This would normally be a week where I talk about Standard, but when I went to play FNM last week, the format was Draft. Since I hadn't done much drafting with Return to Ravnica yet, I figured why not? I opened pack 1 and saw Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord staring back at me. Well, I know it's usually best to leave your options open, but what the heck—GOLGARI BABY! I ended up with a bunch of great Golgari cards, including Lotleth Troll and Overgrown Tomb.
I went 3-1, losing my first game in the last round to a guy who played turn 6 Niv-Mizzet. Game 2 he again played a turn 6 Niv-Mizzet (turns out he had two in his deck), but I'd been able to beat him down fast and had him at four life. I played Stab Wound on Niv and with plenty of life to spare crossed my fingers that I could keep the Wound on him for two turns. On his turn he lost two life and drew…Faerie Imposter. Sigh. It did buy me an extra turn, but I wasn't able to punch through before Niv-Mizzet came back down and crushed me.
I also got a great email from a guy named Camron Combs with a request that warmed my heart. He sounds like a great friend, and it gives me a good excuse to build a Commander deck around Oona, Queen of the Fae. Here's what he wrote:
This e-mail is trying to find Bennie Smith, who writes for StarCityGames.com on Magic: The Gathering, specifically Commander.
Am I required to begin by saying I love your articles and your Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius deck inspired me to make my own? Well, it bears saying anyway, LOL.
Anyway, this e-mail is about a friend of mine, Justin Liburd.
He joined the Navy this past year and is away for the holidays from his friends and family for the first time. He was a huge MTG fan when he left and still laughs about getting all the singles for a casual Faerie deck sent to the ship.
Well, he is coming home in February, and I would like to surprise him with a Commander deck featuring his favorite tribe, Faeries. Now, I can't say I have read every single article of yours, but I don't think I've been able to find anything about a deck with Oona, Queen of the Fae as commander anywhere. I'm the guy who wants to do the powerful stuff to win (a proud Delver player from last Standard). Justin wants to make a bunch of guys and do interesting things with them. One of his favorite cards is Bitterblossom (neither of us played when this was making waves in Constructed—he just likes the effect).
Could you help me brew a good list for my friend? All I really have so far are Bitterblossom and Oona; Vendilion Clique comes to mind, but that card is a little beyond what am I am able to spend on a single card for the deck. Although I plan to fork over the $ for a Bitterblossom and might be willing to spend more than the price of a Clique, I just don't think he'd enjoy playing Clique.
I haven't been playing that long (Innistrad's Prerelease was when I began), so my card knowledge is far from complete. That is one of the biggest reasons I'm seeking help: I don't know the cards that work well or would be fun with Oona.
This guy is an awesome friend, and he could really use some cheering up.
So, if I have your attention, here is a little more about his Magic likes and dislikes:
- He really likes flash guys.
- He's a fan of enchantments.
- He'd rather play 100 small guys than 10 big ones.
- He likes "fun" cards more than "Spike" cards.
- He also likes to win. Not to the point where he plays cards like Dark Confidant, but the deck should be viable.
- He has never played in a competitive setting.
- He is not the most complex thinker at the table; he'll make the safe play over the flashy one. (He really doesn't seem to like attacking LOL.)
- He'd rather be the one at the table playing the unique spell than the one playing Bribery and other "staple" EDH spells.
I would like this deck to be something both he and I could enjoy playing, so cards like Damnation and Demonic Tutor still belong, I think, but I don't know. I turn it over to the expert LOL. (I also know he'd get a kick out of Coat of Arms.)
I hope to hear from you, even if you don't have the time to help. I just figured there was no harm in asking.
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
Now, I have to admit, one of the reasons I've not yet built a deck around Oona is because black and blue isn't a color combination I've been overly fond of in multiplayer. Plus, I've seen some Oona decks that are just brutal, generating infinite mana and decking everyone…but thankfully the deck that Camron has in mind for his friend Justin isn't really looking for that. He wants to play a good but not necessarily broken deck, he wants to have fun, and he wants to play Bitterblossom.
I think I can work with that!
First and foremost, we need to figure out what we want to do with our commander. Her ability becomes a kill condition if we add in ways to generate infinite mana, and if that's your cup of tea, here's one way to do it: Magus of the Coffers, Umbra Mantle, and six Swamps (most easily done with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth). You'll also want to add in a bunch of Tutors to find the combo pieces. Personally, I'm not really into that, especially given that one combo piece—Oona—is readily available whenever you want her.
However, even if we don't go the infinite mana/mill-out route, her ability is good at two things: making a little Faerie army and exiling cards from opponents' libraries. Some people build 100-card combo machines that are built to do the same thing each game, and Oona is great at putting a huge hole in their plans, so when playing this deck I'd lean towards using her ability quite heavily on those you think might be up to combo shenanigans. Though, of course, if you need maximum Faerie production, you'll want to pick on the mono-colored decks.
Now, because Oona can be a rather scary commander to other players at the table, I've included Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots to help protect her.
Now, Oona's not cheap to cast and her ability demands a lot of mana, so it's not a bad idea to include a lot of mana acceleration in your deck. I've included some of the best ones here—an early Black Market in particular can end up generating a ton of mana once creatures start dying. Druidic Satchel combines nicely with Crystal Ball and Soothsaying to add some nice added land drops.
Bitterblossom, Nectar Faerie, Spellstutter Sprite, Scion of Oona, Sprite Noble, Faerie Harbinger, Inspired Sprite, Wydwen, the Biting Gale, Glen Elendra Liege, Knacksaw Clique, Marsh Flitter, Puppeteer Clique.
After Lorwyn block, there are obviously a ton of Faeries you can mess around with. I started with the "Lords" to help boost the small army you can build from Bitterblossom and Oona and then rounded out with some that are powerful, some that provide utility, and some that are just fun. If you're able to scrounge a Riptide Laboratory, a lot of these get even better, but I didn't include one in my list because of the expense.
A lot of the Faeries above have flash, but I also included Vedalken Orrery and Winding Canyons so that all your creatures can get in on the flash game. Voidmage Husher is a nice Wizard with flash that does a surprising number of useful things in a big, brawling multiplayer game.
Since your friend likes enchantments, I tried to fill out the mana curve by keeping an eye for fun and useful enchantments. Since you also said he doesn't particularly like attacking much, I thought I'd include some ways to win without attacking, like Bloodchief Ascension. Also, if you happen to get Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond in play at the same time, whenever an opponent loses life or if you gain life, you can set off a lethal chain reaction of death. The Vows are a great way to keep a large, powerful creature off your back while making it even more threatening to your other opponents, and Ophidian Eye is a great way to throw a Curiosity on some creature at instant speed that's hopefully attacking an opponent so you can draw a card.
Lastly, I tried to keep an eye out for unusual and interesting cards that just might surprise people or at least force them to read the card text. I thought that since Oona has a pseudo-mill theme, I'd play into that some, not only to provide a potential win by milling but also just to access some of the fun "play with other people's cards" that blue and black have available. Many games can take some funky and interesting turns when you get to play spells from your opponents' decks you wouldn't otherwise get to play in your own blue and black deck.
I'm talking cards like Knacksaw Clique, Memory Plunder, Puppeteer Clique, Beacon of Unrest, Wrexial, the Risen Deep, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Spelltwine, Knowledge Exploitation, and Chancellor of the Spires. These have the nice benefits of working on a sliding scale—if your table is playing a bunch of high-powered cards, you can potentially access them yourself, whereas if your opponents are playing more fun or powered-down stuff, then these effects will be similarly potent.
I included a fair amount of spot removal to try to deal with threats as they come up along with card drawing to keep 'em coming. Darkness always seems to surprise people since no one expects Fog from a black deck. Something like Damnation would be a nice reset button, but its high-dollar price tag kept it from my list since I know you're trying to pull this together for someone else.
Here's the final list for your review:
- 1 Chancellor of the Spires
- 1 Extractor Demon
- 1 Faerie Harbinger
- 1 Glen Elendra Liege
- 1 Inspired Sprite
- 1 Knacksaw Clique
- 1 Marsh Flitter
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Nectar Faerie
- 1 Puppeteer Clique
- 1 Riddlekeeper
- 1 Scion of Oona
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Spellstutter Sprite
- 1 Sprite Noble
- 1 Voidmage Husher
- 1 Geth, Lord of the Vault
- 1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
- 1 Sygg, River Cutthroat
- 1 Wrexial, the Risen Deep
- 1 Wydwen, the Biting Gale
- 1 Basilisk Collar
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Crystal Ball
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Dimir Signet
- 1 Druidic Satchel
- 1 Elixir of Immortality
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sylvok Lifestaff
- 1 Vedalken Orrery
- 1 Venser's Journal
- 1 Black Market
- 1 Bloodchief Ascension
- 1 Exquisite Blood
- 1 Ophidian Eye
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Sanguine Bond
- 1 Soothsaying
- 1 Vow of Flight
- 1 Vow of Malice
- 1 Darkness
- 1 Go for the Throat
- 1 Hero's Demise
- 1 Memory Plunder
- 1 Spoils of Evil
- 1 Tragic Slip
- 1 Victim of Night
- 1 Whispers of the Muse
- 1 Beacon of Unrest
- 1 Spelltwine
- 1 Diviner's Wand
- 1 Bitterblossom
- 1 Knowledge Exploitation
I think the deck came together well and that your friend would enjoy playing it. There are some "staples" that are good, solid cards for the format along with plenty of surprises that should shake up games and get plenty of laughs. I certainly hope this won't be too difficult to pull together for your friend in time for him to play when he gets back. Please let me know what you think and if your friend enjoys playing it!
And thus ends my articles for 2012. I've certainly enjoyed Magic this year—maybe more so than in many years—and really can't wait to see what 2013 brings… I definitely can't wait to write about it too! Have a happy New Year!
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):
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)
- Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)
- Skullbriar, the Walking Grave (how big can it get?)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Yeva, Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius (new player-friendly)
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice (new player-friendly)
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord (drain you big time)
- 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)
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- 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)