Hello friends, and welcome back to Ask a Judge!
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a ton of hype surrounding Commander — from the release of Commander 2015 to the Commander Celebration at
#GPAtlanta. Of course, with new cards come new rules questions! I’ve received some great questions about the Commander 2015 cards, and I can’t
wait to share them with all of you.
At least, once I get done with this Legendary Cube draft on Magic Online…
All right, all right. Cube time is over. To help answer your questions this week, I knew I wanted to find a guest who lives and breathes Commander. So I’ve
turned to one of the biggest Commander aficionados in the business: Elliot Raff!
Hard at work at GP Las Vegas 2015.
I’ve known Elliot for about three years now — he was actually one of the first judges I ever met! A resident of Boston, Elliot is not only a fantastic
judge but also an accomplished musical performer: Last year, he played everyone’s favorite many-layered ogre in Boston University’s performance of Shrek! In addition to his love of musicals, Elliot knows more about Commander decks than anyone I’ve ever known; and when he’s not playing
Commander, he’s probably devising changes to one of his several Cubes.
Given all of this, he’s the perfect person for today’s Commander-focused Ask a Judge, and I’m very happy to have him join in. So, Elliot, take it away!
Commander 2015 Rules Questions
Jim Casale queries: I’m in a 4-player game. I control a 5/5 Prime Speaker Zegana and no other creatures. I attack with Zegana, which is equipped with a
Blade of Selves. How many cards do I draw if I make two copies of Zegana from the myriad trigger?
I spy someone who loves some value, much like myself! The tokens of Prime Speaker Zegana will each enter with five +1/+1 counters (total 6/6). Both copies
want to enter the battlefield at the same time; before doing so, each of them sees that your biggest creature has five power. The “first” Zegana token
doesn’t make the “second” one bigger because they enter simultaneously.
Then, you’ll have to choose a Prime Speaker to keep; after all, she’s the one and only true leader of the Combine! Let’s assume you kept the original.
Finally, you get to resolve your juicy draw triggers. Those triggers will see how large the tokens were before they left, so you will draw a whopping
twelve cards! Hope you’ve got a Reliquary Tower!
If you’re creating more Beasts than the number of creatures your opponents’ control, your bonus Beasts are confused! Everyone is matched up already, and
they can’t engage on a previously engaged creature. That would be a chop block, resulting in a fifteen-yard penalty and an automatic first down! Your
Beasts, disheartened that there’s nothing to fight, scuffle around aimlessly and ready themselves for attack next turn.
I see Blade of Selves is a popular card, and for good reason. Yes, that card is awesome. Scourge of Valkas attacks, and when the myriad trigger resolves,
you can get another Scourge for each other opponent you could attack (let’s assume two more in a four-player game). Each of those Scourges will trigger for
each Dragon that entered the battlefield. So that’s two triggers from the original Scourge and from each token, which means you get six triggers
total, which results in approximately eleventy billion damage. I’m not a number scientist.
Chase Culpon challenges:
Is a card’s “commander-ness” a copiable characteristic?
Unlike the vast majority of things, commander-ness is not a copiable value. It is linked to the physical copy of the card. Remember folks, this format used
to be called Elder Dragon Highlander. Much like the movie Highlander, there can only be one. As a side note, Bastion Protector shields all
commanders you control, not just your own–steal your opponents’ commanders for maximum value!
Oh, that poor, poor Phantom Warrior. He thought he was free and clear to get in there and knock your head around, but he’s no match for himself! Mirror
Match puts a token onto the battlefield blocking the creature, which doesn’t really interact with “can’t be blocked.” Think of “can’t be blocked” as “your
opponent can’t choose to declare a blocker for this creature.” Mirror Match isn’t your opponent (although it may look at a lot like that handsome devil)
and doesn’t care about your silly blocking restrictions!
An anonymous player ponders: I cast Fiery Confluence and choose to destroy my opponent’s Sol Ring, Mox Sapphire, and Mox Jet. In response, my opponent
sacrifices his Sol Ring to cast Shrapnel Blast. What happens to my Fiery Confluence? Since it only says “target” once, is the whole spell countered?
Fortunately for you, your opponent’s Moxen will still explode in a shower of embers.
You may already know that, when casting a modal spell, the modes you don’t choose effectively cease to exist once you put the spell on the stack.
The Confluences work the same way, but take this principle one step further: If you choose the same mode two (or three) times, that mode is essentially
spliced onto the spell an extra time (or two).
So, in this situation, Fiery Confluence basically reads: “Destroy target Sol Ring. Destroy target Mox Sapphire. Destroy target Mox Jet.” As long as at
least one of those targets is still legal, Fiery Confluence will resolve and do as much as it can to the remaining legal targets. In this case, “do as much
as it can” means destroying your opponent’s Moxen. Take that!
Questions with Elliot
Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m a Level 2 Judge from Boston, MA, and co-Area Representative for Greater Boston! During the day, I am a copy editor in the pharmaceutical industry,
which helps to fund my insatiable Cube habit. I play all formats of Magic, but greatly prefer Limited, Cube Draft, Commander, and Modern. I spend my spare
time designing Cubes and Commander decks. I’ve spent a lot of time judging North American Grand Prix and SCG Opens, particularly in the Northeast.
Why did you become a judge?
Originally, I became a judge because I was the “rules guy.” I’ve run events at my LGS since I was thirteen, and the structure and skill of running larger
tournaments was something I was fascinated by. It was also a big help that my local L2 was one of my best friends, now L3 and former guest of this series,
What motivates you to keep judging?
The people. Magic is an amazing game that has touched all of our lives in some fashion or another, but it’s incredible how passionate the players and
judges are. I’ve surrounded myself with passionate people in all aspects of my life, and there is nothing better than being around people who truly care
about what they are doing. I can’t think of any group I am prouder to be a part of than the Magic Judges program. It’s given me my closest friends, best
stories, and a lot of life skills.
What’s your favorite Commander deck you’ve ever built?
Oh me oh my, this is a tough one. I’ve built so many Commander decks over the years; powerful, fun, silly, and anywhere in between. I would say that my
favorite deck is a cross section of all of those, a Cromat build that is centered around Maze’s End. It’s pretty hilarious to see someone exile one of my
Gates and think they can’t die to Maze’s End anymore, and then I animate one of the gates and cast Sakashima the Impostor. Alternatively, Scapeshifting for
Gates is amazing.
Tell me about your Cube.
Which one? I’ve got four!
In all seriousness, my large Cube is something I’m immensely proud of. I often refer to it as my baby. It’s a (roughly) 630-card, powered, fully-foiled
behemoth. I’ve spent about seven years now perfecting it, and I’m happy to say that it’s now the best gameplay that it’s ever been. I may be biased (I am),
but I think it’s one of the most fun Cubes out there. You can see the list at www.cubetutor.com/raffp.
What cards from Commander 2015 are you excited to add to your Cube?
I’ve added Mystic Confluence, Wretched Confluence, Fiery Confluence, and Magus of the Wheel for sure, and we’re still testing Great Oak Guardian. In
testing, those three Confluences have all been very strong, and the fact that Magus of the Wheel hits hard in addition to being a draw-seven is exactly
what a lot of decks want. If your Cube doesn’t include a lot of artifacts, Fiery Confluence may not be worth it, but it’s stellar in powered Cube when you
can reliably use multiple Shatters as well as the burn.
That’s all I have for this week. As always, if you have any questions about rules or tournament policy, let me know! I’d be happy to answer them, and your
question may even be included in a future edition of Ask a Judge. The best way to contact me is by emailing [email protected].