The decks have been distributed and we're ready to dive into our Commander 2017 League. We're going to run it pretty much the same way we did with Commander 2015: after each game we play, we'll be able to swap out one card in the deck for another. Just as in the other Leagues we've run, this will be a singleton format: if a card is already in someone else's pool, no one else can have it. There are a few cards already in the decks which overlap (like how Feline Ferocity and Draconic Domination both have Cultivate in them), but we'll kind of hand-wave that away. For new cards we pick, the singleton rule will, well, rule. Because this is a tribal set, we're going to add a major additional rule.
All creatures must be of the deck's primary tribe or mention the tribe in a positive way. Changelings obviously work for everyone. When we discussed the idea, Dragonmaster Outcast was the first card which came up. We agreed that it's okay for the Dragon deck, whereas Baneslayer Angel wouldn't be. Adaptive Automaton works because it becomes the creature type; Caller of the Hunt is no good because it doesn't. Suddenly, Amoeboid Changeling might be a viable card. We've also agreed that noncreature cards which specifically mention tribes which aren't in the League can't be chosen, such as Feed the Pack.
Planeswalkers also came up. At this point, we decided that, since they're not creatures, we'll allow any of them in your color identity. We agreed that if something on the fringes comes up, we'll simply vote on it. As much as is reasonable, we want to comply with the tribal idea instead of finding ways to rationalize violating it.
Speaking of planeswalkers, you've probably seen the Ixalan rules changes earlier this week to make them legendary permanents. Although this changes the way PWs will function, it does not change any of the rules of Commander. The only cards which are available to be your commander are legendary creatures or any other card which specifically says that it can be a commander. We were aware the change was coming. As I tweeted, the Commander Rules Committee has recently discussed it and we didn't feel as though a change were warranted.
You've already met all the participants, since it's the same crew from the Commander 2016 Rotisserie Draft squad, minus Tom. Since there are only four decks instead of five, Tom agreed to sit out this one. He has quite a bit on his plate at the moment, to include having recently gotten engaged—which means he'll be planning a wedding. We figured it was a reasonable excuse. I have a strong suspicion he'll be back for our next five-person project (not to mention just getting together for normal Commander battles).
We picked the decks randomly. Keith got Draconic Domination; Shea got Arcane Wizardry; Anthony got Vampiric Bloodlust; I got Feline Ferocity. In truth, Anthony and I swapped. He wasn't particularly interested in playing the Cat deck, and I didn't mind trading. Shea and Keith approved the trade.
If you haven't seen the deck lists yet, they're over on the mothership. Each of them looks like a blast to play; we'll see how they work out playing together. This week, I'm going to go through with you my initial thoughts on the Feline Ferocity deck, discuss how I intend to approach the League, and share some ideas on how I intend to sculpt the deck as we go along.
Our League target will be to play at least 25 games together, meaning that each pick off the waiver wire will be quite precious; we'll only get to update about a third of the deck. Note that basic lands are free—if one of decides that we don't like the basic land mix or some of the nonbasics, we can just put them in our reserve pools and fill in. Otherwise, it's one at a time. It'll behoove each of us to have a stack of cards with us so that, if we end up playing three or four games in a session, we'll be able to make significant updates.
The watchword of this deck—right in the name—is ferocity. It wants to get battling as quickly as is possible. It's not strictly a Voltron deck, since the path to the most damage isn't piling up Equipment on Arahbo, Roar of the World; Arahbo can only target another Cat.
It can, however, make another Cat gigantic rather quickly, first with its beginning of combat trigger, then with its attack trigger. Let's look at the case of a smaller creature and a single Equipment with a modest bonus:
Hungry Lynx is a 2/2. Skullclamp makes it a 3/1. In combat, the first trigger makes it 6/4, and paying for the second makes it 12/10, just like that. It gets even scarier when the creature starts bigger. Balan, Wandering Knight in particular might be able to deal 40 damage in a single combat if unblocked.
The creature count at 24 is a little low for my tastes. My likely path forward will be to swap out a few of the Equipment for more creatures. Equipment are cool, but if you don't have creatures to which you can attach them, they're kind of useless.
There are plenty of individual cards in the deck to like. Space limitations prevent us from discussing every card, but let's talk about a few.
Qasali Slingers: Making Cats into Aura Shards is especially tasty when White Sun's Zenith gets involved. Given the composition of the other decks, especially Draconic Domination with its eleven artifacts and ten enchantments, I imagine there will always be targets.
Phantom Nishoba: I've been a fan of this card for a long time. It was in the earliest build of my deck and stayed there until it was simply time to play other cards.
Raksha Golden Cub: Sure, it's one of the Timmiest cards in the deck, but the one time in a dozen that it makes a difference will be glorious.
Stalking Leonin: You had better believe I'm going to use blinks and bounces quite liberally with this card. In addition to simply having a great ability, it's a wonderful rattlesnake. I predict good times (for me) with the card.
Traverse the Outlands: One of the reasons I'll likely swap out some of the enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands in favor of basics, Traverse the Outlands might give me the mana boost I need to keep up with the decks with the larger threats.
Approaching the League
I suspect the Feline Ferocity deck is a bit linear in play, so I'm going to have to keep an eye on how the other players might be anticipating what it does. It looks like it'll be the first threat, although not likely the biggest one, especially once those Dragons get online. Giving my creatures and artifacts hexproof will likely go a long way to keeping a solid battlefield state. There aren't that many Wrath effects running around, so either someone will have to bite the bullet and morph into the control player, or it's just going to be a free-for-all, with everyone having the capability of dealing out haymakers. Without a control player, the ability to prevent damage to oneself might be the way to go. I'm in colors which can Fog, so I think I'll be okay.
From where I'm looking at the moment, Draconic Domination seems like it will rule the roost, especially if the Ur-Dragon sticks around a bit. Its threats are simply natively larger and nastier than everyone else's, which tells me that it doesn't really need the commander in order to be pretty savage.
Of course, there's no slighting the other decks. They both can fire on all cylinders pretty quickly. There might be some curvy hand with the Vampiric Bloodlust deck that just gets it there, although it seems like it will be the slowest. Arcane Wizardry sounds like it's kind of durdly, eventually establishing some kind of soft lock with Galecaster Colossus, but in truth it can be pretty savage in its own right.
I'm also curious about how the Curses play out. I'm not a fan of either one of mine, and they might be early cuts. Curse of Bounty—like anything which untaps stuff—seems like it's the most likely to get out of hand. Everyone's favorite will be Curse of Verbosity, because who doesn't love cards, right?
There are simply too many Cats in the two colors to discuss all of them. Here are the best candidates, and why I like them. Amusingly, there were four or five cards that I put on this list which I then had to remove because they were already in the deck.
Ajani's Pridemate: Every legal Ajani card gets consideration, right? If I have to pick just one, I'd almost go for Ajani Steadfast, just to see if I could get to that emblem with any regularity. Ajani's Pridemate probably does more work more often, though. The deck can gain some life, so turning a small Pridemate into a large one is reasonable. Would consider adding an enchantment like True Conviction.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos: Good power/toughness ratio, creates more Cats, all upside. Can be a utility blocker if need be, especially if people forget the extra Cat it creates.
Felidar Guardian: There's no way yet to cast my creatures as instants, so I'm not going to confuse Blinky the Cat with Restoration Angel, but there are definitely shenanigans to be performed.
Fleetfoot Panther: Gating creatures have always been personal favorites. Even though "damage on the stack" days are long gone, doing tricks with bouncing creatures leads to high quality plays. With Qasali Slingers on the battlefield, Fleetfoot Panther could be a repeatable Disenchant.
Healer of the Pride: I'm going to have creatures entering the battlefield. Might as well gain some life. Since we're going tribal, I can't add Suture Priest, so Healer of the Pride might fit the bill.
Hunting Cheetah: Portal Three Kingdoms cards are techy enough, but one that searches up lands is even better. Not that it's likely to make a difference in this deck, but note that it's any damage that the Hunting Cheetah does which will trigger its ability, not just combat damage.
Leonin Abunas: Get your hands off my artifacts!
Nacatl War-Pride: Creating more Cats, even temporary ones, seems like lots of fun and profit. A sacrifice outlet to go with Nacatl War-Pride will be nice, but I'll have to figure out one that's theme-appropriate.
Pride Sovereign: Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation having Cats is pleasing to me, since I get to play around with some new cards and still stay on-theme. There are definitely more of them that I'd like to play than I have room for.
Prowling Serpopard: There aren't that many counterspells running around the League yet—but you never know.
Regal Caracal: The Lord of all Cats will without a doubt be my first pick. Dealing damage and gaining life at the same time is winning in my book.
Sabertooth Nishoba: Another long-forgotten creature which got a fair amount of play back in the format's formative days, that protection from red and protection from blue will pay great dividends in the League.
Whitemane Lion: Another method of getting addition enters-the-battlefield triggers and potentially saving bigger, better creatures.
The issue won't be with which cards to pick up, but which to take out, especially on the creature front. There aren't too many of them which I consider suboptimal.
As far as spells go, I'm going to keep that closer to the breast for now. There are certainly obvious candidates, such as the aforementioned Fogs and other damage prevention spells. Some measure of protection for my permanents is also likely, whether that's making them indestructible, being able to blink them for a time, or just regrow them from the graveyard.
Every pick will need to be something significant and potentially game-changing since we'll have so few of them. On the upside, this means that not every card I might want will be grabbed by someone else. As far as I'm concerned, I should automatically get Turn the Tables because of the Cat picture on it. Your mileage may vary.
I look forward to having a great time exploring the possibilities of the deck beyond its original design, especially in concert with the other three decks and the directions Shea, Keith, and Anthony will take them. I hope to bring you a Commander 2017 League play-by-play in the near future, we well as all the exciting action and epic plays that come along with the 100-card decks.
This Week's Idiotic Combo
Inspired by a card in the Feline Ferocity deck and staying within the W/G color identity, this week's combo adds Zendikar Resurgent to a base of Ornithopter, Enduring Renewal, Phyrexian Altar, Peace of Mind, and Archangel's Light.
Cast Ornithopter. Zendikar Resurgent triggers. If it's a creature, put it into your graveyard; if it's not, put it in your hand. Sacrifice Ornithopter to Phyrexian Altar for white mana. Repeat. Eventually put all the creature cards into your graveyard and the rest of your deck into your hand. Use Peace of Mind to sink the mana, gain a bunch of life, and most importantly, discard all the cards you won't cast just yet. Cast Archangel's Light. Repeat, with some additional way of getting Archangel's Light back into your hand, like having Eternal Witness and Resurrection in the deck.
This Week's Deck Without Comment is Lavinia Blinks.
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Angel of Finality
- 1 Clone
- 1 Cloudblazer
- 1 Crusading Knight
- 1 Deadeye Navigator
- 1 Disposal Mummy
- 1 Eldrazi Displacer
- 1 Felidar Guardian
- 1 Frost Titan
- 1 Galepowder Mage
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Man-o'-War
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Phyrexian Ingester
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 1 Resolute Archangel
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Slithermuse
- 1 Sphinx of Uthuun
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Vizier of Deferment
- 1 War Priest of Thune
- 1 Wispweaver Angel
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Isperia, Supreme Judge
- 1 Venser, Shaper Savant
- 1 Ephara, God of the Polis
- 1 Azorius Cluestone
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Crystal Shard
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Portcullis
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Strionic Resonator
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Equilibrium
- 1 Future Sight
- 1 Azorius Charm
- 1 Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Eerie Interlude
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Ghostly Flicker
- 1 Hibernation
- 1 Restore the Peace
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Sphinx's Revelation
- 1 Turnabout
- 1 Vanish into Memory
- 1 Day of Judgment
- 1 Planar Cleansing
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever;
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox; Animar's Swarm; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke's Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith's Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; You Take the Crown, I'll Take Leovold; Zombies of Tresserhorn;
Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over
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."