Christmas Wish List

With the holiday season upon us, Sheldon shares his Christmas wish list, asking for everything from article ideas to a Game of Thrones expansion block.

I think I’ve been a reasonably good boy this year, so I hope that Santa will reward me with a few of the things on my Christmas wish list. It’s a collection of things large and small, mostly Commander related, none of which I think are too greedy. Some of them are close to impossible, but what’s Santa for if he can’t pull off a miracle?

Before we get to my wish list, I’ll tell you briefly about how the last three decks I put together worked out when I played them for the first time. I finally had the time to assemble Heliod, God of the Sun and Thassa, God of the Sea and sleeve them up. I grabbed them and the rebuilt Adun Oakenshield and headed for the shop.

I played three games with Heliod and think I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board a little. It seemed like my mana curve was slightly too high. I want to get Heliod out and going by turn 4. I found that I had to wait until turn 6 or so to ensure I was sufficiently devoted. It may be as simple as replacing one or two of the artifacts with colored spells instead. In the game I really got going, True Conviction was a MVP, but the insanity came from having both Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Serra Sanctum out. I could use Nykthos to create more enchantment creatures with Heliod, thereby fueling up Serra’s Sanctum even more.

I played Thassa only once, but it did what it was designed to do. Lord of Atlantis; Thada Adel, Acquisitor; Seasinger; Old Man of the Sea; and Spreading Seas made early appearances along with the commander. Coastal Piracy and Biden of Thassa helped refill my hand, and once I was up to eight mana, Lorthos, the Tidemaker sealed things up. No board wipes came before I could do significant damage to everyone’s life totals.

I didn’t play Adun Oakenshield, but Monday Night Gamer and League regular Shea played it in the first round of Armada Games EDH League #23.1. In a swingy five-person game (I was playing The Mimeoplasm; Armada owner Aaron Fortino had Karador, Ghost Chieftain; Tom Delia played Gahiji, the Honored One; and Anthony Rueda had Jenara, Asura of War), Shea managed to deal the death blows to each of us.

The deck seemed to "just do stuff," which is kind of how I wanted it. He resolved an entwined Tooth and Nail without simply ending the game (unless there is some additional factor, I don’t think there’s a way for the deck to auto-win on T&N, which is just the way I like it), but it did swing the game away from Aaron being the power. The utter and absolute MVP for him in that game was Wilderness Elemental. Before it killed Tom, it had a power upwards of twenty. It killed Anthony from eleven and did some serious damage to me as well.

All in all, I was well pleased with Thassa and Adun and think I just have a little tweaking to do with Heliod. And I’d like to leave a brief message for Aaron: the Homeward Path that Anthony used last turn still qualifies this turn as what we call "onboard tricks." 

This article is brought to you by a recent discovery: peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bread. I was jonesing for PBJ. I opened the pantry, and there staring back at me was a loaf of the aforementioned bread. I figured that raisins are just a jelly precursor, so I went for it. Winner.

Let’s get on to that wish list in no particular order:

A Game Of Throne Expansion Block

Yeah, I know there would be a major licensing issue, but hey—this is a wish list. I’d love to see all our favorite characters, from Daenerys to Tyrion, as commanders. Dothraki could bring back horsemanship. Who wouldn’t want to have "bands with Lannisters" as a mechanic? The Others could make a pretty scary tribal army. Unfortunately, the Ned Stark character would have vanishing and not too many counters. Thinking of Daenerys gave me the idea for the mount mechanic below.

New Game Mechanic: Mount

I want to see heroic characters get on their fantastic steeds to do battle—Elspeth flying around on her battle Pegasus or Kresh rampaging around the countryside on his badass war horse. Mounts are creatures in their own right, but when they have another creature riding them, they grant bonuses to the rider. Mount is like a combination of soulbond, banding, and Equipment. The keyword would probably have to say that a Mount can’t be mounted on something else (it’d be silly to have a Pegasus riding a Griffin).

Battle Pegasus           Creature – Pegasus Mount     2WW


1W, Tap: Mount target creature on Battle Pegasus. That creature gains +2/+4, flying, and first strike as long as it stays mounted. One or more damage dealt to the mounted creature may be redirected to Battle Pegasus instead. If Battle Pegasus is mounted, it does not untap during your untap step.


We could have all kind of crazy stuff happening, like Goblins mounted on War Elephants, Merfolk riding Battle Jellyfish, and of course Dragons. We could then have creatures that get additional bonuses if they’re mounted and spells that unmount.

Unhorse          Instant             1R

Unmount target mounted creature. Unhorse deals 2 damage to that creature. If the mount has flying, Unhorse deals 6 damage to that creature instead.

There seems to be quite some design space here, although some of the rules might be a little wordy.

An Expansion Based On A Fan-Created Setting

Like they did with Eberron in D&D, we could have a contest that next levels You Make the Card, allowing a fan (or consortium of fans) to design a block’s setting. I wouldn’t have the contest winner design the cards, just the back story and setting for everything. I think design and development is best left to the professionals, although I suppose the setting creator(s) would get some kind of input.

Everything In Foil

I know that foiling cards like Underground Sea would cause some kind of tectonic shift in the secondary market, but the best thing about Christmas wish lists is that you can be selfish. I’d simply like to have every card ever printed in Magic available to all Commander players in foil. That would include foiling out all the new cards from both Commander releases as well as going back to Urza’s Saga and before.

I suppose the answer to the expensive card dilemma would be to make them somehow unplayable in other formats, although that seems like way more work than it’s worth. I don’t actually care about cards like dual lands so much as just random stuff like Fault Line, Erratic Portal, and Altar of Dementia that were printed pre-foil. I suppose the answer could be another Commander’s Arsenal type of thing printed each year, with maybe 30 cards from both the Commander sets and the olden days mixed in. I get that we’ll have to avoid running afoul of the reserved list, but I’m wishing here dammit!

Article Ideas

I’d like to hear about some of the things you’d like me to write about. You’ll continue to see normal features in this space like set reviews, other people’s decks, new decks I’ve built, play reports, and issues facing the format, but one of the things I’ve learned this semester is that writing is often a collaborative effort. If there are specific topics or types of features you’re interested in hearing me rattle on about, ship them. No idea is too crazy. Except anything including Bennie Smith and potted plants. You really don’t want to know.

Sylvan Primordial With A May

I’ve heard rumors that it was supposed to have a may on it but something went wrong somewhere. I don’t know if I believe them, but I’d like to think that our friends in Development at least considered it. This card is the source of some debate on whether it should be banned or not, and I think we’d have less of that debate if we were able to not nuke a land of the guy who missed a drop just to be able to get rid of a few artifacts that really need to go. Alternately, it could have just said noncreature, nonland and been just fine. As it stands, I don’t think the card is format warping, but I see how some folks think it’s a feel-bad card. The RC will probably talk about it at the January meeting, but I wouldn’t go selling them just yet.

More Commander-Specific Cards

We have lands like Command Tower and Opal Palace; cards that reference the command zone like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic; and creatures that care how much mana you spent on them (to include the command tax) like Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge and Marath, Will of the Wild. Now I want creatures and spells that interact with commanders. Protection from commanders might be interesting.

I’d want to avoid too many things that make them easier to cast since that could get degenerate pretty quickly. Maybe we could get an Empress Galina like creature only for commanders. I’d like to see Equipment that is better for commanders in general, riffing off of Champion’s Helm, or that’s better for specific commanders and easier to get into their hands. Development would need to be really careful that such a thing doesn’t break a card.

Maul of Ruric Thar     Legendary Artifact Equipment           5

Equipped creature has lifelink.

If equipped creature is Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, it also has deathtouch.

Equip: 4

Equip to Ruric Thar, the Unbowed: 2

How about something really crazy like a reverse Arena of the Ancients where only commanders could enter the battlefield or only commanders untapped? That also might get a little degen, so it’d probably be pretty expensive.

The Commander Invitational

I’d love for the six members of the RC to be able to get together for a weekend’s worth of play with a few famous fans of the format (like David Williams and NFL punter/human rights activist Chris Kluwe) plus intra-community people like Patrick Jarrett, Tom Delia, Brian David-Marshall, and Uriah Oxford among others and maybe even a community-elected representative (I’d do an essay contest, but someone would have to read them all). The problems with such an event are the logistics, and logistics include expense.

I’d love to do it poolside here at the house, but that would limit us to eight or ten people when I’d love for it to be as big as sixteen. We certainly don’t have enough room to put up that many people, so there’d be rooming and transportation issues. Scheduling that many people to be able to attend at the same time would also be a little awkward. It’d be a weekend of 100-card debauchery that I imagine would do a good job of thinning out my wine cellar, but I think it’s going to have to remain a dream for now until we can fund it. Is this the kind of thing you can do a Kickstarter for?

Gunslinging At Gen Con

Up until this past year, I was lucky enough to get brought into Gen Con for the preceding three years in order to run the 100-card decks with the great fans of the format. These were without a doubt the best times that I had at the Best Four Days of Gaming. With a dearth of major Magic events at Gen Con 2013, there wasn’t too much incentive for anyone to pony up the cash to bring in gunslingers (it’s an expense borne by the organizers is a difficult-to-quantify return on investment). I’d like to wish for that to change. I’d be happy to sit in the booth for most of those four days (I’d want one trip through the dealer’s room) to meet and play with the people that make Commander the best format ever. Santa, please send me to Gen Con 2014!


Maybe it’s because I’m doing some development on pirates (well, a sea-faring culture that often gets accused of piracy) in my Four Kingdoms of Therduin RPG campaign (avoiding the Viking and Spanish Main/Elizabethan England pirate tropes and steering clear of George R. R. Martin’s Ironborn), but I’d like to see a pirates subtheme in an upcoming expansion.

There would be chests of treasure, stealing and hiding resources, and ships that carry creatures around among other things. A ship could be kind of like a banding artifact, but the creatures on that ship could only attack a single player until the ship somehow "moved" to be attacking another player. The bonuses would have to be pretty good in order to mitigate the inconvenience and the fact that those creatures (since they’re out on the high seas) wouldn’t be available for defense.

Ultra-Legendary Permanents

A throwback to the old legend rule—with a twist. There can be only one of an ultra-legendary permanent on the battlefield at any one time, but if there is, another one simply can’t enter the battlefield. You couldn’t use one to destroy the other. You’d have to first Strip Mine ultra Gaea’s Cradle before dropping yours. Ultra-legendary permanents also cannot be copied, thereby avoiding any awkward rules interactions. That’d probably cause rules manager Matt Tabak quite a bit of work, but he’s up to it.

An End To The Play Style Polarization

I think this one is just like wishing for Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men, but it can’t hurt to ask. There is a vision for how the RC has wanted to sculpt this format, and I think we’ve done a reasonably good job of it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for other people’s visions. I know that there will be plenty of differences of opinion on how things run their best, and the RC won’t be abandoning ours. In simple terms, I’d like for everyone to have fun playing the format. If it’s the way we’ve laid out, great. If it’s a way you like better, great. I really just want people to stop fighting about it.

Some of the most degenerate and vitriolic flame wars I’ve seen (and that’s not limited to Magic boards) have come over disagreements on how to play Commander (kudos to the mods over on MTGSalvation by the way for keeping a tight lid on most of it these days). It just needs to stop. Let’s carry the message of this season of peace over to the rest of the year. Let the hate go from your heart. People who think radically different about things can exist in the same space. Stranger things have happened.

Embracing the Chaos,


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