponent. No, it cannot be used if the opponent only has one creature, but I expect that those times are rare.

Xathrid Gorgon is another interesting choice. It removes creatures from the game without removing them. It’s also very difficult to undo the work of the Gorgon. It’s a temporary solution, sure, but it’s likely to be painful if the opponent can’t answer it, and even as a 3/6 death touch, its pretty spooky to attack into.

Spin into Myth and Reality Shift are my two new favorite blue removal spells. They aren’t always perfect solutions, but exile and tuck effects are really useful, especially in blue, getting rid of big, indestructible things.

Conquer and Annex are both stupid fun ramp cards, IMO. Taking over some of the coolest lands in the format is going to be awesome, be it a cradle, or a crypt, or some other awesome thing. I just can’t get enough of both.

Illuminate is another cool card. It’s hella expensive at X3RU with the kicker, but for doing X damage and Drawing X cards, it’s not terrible of an output. The big thing for me is the modality. The choice is worth it, many times, and being able to do damage to a creature and also do either or draw that same amount of cards or smack the controller seems worth it.

Signal the Clans is one I have given short shrift until lately. as a 2 mana tutor, it can work late game and early game and everything in between. You might not get the perfect answer, but you will be able to answer at least one thing on the board. Worth a slot.

Wild Ricochet is an excellent red counterspell, or counterspell protection. Yeah, its 4cmc, but re-targeting and creating a copy seems just awesome.

Burn Away is a spell I somehow never paid attention to. Removal and GY hate in a deck that wants to run Living Death? yes, please!

Keldon Twilight is an enchantment I’ve overlooked for a long time, and I think it has its uses. Kresh is the big one here, forcing combat or sacrificing of creatures no matter what, which just helps him get pumped!

Shauku, Endbringer is repeatable, unlimited, exile in black? on a creature that just gets huge as it happens? Yes, she can get a little out of hand if she sticks around for too long, but then you just exile her to her own ability. No problem!

Both Spontaneous Combustion and Breath of Darigaaz are both really efficient mini-sweepers. they clear the blackboard of some really irritating utility creatures, while also preserving your creatures if they are big enough. Just have to watch for that Fatal Blow

The last one here is Builders Bane. It’s not as good as Shattering spree, sure, but you also cannot get damage from Shattering spree. Vandalblast is clearly superior, but I wouldn’t sleep on Builders bane, sometimes that extra damage can add up.

Well, I’m excited for Commander, and I can’t wait to get some of the improved decks on the table against some of my friends. It should be a good time, in 2022.

Until next time!