Commander fans, it's good to be back! Last week I was out of town visiting my folks and also acquiring some "new to me" furniture for my living room so I didn't have a chance to work on a column for y'all, but hopefully this one was worth the wait. What I most certainly did find time to do was acquire the new Commander 2014 decks and start brewing new ideas and schemes to juice up existing decks along with some new creations. I'd like to keep one of these decks intact to play "out of the box" in case I run into others who want to do the same thing, but man it's difficult not to break these things down and mix in with all the other cards in my Commander pool!
I'm not the only one excited about the new Commander decks; Sheldon Menery weighed in with his thoughts on all the new cards in hisNew Card Extravaganza, and then detailed where he was slotting in many of the new cards among his whopping 35 complete Commander decks. Sean and Jess of Team Dear Azami gave each of the preconstructed decks with a planeswalker at the helm a budget workover (part 1 here, andpart 2 here), and David McDarby weighed in with his always entertaining thoughts on the new cards here. Abe Sargent jumped in by smashing the white and red Commander decks together here. I sprinkled in a few new cards in my Commander treatment ofZurgo Helmsmasher and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, but it's high time I jumped in feet first and gave one of our brand new legends the spotlight, and the one that's calling out to me is Mr. Nostalgia himself, Feldon of the Third Path!
I was actually playing Magic back when we were cracking Feldon's Cane out of Antiquities packs, but I never really knew the backstory of Feldon until he was revealed as a card in Commander 2014. For those who don't know, he and his true love Loran got swept up in the Brothers War between Urza and Mishra and Loran eventually died, leaving Feldon mad with grief to the point where he created automatons in her likeness to bring her back to him. While it's a little weird that Feldon's Cane interferes with the ability of Feldon of the Third Path, his ability (along with his flavor text) really does a wonderful job of telling the tragic story of Feldon.
Okay, so how shall I make a Feldon of the Third Path Commander deck?
She Will Come Back To Me
Shrieking Mogg, Stingscourger, Mogg Maniac, Illusionist's Bracers, Dualcaster Mage, Goblin Matron, Goblin Sharpshooter, Pilgrim's Eye, Tuktuk the Explorer, Thousand-Year Elixir, Rukh Egg, Solemn Simulacrum, Ravenous Baboons, Ingot Chewer, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Siege-Gang Commander, Zealous Conscripts, Duplicant, Molten Primordial, Spawn of Thraxes, Tyrant of Discord
The main attraction about Feldon is that he is a value machine; for three mana he taps to make a copy of any creature in your graveyard. It's really interesting how the ability is worded-it doesn't actually reanimate the creature, which would do fun things with persist or undying, but instead leaves the creature in the graveyard and makes a copy. So in a lot of ways he's like a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker but for creatures in the graveyard rather than those in play. Anyone who's played with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker knows you want to load up with creatures that have built in value so you can generate even more value over and over again, and those same sort of creatures work with Feldon. Another new card, Dualcaster Mage, is a perfect choice to let you copy some sweet instant or sorcery someone else plays, but there are a ton of great choices like Pilgrim's Eye, Zealous Conscripts, Duplicant, and Tyrant of Discord.
What's also nice is that the token you make is sacrificed during the end step, again much like Kiki-Jiki but in contrast to another comparable card, Mimic Vat, which exiles the token during the end step. Since Feldon follows the Kiki-Jiki mold, you get take advantage of abilities that trigger off the creature dying. Solemn Simulacrum gives you both abilities coming and going which is nice, but you can play things like Rukh Egg and Tuktuk the Explorer to generate token creatures that get left behind.
One thing I noticed when searching for creatures with "enters the battlefield" or "dies" triggers was that there are some goblin creatures with interesting triggers-Shrieking Mogg can tap down the entire board, shutting down a suspected attack or leaving the last player to get another untap step pretty wide open to the players ahead of him. Stingscourger can bounce Voltron monsters on the board, and Siege-Gang Commander makes goblin tokens and can throw them around for some direct damage. Mogg Maniac doesn't have either trigger, but he's a goblin with an ability that's pretty good at waving away a large, non-trampling attacker or risk having all that damage be redirected to someone else's face. I also like Goblin Sharpshooter as a way to handle someone who might otherwise be going crazy with 1/1 creature tokens. Goblin Matron does have an enters the battlefield trigger that will let you search up just the right goblin for the job.
While it's a perfectly acceptable line of play to simply play out your value creatures where they will naturally die over the course of the game and then reuse them with Feldon, I think you can push the power level of Feldon by using his ability to cheat the larger creatures into play early on. Just imagine a turn 4 Tyrant of Discard wrecking havoc on someone who's otherwise jumped out to a Sol Ring-fueled early start. Red gives us a fair number of cards that "loot" - draw a card and then discard a card, including our sweet new red planeswalker Daretti, Scrap Savant. Mindless Automaton can be used as simply a card-drawing engine with Feldon, but you can also discard cards to its ability while drawing cards to dump large monsters into the bin.
Buried Ruin, Lotus Petal, Mishra's Bauble, Urza's Bauble, Ashnod's Transmogrant, Goblin Welder, Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer, Liquimetal Coating, Mind Stone, Commander's Sphere, Dross Scorpion, Stuffy Doll, Salvaging Station
One aspect of Feldon that might go unnoticed at first is that the copy he makes is an artifact creature in addition to its normal types. There are plenty of sweet Magic cards that care about artifacts, and number one on that list is Goblin Welder, who can sacrifice the creature copy to put another artifact from your graveyard into play. Some easy targets are Mind Stone and Commander's Sphere, which can be cashed in to draw a card and then swapped back into play with Goblin Welder. Another idea is Stuffy Doll, since Goblin Welder can swap it in and out of play to reset it to a new player if needed.
Another idea is Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer (look ma, more goblins!), who can sacrifice the copy to make an artifact in play indestructible until the end of the turn. With that in mind, I thought that Ashnod's Transmogrant and Liquimetal Coating could turn Feldon himself into an artifact, so if someone casts a spell that would otherwise destroy him, he can copy Slobad from the graveyard and sacrifice Slobad himself to make Feldon indestructible. Ashnod's Transmogrant and other cheap artifacts leads me to Salvaging Station, which seems a perfect fit here, fetching out an artifact whenever a creature dies (say, when Feldon's copy sacrifices itself during the end step). Any good Salvaging Station package has to include one or more "baubles," and it just so happens that Mishra's Bauble and Urza's Bauble are also flavor scores with Feldon's backstory in The Brothers War.
With all this crazy synergy bouncing around I ran across Dross Scorpion, a sweet engine card that loves it when artifacts die like Feldon's copy or Goblin Welder shenanigans. Hmmm…
Since Feldon's copies are going to die anyway, I thought there might be some sweet ways to take advantage of that. The most straightforward thing is to just sacrifice it to High Market for a bit of life, but how about equipping the token with Skullclamp, Sylvok Lifestaff, and Deathrender before it dies? Now that's a death-trigger abbondanza! You can use Trading Post to sacrifice the creature and return an artifact card from your graveyard to your hand, or sacrifice it as an artifact to draw a card. Scuttling Doom Engine and Wurmcoil Engine have some pretty sweet built-in death triggers too.
Then I started pondering Ashnod's Altar and Dross Scorpion out there, and say we've made Feldon an artifact with Ashnod's Transmogrant or Liquimetal Coating. You could make a token with Feldon, sacrifice it to the Altar for two mana, and use Dross Scorpion's trigger to untap Feldon with the colorless mana cost of Feldon's activation paid for. This gives you as many triggers as you want limited only by the amount of red mana you've got available.
And if generating five, six, or seven triggers in a row aren't enough for you? Well okay, how about put a Lotus Petal and Salvaging Station in play too. Boom! We've got infinite here people. Since we're playing red there's another possible way to generate infinite red mana: Reiterate with buyback targeting Mana Geyser on the stack and your opponents with at least seven tapped lands. You can do something similar with Dualcaster Mage and artifact Feldon/Scorpion shenanigans.
Whooie, so we went from Value Town to infinity over the course of a thousand words or so-this deck is shaping up sweet! Let's take a look at how it's come together:
- 1 Dross Scorpion
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Mindless Automaton
- 1 Pilgrim's Eye
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Scuttling Doom Engine
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Stuffy Doll
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Dualcaster Mage
- 1 Goblin Matron
- 1 Goblin Sharpshooter
- 1 Goblin Welder
- 1 Ingot Chewer
- 1 Mogg Maniac
- 1 Moggcatcher
- 1 Molten Primordial
- 1 Ravenous Baboons
- 1 Rukh Egg
- 1 Shrieking Mogg
- 1 Siege-Gang Commander
- 1 Spawn of Thraxes
- 1 Stingscourger
- 1 Tyrant of Discord
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Feldon of the Third Path
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Tuktuk the Explorer
- 1 Ashnod's Altar
- 1 Ashnod's Transmogrant
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Feldon's Cane
- 1 Fire Diamond
- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Illusionist's Bracers
- 1 Jalum Tome
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Liquimetal Coating
- 1 Lotus Petal
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Mishra's Bauble
- 1 Salvaging Station
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sylvok Lifestaff
- 1 Thousand-Year Elixir
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Urza's Bauble
- 1 Stranglehold
- 1 Warstorm Surge
- 1 Reiterate
- 1 Ugin's Nexus
- 1 Blasphemous Act
- 1 Faithless Looting
- 1 Mana Geyser
- 1 Tormenting Voice
- 1 Wild Guess
I know I said above that Feldon's Cane clashes a bit with what we're trying to do with Feldon of the Third Path, but… c'mon, it's his signature item! It would be like making a Daryl Dixon deck without his crossbow. And we can use Feldon's Cane as insurance against a catastrophic Tormod's Crypt that would otherwise put a bunch of good Feldon of the Third Path targets into exile, at least shuffled back into our library we have the chance to draw into them again.
Ugin's Nexus jumped in the list because hey-we've got ways to sacrifice it, and it could be handy in nabbing an extra turn to ultimate Daretti, Scrap Savant out of nowhere. And since we've got so many super-sweet goblins that turbo-charge our value plays, I tossed in a Moggcatcher too-it wouldn't be all that bad to copy a dead Moggcatcher with Feldon and use it to fetch up a goblin.
It amuses me to imagine the "story" that's going to play out with this deck, something like…
Feldon the master artificer, consumed with grief but filled with hope, turns on the machine and awaits breathlessly for the signs of life within. "She will come back to me," he whispers to himself as the doors open up. He squints at the shape moving out of the shadows, his heart skipping a beat…
His smile turns to a scowl when he realizes it is not Loran standing there but rather… another Ingot Chewer. Which promptly begins to chew on itself.
Feldon pounds his fist in frustration and pours back over his notes…
What do you think of the deck? Anything I'm overlooking? How would you go about building a Commander deck around Feldon of the Third Path?
STARCITYGAMES.COM OPEN COMES TO RICHMOND!
I've been waiting for this weekend with baited breath for months and it's finally here- a weekend full of Magic right here in my hometown, and it falls on a weekend when my kids are with their mom, so I'm free and clear to sling spells to my heart's content. If you've been reading me for the past month or so you'll know what deck I'm planning on taking to the Standard Open, but I got a spicy surprise brewed up for the Legacy Open. I'll be tweeting my adventures throughout the weekend so keep an eye out there, and be sure to check back next Friday for a recap of my tournament experiences.
If you're coming into Richmond for the Open be sure to hunt me down and say hello! If my fortunes don't hold up in the main events, I might be in a side draft or hunting down a casual game of Commander out on the floor.
Also, if you're a fan of great live music and aren't exhausted from playing Magic all day, I'd highly recommend heading down to the Canal Club to see Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds Saturday night. I got to see them live last year and let me say they put on a fantastic fun show with brassy, bluesy, sassy funk 'n' roll. The Canal Club is located at 1545 East Cary St and is an easy five minute drive from the Richmond Convention Center. Just head south on 3rd Street from the Convention Center, turn left onto Cary Street, and go about 12 blocks.
Check out this video for one of their best songs, Make It Rain:
If that doesn't make you want to go out and boogie, you may be doing it wrong.
I'm an old man planning on playing in the big Opens both Saturday and Sunday, so I doubt I'll have the energy to go see them Saturday night, but let me tell you I'm strongly tempted…
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):
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus :
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice ( new player-friendly)
Uril, the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)