Commander Catchup Part 2!

Bennie Smith continues his pursuit of all things legendary! There’s a lot of Commander coming in the late part of the year, so it’s about time to get all caught up with these new lists!

Khans of Tarkir
is coming up the end of next month and promises at least five new legends to build Commander decks around. Add to that the five new Commander decks coming
out this fall each with a new mono-colored legend and a mono-colored planeswalker to build decks around, and we’re going to have a lot of Commander to
explore in the back half of 2014! Then it occurred to me that I still have a lot of Commander left to explore from Journey into Nyx, Conspiracy, and Magic 2015 and not many weeks left to do it, so I’m doing three lightning rounds of building Commander decks. Normally
when I write about Commander I like to focus on one deck and dig pretty deep into how I went about building it, but I don’t have enough time to give each
remaining Legend that level of treatment. Last week I went over Athreos, God of Passage; Iroas, God of Victory; and Kruphix, God of Horizons. Here’s what I
have remaining to cover:

This week I’ll knock out Journey into Nyx and Conspiracy!


Looking at Keranos, God of Storms my first thought was that he’d make a fine “good stuff” Commander for all your favorite blue and red cards multiplayer
cards: Cryptic Command, Insurrection, Deadeye Navigator, and Radiate, stuff like that. Keranos is a grindy powerhouse in Standard, but his effect is
relatively small potatoes in Commander. I figured that just writing up a red/blue good stuff deck wouldn’t really be particularly inspiring or all that
interesting to read, so I thought a little deeper. What is it that Keranos promises us?

Reveal the first card you draw on each of your turns. Whenever you reveal a land card this way, draw a card. Whenever you reveal a nonland card this
way, Keranos deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

No matter how you cut it, a free Lightning Bolt 60% of the time you draw a card is just not all that exciting in Commander. What is exciting is drawing
cards… how valuable would a Commander that’s your own personal Howling Mine be? To do that with Keranos though, you’d need to dramatically up your land
count. You don’t typically want to draw too many lands in Commander but there can be exceptions. A while ago I shared Sean O’Neil’s classic 99-Mountain Ashling, the Pilgrim deck,

four years back I shared a 78
Forest Omnath, Locus of Mana deck

, and
two years ago I wrote up two land-heavy Borborygmos Enraged decks.
With Keranos perhaps it’s time to add to the niche land-heavy Commander deck pantheon?

I present 89 Land Keranos, God of Storms for your consideration!

When pondering a red and blue land-heavy deck, I immediately thought about Treasure Hunt into Seismic Assault, which is a fun little combo that won’t
necessarily kill the board but could very well kill one particular player. If you happen to have a Reliquary Tower, you can just hold that kill on reserve
and watch the other players squirm not to provoke your wrath… though if you smell just a hint of Krosan Grip in someone’s 99 you should probably drop the
lands on his head just to avoid the heartache.

Another powerhouse in this sort of deck is Countryside Crusher. During your upkeep, it’s entirely possible he could grow to a 20/20 or larger, and that’s
not to mention any lands you discard to Seismic Assault, cycling, or Desolate Lighthouse. While he’s a giant beater, he can easily be chump blocked, so I
tossed in a Rogue’s Passage to occasionally be able to make him unblockable, though if you’ve got Keranos on the board with Countryside Crusher, you’ll
have Lightning Bolt on tap to blow away any small individual chump blocker. What’s nice is that Crusher basically ensures you draw one of your few non-land
spells. Etherium-Horn Sorcerer also searches up one of your non-land, non-Eldrazi spells to cast, and potentially, do it again and again.

Speaking of Eldrazi, I decided to run Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre for two reasons-one is to have ways of shuffling my graveyard
back into my deck to give me a chance to reload Treasure Hunt, and the other is to have a powerful late-game. Playing a land-heavy deck lets me run Eye of
Ugin and Eldrazi Temple which can both help cast these expensive spells earlier than you’d otherwise be able to.

I’m not sure Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is worth the slot, but with 23 Mountains and four sac lands to go get Mountains (and Crucible of Worlds to re-use
them), not to mention Thespian’s Stage and Vesuva to copy Valakut or a Mountain, being able to throw around some extra Lightning Bolts from your lands
might pay off.


Marchesa is probably my favorite non-green legend to come out in a long, long time to build a Commander deck around, and when she was spoiled I knew I
finally had a fantastic use for the foil Unspeakable Symbol that’s been riding the bench in my second string boxes since Scourge. I love how it can help
keep Dethrone off yourself while also letting Marchesa’s ability to save herself if she dies. Let’s take a look at her abilities:

Dethrone (Whenever this creature attacks the player with the most life or tied for most life, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)

Other creatures you control have dethrone.

Whenever a creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it dies, return that card to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next
end step.

I really love dethrone as an ability-it encourages attacks against whoever is winning the life race and provides some interesting extra utility for effects
that cost life to use. But I also realize that sometimes whoever has the most life isn’t always the one who’s “winning” so I have to acknowledge sometimes
dethrone isn’t going to trigger reliably. What’s sweet about Marchesa though, is that her third ability, which has obvious synergy with dethrone, doesn’t
care about where the +1/+1 counters come from, so when building a Marchesa deck the first thing I started looking for were creatures that naturally put
+1/+1 counters on themselves. The death trigger is delayed so it can’t be used to create an infinite engine, but it’s still quite powerful and gets more
powerful the more players – and end steps – there are.

Here’s the Marchesa, the Black Rose Commander deck I’ve cooked up:

Marchesa, The Black Rose
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 08-29-2014
Magic Card Back

When searching for creatures that naturally have +1/+1 counters we naturally come across the Arcbound crew. There aren’t enough good Arcbound dudes to
flesh out an entire creature base in a Marchesa deck, but there are enough to warrant a segment of the population. I went ahead and included a few
indestructible artifact creatures (Darksteel Juggernaut, Darksteel Gargoyle) and a few ways to make a creature into an artifact (Ashnod’s Transmogrant,
Liquimetal Coating) to give those counters a place to go when the Arcbound guys die if you don’t have a Mindless Automaton in play.

I particularly like how nicely the creatures with undying play with Marchesa-if they don’t have a +1/+1 counter on them, they come back immediately upon
dying with a +1/+1 counter, and then if they die Marchesa brings them back on the next end step without a +1/+1 counter to begin the shenanigans all over
again. Flayer of the Hatebound is the perfect complement to Marchesa!

Spike Cannibal might be genius… or disaster. I’m not sure yet… I can see where it might screw up my board but what the heck-when do you get a chance to
slam Spike Cannibal in your Commander deck?


Savvy Commander players recognize Muzzio, Visionary Architect as a “fixed” version of Arcum Dagsson, which can combo kill people pretty quickly if you
really build your deck to do so. If you’ve ever built a casual monoblue artifact Commander deck with Arcum Dagsson and scratched your head wondering why
the rest of the table hard-targeted you from turn 1 and killed you before you got to do anything, you’ve got a good alternative now. Let’s see what Muzzio
brings to the table:

{3}{U}, {T}: Look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the highest converted mana cost among artifacts you control. You may reveal an
artifact card from among them and put it onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Looking at the ability, there are some things we’d want to keep in mind. First, the activation cost isn’t cheap, so anything we can do to make it cheaper
would help. We’ll obviously want a lot of artifacts in our deck to make sure that the ability hits each time. We’ll also want to have some ways to cheat
out expensive artifacts so that the X-value of Muzzio digs deep. Here’s what I’ve cooked up for my Muzzio, Visionary Architect deck:

Muzzio, Visionary Architect
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 08-29-2014

Training Ground and Heartstone do nice jobs of trimming down activation costs, and our brand new Game Day Top 8 Chief Engineer joins Grand Architect,
Cloudkey, and Etherium Sculptor in trimming down the casting costs of artifacts. I particularly love the idea of cheating out Mycosynth Golem so that
Muzzio’s X-ability digs eleven cards deep!

Of course, while you’re dickering around with activating Muzzio, you want to ensure that your opponents aren’t constantly attacking you, so I wanted to
include some defense. Propaganda, Polymorphist’s Jest, Aetherize, and Aetherspouts provide some solid defense, as do flexible answer spells Turnabout and
Cryptic Command.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these decks I cooked up for this second lightning round, did I miss anything glaring? If you have questions about
cards I included but didn’t specifically mention here, let me know and I’ll give my reasons.

By the way, have you taken the Khans of Tarkir Quiz? I got Abzan, which makes
sense-White/Green/Black is my favorite color combination. And my Khan rides a chariot pulled by GOATS-what’s not to love?

See you next week!

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)