Fair Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Sheldon follows up his great interview with the Skyraider with a column that provides good food for thought pertaining to Commander’s casual spirit. He then provides a great Prossh list that won’t annoy your friends!

“The secret of this format is in not breaking it.”

– Me, a long time ago

One of the things that I’ve learned in the Shakespeare courses I’ve recently taken (three semesters in all, two now with the remarkable Dr. Jay Zysk) is that there
is no definitive reading of something. Close reading of a text will yield interesting interpretations and illuminate different ways to consider plot,
theme, and character. We’re challenged to write about single points as opposed to considering everything, since the body of work, whether it’s the canon as
a whole, a single play, or even an act or scene of a play, is simply too large to encompass in an easily-digested form.

Commander is similar in that there’s not just one way to interpret it. Neither side of the casual vs. competitive argument (it’s not really a debate
anymore) is right when they insist it’s the only or globally best way. Digging deeply into all the cards available to a particular build can yield new
interpretations. Re-engineering your thinking about building a deck can lead to exciting possibilities. If you have the goal of “killing all my opponents
as quickly as possible,” then there is probably a single best build. If you have the goal of “having a fun and fair game for everyone,” then the lines get
a little blurrier. Neither goal is inherently good or bad. Getting buy-in from your group, getting everyone on the same page leads to the best experiences.
As we’ve discussed many times before, crossing the streams is where we run into trouble.

Recognition that there are multiple ways to enjoy the format doesn’t stop the Rules Committee from promoting a certain style of play. We promote that style
because 1) it was our initial vision for the format and 2) we think that it’s best for the broadest spectrum of the fan base. We recognize the fringes (and
I use that term with no negative connotations hanging around it) and support them in doing what makes them happy. The big message is that this format is
not about individualism, it’s about communities. Those communities can be as small as 3-4 players or as large as “all the judges on the Pro Tour.”

A deck which I consider fair might be stupid to you. I concede that some folks can wrap their brain only around maximizing the utility of their cards.
“Prossh can every time one-shot someone on Turn 5, so why wouldn’t I build it to do so?” or “Why wouldn’t I infi combo Prossh with Food Chain?” There is no
definitive answer to either of those questions. The interpretation that I’d like to open up to you is that taking the time to enjoy something, lingering in
the experience, is more enjoyable and rewarding than getting it done too quickly. Your good time is enhanced when your partners also have a good time. We
believe that you don’t play Commander against people, so much as play with people. To that end, it’s best to consider their needs.

All that said, it’s still a game that generally requires a winner. We can define winning in simple terms-killing the other players-or we can define it in
more abstract terms-everyone having a great time. The problem that some folks reasonably run into is that the former is pretty easy to quantify, the latter
nearly impossible. In fact, a consensus good time can only be recognized by consensus. One player can’t simply declare it so. One player also can’t define
things for the other players. “I’m playing this way. Run answers or die” isn’t taking anyone else’s desires into account. Do I think that players should
run answers? Absolutely. Do I think that “run answers” is the thematic wheel around which a group should spin? No way. Members of a group are responsible
for making a reasonable effort to find the collective common ground.

All this comes around to building a Prossh, Skyraider of Kher deck which can achieve the end of having a fun and challenging game. Prossh is pretty
aggressive, so this is a bit of a tall order. I’m not suggesting that the build can’t be brutal. What we’re going to avoid is being too brutal too early.
Once the turns hit double digits, I’m all for dealing 200 damage. My goal is to attempt to win a game in which each participant has, well, participated.
This is why I don’t like mass land destruction or STAX/resource denial strategies. They take away the game from the other players. They’re quite effective
at winning in the objective sense, but less so in the subjective, and this is the ground on which I’d like to make a stand.

When we talk about a fair Prossh deck, I think we have to first discuss the cards we intentionally aren’t going to play. Food Chain tops the list, as it
allows a two-card infinite combo very early in the game. Mana Echoes is similar. Phyrexian Altar can also stay on the bench, so basically any permanent
that sacrifices creatures for mana is out. Vicious Shadows is definitely out, as is its less-killable opposite, Purphorous, God of the Forge. After that, I
don’t think there’s too much we need to avoid.

An interesting way to go with Prossh is to try to win with the tokens (yes, Vicious Shadows could do that, but way too easily). Those kobolds need to get
into the Red Zone instead of just standing around to make dragon fodder. We still want people to fear Prossh doing his business, but we’re not going to
make that the focus. We want big kobolds. In fact, we want big plant kobolds, so we’re going to play Conspiracy and Avenger of Zendikar. Conspiracy leads
us to Coat of Arms and Shared Animosity. Now we have battle kobolds. Each of the Lieges in our colors will make the bodies hit the floor even faster. The
not-much-played Ashemoor doesn’t have much impact besides buffing the kobolds, but it also makes Prossh a little beefier. We’ll add in a few other touches
to make them more dangerous, like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, Bow of Nylea, Archetype of Aggression and Archetype of Finality. Ooh, and Doubling Season and
Primal Vigor. This is also a deck in which we can play Hit/Run and have it be worth something.

Since we are generating so many token creatures, running a devour sub-theme seems like it could yield benefits. Skullmulcher, Mycoloth, Marrow Chomper, and
Thromok the Insatiable will make use of those Endrek Sahr tokens and any random kobolds laying around, giving us some flexibility.

Going tutorless will slow down the rush some. We’ll include some land ramp in the 2-4 mana slots to make sure we can do things at a reasonable pace in the
mid-game. Hopefully the presence of Avenger of Zendikar will make those cards not dead draws late game, since we’ll be able to at least landfall off of
them. Speaking of landfall, Baru, Fist of Krosa makes a nice addition. Actually, no he doesn’t, since he only buffs green creatures. Strike that. File it
away for a mono-green build.

We like our kobolds, so we want other people to experience a little pain for killing them (just not VShad bad). Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble work on
this account, maybe even Rage Thrower if there’s space. We talked some last week about how well Rohgahh of Kher Keep works with Prossh, so he’s definitely
in. We’ll also include some things to mitigate the damage for them coming back at us. We need a few Fog effects anyway, so we’ll add Spore Cloud and
Tangle. Rakdos Charm will be a nice kick in the pants, too, either if we’re forced to give up our token army or someone has created some crazy battalion of
their own. Then we’ll really ramp up the adrenaline and walk ourselves out on the edge: we’ll include Repercussion. Most of the time, we’ll be able to
avoid having it truly hurt us because we can sacrifice creatures to Prossh, but we can also really get caught with our pants down if he’s not around and
someone else plays Blasphemous Act or Chain Reaction (which is part of the excitement). We’ll be playing them too. One more bit of board control I love is
Mogg Infestation. If all we have is a bunch of kobolds, we can double that number (although they’re unfortunately now goblins) or we can turn a great board
presence from someone else into something not quite so scary.

On the Planeswalker front, Garruk Wildspeaker is a natural in hopes of an eventual Overrun (just like with Kamahl). I want Domri because I’ve never gotten
his ultimate off, and it’d be cool to have kobolds with double strike, trample, hexproof, and haste. Sarkhan Vol seems pretty good as well. I thought about
Xenagos, the Reveler, but in this deck, it seems like only his first ability is all that useful.

We’ll need a little utility to keep us safe. We can consider all the usual suspects like Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler, Woodfall Primus, and Terastodon.
With Coat of Arms and friends, I think that giving people elephants is sub-optimal, so two of the other three will do. Since we’re playing just a few
creatures which destroy stuff directly, we’ll use Mimic Vat as a utility piece to copy either our destroyers or someone else’s and get extra mileage. We
can definitely win a war of Attrition, especially with Dictate of Erebos. Vandalblast can control every else’s artifacts. We’ll use Puppeteer Clique and
Agent of Erebos to control graveyards. I don’t mind playing the Agent since we’re not going to make much use of our own yard. Getting it copied or cloned
won’t be particularly painful. I haven’t put Nezumi Graverobber into a deck for a while, so let’s also run that classic piece. For more card draw, we’ll go
with Carnage Altar. It costs one more to activate, but we can get multiple activations out of it. It seems like Skullclamp is also a natural fit here. I
really like Primeval Bounty simply because it does so much.

We’d like to have a few big damage spells as potential finishers and the mana to fuel them. To that end, we’ll had Black Market and Gaea’s Cradle (although
I can see avoiding the latter due to cost reasons) to go along with Comet Storm and one of my all-time favorites, Fault Line. Winding down to the last few
cards, we don’t get to see much of Kresh, the Bloodbraided as 1 of 99, so I’d like to run him. Finally, with our last ditch card, I’d like to add Last
Ditch Effort. This hidden gem from Urza’s Legacy will definitely be a surprise to someone’s face.

As far as the lands go, we have to add Kher Keep, since it makes more of our beloved kobolds. On the legendary side, we’ll also add Phyrexian Tower so that
we can turn kobolds into mana if we have to. Living the dream would be having Kessig Wolf Run plus Gaea’s Cradle result in a kobold smashing someone for
50. It will be there, and we will not complain when it gets stripped. We’ll run the usual suspects of lands which produce multiple colors and searchers
without going to the expense of dual lands and fetch lands. About half the land base is basic, keeping us away from nasty stuff like Ruination, Primal
Order, and the like. BTW, more people should play Primal Order. Here’s the list:

Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 06-11-2014

There are quite a few ways that we could have gone with the deck. I wanted to do some crazy Bazaar Trader/Conspiracy (naming Dragons)/Karrthus, Tyrant of
Jund combo, but that just seemed too cute. Obviously, if you want to turn this into a more serious deck, you could add in all those cards we talked about
in the beginning. Running either Phyrexian Altar or Ashnod’s Altar is going to get you to recast Prossh a crazy number of times. Goblin Bombardment would
also be a little scary.

Fair doesn’t have to mean limp or durdly, and the line for fair changes with groups. I think the best decks (at least for my extended group) are decks that
aren’t broken but you still have to pay attention to. I think the deck has the possibility of generating epic games. I think in some of those games, I will
be the one getting epically blown out. I believe that the folks I regularly play with would consider this an eminently reasonable deck, and I hope that
I’ve opened up a new interpretation for the commander for you.

As normal, here is the latest version of one of my decks, usually presented without comment (so that the updated version can be in the awesome database
that we have here at Star City Games). The comment I’ll offer on Kresh is that I’m slowly turning it into an all-Italian deck. Italian cards are marked
with asterisks. Currently, all the cards are either foiled or modded (modded cards are marked with plus signs), and that’s the way I want to deck to end up
once the language switchover is complete. If you have Italian foils that you want to trade, ping me.


Grimoire of the Dead


Sol Ring

Tormod’s Crypt

Solemn Simulacrum

Acidic Slime


Avalanche Riders

Big Game Hunter

Bloodshot Cyclops

Butcher of Malakir

Devouring Swarm

Disciple of Bolas

Disciple of Griselbrand

Eternal Witness

Farhaven Elf

Flayer of the Hatebound

Greater Gargadon

Hamletback Goliath

Lord of Extinction+


Mitotic Slime

Molten Primordial


Pelakka Wurm

Scavenging Ooze+

Seedguide Ash

Stalking Vengeance

Withered Wretch

Woodfall Primus

Yavimaya Elder

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Kokusho, The Evening Star*

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Shattergang Brothers

Xenagos, God of Revels

Urabrask, the Hidden

Goblin Bombardment

Greater Good+

Lurking Predators

Pernicious Deed

Primeval Bounty

Survival of the Fittest

Crypt Incursion


Grab the Reins

Makeshift Mannequin

Momentous Fall

Red Elemental Blast

Rescue from the Underworld

Savage Summoning

Spore Cloud+



Demonic Tutor+

Essence Harvest


Living Death+

Morgue Burst

Skyshroud Claim


Garruk Wildspeaker*



Blood Crypt

Bojuka Bog

Command Tower+

Dragonskull Summit

Exotic Orchard

Graven Cairns*

Grim Backwoods

Kessig Wolf Run+

Opal Palace+

Overgrown Tomb

Rakdos Carnarium

Reliquary Tower

Savage Lands*

Stomping Ground

Strip Mine


Temple of the False God

Twilight Mire

Phyrexian Tower+

Volrath’s Stronghold+

9 Forest

2 Mountain

4 Swamp

If you want 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.”