Battlebond, Dominaria, And SCG CON

Sheldon Menery shows off his Commander updates ahead of his big Commander Celebration appearance at SCG CON!

A few weeks back, I mentioned which decks I would be bringing with me to SCG CON. That was before we had gotten the full report on Battlebond, so I thought it would be only fair to mention which cards from the set I’ll be putting into those decks. I’d also like to remind you of which Dominaria cards are headed into those decks (here’s the full Dominaria report) and then talk a bit about how I think things work best in the Command Zone (or any spell-slinging situation, really).

Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers

In: Play of the Game; Zndrsplt, Eye of Chaos; Toothy, Imaginary Friend.

Out: Austere Command, Skyward Eye Prophets, Hermit of the Knatterknolls.

Here I’m simply trading one giant battlefield wipe for another. Play of the Game was the card I mentioned on this week’s podcast as one of my top picks. In addition to being fond of the Assist mechanic in general, Play of the Game just does what I want it to do, even if I’m not asking for help.

Speaking of asking for help, one of the ways that I’ve found makes a great deal of difference when you’re asking another player to give you a hand is the promise of limited immunity. If they do the thing we need done for the table’s safety and security, then I’m okay with leaving them alone for a turn. Conversely, if I expend a great deal of resources in order to deal with (or perhaps eliminate) the problem player, then I’d ask for immunity from the table for a turn. For the most part, that immunity doesn’t mean “not targeting my stuff,” but rather means “don’t attack me,” since I’ve had to leave myself open in a fashion I wouldn’t have otherwise. I know that there are players who don’t like the negotiation elements of multiplayer games; they’re in fact one of the things I personally enjoy the most.

If you’re going to play Toothy, you have to play Zndrsplt. The deck is built around the Maro-Sorcerers and card draw, and both of these creatures like to draw cards. The real decision here is what kind of coin I’ll bring to flip. It can’t be simple—maybe it’ll be one of the commander’s coins from my military career or some odd piece of international currency I picked up somewhere.

There weren’t any Dominaria cards for Phelddagrif.

Kresh Into the Red Zone

In: Thrilling Encore

Out: Makeshift Mannequin

Thrilling Encore is probably my favorite card from Battlebond. Regular readers know that I love graveyards (and I’m certainly not alone in that), and I can’t imagine a card that makes better use of graveyard technology. In my local environment especially, we have lots of battlefield wipes. I just hope someone has the foresight to have Avalanche Riders as one of their cards so that I can take out the (hopefully tapped) Homeward Path.

Kresh got Phyrexian Scriptures from Dominaria. Chapter Two of said Saga dovetails extremely nicely into Thrilling Encore (especially if I one of those cards that went to the graveyard was my—or I suppose someone else’s—Urabrask the Hidden).

Halloween with Karador

In: Krav, the Unredeemed

Out: Ghost Council of Orzhova

Some part of me dislikes removing classic cards from decks; the other part is happy about new cards getting their shot. The thing that goes along with my love of graveyards is the sacrifice outlet. People will always try to do things to your stuff. Sacrifice outlets let you at least get something for it. Krav obviously goes straight alongside Stalking Vengeance as a kill mechanism in a Kresh deck, but mine doesn’t have the heaviest commitment to black; Karador, however, thrives on the color, so this is the right spot for Krav.

Karador’s Dominaria update was Final Parting, which is me dipping my toe in the waters of tutoring. We’ll see how I feel about the temperature after I’ve played it a few times. I’ve been on the anti-tutor side for so long—in Commander, not in other formats—that it’s hard to say how I’m going to feel about it.

Dreaming of Intet

No Battlebond changes.

I agonized over either putting in the Kenrith couple (twins? I’m not sure of the lore here) or Lore Weaver/Ley Weaver, mostly because Ley Weaver untaps Gaea’s Cradle—but I wonder how much that actually needs to happen. I guess untapping Cradle and Kessig Wolf Run would be a little silly.

From Dominaria, this deck put in The Mirari Conjecture for Rhystic Study. Objectively, the latter is the better card by a pretty clear margin. When you want to play new cards, you have to make hard choices. Plus, it’s in the running for coolest card name ever.

You Did This to Yourself

In: Will Kenrith, Rowan Kenrith

Out: Gather Specimens

If they didn’t go into Intet, this is the place for them. The deck can protect them long enough to get to the emblems, and their abilities are relevant to the deck—especially Rowan forcing creatures to attack so that I can make people do it to themselves. This deck is always such a hit when I take it anywhere. If it’s playing against a bunch of durdle decks, it doesn’t do much, but people try to throw the big haymakers, it shines. Stolen Strategy would be another card the deck might have some fun with, but in the end I decided there really wasn’t room for it.

There were no Dominaria changes for the deck, but I’m starting to look at the idea of taking out the Sunforger package, just to do something different.

Angry, Angry Dinos and Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point

No changes from either deck from either set, since they’ve just recently been physically assembled for the first time. I’ll actually be picking up cards the first morning I’m at SCG CON to fill out what’s missing—so if you’re not doing anything at 9am on Friday and want to help me sleeve up, you’re more than welcome.

Zegana and a Dice Bag

In: Pir, Imaginative Rascal; Toothy, Imaginary Friend

Out: Lorescale Coatl, Oran-Rief Hydra

I know I’m violating my normal deal of not putting more than one copy of a new card in my suite of decks, but despite the horrible name, Toothy just gets there. I suppose it doesn’t really need to go into the Phelddagrif deck, but think I’m gonna anyway. Of course, that slippery slope might also lead me to put a copy of Tatyova, Benthic Druid in this deck, but at least a little bit of restraint is in order. For now.

No Dominaria updates for Zegana, but this will be the first time I’ve played the deck since the Rivals of Ixalan update, so Hadana’s Climb and Strength of the Pack will be getting their first spots in the starting lineup.

Speaking of starting lineups, I’ll make a brief note of a very cool baseball sim game that I’ve been playing for quite a while now (and even used as part of the project for my Digital Humanities course). It’s called Out of the Park Baseball, available for both the PC and on Steam, and it’s quite simply the best baseball sim I’ve ever played—and it’s been more than 40 years since I first picked up APBA Baseball. I could go into quite a few words on how amazing the game is, but I’ll just say that if you’re a fan of baseball, and especially historical seasons (or creating your own fantasy baseball world), then this is the game for you. I even have a Facebook Group for talking about the game, so if you want to join, just let me know.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder Rotisserie Draft Deck

In: Stolen Strategy

Out: Plea for Power

The techy interaction here is that you can wait until after combat to cast the cards off Stolen Strategy. That way, if you see something worth cascading from, you have the opportunity. Of course, you can cast any of them that you have enough mana for at any time during the turn, so there might be one worth casting before combat that makes dealing damage with Yidris easier (“Oh, look, a Cryptic Command!”). And here’s what you do when someone gets salty about you casting those cards: tell them that at least the cards are in their graveyard now instead of exile.

There were no Dominaria updates for this deck, but that’s mostly because I was still thinking of it as a closed-unit deck; we’ve moved on from that Rotisserie league, so I suppose that I’m free to update it.

In the Command Zone

I’ll be in the Command Zone during the following hours:

Friday: 9am-1pm and 4pm-7pm. From 2pm-3pm, there’s a Commander panel with me and Bennie Smith, (who, as he discussed recently, is just as excited about Battlebond as I am).

Saturday: 9am-noon and 1pm-8pm.

Sunday: 9am-1pm and 2pm-6pm.

We’ll find out on-site how they’re going to queue up players in case there are more folks waiting to play than there are seats. We’ll do our best to get as many players in with us as possible. What’s even more important is the quality of your experience. I can promise tireless dedication to having a good time—but that goes beyond me enjoying myself or making sure any one person enjoys themselves, it’s that we’re all having fun together. To that end, I’ll ask that everyone come in with that attitude. Sure, if you want to bring your competitive deck and have us spend more time shuffling than playing, we won’t stop you, but I might ask that you instead get a sense of the folks you’re sitting with and see how you can help us all enjoy ourselves.

That’s not to say you should just bring your durdliest decks; lots of players enjoy the challenge of getting out of tough situations and facing strong cards. I suppose what I’m asking is that you don’t come intending to bring misery. You definitely don’t need to abuse a particular card in order to demonstrate that you think the card is broken; a conversation will suffice. What I’d really love to see are decks that use hidden gems, leverage unusual themes, and generally make everyone at the table go “ooh, cool!”

I suspect that there will be folks from across the spectrum of play skill, so if you’re really good, maybe helping out a less experienced player (even if it’s to dream crush me) seems preferable to just putting your head down and staying in your own space. Commander is, after all, a social format. Sure, winning beats not winning, but I’ll contend that we win in different ways than all other formats. I’d certainly rather lose to something bonkers happening than win a boring game. If you’d really like to show off a card, make it one that the rest of us might not have considered. You know you’re really winning if, after the game, people are asking “Hey, what was that card name?” and writing it down (or heading over to the table to buy it). I’ll count it as a big win for myself if there’s a card you play that I have to rush over and pick up.

I certainly will enjoy getting to see some folks over the weekend that I haven’t seen in quite a while (the last major event I went to was in November 2015), but what I’m most hoping for this weekend is to make some new friends, or meet folks face-to-face that I’ve only had online conversations with. I love the fact that Commander is part of bringing together folks from all over to enjoy their hobby—however they see fit.

The last thing I’ll ask for is that we all respect each other when we’re sitting down and playing (well, actually, I’ll ask that we do that even when we’re away from the table). We come from different backgrounds and come at enjoying our hobby from various directions. Part of being yourself is affording everyone else the same opportunity to be themselves. And then battling them with a bunch of Plant tokens, because that’s what friends do.

This week’s Deck Without (much) Comment is Intet, since it’s my only deck that I’d consider even close to calling competitive, and you might want to know how I’m going to try to stop you from doing what you’re doing.

Dreaming of Intet
Sheldon Menery
0th Place at Test deck on 02-13-2014

Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:


Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.



Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.


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; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point; 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; Zombies of Tresserhorn.


Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped; Yidris Rotisserie Draft Deck; Kynaios and Tiro.


Children of a Greater God


Tana and Kydele; Ikra and Kydele.


Adun Oakenshield Do-Over; Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh 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.”