I'm going to blame it on the idiot playing Damia, Sage of Stone that I faced a couple weeks back. It had been months since I'd had the time to play Commander on Magic Online, and I'd finally had the opportunity and tix to buy a bunch of new cards to add to my Commander pool, update my Karador, Ghost Chieftain list, and even brew up a brand new mono-green Commander deck. Eager to try out the new deck, I jumped in a game where three of us were playing relatively fair and one of us was playing Damia with a bunch of ramp and deck manipulation spells. I'm sure all of us suspected his deck was up to some sort of shenanigans, but we didn't necessarily gang up on him—we all just played our games and hoped for the best.
Then on his turn he played Capture of Jingzhou (the Portal Three Kingdoms/Masters Edition version of Time Warp) to take an extra turn. If you've read my Commander articles for any length of time, then you know my feelings towards taking extra turns in Commander, so to say I was irritated was an understatement. When you take an extra turn in multiplayer, you're not really just taking an extra turn; rather you're stealing a turn from everyone else. It's even worse on Magic Online because not only are you just playing Magic with yourself while everyone waits for you, but you're forcing us to click and acknowledge all the extra crap you're doing, depending on where our stops are set, while we sit and wait.
I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I mean, maybe he was just playing it because it was a sweet Portal Three Kingdoms card he'd gotten from Masters Edition. I told myself to be patient and give him the benefit of the doubt.
Then on his extra turn he played the actual spell Time Warp to take another turn. Then on his next extra turn he played Omniscience and then Time Stretch. On his fourth extra turn he played Eternal Witness to get back Time Stretch, and at that point I told him hope he has fun playing with himself, added him to my ban list (I have no interest playing with someone who thinks that's fun), and conceded the game. The other players dropped the game immediately after me.
Not that I necessarily would have drawn it in my mono-green deck—there's decent card draw but no way to Tutor for it—but I chastised myself for not packing Jester's Cap in my list. I'm fine with whatever shenanigans you wanna run, but I'll be much happier if I can take away your ability to run extra turns.
But then when I searched through my online collection, I was horrified to learn I don't actually own a Jester's Cap. I quickly hunted down a trading bot and purchased one (cheap!) and added it to my mono-green list. Then I opened up my more "powered up" Commander list built around Karador and added Jester's Cap to that list. At least I'd included Sadistic Sacrament in Karador! I made a mental note that if anyone is playing blue in my Commander games online, I'd Cap 'em just to make sure there are no Time Walks in their deck.
So jump ahead to last Tuesday night, when I had a rare night off from work and was looking forward to running another game of Commander online. I figured I'd go ahead and run Karador this time, and if I had time to play another game I'd go back to my mono-green deck.
Rather than having to play three strangers, my hope was that some of you might have read my invitation to play Tuesday night in my column over the last couple weeks and were online waiting for me, and I also sent out word on Twitter that I'd be online. I did find two people I knew who I've chatted with quite a bit on Twitter (GUDoug and Norbert88), along with someone who I didn't know, BIJ420. GUDoug was playing Asmira, Holy Avenger (sweet!!), and Norbert88 was playing Crovax, Ascendant Hero (mono-white, eh? interesting…). BIJ420 was playing Vela the Night-Clad, the colors of Time Walks and Tutors, so I was on guard for shenanigans.
My opening hand was Silklash Spider, Golgari Guildgate, Skullclamp, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Entomb, Swords to Plowshares, and Selesnya Sanctuary. Pretty slow but not unplayable. I realized I wasn't sure as to how Commander mulligan rules work on Magic Online and didn't want to risk throwing it back and getting an actual unplayable hand, so I kept this. On my turn I drew a Riftsweeper and played the Guildgate. On my second turn I played Skullclamp and the Sanctuary, returning the Guildgate. On my next turn I still didn't draw another land, so I played Riftsweeper and replayed Guildgate. I then realized that my Riftsweeper just hosed Norbert88, who'd played Extraplanar Lens and exiled one of his Plains—Riftsweeper effectively blanking the Lens and setting him a land behind. Whoops! Not exactly a very friendly move, but I suppose it prevented us from facing down a turn 3 Crovax.
Meanwhile, BIJ420 had started the game with a turn 0 Leyline of Anticipation (uh oh) and Sensei's Divining Top soon thereafter (UH OH). I'd drawn my Sadistic Sacrament, and while I didn't have nearly the black mana to cast it yet, I figured I'd need to take a peek at BIJ420 as soon as possible.
The game progressed over a couple more turns. I sent around a few beats with my Skullclamp equipped Riftsweeper. I used Entomb to put Corpse Connoisseur in my graveyard in anticipation of some nice Karador shenanigans down the road. I drew a Forest and cast Syphon Mind and drew another Forest and a Rupture Spire. Norbert88 used his Journeyer's Kite (and a cycled Eternal Dragon) to recoup his lost mana and eventually dropped Emeria Angel—ruh roh! GUDoug stalled a few turns on three lands before drawing his Command Tower and casting Yavimaya Granger to jump right back into the game.
Meanwhile, BIJ420 just kept playing land—including a Reliquary Tower—and spinning the Top. He played Beseech the Queen. He only had four cards in hand, but I was still a little worried.
Then at the end of Norbert88's turn…he cast Future Sight at instant speed.
With a Sensei's Top on the table.
I still wasn't anywhere near the three mana I need for Sadistic Sacrament, but then BIJ420 played Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and passed the turn. Okay, now all my lands were also Swamps, so I tapped three and cast the Sacrament targeting BIJ420.
Then something weird happened. The window where I get to see his deck popped up at the very bottom of my screen, but I couldn't see the whole deck. I tried to scroll the window, but it didn't move. I tried to move the window, but it wouldn't move either. I tried to select a card, but I couldn't—the game kept telling me to select a card. Perhaps those of you who are veterans of Magic Online can tell me what I might have done to fix the problem, but at the time I was pretty frustrated, especially since my clock continued to count down as I tried a lot of different things. I also felt bad because, as best I could tell from my partial view of BIJ420's deck, it was pretty much the Planechase 2012 Vela the Night-Clad deck but tweaked for Commander. No Time Walks as far as I could see.
I apologized for the delay in the chat window and told them there appeared to be some sort of glitch and I was trying to close everything down. After another minute or two, BIJ420 quit the game, and that seemed to allow me to finally close the window. I'm sure BIJ420 was at least irritated if not pissed at me, and I don't blame him if he was.
So we continued the game with just the three of us left. I came out pretty strong with Karador letting me recur Qasali Pridemage when needed and used Corpse Connoisseur to fetch up Lord of Extinction with the plan to eventually Tutor up Xathrid Demon. I even got Sheoldred out there. The board got hit with a sweeper, but thanks to Karador I quickly rebuilt. Here's a screenshot of where we were turn 14:
I felt a little bad, but I'd leaned hard on GUDoug because he was at lower life and I wanted to try to end the game as fast as I could given that I'd wasted so much of my clock on the Sadistic Sacrament glitch. I felt especially bad because he played the awesome Jar of Eyeballs, which seemed super sweet in his token-heavy Asmira deck.
He eventually got something like 20 eyeball counters on the Jar and dug deep into his deck, finding an Austere Command to sweep all my creatures into the bin. Karador let me recover again, and I leaned hard into GUDoug…and walked right into the Sunblast Angel with my tapped creatures, forcing me to recover again thanks to Karador and the awesome Deadwood Treefolk. I eventually got Karador, Lord of Extinction, and Xathrid Demon into play, which would kill GUDoug on my next upkeep provided nothing terrible happened.
I also, however, had run dangerously low on time. Norbert88 had assembled a flying army including Windbrisk Raptor. With only one flier, he could assemble a pretty potent lifelinked army that would push him high enough in life to survive multiple life loss triggers from Xathrid Demon / Lord of Extinction. If only they were life drains because I couldn't survive too many hits from Norbert88's air force. I had Silklash Spider in my graveyard that Karador could fetch, but in order to clear out all Norbert88's fliers I'd have to kill my own Demon and having to replay that would burn up even more time off my clock.
Unfortunately, my regular draw steps weren't really giving me any other angle of attack, so I was stuck with Plan A. My combo managed to stay intact until my upkeep when I sacrificed the Lord and took out GUDoug. I then played Silklash Spider and, during Norbert88's turn, unleashed the Spider's ability to sweep all the fliers from the sky.
Norbert88 then cast Sunscour…which pretty much sealed my doom.
At this point, it was pretty late, and I was a bit discouraged to have lost to the clock (and my own slow play), so I didn't try to play another game.
One thing I need to do is practice my time management skills, which is something you definitely need on Magic Online. Norbert88 reminded me that there are F keys that let you pass entire turns if you don't have anything you want to do, and I'll make use of them going forward:
- F2 - Yield once right now to the current [OK] prompt.
- F3 - Removes your auto yields. It will now also unset F4, F6, and F8.
- F4 - Auto yields this turn as long as the stack is empty.
- F6 - Auto yields even if something is on the stack (use once per turn).
- F8 - Auto yields when you have no possible actions (use once per game).
- F8 seems like something to use pretty much at the beginning of every game, no?
For those who are curious, here's my online Karador deck:
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 1 Bone Shredder
- 1 Corpse Connoisseur
- 1 Deadwood Treefolk
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Hornet Queen
- 1 Lord of Extinction
- 1 Loxodon Hierarch
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Riftsweeper
- 1 Rune-Scarred Demon
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Silklash Spider
- 1 Stonecloaker
- 1 Sylvan Ranger
- 1 Xathrid Demon
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
- 1 Karador, Ghost Chieftain
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
- 1 Cauldron of Souls
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Jester's Cap
- 1 Journeyer's Kite
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Carpet of Flowers
- 1 Grave Betrayal
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Seal of Primordium
- 1 Soul Snare
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Vow of Wildness
- 1 Beast Within
- 1 Berserk
- 1 Entomb
- 1 Mortify
- 1 Putrefy
- 1 Storm Seeker
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sadistic Sacrament
- 1 Syphon Flesh
- 1 Syphon Mind
Pretty much a "good stuff" deck, I've focused on building a collection of good Commander cards in black, white, and green for the years I've been online through drafting rares or buying singles. I initially had a Teneb, the Harvester deck, and when the Commander products came out I went ahead and bought the green/white/black one online and swapped the Commander to Karador.
I've got a lot "favorite stuff" going on in this deck:
Eternal Witness + Karador: Recursion for ALL THE GOOD CARDS!
I realize looking at this list that I neglected to put an Essence Harvest in this deck—I purposely bought a copy of that card online because it goes so great with Lord of Extinction and gives the deck some needed life gain—so I need to remedy that.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the recounting of the game! Don't forget that next Tuesday I'm also off from work and will be hunting up another Commander game online around 8 PM, so I hope to see you then!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave (how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Yeva, Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius (new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda, Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Ghave, Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa, the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia, Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira, Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda, Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh, the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)