99 Problems – Intent On Intet

Tuesday, May 3 – Sean McKeown reaches into the mailbag again this week, taking an Intet deck and making cuts and suggestions; read his thought process on building and improving Commander decks.


I’ve been playing EDH for about a year and a half now and have gone through about fifteen decks in that time. Intet was, however, my first and is still
my favorite. The deck has gone through about five different evolutions from aggro, to combo, to control, back to combo, and now to its current version.
While I like having a deck that is multidimensional, I feel the deck is going in way too many directions at the same time, isn’t focused enough, and is
just way too big at the high end of the spectrum (mana-cost-wise). I have top deck and flash effects for Intet, casting triggers, 187 creatures,
copying, ramp, Survival of the Fittest engines, removal, fatties, and a couple other mini-toolboxes (Primeval Titan and Crucible of Worlds to name
two). Overall, there just seems to be way too much happening for the deck to function effectively. Having had a pretty large collection, card
availability hasn’t really been a problem, but at the same time I also have far too many options it seems.

My goal for the deck is to make it fun to play, not overly time consuming, and not a huge pain at the table. I’ve taken cards like Palinchron,
Pestermite, Tidespout Tyrant, Time Warp, and Time Stretch out of the deck because I felt it bogged the game down too much, or just made it unfun for
everyone else. Games devolving into one person trying to resolve T&N over and over again are not fun. Not to say I won’t use cards like those, but
I would like them to be used in a way that doesn’t make everyone groan. Anyway, here is my list. I’d really appreciate your insights, thoughts, and
suggestions on how to make the deck more focused, very playable, and also fun for everyone involved (but I still like to win).

Commander: Intet, the Dreamer

Intet, the Dreamer
Test deck on 05-08-2011
Magic Card Back

Hi Taylor,

I’ve picked your deck to work on for this week’s article, so I’ve got a few questions for you.

1) I’m glad to hear you’re trying to step back from the ever-escalating nuclear arms race, but how about everyone else you’re playing with—are you
facing off against people who build their decks to follow down the same repeating lines (like ‘only ever wins the game when casting Tooth and Nail’ or
‘Zur the Enchanter attacking with seven enchantments on him’), combo and/or lock decks, or just the more conservative fun-seekers who want to do
relatively fair things and have a good time playing a long game?

2) What are your five favorite cards to draw, the ones that do the hardest work for you, are the most fun, or are just the ones you’d like to tutor for
if given the chance somehow?

3) What are the five biggest disappointments, the cards that are working their way out of your deck because they haven’t been pulling their weight

Answer those, and I’ll begin formulating what advice I may be able to offer you.

Hi Sean, 

1) My local playgroup is very diverse when it comes to levels on competitiveness. There are some people that will run very weird, out there decks like
group hug Karona, or a Doran deck based around Lich. These kinds of decks probably account for about 50% of our meta. Then there are a few players
(I’ve unfortunately usually fallen into this category) who seem to want to win no matter what. Whether it be a Sharuum combo deck, or a G/W Rhys deck
that usually ends up winning with Crovax, Ascendant Hero + Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, or locking people out with Erayo + Arcane Laboratory. There are some
that aren’t as bad, but most of the people falling into this category have their decks super finely tuned and care little about how much “fun” everyone
else is having watching them play. These account for about 30% of our meta. And lastly, there are several players that have very limited card
selection, so they usually have just thrown some of what they like the most (only in EDH would this be possible), and sit down and play. They usually
are just there to have fun and account for about 20% of our meta. The problem I’ve been running into is if I don’t have something to keep the 30% of
Spikes in check, they usually will run away with the game and not look back. But I still want to be able to interact with everyone and have us all have
a good time.

2) Probably my five favorites in the deck have been: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Survival of the Fittest, Scroll Rack, Lurking Predators, and Greater

3) The five I’ve most thought about weeding out are as follows: Lotus Cobra, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Gilded Lotus, Wurmcoil Engine, and Trygon Predator.
I just don’t feel each of them do quite enough when I draw them. 

Thanks again!

— Taylor

Intet is one of those tricky problems, based solely on the fact that as the only Commander currently viable for that particular color wedge, it has a
very strongly defining nature that suggests you play along with it in order to make it worth your while. B/G/W has two options, sparing it the
‘problem’ of having to rely on Teneb, the Harvester, while Vorosh, Oros, and Numot all have fairly light touches when it comes to building your deck.
Not so Intet: with one swing of your Commander, you get to cast the top card off your deck, and the more worthwhile that card is, the happier you are.
There is the counterbalancing force you spoke of as well… the first time you Time Stretch is fun; the hundredth time is rather boring. But what it
sounds like you’re looking for is the competitive balance between fun and powerful, not necessarily playing all the ‘Commander staples’ but instead
having a well-designed deck that does powerful things regardless of whomever else recognizes those things as powerful.

Reaching that balance can be hard. Falling away from the tipping point will either make you displeased (because you’re not winning anymore) or your
playgroup unhappy (because the games are unfun), and it’s a hard place to find in the first place. But the benefits of reaching that point are clear…
you still get to win your fair share of games (or perhaps even still more than your fair share, but people still think they’re good games), and your
group doesn’t groan inwardly when you sit down at the table and show who your Commander is.

What you want with this deck is focus, so we’re going to go through this deck in several passes to see what makes sense and what doesn’t. You say first
and foremost there is too much going on; it’s good to always have interesting games, but a different story entirely to open a starting hand and wonder
just what’s going to happen over the next few turns, and base your starting plays off of something that frankly might not develop because you drew the
wrong half of the deck. Instead of building this up in sections like I did for the Lyzolda deck we last looked at, the
broad terms of ‘lands,’ ‘creatures,’ ‘spells,’ and ‘artifacts,’ I am going to see what sorts of things you’re doing and look to focus in on what
matters and re-balance the deck until it’s better in tune with itself.

Mana Acceleration:
Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, Coalition Relic, Bear Umbra, Kodama’s Reach, Mana Reflection, Skyshroud Claim, Wood Elves, Seedborn Muse, Oracle of Mul Daya,
Primeval Titan, Lotus Cobra, Solemn Simulacrum

Card Drawing:
Future Sight, Greater Good, Lurking Predators, Rhystic Study, Sylvan Library, Consecrated Sphinx, Djinn of Wishes, Magus of the Future, Mulldrifter,
Oracle of Mul Daya, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Tutoring and Filtering Effects:
Scroll Rack, Sensei’s Divining Top, Cream of the Crop, Survival of the Fittest, Sylvan Library, Tooth and Nail, Worldly Tutor, Fauna Shaman, Primeval

Board Control:
Decimate, Treachery, Acidic Slime, Bogardan Hellkite, Draining Whelk, Glen Elendra Archmage, Indrik Stomphowler, Mystic Snake, Stormtide Leviathan,
Woodfall Primus, Terastodon, Trygon Predator, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Steel Hellkite, Duplicant, Oblivion Stone

Genesis, Regrowth, Eternal Witness, Artisan of Kozilek, Mimic Vat, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

And then there is the “fatty” category, into which a lot of things can fall if we try to look at them that way. Four out of five of the “things you
like” cards focus on doing something with creatures and are themselves very powerful Commander cards, and the fifth is the mighty Scroll Rack
which can do very potent things with your Commander and happens to be great with all the miscellaneous shuffle effects you have as well to help you
potentially see every single card in your deck over the course of a game. The “things you don’t like” so far are creatures that are underperforming or
things that are just too expensive for what you get back from them (or possibly both, in the case of Akroma, as you’ve noticed).

Following these trends, and your desire to just tighten up the deck some more, we’re going to see the defining characteristic for inclusion in your
deck should be how well something is doing its job, or whether that job needs to be done in the first place. In essence, we need to justify every slot
in the deck and those cards who can’t stand up to that sort of scrutiny will be politely told to disappear to make room for ones that can. Creatures
have to do more than just attack, after all, and your spells must be worth the mana you pay for them and also the spell slot in your deck it takes to
put them there.

First Cut: On my first pass through the deck, I pulled out the mighty few, the cards that so clearly justified themselves as the backbone of your deck
that there was never any doubt whether they would be in it as we move to the second pass. Those were:

Creatures — Woodfall Primus, Seedborn Muse, Primeval Titan, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Genesis, Fauna Shaman, Eternal Witness, Draining Whelk,
Consecrated Sphinx, Solemn Simulacrum, Duplicant, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Spells — Mimic Vat, Sol Ring, Oblivion Stone, Sensei’s Divining Top, Scroll Rack, Worldly Tutor, Tooth and Nail, Survival of the Fittest, Regrowth,
Lurking Predators, Insurrection, Greater Good, Future Sight, Sylvan Library

Second Cut: On my second pass through the deck, I wanted to identify the very clear role-players that were supporting that skeleton… be it the humble
ramp spells that helped you to function or the small card advantage effects that quietly can add up over the course of a game. Utility creatures that
filled a unique role were also noted here, as you can reasonably build chunks of your deck around having a Survival effect in play at some point in the
game or another, as you can’t have something in your toolbox if you don’t include it in your deck.

Creatures — Acidic Slime, Anger, Mulldrifter, Mystic Snake, Terastodon, Wood Elves, Krosan Tusker

Spells — Kodama’s Reach, Rhystic Study, Treachery

Literally everything else goes up on the chopping block, as we try to figure out what your deck is doing and what should be considered to swap things
around. You have a good assortment of ways to control artifacts and enchantments, playing to Green’s strength as the primary Disenchant (sorry,
‘Naturalize’) color, can keep control of the board fairly adequately, have plenty of powerful spells that are worth playing and a good number of ways
to control the top card of your deck be it for Intet’s ability or just your own desire to draw good cards turn after turn. Your deck is looking like it
wants to be asking the questions and directing the pace of the game, you’re clearly beating down and making problems instead of controlling the board
and finding solutions, and so we’re going to try and take advantage of this fact by pushing the focus in this direction, framing the way the game plays
out on your own terms and not really trying to ‘control’ the game so much as push through it.

Also worth noting: you told me your collection is pretty extensive, so I am going to take that to mean ‘price no object’ whether that is true or not.
If the expense of some of these options far exceeds any realistic opportunity to make it occur, that’s simple and I’ll list a few other cards beyond
the 99 I’d try to put into the deck that I think are worthy candidates. The reason for this disclaimer, of course, is that I am seeing your deck and
what is trying to do and reaching for Mana Crypt and Mana Drain… so if $200 in two pieces of cardboard is above and beyond the reasonable limit then
so be it, but without any hint of budgetary constraint those both sound to me like worthy contenders for the deck.

This is a deck after my own heart. It’s fair but mighty, relatively innocent but not to be underestimated. You could aim to be a degenerate deck but
shy away from that, and it is this restraint that I have said is the most important
when it comes to playing Commander. And I have plenty of ideas for you. So we’ll go down the list of cards that are not a) listed as
‘safe,’ above, or b) a land, and go from there. And your lands won’t be untouched either, I think we can work a little bit harder with some of them too
if we try.

Coalition Relic
Coalition Relic is potent as a mana accelerant, but you’ll notice diminishing returns as you go higher and higher up the mana curve for your fixers,
as well as additional hazard costs to go along with them when the mass sweepers start to hit. Coalition Relic helps you to jump from three mana to six
mana, spending your turn three to improve your turn four dramatically, but that’s nothing compared to what you can do with a Mana Crypt at your
disposal. Mana Crypt, too, can jump you from three to six by turn four, but it can do so many other things even earlier that it is worth considering if
it is even an option. Imagine casting Kodama’s Reach on turn one thanks to Mana Crypt, letting you spend up to five mana on your second turn… for pure power alone, I think Coalition Relic doesn’t get the nod for inclusion before Mana Crypt does, and I think two is a good
limit to draw for loose permanents that only tap for mana to affect your mana base.

If you can’t afford a Mana Crypt, keep it as it is, no big deal. I can still however think of a card that might be a better investment for your deck
specifically if you can’t add Mana Crypt, that being Mind Stone. Mind Stone gets around the investment of a card on the table that can just be wiped
away the first time somebody plays a sweeper, by cashing itself in for a fresh draw if it’s going to go away, and in the meantime it helps you jump to
four mana on turn three and potentially start playing your meaningful threats or further pushing your board. And unlike either of these choices, the
weaker addition will help protect against mana-flood, by at the very least cycling if you draw it later in the game when you really are just hoping for
any spell. Suggestion: becomes Mana Crypt. If Mana Crypt is inaccessible, becomes Mind Stone instead.

Gilded Lotus
— Five mana is too much to spend for this; by the time you are able to spend five to cast it, you will want to be doing other things, so we will focus
on cheaper ramp cards and making those ramp cards work harder or being more stable if possible. Suggestion: cut entirely. (We’ll fill in loose slots
that don’t have direct replacements suggested later on.)

Crucible of Worlds
— I approve of the land-related sub-focus; you don’t have to work it very hard to get value out of it, and it is practically invisible as far as slots
in your deck goes. However… that said, I can think of a better inclusion than just Crucible of Worlds to accomplish this task, one which will allow
you to shift your deck around a little bit design-wise and perform the same tasks Crucible was doing more-or-less while also potentially interacting as
effective card-drawing and working with your graveyard recursion elements by potentially giving them more things to work with.

Adding Life from the Loam comes with some changes to your mana-base (specifically, to include the three on-color Onslaught cycling lands) but rewards
you very well when you get it running, being invisible to your draw phase with just one cycling land and leading to pure profit with more than one.
While we’re at it, it increases the size of your hand for Scroll Rack and has Dredge, so it can even clear dead cards off the top of your deck in order
to give you more choices sooner with all the cards that can pick and choose between the top cards of your library each turn, just giving it better
synergy overall with what you’re already doing and thus tying this particular sub-theme back into your major themes (‘card drawing’ and ‘recursion’ and
‘selecting the top of your deck’ all being things you consider worthwhile). Suggestion: becomes Life from the Loam.

Bear Umbra
Bear Umbra is very powerful, but fragile even despite the inherent strengths of the card thanks to Totem Armor. One more mana on the turn you’re
making that big investment to untap your lands can instead get you Sword of Feast and Famine, which has to work a little harder to get your untap out
of it but also doesn’t become an utter waste in the face of one removal spell cast in response. Bear Umbra always does its thing just by declaring
attacks… but Sword of Feast and Famine does its thing more often, by the simple fact that an Equipment is much more resilient of a permanent than an
enchant creature card. The two colors of protection are very nice too, and help you get that free untap pretty often. Suggestion: becomes Sword of
Feast and Famine

Bribery is an odd one sometimes, and in this case I’d say that as much as you’d like the card for its sheer beatdown purposes, getting to use it
early on in this fashion contributes to the crushing aspect of the deck in an unfun way… and using it later on in the game it’s just another creature
with high variance, either very good or somewhat mediocre depending on who you target and whether they have an effective response to it. Sure, you
could get Blightsteel Colossus, but that same Colossus could just get bounced and give you a problem that you just handed to an opponent that you now
have to contend with. Against the budget decks you’re talking about being a fair chunk of the field, there aren’t really going to be good targets;
against the combo decks you can maybe take an important piece like Kamahl out of the equation, but let’s be honest, they have Genesis and Eternal
Witness too so unless you literally kill them with it, you won’t accomplish as much as you’d like by pointing this at them.

The other 50% of your metagame, the fellow fair-playing well-tuned beatdown decks, you’re going to have some good choices… maybe you can take their
Primeval Titan on turn five and start to really accelerate yourself, or maybe they have Blightsteel Colossus or an Eldrazi and you can potentially
squelch their fun. What this looks like is a card that isn’t playing quite the way you want to play the deck against the fair players, and which
doesn’t do enough against the unfair ones, so I’d look for a tool that can be used to neutralize a dangerous threat from developing their game that
won’t have the same problem of sometimes squelching an entire table’s fun. (It will absolutely squelch one player’s fun, but point it at the guy who
deserves it and all’s fair in love and war.)

The card I am suggesting for you in this case is the under-represented Amnesia, Blue’s version of Mind Twist from The Dark. Point this at your resident
combo player and see him fail to go off from there, turning his powerful combo deck into a series of bad topdecks as he loses all ability to defend
himself or threaten to take control. And against fair decks you can still just point this at whichever player has gained a powerful lead and use it as
a catch-up mechanism, which it looks to me like this deck would appreciate having a few more of to call its own. You’re great when you’re ahead but
looks like you might have trouble catching up when someone else comes out strong, and being able to find Amnesia can help undermine a strong player’s
lead. Suggestion: replace with Amnesia.

Cream of the Crop
— The worst of your top-card-matters cards, Cream of the Crop can trigger very nicely when it’s working right but can be absolutely dead if you don’t
already have a comfortable set of tools to work with already. It’s good in tandem with other things instead of just good itself, and can be a little
awkward when trying to set things up with Intet since you will usually get to draw that card and have no idea what is under it before you turn sideways
and get your trigger. I would suggest using another top-of-deck manipulator instead, and think Soothsaying can fill Cream of the Crop’s shoes very
nicely. It’s not as powerful when you’re casting Eldrazi, sure, but who really needs help when you’re already rich? In the games where you have plenty
of mana but not a lot of action going on, Cream of the Crop is a mix of digging and shuffling, which can make the best of any number of bad situations
with a few turns of judicious application. And unlike Cream of the Crop, when it comes time to bash with your Commander you’ll have had the ability to
sort your deck at least enough to have a good card on top instead of a mystery, and won’t have to tap mana before you attack. Suggestion: becomes

— A ‘good stuff’ card that is a powerful answer to a variety of board situations, able to take out a Kozilek, a Lurking Predators, a Boseiju, and a
Sensei’s Divining Top all at the price of one spell and four mana. (Just kidding about the Top, we all know those pesky things are unkillable.) Sure,
you get a lot of value for your spell… but sometimes you just won’t be able to cast it, and some of the problems you’re describing as common
occurrences lock up at instant speed anyway so this powerful Sorcery won’t help. It’s a pure ‘good-stuff’ card and one that isn’t really helping you
out, even though it is always awesome to cast Decimate. Suggestion: cut entirely.

Leyline of Anticipation
— Another ‘good stuff’ card, but one that is so much more attractive simply because it lets you overcome that problematic sorcery-speed limitation that
can be such a hassle otherwise. I just don’t like it as a card in most decks, since it costs a fair bit of mana and time to devote to gaining this
ability and can just end up disappearing at the wrong time the first time Oblivion Stone happens. Most of what you’d want to turn into an Instant is a
creature anyway, so I’d suggest you lean a little bit harder on the awesome Winding Canyons and use this slot for a ‘second copy’ as it were.
Expedition Map can solve your problems early on by finding you the right land to work with, can always just turn into ‘draw a card’ by finding a
cycling land, and later in the game gives you another chance at a much-needed Winding Canyons, Strip Mine or Mystifying Maze to shore up your position.
Suggestion: replace with Expedition Map.

Mana Reflection
— Rocket fuel for your deck. Also a card that will get people very, very upset at you and will put the bullseye T-shirt on you as the major target,
whether you are actually the problem or not. Rocket fuel is good, though, and I don’t want to look at every powerful card in your deck and tell you to
cut it, I even feel kind of bad about suggesting Bribery come out still, but there is a possible way you can slightly de-power this slot and take some
of the onus of being ‘the guy who looks like he is winning’ out of the equation while still getting most of the same job accomplished. Mana Reflection
is excellent, but you can do much of the same with Caged Sun out of New Phyrexia as soon as it becomes available, and it might be worth considering
that option to accomplish much of the same goal without the dirty word ‘double!’ on a card that talks about your mana pool. It’s a little bit easier to
kill… but also a lot less necessary, and comes with a potentially advantageous power pump that can turn your Commander from a four-turn clock to a
three-turn one. Suggestion: Keep. (Consider Caged Sun as a possible alternative, to get most of the same effect with less of the problematic ‘they all
want to kill me’ thing that is a known bug issue with Mana Reflection.)

Skyshroud Claim
— Good at finding nonbasic Forests, like your Taiga and Tropical Island, but to my mind it doesn’t seem quite as good as the Kodama’s Reach you are
already playing, spending three mana is a fair bit different than spending four mana. Turn three can be used easily to help establish your mana ramping
for a solid turn five, while turn four being used to set up a nice turn five sounds a little bit too much like potentially falling behind. Since
Kodama’s Reach sounds like it works better for the deck overall, I’d reach for the second legal copy before I’d reach for Skyshroud Claim, and swap
this card out for Cultivate. Suggestion: replace with Cultivate.

Spitting Image
— A powerful and awesome spell, if somewhat expensive. It’s one of those awesome and goofy cards that’s underappreciated because enemy colored hybrids
can be difficult to fit into a deck. You could Clone things for less, but without the recursion effect that Spitting Image offers, and this is the good
intersection between powerful, awesome, and fun that you strive for in Commander. Wanting to use this card better is part of the reason for switching
to Life from the Loam over Crucible of Worlds, as well, as it is able to help Retrace on this card while Crucible doesn’t put any lands in your hand.
In fact, with enough mana (hey, we kept Mana Reflection, twenty mana’s not unreasonable!) you can cast Life from the Loam for three lands and turn
those three lands into three uses of Spitting Image. That might just be worth the occasional replacement of a draw step, and a little bit of Dredge
action before you’ve revealed Spitting Image might just help it to appear more often as well. Suggestion: Keep! And other choices have been made to
assist in using it powerfully.

That’s it for the spell slots from your original list, now it’s time to move on to your lower-importance creature spells. Some of them you weren’t
happy with like Akroma and Lotus Cobra, and some of them I didn’t think were as important like Wonder: great with Survival running, kind of mediocre
otherwise. Since part of the thing we’re trying to improve is the deck’s overall robustness and the speed with which it deploys threats, I am looking
at duplicates of comes into play triggers, potential do-nothings, and high-cost creatures that might not be quite powerful enough to make up for the
fact that you have to hold onto them that long in order to be able to cast them. An easy catch-up mechanism is designing your deck to fall behind just
a little less often, and shaving the top end without sacrificing quality or potency is worth considering.

Akroma, Angel of Fury
— Red is the scarcest color so far by all appearances, with more of a focus on Blue and Green mana, so Akroma will be hard to take advantage of for
anything less than her full retail price. If we were talking White Akroma, I’d be interested, but Red Akroma sadly got the short end of the stick
between the two and is just not impressive enough to be worth including. I do like Dragon-sized creatures, but the frank fact is that they have to have
some additional benefits besides large size to justify their inclusion. Some element of board control to go with your beater is necessary, so I am
going to introduce you to my red eight-drop dragon of choice: Scourge of Kher Ridges. Instead of Akroma’s abilities, which frankly don’t do enough to
merit inclusion even though they seem so excellent, this fattie is also a spell-casting machine, able to crank out instant speed Rough / Tumble at your
pleasure. You have the ability to search up creatures with some regularity, and this one is one you’ll be happy to have appear in play time and time
again. A fair card that is very good against the fair people, and even some of the unfair people… that green-white creature based deck may be able to
lock out a game with Kamahl and Crovax but it will have a hard time actually doing much at all with Scourge in the skies. Suggestion: replace with
Scourge of Kher Ridges.

Avenger of Zendikar
— The truth of the matter is, Avenger of Zendikar wins games that no other card would. It’s true in Standard, and it’s just as true in Commander, where
having twice as much life doesn’t make you anywhere nearly as safe as it would sound from this man and his horde of angry Plants. When you need to
build an army, well, this’ll do nicely. Suggestion: Keep.

Bogardan Hellkite
— I’m not as enthralled with Bogardan Hellkite, but despite his expense he does very good work. As a tutor target for Survival of the Fittest he fills
a very important role, able to pass around a decent chunk of damage to stray creatures, players and Planeswalkers at your discretion. He is a little
pricey for the body and what he does, but only by today’s ridiculous standards, and his having Flash makes that much easier to bear. Scourge of Kher
Ridges will be the better board control dragon a fair amount of the time, but Bogardan Hellkite works better with your untapped mana (you are after all
still a Blue deck) and occasional trickery like Sword of Feast and Famine. Suggestion: Keep.

Djinn of Wishes
— A 4/4 for five is not really impressive stats, long since gone are the days when Serra Angels ruled the air and saw play in Constructed formats with
a straight face. Djinn of Wishes is an excellent card to help reward you with what you’re already doing well, however, as those three free spells
should always be good ones when you draw the Djinn. Sure, Intet does this and is always ‘in your starting hand’ as it were, but Intet doesn’t turn
things into instants like Djinn of Wishes does and thus these two similar things have distinctly different uses and thus Djinn can occupy its own space
quite nicely. Suggestion: Keep.

Indrik Stomphowler
— Not on the first tier simply because Acidic Slime covers the same permanent types at the same cost but includes Lands as well, Indrik Stomphowler has
twice the attacking power even if he isn’t quite as flexible. Acidic Slime is more versatile and better playing defense; Indrik Stomphowler is less
versatile but plays offense much better. You will have some games where you will want to Survival for one, and other games where you want to Survival
for the other, or even games where you want to kill two artifacts or enchantments and haven’t managed to set up any recursive tricks yet. Both are
worth having, then, and thus Stomphowler deserves his spot. Suggestion: Keep.

Lotus Cobra
— You noted Lotus Cobra as one of your bottom five cards, and this is no doubt due to the fact that you cannot find him with any reliability in the
early game (or, for that matter, guarantee he not be killed by one of your three or more opponents if you do have him turn two) and he’s just kind of a
lame duck in the later game. You want meaningful pieces of cardboard, and while this is one of the best two-drops in either Standard or Extended, in
Commander he’s not quite up to grade. Suggestion: cut entirely.

Magus of the Future
— Unlike Future Sight, this is the same awesome abilities… but stapled to a 2/3 creature, which is fragile enough to die to a stiff breeze by
Commander standards and which can expect to disappear on you before it is really going to accomplish much of anything. I would suspect that even though
this is a version of Future Sight you can tutor up with Survival that you don’t do this very often, and cool though it seems it’s hard to really reap
the rewards for including in your deck. Suggestion: cut entirely.

Oracle of Mul Daya
— Less of a Future Sight than Magus of the Future is, and yet unlike the Magus I would suggest keeping Oracle around. Unlike Magus of the Future, this
creature does something distinctly useful, not just potentially drawing you extra cards each turn but also giving you the ability to play additional
lands each turn, potentially for free off the top of your deck. I can imagine very good hands that start with fast Oracles, such as two lands, Sol
Ring, Oracle of Mul Daya, and the power of Oracle is strong enough that you’ll want to consider using Survival of the Fittest to get him fairly
reliably during the establishing shot of the game. Suggestion: Keep!

Stormtide Leviathan
— I want to not love Stormtide Leviathan, but I have cast Stormtide Leviathan. It is as big of a beating as it sounds. It seems like a goofy card, but
it is an unblockable goofy card that leaves powerful format staples like Inkmoth Nexus unable to do their jobs, and thus is actually a fairly unique
creature to go with your creature-tutoring package and controls the board very well by locking everyone behind an Island Sanctuary to call their own.
Suggestion: Keep.

Trygon Predator
— Another one of your bottom five. Unlike Stomphowler and Acidic Slime, this one has to deal damage to someone to pull off the removal you’re
presumably including him for, and while a 2/3 flier for three mana is very efficient, it’s still something that will be hard-pressed to do its job
after the first few turns of the game against the kinds of cardboard you can expect to appear across the table. It seems like it would be so high value
because it creates a repeating effect, but that effect is so unreliable that it just earns your resentment every time you have it and it’s not working.
I bet you’ve discarded it to Survival of the Fittest to find Indrik Stomphowler more than once by now, and I’d cut it for another creature that
interacts meaningfully with your creature-tutoring aspect of the deck and can likewise make a meaningful impact on the kinds of decks that you need
silver bullet targets against. Suggestion: replace with Loaming Shaman.

— Free evasion when you draw Survival, not much of anything in the games in which you don’t. When you have Survival of the Fittest going, you’re rich,
and your creatures will get haste and the ability to buy back from the graveyard already for free just because you have Anger and Genesis in your deck.
Do you need to add Flying to that? I don’t think so, actually. Haste is meaningful because it allows you to interact in combat without that one-turn
delay; flying interacts in combat by making some of your creatures not able to be blocked by some of their creatures. A fair share of your creatures
already fly, or were never included really for their attacking purposes, so giving utility creatures like Eternal Witness flying is kind of a waste.
Wonder takes up space but offers little, and I would want to replace it with another creature that takes up space but does something very useful for
you to help profit with the things you’re already good at, instead of leaning on Survival of the Fittest harder than you already are. Since you are
excellent at knowing what the top card of your deck is, my suggestion would be to add Conundrum Sphinx to your deck in this slot; it’s also a four-mana
Blue flier, but one that allows you to beat down with a 4/4 flier (way less embarrassing at four than at five!) and draw an extra card a turn.
Sometimes, some of your opponents will get to draw too, but you should always be getting to draw and thus the Sphinx should always be
worthwhile. Suggestion: Replace with Conundrum Sphinx.

Artisan of Kozilek
— You’ve noted you have some bloat at the top end, and Artisan of Kozilek is contributing to that bloat as well, I think. A 10/9 with Annihilator: 2
that resurrects a dead creature sounds pretty awesome of a card, but you don’t seem to lack ways to bring back dead creatures or things to spend a lot
of mana on, and this is just another expensive guy when you’re worried about having drawn too many to put them to good use and not even one that really
usefully contributes to the Survival toolbox: Genesis buys back dead creatures better, and you have better fat. Suggestion: cut entirely.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
— At the low, low price of eleven, Ulamog brings an uncounterable Vindicate to the party. Yes, he Annihilates the opponent and is indestructible, but
the reward for getting up to eleven is small and the body not quite enough to get enthusiastic about… expectations change when you make that kind of
an investment, and for one mana more you could be poison-killing anyone you wanted to. More importantly, in my mind, for one mana less you could draw
four cards instead of cast Vindicate, meaning that in the games where you get to pick and choose which one you get you’ll get Kozilek despite Ulamog
being indestructible, and in the games where you don’t get to choose he’s another incredibly expensive monster that can clog your hand. Suggestion: cut

Wurmcoil Engine
— Unlike the past two, Wurmcoil occupies a pretty sweet spot on your mana curve, as a six can be accelerated to fairly rapidly and start to do good
work for you. However, lifelink means very little to the people who try to stop you from playing entirely, and even with the ability to turn into two
fresh 3/3s when it dies, it doesn’t have any board disruption or meaning besides “counts as a warm body.” Some decks want Wurmcoil Engine exactly
because the lifelink fills a need while it has its strengths well-covered in other places; for your deck I think the six-drop is important as it
competes with other mighty critters in your arsenal and your Commander as well, and that you don’t need the boost of life and have better ways to deal
with creatures dying (read: Genesis) to really need this one to provide additional value. It’s a “good-stuff” inclusion, not one that has actual
benefit to your deck, and thus I would suggest cutting it for something that does benefit your deck. Suggestion: cut entirely.

By my count, after cutting the cards that aren’t doing enough and moving in a few that already suggested themselves as worthwhile contenders there are
seven slots left open where Gilded Lotus, Decimate, Lotus Cobra, Magus of the Future, Artisan of Kozilek, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and Wurmcoil
Engine used to be. I can think of a few very worthwhile additions that will help you to do what you aim to do better — control the board just long
enough to win the game, play awesome spells very well via ramp or off your Commander’s ability, and have meaningful creatures that impact the board and
give you an edge in the games where you get to select specifically for which ones you draw. We’ve cut five creatures and two spells, and I already know
since I am going to advocate switching your lands around a little I want one of those slots as an extra land for your deck… giving us only six slots
to play with. I would advocate for the following additions:

Mana Drain
— Possibly outside of your access and/or price range, but like the Mana Crypt I am going to state what changes I would suggest if there were no
limitations on access to the cards, and let you decide if they’re getting replaced or that can be made to happen. Mana Drain helps you control the
board by giving you an actual, physical Counterspell in your hand, instead of just the creature-based countermeasures you are deploying to fill those
roles. An early Mana Drain gives you a huge tempo swing, enabling you to quickly accelerate some of your powerful threats far before you normally would
be able to, giving you a strong tempo swing from stopping their best spell and then getting to play one that would normally be outside of your reach as
well. It’s the kind of card where R&D would have to get hit by a bus before they ever make one like it again, and is at the very pinnacle of what
still technically counts as fair in Commander. You’re a tempo-based beatdown deck from the looks of things, more than a ‘true’ control deck, and Mana
Drain is at its very best in decks just like this one.

That said, if you don’t have one, that’s nothing against you. I don’t have one, and I’ve been playing Magic since 1995 back when they were still things
you might be able to open in booster packs. I’ve owned Mana Drains, sure… even owned a playset of four of them at one time… but now, holding that
kind of veritable wealth in cardboard form for a card that is usable only in Commander and Vintage? I don’t own Mana Drain anymore, and can understand
not wanting to put that kind of movable wealth into just one card in just one deck. That said, Mana Drain’s not that much more expensive than
TropicalIsland is, so I am making certain assumptions about the sort of means you can live within based on other cards in your deck. A similarly-potent
card that could fill this slot instead is Counterbalance, also not the cheapest of cards these days apparently thanks to its solid home in Legacy, but
one that does something entirely different… and just happens to have a cosmetic similarity thanks to the fact that both theoretically counter spells.
Mana Drain is a powerful tempo play, while Counterbalance can give you a semi-soft-lock that is hard for those pesky combo players to break through in
time, all thanks to the fact that already you are very good at controlling the top card of your deck.

Constant Mists
— And so we go from the broken counterspell to one of the most innocuous Buyback cards of all time. And yet this works very well with the
land-recursion sub-theme or even just the mana-ramping theme that is already clearly present, because playing the game you already intend to play will
give you several turns of use free from combat damage to capitalize on. It’s also a potent political card… when you’re holding Constant Mists not
only do you know that you won’t die from creature damage, but that you can pick and choose whether anyone else can die too while you’re at it.
More than once I’ve been too tough of a nut to crack and my main rival for who is going to win the game will swing at a less-entrenched player for the
kill, and several times Constant Mists coming to the rescue has bought me an ally who owed me quite a sizable favor and helped to take that rival down
from their lofty position. Some decks can’t even stop a Constant Mists… case in point, I’ve faced down from Mayael of the Anima decks that could
never hope to crack past this sneaky buyback spell, and the kinds of things that would have to happen for an Omnath deck (or any monogreen general,
really) to ever beat this… probably involves the phrase ‘annihilator’ being spoken, which is to say Eldrazi-only to kill you.

And unlike Mana Drain, this one’s fifty cents. No less powerful than Mana Drain in the context of the format, I dare say… but drastically less

Gilded Drake
Bribery was cut because it didn’t affect the board while it gave you a powerful threat. Gilded Drake definitely impacts the board… instead of
picking the best threat for the situation out of someone’s deck and rumbling with it, the Drake takes the best threat currently in play for
rumbling purposes. Unlike Sower of Temptation it doesn’t have to stay alive more than five seconds to do it; five seconds is enough, once that trigger
resolves and the exchange is made, all sales are final. Gilded Drake significantly adds to the potency of options available to you in the games where
you control a Survival effect, and is another juicy creature to buy back with Genesis. It’s also an incredibly affordable two mana in addition to all
of these other benefits, and giving the opponent a 3/3 flier should be fine considering what you can expect to receive from them in return. High-power
cardboard, and yet still ultimately fair for the situations you can expect to apply them.

Aeon Chronicler
— Card advantage you can Survival for, as well as just a powerful early play or great mana-sink for all that extra mana you plan on generating with
Mana Reflection. It’s a powerful tempo-positive play you’ll enjoy for the early game, gives you a new angle while honing in on the deck’s strengths
(“make mana, turn mana into cards, beat down”) as well as your inherent tricksiness. Key hint: when you activate Winding Canyons, you can in fact
suspend Aeon Chronicler as an instant. I expect this information to do you a considerable amount of good in the future.

Trinket Mage
Trinket Mage adds a lot of access to your deck’s moving parts, between finding Sol Ring and Mana Crypt for powerful mana-ramping purposes,
finding Expedition Map to in turn find Winding Canyons (and thus giving you a virtual replica of that Leyline of Anticipation, which you can now access
through your Survival of the Fittest engine), or just finding Sensei’s Divining Top and having one of your cards to filter the top of your deck for
Intet or just drawing well through the rest of the game. You might be tempted to go overboard once you add Trinket Mage and start reaching for Trinket
targets, but I don’t think that is really necessary, Trinket Mage is worth including with only a few key cards when adding a Trinket Mage gives you
access to those key cards through Survival of the Fittest.

— Just kidding. We all know New Phyrexia is right around the corner, and that Phyrexian Metamorph is almost strictly an upgrade to good old fashioned
Clone… the only way it could be worse is if you copied a good creature and then lost your ‘Primeval Titan’ to a Shattering Pulse with buyback. The
option to copy an artifact or to shave off the Blue mana for the low price of two life makes the Metamorph almost purely an upgrade, especially since
it is being included to Survival for as a key target and the added versatility of copying an artifact instead of just a creature makes this one just
worth thinking about where Clone might not be good enough otherwise. After all, why clone when you can steal? Phyrexian Metamorph fills enough
interesting corner cases that it’s worth trying out, and fits the Survival engine of your deck very well while also sometimes being a cheap second
Primeval Titan in the games where you draw one fatty and no draw manipulation.

For your mana-base, I have as much as said I would like to make the following three additions: Tranquil Thicket, ForgottenCave, Lonely Sandbar.
Forgotten Cave is added in for a spell slot and doesn’t require any replacements be made, the other two however will require a land to be cut in order
to make room for it. Looking at your manabase and based on what your deck is already going to be able to do with fair regularity, I would replace
Halimar Depths with Lonely Sandbar, and make room for Tranquil Thicket at the behest of either Wasteland or ReliquaryTower. Given what is in the deck
so far (and my general respects for Reliquary Tower, which are rather low) I see two options to cut: Wasteland, because you now have greater ability to
find any one specific land and thus a significantly easier time getting Strip Mine when you need it, and Reliquary Tower. Reliquary Tower meaningfully
interacting with one card, Greater Good, a card which frankly if you are working properly shouldn’t really need you to have an unbounded hand size in
order to win you the game under a massive pile of card advantage.

(And also: yes, I did just realize how Aeon Chronicler interacts with Greater Good and got myself very, very excited. The thought hadn’t even
occurred to me before having told you to put Aeon Chronicler in, and it’s these unexpected and unintended synergies that are part of what makes
Commander such a fun format to explore and play. You can just rush in for the kill with an Aeon Chronicler after taking a whole bunch of your deck into
your hand… or even just feed some men to the Greater Good and then eat the Chronicler for a massively inflated value. Either should be good enough to
do terrible things to the opponent.)

However, we must now balance two things against each other when making this cut: in the games where you need to kill a land, how much will a Wasteland
help on top of a Strip Mine and all the ways to find an individual land, and in the games where you ‘go off’ with Greater Good how important will it be
to have a Reliquary Tower?

Answering my own (obviously rhetorical) question drives me to the conclusion that weak though I consider Reliquary Tower to be, the games you get
Greater Good running will be games where you will want to rely on the presence of a Reliquary Tower somewhere in your deck, while the games
where you need a Strip Mine effect you have the entire Survival of the Fittest engine to draw it with, all of your Top + shuffle effects to give you
more chance at {Survival effect OR Trinket Mage OR Expedition Map OR Strip Mine OR Tolaria West}. Adding a Wasteland on top of that doesn’t actually
increase your chances that much, while you will want to have Reliquary Tower in the games where you use Greater Good to its full power, and
having already built in a lot of extra redundancy in order to find Winding Canyons you can now rely on that same extra redundancy to find Strip Mine
with greater frequency. Considering you also have Terastodon, Woodfall Primus, and Acidic Slime to lean on if you need to, the value of your Wasteland
has presumably decreased, so it’s the safer of the two to cut.

That said, before giving you the decklist I’ve worked up for you, you might want to consider the following New Phyrexia cards:

Phyrexian Metamorph definitely instead of Clone

Caged Sun potentially instead of Mana Reflection (your call)

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur for sheer awesomeness (can presumably replace Amnesia, if you think you can get Jin on time, and has the advantage of sort of
being an Amnesia you can Survival for if the time is right… oh, and basically wins you the game if you get through your turn with it intact)

Beast Within for general utility purposes.

Batterskull for sheer awesomeness.

So here’s the decklist I came up with for your consideration:

Intet, the Dreamer
Sean McKeown
Test deck on 05-08-2011

And to help you have a look at how you might want to consider taking advantage of some of the $20 StarCityGames.com store credit you’ll be receiving
for being the deck I feature this week, here’s a list of the prices for the cards I suggested this week:

Expedition Map $0.15
ForgottenCave $0.25
Lonely Sandbar $0.25
Tranquil Thicket $0.25
Aeon Chronicler $0.49
Amnesia $0.49
Constant Mists $0.49
Conundrum Sphinx $0.49
Soothsaying $0.49
Trinket Mage $0.49
Cultivate $0.99
Loaming Shaman $0.99
Scourge of Kher Ridges $0.99
Mind Stone $1.49
Caged Sun $3.99
Phyrexian Metamorph $3.99
Life from the Loam $5.99
Gilded Drake $9.99
Counterbalance $9.99
Sword of Feast and Famine $24.99
Mana Crypt $69.99
Mana Drain (Italian) $109.99
Mana Drain $129.99

In two weeks: looking at New Phyrexia for Commander purposes, to see how the set warps what the colors are capable of and which cards you can expect to
find a home in some Commander deck somewhere in the future. I won’t be revisiting a deck clinic until at least the article following that, so while I
am glad to have had so many respondents asking to be featured here in 99 Problems, I won’t be able to consider another deck for a deck clinic
for at least two weeks. Sorry everyone!

Sean McKeown