While there was a little bit of chatter that Griselbrand needs to be banned in Legacy the June 20th DCI Banned Announcement said he's still around to terrorize SCG Legacy Opens for a few months more. However the big ol' lovable Demon got an uppercut from nowhere knocked out of Commander by Sheldon Menery and the Rules Committee.
The second that Griselbrand was spoiled I knew it was too good for Commander though his "drawback" of only allowing exchange of life for cards in chunks of seven briefly lulled my SCG Commander compatriots Sheldon and Sean McKeown into thinking that maybe he'd be okay for a format full of haymakers. Both seemed to come around to being concerned about the card relatively quickly with Sean even going so far as to make a disgustingly broken and consistent Griselbrand deck and running it through some Commander pods at a SCG Open Series event to prove the point.
Even so I was a little bit surprised that Griselbrand didn't just get banned as a commander rather than getting a boot from the format entirely. Not that I don't think he deserves banning but because some people seem to think it's just his accessibility from the Command Zone that makes him broken. And yes that makes him even more ridiculous but even as one of your 99 black has a zillion ways to Tutor and your prime target is going to be Griselbrand—it doesn't really matter that you're burning off a Tutor to get him instead of your win condition because you're going to draw more Tutors and/or win conditions. If he'd been banned as a Commander I'm fairly certain that the RC would have had to ban him completely down the road so kudos to them for thinking things through and stopping the madness right here and now.
Though I am a bit sad that I didn't get a chance to build my "fair" Griselbrand deck…
I was a little surprised that Sundering Titan got the axe. To tell the truth I'd forgotten the big guy was still legal because I literally could not remember the last time I'd seen him played at a Commander table. The card is so jerky that I think most people self-ban him when building their decks but I suspect that the printing of Deadeye Navigator makes the Titan way too tempting to the Spikes out there. Being able to fire off both triggers for each 1U you spend is insane…and insanely oppressive allowing you to dramatically reduce opponents' mana resources and keep them from being able to play. Pinpoint land destruction is smart and fine in Commander—mass land destruction is jerky and mean.
Which brings us around to the third thing of note: that the RC is keeping an eye on Worldfire an expensive red sorcery from M13. Worldfire is the latest in a long line of "reset" cards that tend to be frustrating and annoying as hell in Commander; you spend all this time playing out a game having fun trying to execute your plan while stopping others from doing the same when all of a sudden the game starts over and makes you wonder if you've just wasted all that time for nothing. There's often a couple players who get mana hosed that sit around and can't do anything but wait for someone to get something together enough to put them out of their misery if they don't just scoop in frustration.
That's why I like Worldfire—setting everyone at one life means that the game is very likely going to end fast. Which means you can all shuffle up and start another game. Most game resets tend to set the game back to turn 0 which is just frustrating especially if the game has already been a long one. Worldfire sets up a sudden death round with everyone on the razor's edge! I also like that it helps give some strength to red a color that is typically a dog in long Commander games. Red can dish out damage like nobody's business but when each player starts with 40 life and often starts playing gigantic undercosted creatures that's a lot of toughness and life points to chew through.
But one life point per player? Yeah I think I can handle that.
Sure Worldfire is going to be really disgusting in Jhoira decks but what isn't disgusting in Jhoira decks? I'll be happy to see this potent weapon give mono-red Commander decks some much needed muscle to compete with blue and green around the table.
Speaking of Deadeye Navigator I wanted to write a little bit about bottom-up deckbuilding in Commander. In this singleton format it is natural to build your decks focused heavily on the legend you pick as your Commander because that's one card you can really count on always being available to you. This leads Commander fans to want to build our decks from the top down starting with the legend and warping the deck to maximize the fun you can have with it.
But sometimes you run across a non-legendary card and just want to do something crazy with it in Commander. Recently I had that sort of thought with Deadeye Navigator.
When that card was spoiled I knew that he'd be fun paired up with creatures with enters the battlefield abilities (and the few with leaves the battlefield abilities) and I have certainly brewed a fair share of Standard decks featuring him. In Commander though there are so many more creatures that want to pair up with Deadeye Navigator you could probably start up a reality TV show called the Magic Bachelor. Will he choose the cuddly Eternal Witness or the mysterious Voidmage Husher? Drahms!
Of course it doesn't take long when perusing the list of potential partners to realize that no one can hold a candle to Palinchron and the allure of infinite mana which then lets you infinitely Blink whatever value creature you've got sitting around to kill everyone at the table. Suddenly I'm not quite as enthused about Deadeye Navigator.
But then I run across some people talking about Deadeye Navigator in Standard along with another sweet new card from Avacyn Restored: Zealous Conscripts! With infinite potential activations of Zealous Conscripts you could basically steal every permanent at the table…with haste!
Now THAT is an epic haymaker no? While it would be annoying as hell to play against a deck that consistently did this all the time I think most opponents would think it was pretty cool when I pulled it off the first time.
So how do I go about pulling it off the first time? I know I want Deadeye Navigator Palinchron (or maybe Peregrine Drake if I want to be a little less jerky) and Zealous Conscripts. So that puts me in red/blue…
Of course it's hard not to look at Deadeye Navigator and not be pulled in the direction of green and all the insane value creatures green gives you in Commander. Green also gives you lots of ways to Tutor for creatures which should increase the ability to pull off the three-creature combo. My plan of course is to ditch all these Tutors once I pull off the one game where I steal everyone's permanents which will make it much less likely to happen again.
But that one game… It'll be epic!
So we've got the green blue and red wedge which limits our Commander choices to just three. Since we're going to be leaning strongly towards value creatures—along with some spells to Tutor for creatures—that screams Riku of Two Reflections to me. That's actually a pretty sweet choice since people tend to focus a lot of pinpoint creature destruction Riku's way which will make it easier to Deadeye Navigator when he brings his boat to shore.
With the key cards in mind and a commander selected here are the cards I've picked to round out the deck.
Value Creatures ("Mulldrifters"): Riftsweeper Augury Owl Wall of Blossoms Eternal Witness Whirlpool Warrior Sea Gate Oracle Carven Caryatid Loaming Shaman Ondu Giant Voidmage Husher; Venser Shaper Savant; Mystic Snake Sakashima the Impostor Phyrexian Metamorph Mulldrifter Acidic Slime Haze Frog Zealous Conscripts Izzet Chronarch Deadwood Treefolk Duplicant Draining Whelk Palinchron Avenger of Zendikar Woodfall Primus
A Deadeye Navigator/Riku deck is all about value creatures so I've loaded up with them here. Ondu Giant is here to fix mana and combine with Avenger of Zendikar. Special shout out to Jay Delazier for reminding me about Haze Frog!
The combo that you want to assemble is made of all creatures so you want ways to protect them from harm as well as ways to run them into play when your opponents aren't expecting it. I was particularly pleased to stumble back across Spellbreaker Behemoth since Deadeye Navigator has five power.
I've really loaded up on the creature Tutors but only until I pull off my desired haymaker play. Once I do that I'll be replacing all these to make the deck more fun and random.
Pretty much the standard stuff; a little bit extra due to how mana hungry Deadeye Navigator can get.
Good Stuff: Sensei's Divining Top Skullclamp Arcane Denial Tribute to the Wild Twincast Sylvan Library Trygon Predator Krosan Grip Deathrender Seedborn Muse Urabrask the Hidden Soul of the Harvest Deadeye Navigator; Vorinclex Voice of Hunger
Lots of good stuff here. I think Deathrender might be a decent way to sneak in one of the key creatures to surprise people. Seedborn Muse is just insane alongside Deadeye Navigator with Alchemist's Refuge just taking it over the top (a scenario you might remember me talking about last week).
Here's the deck with lands added:
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Augury Owl
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Bloom Tender
- 1 Carven Caryatid
- 1 Deadeye Navigator
- 1 Deadwood Treefolk
- 1 Draining Whelk
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Haze Frog
- 1 Izzet Chronarch
- 1 Loaming Shaman
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Mystic Snake
- 1 Ondu Giant
- 1 Palinchron
- 1 Riftsweeper
- 1 Sea Gate Oracle
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Soul of the Harvest
- 1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
- 1 Trygon Predator
- 1 Vexing Shusher
- 1 Voidmage Husher
- 1 Wall of Blossoms
- 1 Whirlpool Warrior
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Riku of Two Reflections
- 1 Sakashima the Impostor
- 1 Urabrask the Hidden
- 1 Venser, Shaper Savant
- 1 Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
- 9 Forest
- 9 Island
- 2 Mountain
- 1 Alchemist's Refuge
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Hinterland Harbor
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Simic Growth Chamber
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Sulfur Falls
- 1 Taiga
- 1 Tropical Island
- 1 Vivid Creek
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Volcanic Island
- 1 Winding Canyons
- 1 Birthing Pod
- 1 Cauldron of Souls
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Deathrender
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Vedalken Orrery
- 1 Defense of the Heart
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Sylvan Library
- 1 Arcane Denial
- 1 Chord of Calling
- 1 Flash
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Summoner's Pact
- 1 Twincast
- 1 Tooth and Nail
There are all kinds of ways to make the deck much more cutthroat with the infinite mana provided from Palinchron but like I said my main goal here is to pull off the "all your base are belong to us" haymaker and check that off my bucket list. After that I'll remove the green tutors Palinchron and the creature-based counterspells since that is super-obnoxious with Deadeye Navigator.
I might also swap out Riku and replace with Maelstrom Wanderer (same wedge colors) and add in Etherium-Horn Sorcerer Bloodbraid Elf and Shardless Agent just to have some cascading fun. Even though creatures with cascade don't combo with Deadeye Navigator with so many value cards they're bound to just be great to spin out there and see what crops up.
So what cards do you like pairing up with Deadeye Navigator? What are the coolest plays you've pulled off with it?
And what do you think of the bannings and Worldfire being put on the watch list?
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)