Every now and again, we get an exciting opportunity to talk to a popular figure in Commander. When I got an invitation to drop in on Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, I knew that I couldn't pass it up. Although Prossh invited me to stay for the whole weekend, I had to get back to Tampa in short order. I've started doing a podcast/live radio show on USF's Bullsradio (via the internet or 1620 on your AM dial) called "Brain Salad Sandwich." It's an exploration of Prog Rock and Prog Metal. It's music that makes you think while it makes you rock. The first show got off to a bit of a bumpy start as I was learning the equipment, but now that I have that down, we're in good shape. I hope you'll tune in.
Speaking of rocking, if you didn't see Joan Jett fronting Nirvana for a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, find the video online. It was all kinds of awesome.
I taxied from SFO to Daly City, where Prossh lives in a quirky 1950's two-story house with his husband of nine months, Rohgahh of Kher Keep. The interior is a blend of mid-century eclectic sprinkled with a little nerdcore added in-an original Luke Skywalker figurine stands next to an early 20th century gramophone. The predominant theme is Tiki (bar, palm tree, and all), a stark contrast to the barren desolation of their homeland of Kher. I arrived just in time for tea, a dark and flinty Lapsang Souchong. I was disappointed that there were no cakes (a situation which was eventually rectified).
Me: Thanks for having me on such short notice.
Prossh: Our pleasure.
Rohgahh: Really, it was no effort.
Me: First, congratulations on getting married. I knew that you worked together but didn't know you had gotten close.
Rohgahh: It was the work that, of course, got us together, but we found that we had a deep spiritual connection. It was like we were meant to be together. We just fit so well.
Me: There's a considerable age difference between you.
Prossh: Nearly twenty years, but what's that matter? So long as your relationship is strong, age is just a number. Sure, I'm more active, running around creating hordes of kobolds, but Rohgahh does such a great job of being that stabilizing factor. He takes a little upkeep (pats his hand), but makes everyone stronger. Well, not me, but I don't really need it, being a dragon and all, but the kobolds? They're kind of like our children, and he's their rock.
Me: So there's this kind of mother/father dynamic…
Prossh (getting slightly animated): Why do you have to put traditional labels on everything? It's a relationship that works. It doesn't matter what you call it. We have a loving home that provides a great support network for many kobolds who would otherwise be wandering in the wilderness lost and directionless. I swear, you make me want to devour something.
Rohgahh: Calm down. No one is devouring anything.
Prossh: I know. It just grinds my gears.
Me: Moving on, people have talked about the color difference between you.
Rohgahh: I think society's attitudes towards color combinations have changed. Although there was some Jund back before we actually called it that-I was great friends with Xira Arien for a long time until she moved to Barcelona-we were mostly content with two colors. As people became more accepting toward three colors, society improved. We're definitely better off now that Jund is a thing. Green isn't in my nature, but it's in his, and being inclusive is important.
Prossh: Green is the color of life and growth. It gives us more expansive reach. And I swear if you make another life and mother metaphor, I will flame your face right off.
Me: Hadn't even crossed my mind. Does the fact that you're both legendary but only Prossh can be the commander cause any problems between you?
Rohgahh: No, I'm pretty happy with my support role. I'm not a young kobold anymore. I'm happy to let him do all the flying around (not that I could) and battling into the red zone. We're about the same size, but if he goes in and I stay back, we can frequently deal more damage. I like that my presence means that fewer of our cousins need to get sacrificed for the cause.
Me: Your critics talk about your unreasonable upkeep demands.
Rohgahh: Like I said, I'm not young anymore. Those are medical bills. And don't you think we have a plan if we can't or don't want to pay? Let's just say Repercussion and Chain Reaction have their uses. I'm happy to be sacrificed on that altar.
Prossh: Our whole lives are built around the community, our team. Sacrifice is the name of the greater good (quickly asides to Rohgahh)-speaking of which, did you pick up the shinier version of that yet? You know how I love the shinies (Rohgahh nods yes)-sacrifice in the name of the greater good will happen. The good news is that since we also have black, we're able to bring back our comrades regardless of how they've fallen. I love me some Rise of the Dark Realms.
Rohgahh: I'm very excited that Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder is considering joining us. Even though we've heard some nasty talk on the message boards about thrulls not being equal-why do people have to hate so much?-we would welcome them to Team Kher.
Me: Speaking of Team Kher, it would seem that Scourge of Kher Ridges presents a significant danger to your kobolds and those thrulls.
Rohgahh: Not if I'm around to protect them…although I can't do much for the thrulls.
Prossh: Not only is Scourge great on the field, he's great off of it. During one of our planning sessions, he came up with the suggestion we add Sudden Spoiling to the team. That's been one of our most valuable assets to date.
Me: There have been some who have suggested that Roc of Kher Ridges doesn't belong on the team anymore, that he's old and obsolete.
Prossh (getting animated again): You know what? There wouldn't be the Magic that we know without Roc of Kher Ridges. So many first generation players loved him. Purphoros, God of the Forge as my witness, I will melt someone's flesh…
Rohgahh: Calm down. First of all, he's efficient. He's a 3/3 flyer for 4. You can't ask much more of him. He's part of our air attack, and he's been a valued member of the team from day one. Yes, he lacks some of the fancy new creature abilities, but you know what? We love him and we're not throwing him into the trash heap.
Me: You brought up Purphoros. There are quite a few folks who think that the two of you together are kind of unfair.
Prossh (from the kitchen, making another pot of tea): Unfair? We're strong, very strong. Face-smashingly, life total-threateningly strong. Aggressive? Sure. (Returns) Unfair? Not in the least. I brought some Speculoos too. Try one, they're really good.
Me: So let's talk about the elephant in the room…
Rohgahh: Hey, why aren't there any elephants on the team?
Rohgahh: Oh, yeah, sorry. Senior moment. Didn't we also consider Mosstodon since he could give you trample plus he would get a +1/+1 counter from Avenger of Zendikar?
Prossh: We did. I think it was just a lack of spots available in the lineup. We should think a little more about that one, though. Trample is so good.
Rohgahh: Which is why we brought Archetype of Aggression on board.
Prossh: Yeah, and Kessig Wolf Run.
Prossh: Yay! Inclusion! Especially if it's the shiny version!
Rohgahh: And it's not like the kobolds would lose the bonus I give them. They get it based on their name. Speaking of names, there is some paperwork that came back from the lawyer…
Rohgahh: Oh, yeah, sweet.
Me: Back to the point, there are a number of voices calling for your banning, saying you're too good.
Prossh (in a campy voice, somewhere between Mae West and Roger from American Dad): Well, if you're going to call me names, honey, too good isn't too bad. (Stops when Rohgahh glares at him). Sorry for the stereotype. I figured your readers would expect it at some point.
Me: I think you'll find my readers way more sophisticated than that.
Prossh: You're right. I should be battling stereotypes, not surrendering to them. Battling is what I do. I love battling so much…what was the question again?
Me: Banning. Too good.
Prossh: Nonsense. Yes, I am extremely strong, especially when you assemble a powerful team around me like we have here. Can I one-shot someone with commander damage? You bet your bottom dollar I can, but not without the support of that team. Not without bringing a great assembly of friends-no, not friends, family-along with us. Does the team get stronger the more you kill me? It sure does. That's the beauty of it all. It's an economic theory called creative destruction. You tear down things to make better things.
Rohgahh: You're getting dangerously close to a monologue there.
Prossh: Yeah, I do that from time to time. But I'm passionate about all of us. We're the best damn battling team in the format. We make no apologies about what we do. We're straightforward and you know exactly what you'll be getting. There are no hidden agendas, no sneaky tricks. It's not like we're those blue rat bastards.
Rohgahh: What have we talked about when it comes to blue?
Prossh: I'm not supposed to call them names. But they're so sneaky…
Rohgahh: Let's let them be what they are just like they let us be what we are.
Prossh: I suppose you're right. Anyway, I don't deserve to be banned. Run a freaking Circle of Protection: Green, for crying out loud. You know what deals with me pretty well? Spell Crumple. Or Condemn. You know that I'm attacking. Do something about it or get your flesh melted.
Me: You're not rolling over to the "run answers" argument, are you?
Prossh: No, but it's in peoples' self-interest to protect themselves a little-especially if you know what's coming. If somebody in your group is abusing me, make them pay for it. Give them a Mirror Strike or Reflect Damage for their troubles. Since you brought up the banned list, when are you going to let Protean Hulk out of the penalty box? We promise to only use him responsibly.
Me: Yeah, that's not happening.
Me: Sorry, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Prossh: You can't blame a dragon for trying. Back to the point of being unfair, there is one card that we've agreed we'll never bring onto the team: Vicious Shadows.
Rohgahh: Yeah, we think that is a little unfair, at least for us. The ability to deal so much damage for so little mana, at least once it's on the battlefield, seems wrong to us. We're not saying that other commanders shouldn't play it, but we have a kind of built in engine that would just get out of hand. It's probably fine for some spot damage in a Kresh deck or something, but we won't run it. We feel like once it comes down, it creates a kind of oppressive environment. I guess you could protect yourself with Witchbane Orb or something, but that's just not the kind of environment we want to create. There are other, perfectly reasonable ways to punish greedy card draw guy. Sword of War and Peace. Sudden Impact. Or from back in my day, Storm Seeker. Awesome card. We should think about playing that.
Prossh: And even though we think it's too nasty for us to play with, we wouldn't call for it to be banned. It's not a card that's oppressive by itself, just in certain circumstances.
Me: Is there anything you would call for banning?
Prossh (laughs): Yeah, get rid of tuck altogether! Hinder can shampoo my crotch!
Rohgahh: Easy there.
Prossh: I wasn't being serious. Even though it's the thing that hurts us most, we wouldn't actually call for a ban on tuck. We think that it adds a necessary balance to the format. Don't confuse that with Balance. That card is busted.
Me: I've already said if we removed cards from the banned list one at a time, Balance would be the last one standing.
Rohgahh: Solid call.
Me: Do you want to weigh-in on the social versus competitive debate?
Prossh: No way. That's a rabbit hole I don't want to go down. Mmm...rabbit. What's the chance we could have some rabbit for supper?
Rohgahh: I don't think the market that has it is open today.
Prossh: Now I'm hungry.
Me: I think that's my cue. We've covered a great deal of territory today. Thanks for your time and having me in your lovely home. I think our readers will appreciate this little view into your lives and how rather normal they are. Anything else you want to add?
Rohgahh: Yeah, we'd like to offer our best wishes to our friend Mariah Boehm Pagliocco , who was hit last week by a car that swerved onto the sidewalk while she was walking home from school. She's going to end up having a number of surgeries. If you're so inclined, there's a donation web site to help with her medical bills . We wish her a speedy recovery.
Prossh: We do. We'd also like to ask everyone to support marriage equality. There are few better things than two people who really care about each other being together. If a dragon and a kobold can make it work, anyone can.
Rohgahh: Careful with the speechifying. Nobody likes being preached to.
Prossh: I know. I just want other folks to be able to be as happy as we are.
Rohgahh: Let's see if there's some of that Jackalope Herd in the freezer.
Prossh: You're so good to me.
I left the two of them to their dinner plans (mad props to Rohgahh for being anywhere near a hungry dragon) and caught the red-eye back to the East Coast, resolving to more regularly speak to the big names in the Commander community. I enjoyed getting to know them, and hope that you did, too.