Nephalia Smuggler of number four, Effalen Drive, was proud to say that he was perfectly normal, thank you very much.
In case you've been living under a hard place, this weekend my employer is hosting a Grand Prix in Orlando! You really have no excuse not to be there. Our Grand Prix are awesome, this Limited format is the most fun I've had since Rise of Eldrazi, and Orlando is the home of the most magical place on Earth! Is said place a theme park? Or perhaps the venue? Well no matter the case, if you're not there this weekend, you're a parallelogram with 90 ° corners (but definitely not right).
So before I get into what exactly my title means, I'd like to give my thoughts and help you prepare ever so minutely for this Grand Prix. Heck, even I'm going to try to win it. A boy can dream.
This set has choices. Oh so many choices.
Should I play my creature as a morph? Or am I already curving out and expect to hit my sixth land on turn 6?
Should I outlast my creature to get in more damage? Or is blocking going to win the race?
Just exactly which mode of my Charm should I use?
Do I want to offer a trade so I can cast my delve creature cheaper?
This set is going to reward experience, and much more so then most sets. Mainly because of morph.
I hate morph from a rules standpoint. It doesn't make sense, they are nameless (but don't have the same name as others as far as Bile Blight cares), creature typeless, and unmorphing them is a special action that can't be responded to.
What happens when somebody Ertai's Meddling's a morph? [This happened at a Legacy Open in St.Louis years ago. --Ed.]
Oh, and if you forget to reveal them, you lose.
I understand that's how it's gotta be, and the rules are about as good as they can be, but from a design standpoint I hate them.
However, from a gameplay standpoint I love them!
They let you still play the game, even if you're low on lands. They give you playable creatures that you might even be able to unmorph if you happen to draw your off color dual land. They also give you the opportunity to play mind games. If your opponent plays two or three morph creatures in a row, and you have a copy of Debilitating Injury, which creature should file for worker's comp? Well it's easy enough to say that people will play the creature they plan to unmorph first. Whether it be something they can immediately flip next turn and start attacking (Mystic of the Hidden Way) or a creature that they want to get in there merely to block your creature, then flip if the gettin' gets bad (Monastery Flock). But then they realize that you're going to kill one anyway, so they play their Sagu Mauler second to make you think they just drew it and to imply that it is worse than their previous morph. Now, if they happen to play Mr. Mauler on turn 5 (maybe because they have no sixth land, and want to eat your 5/5), that's when things get really dicey, and you've gotta use the heart of the cards (i.e. body language and putting ranks in Sense Motive).
It's also extremely useful to know every creature's morph cost. Generally as long as you know the ten or so combat tricks that are commonly played, you'll never be caught truly unaware. But in this set you need to know the tricks, -and- all the morphs. CONSTANT VIGILANCE
But there is hidden information to glean from this hidden information. No Lens of Clarity needed.
Let's say you're on the play and you cast a morph creature on turn 3 that is so bad, the only reason why you're even playing it in the first place is because your online Magic application encountered an error during the drafting process (but I'm sure a program could never be that bad…….). Your opponent also plays a morph. You then attack. You don't care if your creature dies. It's gonna die eventually. You wouldn't mind racing, but trading is all this thing is good for. Does your opponent value their morph?
Maybe in Fate Reforged? Please?
So this set is fantastic, yet difficult, and we've only began to play it! How does one draft something like this? Do you take all the lands first, then cobble together playables? Do you just take every Charm and rare and hope to be signaled into the right 3.5 colors? Do you just do what you did when you drafted Shards of Alara? Or do you read Ari's articles and follow the Bomb > Removal > Creature > One with Nothing paradigm using the card's rarity as an InQuest guide to value?
Well, you better decide fast, because any Magic player who's anybody is planeswalking to the Most Magical Plane in the Multiverse in three days. Wow!
But in addition to hosting the first Grand Prix featuring Khans of Tarkir, there are tons of other events happening too.
Of course, Commander is one of them, but I'd prefer to play that particular format in a decidedly less competitive and decidedly more flavorful way.
I've built a lot of decks, but this one is probably my lowest in terms of raw power but highest in terms of sheer flavor.
Playing this deck is going to be difficult. Not as in my Melek storm deck, which is I'm-not-sure-what-I'm- doing-difficult, but difficult in the way that you're playing with rather subpar cards, and besides the Commander the power level is quite low. If you're fortunate to have multiple Commander decks, I like having a range of power levels so that you can match the people you're playing with. Also, having two on each level (like I do) is good so they can play each other when your friends don't have Commander decks (what an egregious oversight).
So, I finally decided to convert one of my favorite erm…things that I've experienced that also just so happens to reside in Orlando. Harry Potter!
(Spoiler Warning: I talk about important Harry Potter stuff. If you haven't seen/read them yet, I'm curious how this article's title interested you in the first place.)
Meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
- 1 Steelclad Serpent
- 1 Clever Impersonator
- 1 Dungeon Geists
- 1 Mirror-Mad Phantasm
- 1 Nephalia Smuggler
- 1 Raven Guild Master
- 1 Scrivener
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Voidmage Husher
- 1 Barrin, Master Wizard
- 1 Jalira, Master Polymorphist
- 1 Vendilion Clique
- 1 Rimefeather Owl
- 1 Avarice Amulet
- 1 Crown of Empires
- 1 Everflowing Chalice
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Haunted Plate Mail
- 1 Jester's Cap
- 1 Lich's Mirror
- 1 Memory Jar
- 1 Ring of Xathrid
- 1 Sword of Fire and Ice
- 1 Venser's Journal
- 1 Whispersilk Cloak
- 1 Animate Artifact
- 1 Coma Veil
- 1 Bone to Ash
- 1 Choking Tethers
- 1 Condescend
- 1 Confound
- 1 Counterspell
- 1 Crippling Chill
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Dissolve
- 1 Dominate
- 1 Hour of Need
- 1 Memory Lapse
- 1 Polymorphous Rush
- 1 Psychic Barrier
- 1 Unified Will
- 1 Vanishment
- 1 Visions of Beyond
- 1 Amass the Components
- 1 Ancestral Vision
- 1 Argivian Restoration
- 1 Braingeyser
- 1 Careful Study
- 1 Concentrate
- 1 Distant Melody
- 1 Fabricate
- 1 Foresee
- 1 Last Thoughts
- 1 Personal Tutor
- 1 Polymorph
- 1 Pull from the Deep
- 1 Recurring Insight
- 1 Sleight of Hand
- 1 Stolen Identity
- 1 Time Warp
- 1 Treasure Cruise
- 1 Diviner's Wand
- 1 Notorious Throng
I may or may not have just looked at every Magic card that could fit into a Vendilion Clique, then cross referenced it with my internal Harry Potter knowledge (not quite encyclopedic, but enough for this venture).
Before we get into the cards, why Vendilion Clique?
The first reason is honestly the flavor. Sure Harry Potter is the one with his name plastered everywhere. I get called by his name all the time when I'm wearing my Ravenclaw Robes (can't they see that they're blue, not red?). I suppose I could have used Ertai, Wizard Adept, but this creature allows me to include Ron and Hermione, and the trio as a whole is really the main character of the story.
Additionally, the power of the Commander allows me to offset the power of the deck. When the cards have no "textual" synergy, and you have no Sol Ring, or hardly any mana ramp at all, you've gonna have a bad time. It doesn't matter if your deck is filled with twenty Ancestral Recalls. If the rest of it is filled up with Adventurers' Guildhouses and Mudholes, you're still gonna lose to the guy with fifty Shadowborn Apostles.
And finally, I honestly just love Vendilion Clique. Is that so wrong?
If you take a look at these cards, they don't work well together. Where most of my decks have synergy levels of 9001, this one is Yajirobe.
But every single card in this deck is a reference to the Harry Potter universe.
While I'm not going to explain all of them, I'll of course mention the highlights.
Here's the Deathly Hallows. Yes, there is a literal Magic card called Cloak of Invisibility. But in instances where the flavor is still there, I went with the card with broader applications. Sphinx-Bone Wand costs more, and I think would be more powerful, but Vendilion Potter can actually hold this wand, and the spell count isn't terribly high.
And here are You-Know-Who's (DON'T SAY HIS NAME) Horcruxes. It's too bad we're not red or we could have added Journey into Nyx's greatest contribution to female headgear: Lightning Diadem. We all know what the seventh Horcrux is. Good thing I'll probably be casting it on Turn 3 every game, and I sure do hope I have that Lich's Mirror handy…
Here are but a few professors that populate our deck! Dumbledoor, McGonagall, and Tonks were quite easy to assign. I'm particularly proud of Flitwick as Raven Guild Master. It may have the largest Flavor and power discrepancy in the deck.
Of course, the wizarding world is full of magical Items. Here we have The Veil that's found in the Death Room in the Ministry of Magic, the Marauder's Map, and the Sword and Hat of Gryffindor. When you cast the Map you have to speak either the opening or closing incantation, or the spell just fizzles. What can the Map find you, you ask?
Why Hogwarts, of course! We've also got the Ministy of Magic, and Tom Riddle's Cave where the "locket" was found and Dumblydoor had to cast Worldfire to fend off all the Inferi. Man he was a cool dude.
And what kind of Harry Potter-themed Commander deck would we be without spells? Here are a few: Obliviate, Confundus, Imperio, Accio, Legilimens, and Finite Incantatum.
Here's where things get a little tricky. These are some of the events that happen in the series. We have the feeling you get when Dementors are round, p-p-poor p-p-professor Q-Q-Quirell's f-f-fate, Fawkes to the Rescue in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry/Ron retrieving Gryffindoor's Sword, and Barty Crouch Jr.'s impersonation of Alastor Moody.
This, of course, isn't all the cards. I don't want to spoil everything. You should figure them out yourselves! But if you-really--can't figure out what a card is referencing, let me know in the comments, and I'll respond. Hopefully you all get "O's" on this O.W.L. and not a "T." Nobody wants to get a T.
There are so many cards that I wish I could include, but due to Vendilion Clique's singular color identity, I could not. Sure Harry himself is sorta Jeskai, but I had a little bit of wiggle room. We can't include a lot of shoe-ins (Huntmaster of the Fells as Lupin, Terminate as Avada Kedavra, Life's Legacy as the scene depicted on the art), but having a flavorful Commander was of more importance to me than just jamming everything into Cromat. But alas, earwax.
I hope to see you all this weekend in Orlando, as I'm actually in front of the booth vying for glory, as opposed to behind it. But still come up and say hi and maybe we can jam a Commander game eh?
Or maybe I'll just 0-2 drop and Cube, either way, I'm be at the Most Magical Plane in the Multiverse!
All was well.