I'm super-stoked about the StarCityGames.com Open Series this weekend in Washington DC! It's been quite a while since I've been able to devote an entire weekend to playing in a big Magic event—a couple years at least—and I'm ready to jump in with both feet. I'll be playing in both the Standard and Legacy portions and I wanted to share with you some of my deck choices right now and elicit some feedback from you on my choices and any suggestions you might have. Before that though…
2012 Magic Online Community Cup
Wizards of the Coast is taking nominations for the 2012 Magic Online Community Cup and I wanted to see if fans of my column would be willing to nominate me to go this year! While I'm not currently a big Magic Online player I did spend time writing the Magic Online column for MagicTheGathering.com from March 2005 through August 2006 and one of the things I worked hard to do was provide lots of exposure for the fan formats and community-driven events that had grown up around Magic Online (you can check out my archives here which include several other writing assignments I did for Wizards stretching all the way back to 2002).
I've also been an active part of the overall Magic community since the days of Usenet and The Magic Dojo and I was one of the first regular columnists to be scooped up when StarCityGames.com launched its website back around 1999. I've been playing Magic without pause for 18 years and writing about it for more than 15 years. I've always wanted to go to Renton Washington to see where Magic is created and meet the people that make this game we all so love and this is probably my best chance to do so!
The timing couldn't be more perfect—I just got a smart phone so I'll be able to keep everyone posted on all the goings-on through Twitter and Facebook I'll take tons of pictures and I'll write at least one or two kick-ass columns detailing all the fun events and cool people I meet! I wouldn't just be going for me but for all of my readers too! I've recently been playing a lot more Magic Online in the hopes of eventually creating some fun Commander video content and this would be a great way to really kick that off.
A couple weeks back I wrote about wanting to play Rancor with deathtouch creatures (Glissa the Traitor and Wurmcoil Engine) and I also wrote about wanting to play Glissa alongside Trading Posts. Well I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that the deck I'm hoping to play Saturday has both! Here's the deck as it stands currently:
- 1 Molten-Tail Masticore
- 3 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 2 Solemn Simulacrum
- 3 Wurmcoil Engine
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Glissa, the Traitor
It's changed a lot over the weeks. With a metagame that appears to be shaping up having lots of 2/2 Drake tokens 3/3 Golem tokens Delver of Secrets and lots of one-drop mana creatures I'm thinking now might be a fantastic time to run the Glissa/Ratchet Bomb engine once more. That also makes Beast Within even better giving me sweet instant speed removal that should handle just about anything I need it to (which gives my midrange-loving heart much needed comfort). Even without considering the artifact recursion or Rancor Glissa remains a potent force as a 3/3 first strike deathtouch beating—easily taking down the largest Dungrove Elder laughing off Wurmcoil Engine and attacking into Restoration Angel with no fear. Sure it would suck to have to trade with 3/3 first-striking Golems but that's what the Ratchet Bombs are there to take care of.
Now consider all that sweet stuff plus the artifact recursion and Rancor… Yeah I think now is the time for Glissa to finally shine!
I originally had a bunch of do-nothing artifacts like Ichor Wellspring and Mycosynth Wellspring because of the sweet synergy with Trading Post but as I tried to figure out a way to work Rancor into the deck it occurred to me I ought to just run Elvish Visionary instead. Pristine Talisman got bumped for Solemn Simulacrum for the same reason and actually upping the creature count and adding Rancors seems like a step in the right direction allowing the deck to more easily shift into aggro mode if it needs to.
I also had Kuldotha Forgemasters and Blightsteel Colossus in the maindeck but after keeping an eye on the metagame I'm thinking it fits better in the sideboard. It's a backbreaking combo to bring in against other midrangey decks letting you go over the top and end things quickly. As I mentioned a couple weeks back I love having Trading Post here to let you discard Colossus if you happen to draw it shuffling back into the deck to Tinker it out with Forgemaster.
For the sideboard I've got the Thragtusks to bring in over the Wurmcoil Engines against Vapor Snag decks or to just join the Wurmcoil team against aggressive and fast decks. Nihil Spellbomb comes in against Reanimation shenanigans and also does good work against some of the Zombies deck's potent tools (Mimic Vat comes in against Zombies as well). Hex Parasite is my anti-planeswalker hero and I learned my lesson a month or two back by not including a couple copies in my 75 and getting properly stomped by Sorin and Tamiyo.
I'm going to do my final testing on the deck Friday and if everything works well I'll be smashing the tables Saturday with this sweet homebrew. However as any smart brewer knows sometimes the homebrews aren't really ready for primetime so it's good to have a couple solid options available for Plan B.
The first is Kurt Crane's sweet 2nd place Elf Wave deck from last weekend's Open that I found super-exciting! I had lots of fun with Genesis Wave Elf decks when Scars of Mirrodin first came out and just loved the gigantic powerful plays the deck was capable of. There are some really exciting and powerful new tools for the deck in the current metagame that I think really pushes the strategy over the top including Craterhoof Behemoth Restoration Angel + Elvish Visionary and the sweet techy Village Bell-Ringer. I almost wish he'd not quite cracked Top 8 because I suspect there are going to be a fair number of people playing the deck this weekend and one thing I hate doing in Magic is playing mirror matches. Still I do love the promise of the deck and I've done some tweaking on it. Here's what I've got together:
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 2 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Copperhorn Scout
- 1 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Restoration Angel
- 3 Soul of the Harvest
- 2 Village Bell-Ringer
- 3 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
One thing that bothered me about Kurt's list were the eight non-permanents in the deck four of which (Green Sun's Zenith) shuffle back into the deck each time you use them. I remember playing Genesis Wave and it could be really backbreaking…unless you whiff a couple times by revealing a couple sorceries. Of course if you want the effect of Genesis Wave you've got to actually play Genesis Wave so multiple copies are needed. But I thought long and hard about Green Sun's Zenith. Yeah we all know that card is incredibly powerful…but there are key creatures in the deck that you can't even fetch up with GSZ because they're not green. Really the only "bullets" Kurt ran in his deck were Ezuri Renegade Leader and Craterhoof Behemoth (along with a couple sideboard bullets). I decided to cut the Zeniths and add more actual Elves into the deck: more copies of Ezuri Renegade Leader and some copies of Copperhorn Scout.
Ezuri is just a backbreaking card that synergizes with so much of the deck can win almost on his own and protects the team from mass removal like Bonfire of the Damned. Since his abilities use mana I just want to naturally draw and play him rather than spend extra mana to search him up. Extra copies are okay because your opponents are going to try really hard to kill him as soon as they can. Note that Genesis Wave's effect says "may" so if you've already got Ezuri in play you aren't forced to legend-rule him if you Wave up any other copies.
Copperhorn Scout was a proven part of the aggressive Elf strategies that cropped up after Scars of Mirrodin was released allowing you to both attack with your mana Elf creatures and still use them for mana (such as Ezuri's Overrun ability). With Restoration Angel available I think Copperhorn's ability becomes even more impressive letting you swing with your team with impunity and have plenty of mana to save a blocked creature by flashing in the Angel…and if you happen to blink Village Bell-Ringer too? Wowza!
Without Green Sun's Zenith the sideboard becomes a little more stock. I'm interested in giving Yeva Nature's Herald a try—giving most of your team flash seems quite potent against sorcery-speed removal or decks with lots of instants. And she's an Elf!
My last Plan B is a deck I ran across in the Magic Online Standard Daily Events; it went 4-0 and looks sweet! I've been strongly tempted to give Zombie Pod a whirl and have slowly been gathering up fourth copies of Geralf's Messenger and Gravecrawler though where I'm going to get Caverns of Souls I have no idea. Burnplayer's version added white for…Restoration Angel? HELL YEAH!
- 2 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Blade Splicer
- 3 Blood Artist
- 3 Bloodthrone Vampire
- 4 Diregraf Ghoul
- 2 Fume Spitter
- 4 Geralf's Messenger
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 3 Restoration Angel
- 2 Skinrender
Does this look like the coolest deck ever or what? I think it has the advantage of flying further under the radar than the Elf Wave deck but I don't think it looks quite as fun and is probably a bit more complicated to play. I haven't even had a chance to give this deck a run yet so I'm not sure calling an audible into this on Friday would be the right call. Still if I can get the Caverns I can put this together and it does look sweet…
For Legacy I'll be playing Maverick since I have most of what I need to put it together and it plays some of my favorite all-time cards… Knight of the Reliquary nearly scored me a second Virginia State Champs so I'm hoping she'll treat me right on Sunday! My Maverick deck's also got some sweet Jay Delazier technology in it so rather than spoiling that edge today I'll save it for next week when I recap my weekend adventures.
And Commander fans—you can best believe I'll have a couple Commander decks with me too!
By the way I'm bringing extra copies of Necrotic Ooze and Glissa the Traitor to give to fans of my column who track me down at #SCGDC this weekend so I hope to see lots of you there! I'll be taking lots of pictures with my new smartphone and live Tweeting both days. And if anyone happens to have a spare bed I can sleep in Saturday night gimme a holler in the comments on Twitter or on site. I've scored some much appreciated floor space from a friend but it's uncarpeted…and though I'll be bringing a sleeping bag pillows and blankets I'm an old man and an actual bed would be sweet…
Let me know what you think of the decks I presented above in the comments below!
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):
- Nefarox Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Yeva Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- 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)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- 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!)
- 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)