A couple weeks back I talked about some deck ideas I had going for our next Commander tournament, which is going to be held this Saturday, April 13th, at Richmond Comix at 1 PM. I'd originally thought about making a green, white, and black deck with Doran, the Siege Tower as my commander, but I eventually walked away from that idea and thought about going green/white with Sigarda, Host of Herons as my commander.
I went ahead and built the other two deck ideas I had (Marrow-Gnawer with Relentless Rats and Sakashima the Imposter), but I just couldn't get too excited about Sigarda.
Last week I wrote about the work I was doing on my Standard deck, "Vizkopa Cabana," and while it's definitely a fun deck, it certainly is not a Tier 1 strategy yet. Suddenly, though, I had a revelation. Vizkopa Guildmage's second ability, which I've been using with Tree of Redemption to kill my opponent, works even better the more opponents I have! And then I realized some of the supporting cards I was using—Tree of Redemption and Rhox Faithmender—have giant toughness stats that are perfect alongside Doran, the Siege Tower!
With black now in the mix, I could certainly bring Glissa back and a small sacrificial artifact package—awesome!
As I sketched out the ideas, I realized I'd need to bring in some measure of Tutoring to give me a reasonable shot at assembling the Tree of Redemption and Vizkopa Guildmage combination. Birthing Pod and Fauna Shaman dropped in the mix, which reminded me that I had a Modern tournament deck with Birthing Pod and Fauna Shaman that was a lot of fun—Necrotic Ooze!
Why not toss Necrotic Ooze into the mix? What's better than peanut butter and chocolate? BACON!
I quickly sketched out cards I wanted for each of the three elements of this deck full of wonderful:
All of these cards take advantage of Doran's "toughness matters" theme. I really loved how absurd Slagwurm Armor was the last time I had a Doran Commander deck.
If you read my column last week, you know how this part works. If you didn't, here's the short version: if you are low on life and you exchange your life total for the Tree's toughness and end up at a higher life total, that's considered gaining life for Vizkopa Guildmage's purposes. Here's the ideal line of play: end of the opponent to my right's turn, I activate Tree of Redemption, going from (say) 40 life to thirteen life. Untap, activate Vizkopa Guildmage's second ability twice, then tap the Tree to gain 27 life and drain 54 life from each opponent. Profit! Tree of Redemption and Vizkopa Guildmage both use activated abilities, so if your opponents try to stop your shenanigans, Necrotic Ooze can stand in for either or both.
Devoted Druid, Quillspike, Grim Poppet, Thornling, Adarkar Valkyrie, Wickerbough Elder, Magus of the Disk, Vhati il-Dal, Order of Whiteclay, Golgari Guildmage, Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod, Jarad's Orders, Green Sun's Zenith
Oh man, did I try to make Necrotic Ooze work in Standard, and I'm still trying to make it work in Modern. It does amazing work in Commander with a whole host of great activated abilities it can borrow from the dead. Here, you basically want to get a Necrotic Ooze on the battlefield and a Devoted Druid in the graveyard as your starting point. Then add a Quillspike in the graveyard and you can make your Ooze infinitely large. Add a Grim Poppet to the graveyard and you can kill every creature on the board that you can target. Add a Wickerbough Elder and you can kill all the pesky enchantments and artifacts.
I've also thrown in a bunch of creatures with other nifty activated abilities. My dream is to make the Ooze infinitely large, then use -1/-1 counters to untap him while tapping to target everyone's creatures with Adarkar Valkyrie's ability, then borrow Thornling's ability to make Necrotic Ooze indestructible, then borrow Magus of the Disk's ability to blow up all creatures, artifacts, and enchantments, untap the Ooze and swing in to kill the biggest threat, and end the turn with everyone's creatures under my control.
Now that would be an epic story!!!
We can't forget about my sweet Glissa! I've got a bunch of cheap artifacts that will likely get blown off early, and Glissa means that whenever one of my opponents' creatures dies, I can reuse the effect. Wurmcoil Engine isn't cheap, but it's pretty saucy to have out there alongside Glissa.
Okay, so taking those ideas, I've pulled together this decklist for Saturday:
- 1 Grim Poppet
- 1 Moriok Replica
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Deadwood Treefolk
- 1 Devoted Druid
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Golgari Guildmage
- 1 Magus of the Disk
- 1 Necrotic Ooze
- 1 Order of Whiteclay
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Quillspike
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Rhox Faithmender
- 1 Silklash Spider
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Thornling
- 1 Treasury Thrull
- 1 Tree of Redemption
- 1 Vizkopa Guildmage
- 1 Wall of Reverence
- 1 Wickerbough Elder
- 1 Doran, the Siege Tower
- 1 Glissa, the Traitor
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Sapling of Colfenor
- 1 Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
- 1 Vhati il-Dal
- 1 Adarkar Valkyrie
- 6 Forest
- 5 Plains
- 5 Swamp
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Fetid Heath
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Isolated Chapel
- 1 Jund Panorama
- 1 Murmuring Bosk
- 1 Naya Panorama
- 1 Orzhov Basilica
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Stirring Wildwood
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Twilight Mire
- 1 Vault of the Archangel
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Vivid Marsh
- 1 Vivid Meadow
- 1 Wooded Bastion
- 1 Woodland Cemetery
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Batterskull
- 1 Birthing Pod
- 1 Cauldron of Souls
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Otherworld Atlas
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Slagwurm Armor
- 1 Sun Droplet
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Exquisite Blood
- 1 Chord of Calling
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Sudden Spoiling
- 1 Green Sun's Zenith
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Jarad's Orders
Surprisingly, I had room for some other goodies:
While I set aside my dreams of assembling Kaldra, I thought I could still have room for Stoneforge Mystic and plenty of decent pieces of equipment. Nim Deathmantle can come down first, and when Stoneforge dies Deathmantle can bring her back. Then I can go fetch more equipment…say, Batterskull?
Save the Creatures!
Alright, pretty much everything I've got going on in this deck involves creatures, so it makes sense that I'd want to make them as resilient as I can. Luckily, there are plenty of great Commander tools available for this that are also Modern legal. I have to admit that adding Saffi Eriksdotter, Deadwood Treefolk, Reveillark, and Eternal Witness to the mix feels like getting the band back together!
As I looked at my piles sorted by casting cost, I tried to pepper in some utility while keeping an eye on my mana curve. I originally thought about putting Greater Good in here, but I realized that I had quite a few Doranesque creatures with little to no power and decided on Otherworld Atlas instead.
I've mentioned my reasons for running Panoramas over fetchlands before, but I figured I'd mention it again for newer readers. In a game of Commander, especially if you're running cards like Sensei's Divining Top, Sylvan Library, and Scroll Rack, you want to be able to shuffle when you want to and not before. Yes, fetchlands can do that, but they don't do anything if you hold off sacrificing them and cost you a land drop. The Panoramas are obviously slower and less flexible for mana fixing but still do an adequate job; you can hold off sacrificing them until you want the shuffle and in the meantime still use them for colorless mana.
There are some other cards I'd really like to find room for—Seedborn Muse, Auriok Salvagers, and Stonehewer Giant—but I don't see equivalent mana-cost elements of the deck that I want to cut for them. Thoughts on the deck in the comments would be great!
If you're within driving distance of Richmond and have a Commander deck using only Modern-legal cards, come on out! I still have four more Kamigawa Dragon legends awesomely altered by MJ Scott to give away. I talked about the Bennie Smith Spirit of EDH Haymaker Award here (The Hero's Journey, where you can see pics of the cards as well) and was able to give away the Kokusho, the Evening Star at the last tournament. The rules to win the award are pretty simple: kill one or more opponents in such an epic and awesome way that they enjoyed themselves nearly as much as you did. Your victim must then nominate you and have a majority of the rest of the table confirm it.
What's considered epic and awesome? Read The Hero's Journey!
Here's hoping I get to give away at least one more this Saturday and have an epic story or two to share!
Before I go, I want to give a shout-out to Jeremie De Witt. Last year he held a Magic tournament, Cards Against Cancer, to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He's doing it again this year in September, so check out his website for this year's event and either make plans to be there or, if you can, chip in something to help make it even more awesome than last year!!!
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):
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)
- Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)
- Aurelia, the Warleader (plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)
- Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- 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!)
- 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)