Merry Christmas, everyone! It seemed only appropriate to do a holiday-themed question and answer session as we wind down another great year of Magic. The Commander format has had a great year; we've never been healthier or more popular. Let's get right into those questions.
The holiday colours are, of course, red, white, and green, but I have never been able to find a Naya deck that interested me. What are your favourite, off-the-wall things to do in Naya colours?
I feel you. I've had a Rith, the Awakener deck for quite a while, but it always seem so one-dimensional, and all the commanders seem to encourage lots of battling with beefy creatures. Maybe there's a Palladia-Mors Naya control deck to be had.
What's your #1 holiday film? If your generals were Holiday-season-film action heroes, who would they be?
We just watched A Muppet Christmas Carol for the first time since the 90s, and we loved it. Nice work from Michael Caine and crew. My favorite holiday film, however, is Jodie Foster's 1995 directorial debut Home for the Holidays, starting Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. I know this is going to ruffle some stockings, but I don't get the fuss about A Christmas Story.
If you were to theme an EDH Deck based on that film, which legend(s) would you cast in the starring roles?
Rubinia Soulsinger in the Holly Hunter role, Dack Fayden (kind of cheaty, I know, since it's a planeswalker, and no, that doesn't mean we're considering any errata) for Robert Downey, Jr., Merieke Ri Berit for Anne Bancroft, and Gosta Dirk for Charles Durning.
Egg nog or Saint Emilion?
I love egg nog, especially while decorating the house for Christmas, but Saint Emilion is the obvious answer. From 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, or 2009. The 89 and 90 are probably ready to drink.
Best Holiday memory (Magic or other)?
I have a great fondness for the six years I lived in Belgium. Most of those years during the holidays, we traveled to many Christmas markets in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, drank Gluhwein, and soaked in the atmosphere that only Europe can provide.
Worst holiday memory (Magic or other)?
During one of those six years, I had pneumonia, which I came down with at Thanksgiving and didn't recover from until January.
If you could have one of your generals altered to a Grixmas theme, which would you choose? Or would you build a new deck to suit a general of your choice for a themed deck of the Grixmas/Holiday themed persuasion?
I already have an altered Nicol Bolas, Santa hat and all, a gift from Tim Proctor, denizen of the official forums. That's the one I'd build. It would obviously be "rewarding" those who were naughty, not nice.
Also, what do you think of using the Holiday Promo silver bordered cards in EDH. No pitfalls here, literally just asking do you, as a person, like them? Or see a casual home for them in a fun way? I personally have a few in my cube and they are great fun!
If you could include any single Happy Holidays promo card in an EDH deck, which one would it be?
There are a number of them which could be great fun, and a number of them which would break games. If I had to pick one to play, it would be Fruitcake Elemental, just to watch people give it away again and again.
What do you think is the best way for an average FNM player to get more involved in the magic community? Judging? Higher level events? Random forum trolling? Blogs/Podcasts?
The best way to get involved is to do what you love best. Find something that appeals to your particular interests-except for forum trolling. There's already enough of that going on and we don't need any more. How about "be a reasonable voice online?" That'd be a change.
What sort of Miracle holiday Magic is required to convince you, and the other RC members to unban Recurring Nightmare?
Shouldn't it be time for the RC's heart to grow three sizes this holiday season and allow everyone to have their Recurring Nightmare???
I've said before that Recurring Nightmare is the card that I feel is probably a negative for the format that I still very much want to play. Don't hold your breath, but if I had to remove a card from the banned list in order to save a hostage, it'd be Recurring Nightmare. Except that the RC doesn't negotiate with terrorists.
How much rum-infused egg nog do you have to consume before you go on a meltdown and rant on the forums about cards which will never get banned or unbanned?
I'm not really a meltdown and ranty sort. One is much scarier when you maintain your composure. And Bourbon is clearly better in egg nog than rum.
What does Holiday mean to you?
It means a month of celebrating the joys of being alive-great friends, family, food, and drink-followed be a period of serious reflection about what really matters in life-which for the most part means figuring out how to be a better human being in the coming year.
If Santa played Commander, who would his go to commander be? Would he be classified as a group-hugger?
His twin brother Gosta Dirk, who is Azorius colors, and therefore, definitely not a group-hugger.
If you travel for the holidays and plan on playing with old groups of friends you've been out of touch with (and their unknown meta), what would be your 2 or 3 go-to decks to bring along ?
When I travel, I always take Ruhan You Did this to Yourself. I'd also take a serious deck like Dreaming of Intet or Halloween with Karador and a lower-power one like Zombies of Tresserhorn, because who doesn't like zombies? You can find links to all of those at the bottom of the article.
Since the traditional Christmas colors are red, green, and white, does that mean we should all play Naya? More seriously (kinda), I hear you play a large number of decks. Would a Christmas or other holiday theme deck ever be something you would play?
Of course; if someone ships me an idea for any holiday-themed deck, I'd love it.
In the spirit of giving, what are your top 3 cards to Donate to another player?
Let's avoid the cards that are supposed to be given away, like Jinxed Choker, or jerkish ones like Illusions of Grandeur. Since we're in the giving mood, let's go with Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Blazing Archon, and for those who deserve a little coal in their stocking, Immortal Coil.
What are your wine suggestions for Christmas Dinner/to be given as a gift?
If you're having turkey, like many Americans do, Sancerre, which is French Sauvignon Blanc, is the traditional call. Pinot Noir is a great food wine that kind of goes with nearly anything; it's light-bodied enough to go with turkey and all the trimmings. If you're preparing a particular herbaceous stuffing, perhaps a nice Right Bank Bordeaux. If you're having ham, I'd go with a good Australian Shiraz.
"All I want for Christmas is my two ____________." If you were allowed to run two copies of a single card in one of your decks instead of only one, which card would it be?
I can't figure out who my next commander should be after Zur. Grimgrin, Corpse-born, Krond the Dawn-Clad, Gahiji, Honored One, Sek'kuar, Deathkeeper, Mogis, God of Slaughter, or someone different. Out of those, who would you build?
I have never seen a Krond deck, so that's the direction I'd go.
Is Santa behind the banning of Gifts Ungiven in the Commander format?
No, that's us Grinches on the RC all the way.
As a man with a crap-ton of Commander decks in his arsenal, what would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?
I ask for Peace on Earth every year and have been left wanting so far. I have to be honest: life has been really, really good to me. I have an amazing partner in my wife Gretchyn and enough resources for all the (reasonable) material things I want. What I'd really like for Christmas is for more people to enjoy the same good fortune I do. If we solve the crushing poverty problem in America, many of our other problems would fade away.
If your true-love gave you the 12 Days of Christmas, what would be your favorite gift and what would be your least favorite gift and why?
The Ladies Dancing (so long as it's not Miley Cyrus and there's no twerking) would be awesome. I'm not sure what I'd do with a partridge in a pear tree (although I suspect the cats would find a good home for it).
What is the best looking foil card in Magic, in your opinion?
This may be the question that I thought longest about. This full art Plains from Zendikar eventually went to the top of my list.
What do you think about being kinda strict with rules during an EDH game? (I mean, you're a level 5 judge and all). I've gotten some responses from Standard players that tried EDH at our LGS and some felt that EDH-players are "try hards". I'm kind of strict with rules since it's a multiplayer format that affects more players and takes sometimes hours per game. I also want to educate the players by reminding them that upkeep triggers happens in the UPKEEP, not in the Main Phase after they've drawn a card.
I'm actually Judge Emeritus, which means I'm not a certified judge at all any more, but I smell what you're cooking. I am super-loose in my local games. The format is about having a good time, so while I'm interested in helping players play better (and tighter), I allow take-backs and adjusted life totals or whatever. I'd like our games to be as organic as possible.
In your opinion, which legendary creatures would you choose to represent the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and/or Future?
Child of Alara for Christmas Past; it's about the destruction of innocence. Mayael the Anima for Christmas Present because it's just a big party. Vela the Night Clad for Christmas Future, the shadowy specter of things yet to be.
If you had to put 3 cards that aren't banned on the naughty list what would be your picks, and vice versa if you had to put 3 cards from the banned list back onto the nice list which would you choose?
Naughty List: Ghave, Guru of Spores, because for some reason I always hate the decks people build with it. Painful Quandary, because it's both painful and a quandary. Omniscience, because everyone at my LGS still calls it "Omni-science." The joke is dead. Let it go.
Nice List: Recurring Nightmare x3. If I can only x1 that, then Protean Hulk and Painter's Servant. Once again, that's not a hint for anything to come, just cards I'd love to play with (because I know I'd use them responsibly).
It is Christmas Eve and you are playing Commander against Santa Claus, who is piloting your own Ruhan deck because he left his deck at the North Pole. You control a 21/21 Kresh, the Bloodbraided that is your commander and Santa has no blockers, but has 2 cards in hand. Because of his Azorius Chancery last turn, you know one of the cards is just an Island, but you get the read on the twinkle in his eye and determine that the other card has a 50% chance of being a Mirror Strike effect -- and a 50% chance of being just another Island. To be safe, you activate your Urza's Bauble you conveniently have lying around, and Santa randomly reveals an Island. What are the odds Santa has the Mirror Strike?
That guy is shady, so 100%.
Is there any chance of you guys saying "yup, any planeswalker can be your commander" with the exception of any on the Ban List?
No, that's not a road we want to go down. We're not fans of format-level errata for cards, and I think some of them would be really problematic.
What 5 commanders would be most likely to be on Santa's naughty list this year? Why?
Narset, Enlightened Master, because people are having a tough time not breaking it. Krossh, Skyraider of Kher, for the same reason. Kaalia of the Vast because when it works, it just takes over the game, and when it doesn't, it's boring. Sliver Queen because it's one-dimensional. Finally, Norin the Wary because it's always just annoying.
I find that my decks tend to be mostly newer creatures with older non-creature spells. What is your opinion on the shift in magic's core gameplay to revolve more heavily on creatures?
For me, Magic has always been best when it's about creature combat, so I'm pretty happy. I think that we're in a pretty good sweet spot right now; I don't think I'd like to see creatures get that much better for cheaper like they have over recent years. It's time for a plateau.
What are the top 5 most interesting or unique decks you've seen?
The most interesting decks I've seen have been featured on these very pages. Two of my favorites have beenJudson Gruber's Rush 2112 deck and Lark Ballinger's Battle of Arrakeen. A few years back, I did an article full of other peoples' decks. It's a feature I intend to do even more of in the future.
If you were feeling extra-generous this year, which of your completed decks would you give as a gift to a new Commander player? How about a veteran Commander player looking for something different?
I'd give Zombies of Tresserhorn to a newer player because it's reasonably straightforward: cast zombies, battle with them, reanimate them once they've gotten killed. For the veteran player looking for something different, Glissa Glissa, because I think it has the most cards that no one remembers. For the veteran player who is looking for a real challenge, it would be Dreaming of Intet. There are so many decision trees that I'm sure I've punted with the deck more often than I've gotten it right.
Thanks to everyone who submitted thought-provoking, fun, and interesting questions. This is always one of my favorite features to do, so keep those questions coming. This week's Deck Without Comment is the appropriately Christmas-colored Rith's Tokens (DECKID 51853).
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Anointer Priest
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Bastion Protector
- 1 Boros Battleshaper
- 1 Captain of the Watch
- 1 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 1 Crusading Knight
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Deceiver of Form
- 1 Duergar Hedge-Mage
- 1 Foundry Champion
- 1 Gideon's Avenger
- 1 Glory
- 1 Hellrider
- 1 Hero of Bladehold
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Legion Loyalist
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Soul of Theros
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Archangel Avacyn
- 1 Brion Stoutarm
- 1 Darien, King of Kjeldor
- 1 Jazal Goldmane
- 1 Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas
- 1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
- 1 Odric, Lunarch Marshal
- 1 Odric, Master Tactician
- 1 Oketra the True
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Karametra, God of Harvests
- 4 Forest
- 7 Mountain
- 7 Plains
- 1 Boros Garrison
- 1 Brushland
- 1 City of Brass
- 1 Fire-Lit Thicket
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Kazandu Refuge
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Rith's Grove
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Windbrisk Heights
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Anointed Procession
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Elemental Bond
- 1 Legion's Initiative
- 1 Ulvenwald Mysteries
- 1 Aurelia's Fury
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Comet Storm
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Holy Day
- 1 Savage Alliance
- 1 Tenacity
- 1 Akroma's Memorial
- 1 Oketra's Monument
- 1 Growing Rites of Itlimoc
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Decree of Justice
- 1 Explosive Vegetation
- 1 Indomitable Creativity
- 1 Martial Coup
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Shamanic Revelation
- 1 Sram's Expertise
- 1 Titanic Ultimatum
Here is the latest database version of all my decks:
ADUN'S TOOLBOX ; ANIMAR'S SWARM;AURELIA GOES TO WAR;CHILDREN of a LESSER GOD;DEMONS OF KAALIA;EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD;GLISSA, GLISSA;HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS;DREAMING OF INTET;FORGE OF PURPHOROS;KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM;HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR;KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY;KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE;LAVINIA BLINKS;LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND;ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN;MELEK'S MOLTEN MIND GRIND;MERIEKE'S ESPER CONTROL;THE MILL-MEOPLASM;NATH of the VALUE LEAF;NYLEA OF THE WOODLAND REALM,OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER;PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS;ZEGANA and a DICE BAG;RAKDOS: LIFE IS SHORT;RITH'S TOKENS;YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF;RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY FIGHT CLUB;THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK;THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR; TROSTANI and HER ANGELS
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."