It is finished. The long project to build a deck of each of the 27 possible color combinations has finally come to an end. I already had quite a few decks
by the time I decided to start the project, so I can’t say that I built all 27 from scratch. I can say that I’ve had my eye on the end for quite a long
time. There was a moment when I knew about the gods and knew that they’d be my mono-color commanders, but I didn’t come to the five-color decision until
If you’re not familiar with the reference, Children of a Lesser God is a remarkable film
with remarkable performances by Marlee Matlin (who won the Oscar for it) and William Hurt (who was also nominated). It might be considered a little slow by
today’s standards, but the acting is by all measures outstanding. And if you like Marlee Matlin in this, also check out her work as Joey Lucas in The West Wing.
Choosing Child of Alara as the commander for this deck was moderately easy. I eliminated Slivers pretty quickly. Atogatog, for all its style points, didn’t
seem to lend itself to anything. I already have a dragon deck, so Scion of the ur-Dragon didn’t appeal to me. Progenitus didn’t interest me either because
I think it lends itself to only one kind of deck, which is all about getting and keeping Progi in play. Cromat got some thought, but all in all, I found it
pretty unexciting. Reaper King also interested me a little, but there are a few of them floating around my local environment. I didn’t want to duplicate
what anyone else was doing. It all came down to Child of Alara, Karona, the False God, and Horde of Notions. Horde of Notions intrigued me as a tribal
deck, but I honestly suffered from a little paralysis of choice—there being 340 elementals to pick from. My brain started going in nineteen different
directions, and I realized that I wasn’t going to come up with anything coherent in short order. I found delicious irony in the False God as the leader of
real gods, and I may eventually give it a whirl in something like Abe Sargent’s Next 100 (more on that below), but I kept coming back to Child of Alara and
the gods being indestructible. Here’s what I came up with:
- 1 Darksteel Colossus
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Withered Wretch
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Crusading Knight
- 1 Coiling Oracle
- 1 Stuffy Doll
- 1 Seedguide Ash
- 1 Sapling of Colfenor
- 1 Terastodon
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Predator Ooze
- 1 Deathrite Shaman
- 1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
- 1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
- 1 Thassa, God of the Sea
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
- 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Ephara, God of the Polis
- 1 Mogis, God of Slaughter
- 1 Karametra, God of Harvests
- 1 Xenagos, God of Revels
- 1 Phenax, God of Deception
- 1 Iroas, God of Victory
- 1 Keranos, God of Storms
- 1 Kruphix, God of Horizons
- 1 Athreos, God of Passage
- 1 Pharika, God of Affliction
- 1 Dack's Duplicate
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Zurgo Helmsmasher
- 1 Dualcaster Mage
- 7 Forest
- 3 Plains
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 3 Swamp
- 3 Mountain
- 3 Island
- 1 Volcanic Island
- 1 Underground Sea
- 1 Tropical Island
- 1 Scrubland
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Badlands
- 1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Grixis Panorama
- 1 Naya Panorama
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Akroma's Vengeance
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Scrabbling Claws
- 1 Explosive Vegetation
- 1 Nature's Lore
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Mirror Strike
- 1 Rout
- 1 Damnation
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Prismatic Omen
- 1 Grim Discovery
- 1 Chain Reaction
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Chaos Warp
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Rise of the Dark Realms
The lesson I learned building this deck is that five color decks are not about having access to all the best spells in each of the colors. They’re about
making sure you have access to the colors themselves. What you can do is then narrower, because you’re focusing so much attention on getting the mana you
need. I think you really need to choose a major and minor color focus, then splash bits of the other three. I chose green as the major because in addition
to being the best color in Commander (sorry, fans of blue), it provides access to the mana fixers I wanted. I then chose white as the minor because it has
lots of mass destruction. If your theme is indestructible, then you’ll want to destroy stuff, right?
There was a strong temptation to make this a five-color good stuff deck with just a bunch of cards that I like. I would be happy playing a 5-color deck
that did everything that I love to do in Magic, but I already have lots of decks that do those things. I figured I’d do something slightly different. I
wouldn’t exactly call this a control strategy, but I think it’s a little more control-ish than I’m used to. The bottom line is that most of the time, I’d
like to be the only one with creatures on the battlefield—at least when I’m attacking. Let’s break it all down, card by card:
Avacyn, Angel of Hope: although the gods are indestructible, the rest of my stuff isn’t. With no way to cheat her into play, she might make the deck a
little top-heavy; we’ll see.
Burnished Hart: Part of the deal is getting the right lands and extra ones at that. I’m not ready to call Burnished Hart the best artifact creature in the
format (I’m pretty sure that honor still goes to Solemn Simulacrum), but it’s going to be an MVP in this deck.
Coiling Oracle: Best two-drop ever? There are arguments. They all lead back to Coiling Oracle.
Dack’s Duplicate: If I were going to choose blue/red as the major/minor colors of this deck, there would be more copy things. Having a few is still fun,
and when playing five colors, there’s no reason to play anything other than Dack’s Duplicate over Clone. I would love to do a copy everything deck, but
it’s the most over-represented archetype in the format—because it’s very, very good.
Darksteel Colossus: Big, indestructible monster. And friends don’t hit their friends with Blightsteel Colossus.
Deathrite Shaman: One of the things I realized I had to do was get Child of Alara out of the graveyard. Child’s ability doesn’t trigger if you send it to
the command zone. That means I’ll have to let it die, then find a way to either get it into my hand or put it back in the command zone. Deathrite Shaman,
in addition to being a nice bit of graveyard hate, does that. With all those Panoramas in the graveyard, it’ll also provide a little mana boost if I have
Dualcaster Mage: How could I preview a sweet card like this and not feature it in a deck in the same week? I look forward to many shenanigans and outright
tomfoolery with this card.
Eidolon of Blossoms: All of the gods are also enchantments. Seems like a good bit of card draw.
Eternal Witness: One of my concessions to good stuff, Eternal Witness is there to make those wraths repeatable.
Predator Ooze: This will eventually get rather large, and then Nylea will give it trample.
Sapling of Colfenor: In the trim, I’m sure I’ll see about the same amount of lifegain as life loss, and I’m happy to pay some life in order to put extra
cards in my hand.
Seedguide Ash: The only dual lands I chose for this deck (whether they’re original duals or shocklands) are forests.
Snapcaster Mage: Maybe I’ve been seduced by things called something-caster Mage. Or maybe I have lots of sorceries that are worth casting again.
Solemn Simulacrum: She’s not credited yet on IMDB, but I’m sure I saw Mary McCormack on one
of The Newsroom previews. How awesome would it be to have one of my favorite actresses on one of my
favorite shows? I know Aaron Sorkin likes her (and made excellent use of her skills on The West Wing).
Soul of New Phyrexia: It’s unlikely I’ll be activating this when I cast a board wipe, but it’s a little protection against someone else’s.
Stuffy Doll: Go ahead, attack me with that Uril. Just don’t give it trample.
Sun Titan: This is here mostly for all those panoramas. Doing a little deck thinning while getting the right colors makes a great deal of sense to me.
Tajic, Blade of the Legion : We’ll see how often he ends up getting battalion. He’s still one of the cheapest indestructible creatures in the game.
Terastodon: If I were optimizing the deck, this would probably be Woodfall Primus because of persist. This Terastodon was a gift from a young fan at Grand
Prix Orlando, which makes it worth playing.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: Gotta blow up stuff. Gotta have indestructible.
Withered Wretch: Just like with Deathrite Shaman, Withered Wretch fills the dual purpose of graveyard hate plus the ability to get Child of Alara back in
the command zone.
Wood Elves: A small part of the ramp suite, Wood Elves will get any of the dual lands in the deck.
Zurgo Helmsmasher: Zurgo is indestructible when it most counts—on my turn, when I’m going to board wipe.
One of the issues with the gods is devotion. Having a five-color deck means devotion in the non-major color will be difficult. Fortunately, most of them
are good even if they’re not creatures. They’ll also help each other get up to the right count.
Athreos, God of Passage: I’m okay with making someone choose between 3 life and putting Child of Alara back into my hand.
Ephara, God of the Polis : Quick, someone activate their Forbidden Orchard!
Erebos, God of the Dead: I don’t really care if Erebos is a creature or not. Sure, I love attacking, but his non-attacking abilities are top-shelf.
Heliod, God of the Sun : Dream combo is Heliod and Ephara for maximum card draw.
Iroas, God of Victory: Iroas helps some with the creatures that aren’t indestructible. I’m smashing as often as possible with this deck, and not having
your creatures get killed while attacking is pretty tasty.
Karametra, God of Harvests: The other gods are creature spells. Boom!
Keranos, God of Storms: I highly doubt Keranos will ever be a creature, but its ability is worthwhile.
Kruphix, God of Horizons: No maximum hand size? That’s for me! Lots of mana? That’s for me too!
Mogis, God of Slaughter: Mogis might be my least favorite of all the gods, because there are lots of creatures that other people have that they want to
sacrifice. Most often, I expect him to actually work against me.
Nylea, God of the Hunt : Trample is one of the deadliest abilities in the game. I’m surprised we don’t see more of Nylea than we do.
Pharika, God of Affliction: So, wait. I can get Child of Alara back in the command zone AND I get a little deathtouch creature? Sign me up.
Phenax, God of Deception: Any time you’re playing Phenax, you can go on the mill plan.
Purphoros, God of the Forge: I thought for a second about playing Storm Herd. That’s almost too easy.
Thassa, God of the Sea : I’m absolutely sure I have more missed triggers with Thassa than successfully remembered triggers. Guess I’ll have to keep
Xenagos, God of Revels: Targeting Child of Alara is cool enough. Targeting Darksteel Colossus is even cooler.
Chromatic Lantern: I normally don’t include mana rocks in green decks because they fetch lands so well. This one provides mana plus makes sure I have the
right colors, so it’s worth it.
Darksteel Ingot: This one goes more with the indestructible theme, but the mana-fixing makes it doubly valuable.
Moratorium Stone: I found Moratorium Stone when I was looking for things that exile cards from the graveyard. I’d consider playing it in this deck even
without the last ability.
Scrabbling Claws: For the first time ever, I’ll be targeting myself with Scrabbling Claws.
Greater Good: Until the last minute, this was Maelstrom Nexus. Then I realized I didn’t have a sacrifice outlet. Greater Good is as good as they come.
Anything that I discard to it, I can regrow with…
Phyrexian Reclamation: Which also combos with the next card…
Survival of the Fittest : I’ve been saving a copy of Survival for this deck. It violates the “no tutors” rule, but I’m going to let myself off the hook
here. It’s one of my favorite cards ever, and I rarely play it.
Instants and Sorceries
Akroma’s Vengeance: Stuff needs to get destroyed. If not, I need to draw a card.
Austere Command: Same, without the card drawing.
Cultivate: This is another card (in foil) which I’ve been saving just for this deck.
Damnation: Sweet, sweet full art promo foil version.
Decree of Pain: I can’t be too sad that I won’t be drawing cards for my own creatures since they’ll still be, you know, alive.
Explosive Vegetation: Simple ramp.
Fated Return: Even with all the things I’m blowing up, I don’t have much to reanimate creatures out of graveyards. This one goes along with the theme since
the thing becomes indestructible. Like with most Fated cards, the difficult part will be deciding if I want to scry.
Grim Discovery: The obvious choice here is Child of Alara and a Panorama.
Harmonize: I wanted a little card draw independent of creatures. Being in green made this the easy choice.
Kodama’s Reach: It’s just a second Cultivate.
Nature’s Lore: Part of the “find a forest dual land” suite, we need to get the Terese Nielsen art printed in foil.
Rise of the Dark Realms : This makes eminent sense in a deck where you’re blowing up bunches of creatures. Again, I don’t really care if mine are in the
graveyard or already on the battlefield. Getting everyone else’s is still sweet.
Skyshroud Claim: One of your greatest non-foil to foil value multipliers, maybe only trumped by Karmic Guide.
Wrath of God: Also available in textless foil. Sweet.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant: Repeated Wraths are the way to activate the ultimate ability. We’ll see how often I can manage it. Right on theme with a righteous
Liliana Vess: I’ll only use the +1 ability on the player with the most cards in hand. I’ll only use the -2 in emergencies. I will take full advantage of
There isn’t much to say about the lands which I already haven’t. Forests are the champs here, and those panoramas will do some heavy lifting. There are so
many legendary creatures that putting in Minamo makes loads of sense (combo with Phenax?)
The big question is “what’s next?” Now that I’ve finished the Cromatic Project (although there are still one or two, like this one, to still be assembled
and sleeved), I have to decide on my next direction. After all, who quits with only 35 decks? I mentioned earlier Abe’s “Next 100,” and the idea intrigues
me. Can I build decks with the same commanders—let’s call them the 27 primes, since I have duplicates in a few color combinations—without duplicating
non-land cards? Now let’s really up the level to Nightmare: I want to do it with only what cards I currently have on hand in foil. I have most sets
complete from Zendikar through Born of the Gods—but some of those cards are already in decks. In addition to that, I have a box of maybe 1000-1500 random
foils from older sets. We’ll call it Chromatic, Mark 2: The Leftovers (assuming that doesn’t violate any HBO trademarks). It will be fun, engaging, and
This week’s Deck Without Comment is Obzedat, Ghost Killer:
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 1 Withered Wretch
- 1 Bottle Gnomes
- 1 Undead Gladiator
- 1 Bane of the Living
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Havoc Demon
- 1 Marble Titan
- 1 False Prophet
- 1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
- 1 Loxodon Gatekeeper
- 1 Ghost Council of Orzhova
- 1 Orzhov Pontiff
- 1 Magus of the Tabernacle
- 1 Necrotic Sliver
- 1 Stonecloaker
- 1 Deathbringer Liege
- 1 Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
- 1 Nirkana Revenant
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Treasury Thrull
- 1 Crypt Ghast
- 1 Thrull Parasite
- 1 Hythonia the Cruel
- 1 Agent of Erebos
- 1 Cabal Coffers
- 7 Plains
- 1 Volrath's Stronghold
- 14 Swamp
- 1 Scrubland
- 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
- 1 Tainted Field
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 High Market
- 1 Godless Shrine
- 1 Orzhov Basilica
- 1 Orzhova, the Church of Deals
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Isolated Chapel
- 1 Vault of the Archangel
- 1 Nevinyrral's Disk
- 1 Reanimate
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Meekstone
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Kismet
- 1 Ambition's Cost
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Crackdown
- 1 Planar Collapse
- 1 Rout
- 1 Tormod's Crypt
- 1 Debtors' Knell
- 1 Leyline of the Void
- 1 Orzhov Signet
- 1 Sudden Spoiling
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Black Sun's Zenith
- 1 Gruesome Encore
- 1 Pristine Talisman
- 1 Praetor's Grasp
- 1 Mycosynth Wellspring
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Blind Obedience
- 1 Merciless Eviction
- 1 Obzedat's Aid
- 1 Path of Bravery
- 1 Fated Retribution
- 1 Coercive Portal
- 1 End Hostilities
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987), ask for an invitation to the Facebook
group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”
Here is the latest database version of all my decks:
; ANIMAR’S SWARM;AURELIA GOES TO WAR;DEMONS OF KAALIA;EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD;GLISSA, GLISSA;HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS;DREAMING OF INTET;FORGE OF PURPHOROS;KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM;HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR;KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY;KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE;LAVINIA BLINKS;LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND;ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN;MELEK’S MOLTEN MIND GRIND;MERIEKE’S ESPER CONTROL;THE MILL-MEOPLASM;NATH of the VALUE LEAF;OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER;PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS;ZEGANA and a DICE BAG;RAKDOS: LIFE IS SHORT;RITH’S TOKENS;YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF;RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY WEREWOLF FIGHT CLUB;THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK;THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR; TROSTANI and HER ANGELS