You've seen the cards and you've played with them at the Prerelease. Now it's time to let them off the leash for full-time engagement into your Commander decks. The cards from Throne of Eldraine have arrived in all their power and glory. Some of these cards are so good that they're going to challenge my promise to only put one copy of any new card in existing decks. The question then becomes which deck gets which card, and which cards do I save to build new decks with? Some of the answers may surprise you.
The first thing I'll mention about Throne of Eldraine is that there are lots of really good Knights in this set, to include a great Knight commander, Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale. I already have a Queen Marchesa Knights deck, so obviously I'll have to build another one. If you wonder why I'm not using some of them in Queen Marchesa, it's because I'll be saving them for Syr Gwyn. The ones which are likely to go in are those that fit with Queen Marchesa's ideals of becoming the monarch and keeping the crown while bashing with the team. I also won't repeat the cards from Throne of Eldraine that I put into the two decks I designed last week—one of which, Chulane, Teller of Tales, is nearly already built.
One of the obvious challenges of updating a suite of decks is in figuring out what to take out. By this point, most cards have settled into their roles. Anything that's an underperformer would have to be relatively new, because if it weren't cutting the mustard, it would have been cut in a previous update. In most cases, I won't talk about why I'm removing something unless it's extremely important or there's another plan. Most of the time, the reason is "gotta make room." The density of changes is going to be lower with Throne of Eldraine than it's been in recent sets, and that's because I'm reserving more cards for building new decks with them.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
More blink shenanigans in a blink deck is the call. And don't worry, there are plans for Jace. That's not the kind of card you just shuttle out of a deck and leave in a pile somewhere.
Into: Queen Marchesa's Knights
There are nine legendary creatures in the deck in addition to the commander, plus two artifacts (Akroma's Memorial and Oketra's Monument), so The Circle of Loyalty is going to bring some friends along.
Into: Karador Do-Over
For: Contagion Clasp
The deck is about creatures that enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters, so many of them have base power and toughness 0/0. Harmonious Archon basically gives +3/+3 to most of the team. The two tokens it brings along are almost an afterthought.
Into: Rith's Tokens
For: Savage Alliance
Giving Rith vigilance is a nice but not necessary ability. Making it deadly on the second swing, however, that's big stuff. The Mace will also provide an additional rattlesnake when Darien, King of Kjeldor is on the battlefield. You might not worry about a bunch of 1/1s, but eight or ten counters on the Mace will get skulls caved in.
Thraximundar has lots of artifacts that get sacrificed to do things, to include Burnished Hart and Solemn Simulacrum, Armillary Sphere and Gem of Becoming. It also has Oversold Cemetery and Dawn of the Dead, so it likes other things in graveyard. Nice fit into the deck.
Into: Animar's Swarm
For: Realm Seekers
Looking forward to casting this for just one blue mana pretty regularly and then drawing some cards. I'm trying to cut down on all the cards that cost double color in the deck, which is why a good card like Realm Seekers is out, but it'll find a new home pretty quickly.
Into: The Mill-Meoplasm
An additional powerful mill tool for a good mill deck? I'm in. It just goes to show you that sometimes cards don't need to be strong in a vacuum to be great role-players on a team. There might even be a situation here and there in which the card draw ability kills someone.
Into: The Mill-Meoplasm
For: Essence Harvest
Someone's graveyard will always be chock-full of stuff, so drawing four for five as an instant is wonderful. Plus, that art is amazing.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
For: Mind's Dilation
"No maximum hand size" is wonderful in a deck that likes to pile up cards. Drawing more is always saucy as well, and doing it for three mana (or maybe four or five) even better. My only regret on taking out Mind's Dilation (the deck already has Rhystic Study, and I don't want to be too annoying) is the pleasure of countering someone's spell with their own counter.
For: Fact or Fiction
An excellent card to have with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, and drawing cards cheaply is never bad.
Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone
For: Pernicious Deed
I kept wondering how to maximize The Cauldron of Eternity, and it's by getting cards into the graveyard by them (obviously) not dying. The card that jumped out at me is Greater Good. The creature you sacrifice goes to the bottom of your library, but the ones you discard are right there ready to be brought back with the Cauldron, turning a downside into an upside. It's hard to imagine enjoying playing the Kresh deck more, but I think I just found a way.
For: Elite Arcanist
Rankle just fuels up the tomfoolery that Lazav likes to engage in, so it's a perfect fit. I took Waste Not out of this deck a while back, but with putting Rankle in, it's probably time to find it and return it to the deck.
Into: Halloween with Karador
For: Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
I stared at Syr Konrad a good long time, trying to come up with a reason to not put him in Karador. I just couldn't find one. Then came the agonizing decision of what to take out. Eventually, I decided on Izoni, because she has a (still unassembled) deck of her own. It'd still be a good card in the deck, but rules must be obeyed.
Into: Aminatou's Demonic Fate
The only deck that it made sense to put Wishclaw Talisman into was Aminatou, since I could use the ability and then just blink it back to my control. There are other ways of making sure an opponent can't use it as well, such as the preferable Tel-Jilad Stylus or Despotic Scepter. Sword of Fire and Ice went into the deck because the card is awesome and just happened to be lying in front of me during building. I'm pretty sure it has a Knight deck to go into.
Into: Saskia Unyielding
For: Blade of Selves
Saskia tends to attack with quite a few creatures at once, and equipping her with Embercleave leads to even more savagery than normal, since we'll get double the triggers. I might have to up the red mana count in the deck to make sure we're always on point with it.
Please don't read anything into the fact that I didn't find room in any decks for the other good red cards from Throne of Eldraine. There simply weren't any of the right fits.
Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone
For: Dead Man's Chest
Oh, the fun we're going to have with Kresh. I do have Woodfall Primus and a sacrifice outlet in here, but it's not a well I'd go to that often—plus, I wouldn't want to deck myself. I guess Puppeteer Clique wouldn't be too busted, either—just a Rise of the Dark Realms for all opponents. There are possibilities.
For: Hornet Queen
The Beasts in this deck need to do extra work so that you don't have to cast too many spells that'll hurt. Questing Beast definitely does that. The ability that prevents preventing damage is the most important in a deck like this that loves to attack.
For: (empty slot)
What's great about putting Steelbane Hydra into a proliferate deck is that don't have to wait too long to cast it. Instead of holding out until you can cast X for a great deal, you hit a mid-range and then let the deck do the rest of the work. I was pleased to find that I only had 99 cards in the deck, so I didn't even need to take out something.
At first, I was going to put Garruk into the Ikra and Kydele deck because of how the emblem would play with Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper's combat ability. Then I saw that Ohran Frostfang might fit better there instead of the Muldrotha deck, into which I had just put it—and Muldrotha wouldn't mind casting that Garruk a second and/or third time for extra emblems.
For: Experiment Kraj
It may come down to the fact that I only ever use the +1 ability of Oko and either proliferate it out of combat damage range or people get annoyed at turning their favorite stuff into meat. I suppose there's the tech of creating a Food token one turn and then swapping it for something decent next, but I think I'd just rather neutralize threats with it. It will be the seventh planeswalker in the deck, and you can't battle them all.
Artifact and Land
Into: You Did This to Yourself
For: Boros Signet
Another one that will test my resolve in putting only one new card into the deck suite. My decision tree here came down to this: what deck that needs it (meaning nongreen) do I play the most?
Into: Glissa, Glissa
For: Servo Schematic
Running cheap artifacts through your graveyard and back into your hand is what this Glissa version is all about. Golden Egg gets a card right away, and then provides colored mana or life when you want it.
Into: Proliferating Chulane
For: Roalesk, Apex Hybrid
Stonecoil Serpent hadn't been previewed yet when I sketched out the Chulane deck a few weeks back (or maybe I just missed it), and it's the kind of card I'd love to be in there. Protection from multicolored will go a long way in this format. It's also a card that I would use if I were to put together a combo deck (I know, I know). The kind of combo I'd run with it is Enduring Renewal and a sacrifice outlet—the gold standard being Goblin Bombardment. You can use it as a zero-mana creature for the loop, or if you generate loads of mana instead, make it huge. I keep promising that I'll play a cEDH deck at some point (with others, not just springing it on the unsuspecting); I imagine it'll be one of the CommandFests.
Into: Saskia Unyielding
For: In Garruk's Wake
Looking at where to put Tome of Legends made me deeply consider which commander I attack most with, and the answer is probably Saskia. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder is also a strong possibility. It could also be Ruhan of the Fomori since he has to attack every turn, but after he gets killed a few times, I tend to not cast him (saving mana to make people do it to themselves). I suppose if I had a Norin the Wary deck, Tome of Legends would end up with infinite counters.
Into: Saskia Unyielding
Fabled Passage is outstanding for three- and four-color decks, smoothing out the mana without requiring expensive manabases. This deck needs all four colors for its commander to start doing what it does, so this is the right spot. It might have also been good in Muldrotha, Speaking Primely, since you can bring it back in the manner of the fetchlands.
Into: Queen Marchesa's Knights
I won't be waiting to build the Syr Gwyn Knights deck to play Tournament Grounds, since I have a viable place to put it. Maybe tribal things or other themes are the way of the future for inexpensive tri-lands.
Even though I felt like there were plenty of things I saved for new decks, I'll be adding 27 cards from Throne of Eldraine to my deck suite, only slightly below an average large set. That speaks volumes about what kind of impact the set will have on Commander.
Before we close, if you haven't heard, I'll be headed out to Seattle for October and November to help the folks in R&D on some future projects. I won't be able to offer up too many details about what I'll be working on, but I'm sure that I'll be able to talk a little about process and what it's like to be in the building with so many skilled and creative people. It's certainly every Magic fan's dream come true. Stay tuned to social media for more.
Sheldon Menery's Deck Database
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database! Click each section for lists of all my decks.
These are the decks that define my personal play style to the greatest degree and to some extent lay the original foundation of the format. They're also the ones you're most likely to see me bringing along to spell-sling at an event.
The Chromatic Project
The Chromatic Project started as an effort to build at least one deck of all 27 possible color combinations, which was expanded to 32 when we finally got four color commanders. There's more than one of some combinations, mostly because I have a Temur problem, plus some partner combinations are too enticing to pass up.
Shards and Wedges
The Do-Over Project
The Do-Over Project is the next step after the Chromatic—building a deck with each of the same Commanders, but not repeating any cards save for basic lands (props to Abe Sargent's "Next 99" idea). The Do-Over Project is still ongoing because we keep getting saucy new sets with creative and colorful commanders to build new decks with.
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."