Life's got a cruel sense of humor. The previous Friday I had off I went up to play Standard at Friday Night Magic and had a really miserable time. Last Friday I resolved instead to just stick with playing Commander and hope I could have some fun. Richmond Comix has Draft for FNM and I drafted some weeks back and had a good time but this time I had decided to stick with a purely casual night.
Now the way Comix does drafts is that at the end of the night everyone plays once the tournament is over everyone puts their mythics rares and foils on the table. FNM foils get added to the mix along with whatever other prizes Comix wants to sweeten the pot with and the cards get drafted in rank order how you finished up. It takes rare drafting out of the equation and lets everyone focusing on trying to draft the best deck they can. It's cheaper too since there are no prize packs to worry about and everyone seems to like it.
This time as I played Commander people kept coming up and adding cards to the prize pool when they finished for the night. The pool was absolutely insane — two Cavern of Souls Tamiyo the Moon Sage Tibalt the Fiend-Blooded Bonfire of the Damned Entreat the Angels Temporal Mastery Restoration Angel Zealous Conscripts a foil Alchemist's Refuge — granted there were more people drafting this time than when I drafted but come on! It really made me regret not getting in on the draft.
Still I did get in a couple games of Commander. I brought Mean Hippo Riku and Phage but someone else at the table was playing Riku so I started out with Mean Hippo. The deck lived up to its name with me getting out a quick Stonecloaker and Finest Hour (and eventually Battlegrace Angel) and beating down pretty hard. I spread the aggression around the table and earned quite a few grumbles about being not at all "Bennie-like" in my deck choice this time especially once I slammed down Proteus Staff. I tried to blame it on the mean hippo but nobody bought it. Eventually somebody wiped the board but then Bear running a mono-white Mikaeus the Lunarch deck cast Angel of Glory's Rise and got back a ton of Humans on the board and then miracled Entreat the Angels the next turn for several Angels. Suddenly he had an insane army in play. Next turn Tommy cast Avenger of Zendikar to prime up his Gaea's Cradle then cast Tooth and Nail with entwine to get Urabrask the Hidden and Phyrexian Metamorph (copying his Avenger of Zendikar). He topped it off with Titanic Ultimatum and swung for a million killing me and another player leaving Bear with single digits and himself with somewhere around 200 life.
Talk about haymakers! Not a bad way to recover from an empty board!
Bear was actually able to muster around 120 points of damage on a counterattack but that wasn't enough to finish off Tommy and he was not going to be able to stop the horde of Plant tokens coming the following turn.
The next game I picked up my Phage deck and had a silly start — turn 1 Sol Ring turn 2 Solemn Simulacrum turn 3 Dread. I then proceeded to spread Dread around the table all scary-like taking six point chucks of life out of everyone before they were able to do much to stop him. Along the way I dropped Dark Depths as a backup plan once Dread was dealt with.
Eventually people started catching up with me and surpassing my shenanigans with insane setups of their own. Josh's Riku deck got Seedborn Muse Alchemist's Refuge Eternal Witness and Deadeye Navigator into play — yeah that's an insane setup! To add to the mix he cast Stitch in Time several times earning an extra turn on his extra turn he cast Acquire taking my Platinum Angel from me then on Jess's turn he cast Stitch in Time again (thanks Alchemist's Refuge!) lost the roll blinked Witness to get it back cast it again lost the roll did the loop again and cast it again and (thankfully) lost the roll.
It was finally my turn and I could untap. See I had an answer to Josh's otherwise insane lock but I'd tapped out to do something on my last turn and was pretty sure I was never getting another turn. Thanks to some lucky die rolls (or unlucky if you're Josh) I had a small window. During my upkeep maintaining priority before Josh could do anything I cast Sudden Spoiling targeting him. Hooray for split second! I then cast Hero's Demise on Nicole's Ryusei to deal 5 points of damage to all non-fliers which wiped Josh's board clean. I then sent Dread after him hard and killed him shortly thereafter.
Nicole managed to kill my Dread with a Mordant Dragon (killing itself in the process) but I'd been paying the iron price on my Dark Depths for a while so Marit Lage came out to play and I managed to ride her to victory. None of my toys to let Phage come out to play made an appearance but I've got plenty of other baskets to put my eggs in. It had been quite a while since I chalked up a victory in Commander.
Anyway let's pivot a bit from the past to the future specifically the future of Magic – Magic 2013! The previews and spoilers have been pouring out on the internet and I have to say I've seen quite a lot that's got me smiling so let's get excited!
Wow what a cool reprint! I remember it was one of the more expensive rares way back in the day and I never had the good fortune of opening one out of a booster pack and never traded for one until the price had really shot up. I've always wanted to have one for my Commander card pool so I'm hoping I'll be able to nab one now. It's funny in my mind this card always struck me as something that you'd only cheat into play with Sneak Attack because the casting cost was just prohibitive back then. Now seven mana isn't really all that much of a stretch and once we enter the post-Titan era…I'm not necessarily sure that a vanilla potentially gigantic creature will "get there" in Standard but it's much more viable now to hard cast a seven than it was back in the day. Kudos to Wizards for realizing that this card could be just fine coming back into Standard.
I know four mana in white has some steep competition (*cough*Restoration Angel*cough*) but this card looks like a beating! I'm picturing turn 1 Birds of Paradise turn 2 Avacyn's Pilgrim + Strangleroot Geist (swing) turn 3 Sublime Archangel and swing with a 6/5 Strangleroot. BAM! That's some big beats. Turn 4 Wolfir Silverheart swing with 13/12 Sublime Archangel? Sign me up! Great artwork too…
Talrand Sky Summoner
There's a cycle of four-mana legends in M13 and I have to give props to Wizards for showing such restraint in not making the blue one insane. In fact I'm pretty sure this won't be seen in Standard and instead will quickly find a home at the casual table. But man what bad-ass artwork! No wonder the drakes come when he calls if they don't obey he chops off their head and makes a hat out of 'em!
Digging the flavor — she petrifies the creature and it becomes an artifact — so it can be Shattered and destroyed just like a statue. Cool stuff! Too clunky and expensive for Standard but I'm sure it'll be a big hit in Commander especially given how splashable it is.
This could potentially really spit out a lot of goblins fast in conjunction with Goblin Warchief or some of the other goblins that give haste. Big casual appeal maybe a shot at Legacy?
I saw some folks on Twitter suggest that this card should be banned in Commander and there was a thread on Facebook calling it decidedly PG-13 names due to the mass land destruction
This is just a grade-A kick-ass cool card. First of all yep that's seven 7s on the card (if you don't count the 4GGG casting cost as seven) which is pretty sweet. But what makes it just super cool is somehow taking the flavor of Worship washing it down with a taste of Form of the Dragon and stapling it onto the back of a 7/7 trampling beatstick. I have no idea if it's going to make an impact in post-Titan Standard but being a 7/7 trampler certainly gives it a decent shot. I mean what's a non-black or –white deck going to do about this guy?
Yeva Nature's Herald
Last but not least we have this slice of awesomesauce! Longtime readers of my column will have read this preview and likely had my name spring to mind. I used to write a periodic piece called The State of Green where I reviewed new sets in how they succeeded or failed in making green a decent color. Green sucked so badly for so long that when things started turning around folks like me and Jamie Wakefield felt the need to keep Wizards' feet to the fire lest they let green slip back to being the slow and dumb color of the color pie. I stopped after green got enough goodies regularly enough that people accused me of being too whiny and nitpicky.
Despite growing less vocal in my criticism my concern has remained because there's still that strong tendency to make all the "good" green cards ones that you can only cast during your own main phase which makes them slow and dumb (and vulnerable) relative to what many of the other colors have going on. Giving blue Troll shroud in Innistrad block made me want to claw my eyes out. Yet there have been some good signs. First was having haste show up on good green cards like Vengevine and Strangleroot Geist. While they're still locked into the main phase haste goes a long way towards making those cards much less "slow."
Then we got Wolfir Avenger a nice little bundle of abilities…including flash! Now we're talking — fast flexible able to be cast at the last possible moment! And this guy has a substantial body not like wee little Scryb Ranger. Slipping an Avenger onto the battlefield at the end of your opponent's turn can bring some decent beats!
Now we get Yeva Nature's Herald — Wow! Another good size body with flash but even better she then lets you untap and keep your subsequent green creatures back in your hand ready to cast only when you need to. How about Wolfir Silverheart as an instant? What a nightmare for your opponent looking for a profitable block! How about Acidic Slime as an instant? Stingerfling Spider?
What cards have you smiling and excited from M13? Hit me up in the forums!
Have a great weekend! My kids visitation falls on this Father's Day weekend so I'm going to have a great time!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
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):
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Niv-Mizzet the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Grimgrin Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)