Post-M14 Deck Changes

This week Sheldon takes you through the changes he made to his 23 Commander decks following the release of Magic 2014.

With my M14 set review and Hall of Fame ballot done and all my prep world for the World Magic Cup and World Championship under my belt, it’s time to turn my attention to finding room in each of my 23 decks for cool cards that came out in M14 and Modern Masters (although with MM it’s really just seeing if I want to pick up any of the new art in foil since I’m probably already playing the cards).

Updating that many decks is a daylong project between pulling cards, swapping them in, and sorting and filing away the old ones. It’s also not as simple as one-for-one trades with new cards. It’s time to do all the updates that have been waiting to get done. Some cards go out of one deck and into another. Adding to all that, I initially want to put an individual card into only one deck. It leads to some decision-making and tough choices, which is why I do it in the first place. When you get to my age, you need to keep your mind sharp.

I took all of the cards on my "Definitely Will Get Played" list from the set review (plus added a few more that struck my fancy) and then eliminated the Slivers since I’m not currently playing a Sliver deck. I either put each of the remaining cards into a deck or specifically set them aside for upcoming decks. Let me share with you what I put together.

Adun Oakenshield

No changes

Adun Oakenshield is a deck in flux. It’s currently a Jund Beast deck for no reason other than I wanted Jund-colored Beasts. After I recently built Ruric Thar and His Werewolf Fight Club, I realized that I was missing out on adding Beasts and Contested Cliffs to the mix. I’ve sketched out the changeover, and it’ll probably happen sometime after I get back from Amsterdam. That leaves the conundrum of what to do with Adun. He’s a pretty cool commander, and even though I have two other Jund decks, I still want to rebuild him after the Beasts migrate away. If you have ideas, ship them—the wilder, the better.

Animar, Soul of Elements

In: Strionic Resonator; Garruk, Caller of Beasts; Tornado Elemental (from Mimeoplasm)

Out: Scroll Rack (to Melek), Coalition Relic (to Intet), Ghostly Flicker

Strionic Resonator is a major impact card for the format (no, it’s not broken, and no, it’s not getting banned). I asked myself the simple question "what triggered abilities do I most want to copy?" and the answer was "nearly everything in the Animar deck," from a simple Wood Elves to a crazy Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author]. I can only imagine that it will create more hilarity in an already-hilarious deck. Because it has 45 creatures, this deck was the natural for new Garruk, although I suspect that I won’t often get to use his ultimate. Tornado Elemental came in because it was coming out of Mimeoplasm; I realized that I don’t have that many fliers so I wouldn’t mind killing yours for GG.

Scroll Rack will be better served in Melek since that deck will want top-of-the-library control. Coalition Relic isn’t the right ramp for this deck because I always want to play Animar on turn 3. Ghostly Flicker got cut because I was tired of cascading into it with Maelstrom Wanderer. Nearly every time I had it with this deck, I was disappointed. The foil copy from this deck went over to Lavinia, which I’m finally starting to foil out as well.

Speaking of hilarity and Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author], I’m going to apologize in advance for not writing down what follows as it was happening. I’ll also apologize for the reflection in the middle of the picture. The turn started with Animar with one counter and my Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author] as well as someone else’s. This is how it ended up: 


Top Row (L to R):

Rubblehulk; my Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author]; Yeva, Nature’s Herald; Animar, Soul of Elements (sideways after having killed someone); Wall of Roots; Mischievous Quanar; Darksteel Colossus; Duplicant; other Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author]

Bottom Row (L to R):

Flametongue Kavu; Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; Sylvan Primordial; Roaring Primadox; Venser, Shaper Savant; Eternal Witness; Progenitor Mimic; Garruk’s Horde; Phyrexian Metamorph

That’s a Michelle Bush-autographed FtK on the left. I imagine that’s quite a rarity. Again, really sorry I didn’t write it all down as it was happening (I didn’t want to slow things down—the turn took quite a while as it was). Garruk’s Horde was definitely in the second "set" of Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author] triggers, allowing me to play more off the top. I’m not quite sure where it was in the mix, but I know I played Maelstrom Wanderer for only RUG and am pretty sure I played a Morph for zero before getting it Stormed into something better.

If you’re confused about how that board state could develop for so little mana, remember that Possibility Storm[/author]“][author name="Possibility Storm"]Possibility Storm[/author] has a triggered ability when you cast a spell. With two of them in play, you’ll get two spells for the price of one because getting the follow-up spell isn’t contingent on exiling the first one. It’s not "if you do"; it’s just "do it." Crazy.

Aurelia, the Warleader (Modern Legal)

In: Ogre Battledriver

Out: Master Warcraft

Giving your creatures haste is always good. In this deck, it’s really useful because it will help turn on some of those battalion abilities sooner. Master Warcraft seems like it would fit better in a deck that isn’t spending its mana running out creatures and battling with them. If Battledriver were a Soldier, I’ll probably have put him into Rith, but themes are themes and a brother has to commit.

Intet, the Dreamer

In: Colossal Whale, Quicken, Coalition Relic (from Animar)

Out: Pristine Talisman (to Obzedat); Riftsweeper; Genesis Wave

I know it’s not going to happen that often, but I’m really looking forward to having Colossal Whale and Stormtide Leviathan out at the same time. Quicken will let me cast some of those great sorceries at EOT after having held up counterspell mana. Coalition Relic got swapped in because I found that while I liked the life gain of Pristine Talisman (especially with Seedborn Muse in play), I’m often hungry for mana of a color. Riftsweeper is nice but something had to be cut, and there are too many instants and sorceries in the deck for GWave to be all that effective (although EOT Quicken / GWave for a zillion is all kinds of attractive).

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

In: Doomgape (from Karador)

Out: Golgari Brownscale

Jarad needed a little more heft, and the cost-effective and graveyard-filling Doomgape, which was coming out of Karador, fit the bill perfectly. Golgari Brownscale was the cut because of the real lack of commitment to the dredge theme.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

In: Grim Return, Shadowborn Demon

Out: Return to Dust; Doomgape (to Jarad)

Creatures go to the graveyard in this deck. Bringing them back will be nice. Snagging someone else’s Puppeteer Clique or Woodfall Primus with the persist trigger on the stack will be awesome. Shadowborn Demon fits the theme of the deck extremely well, providing either beats or help filling up the yard. There’s enough other enchantment and artifact removal in the deck that Return to Dust could go.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

In: Scourge of Valkas

Out: Dreamstone Hedron (to Merieke)

The best new Dragon had to come in, and I found that the ramp in the deck is sufficient to not need the Hedron. I love that the Scourge is aggressively costed so he can just run out there turn 4 or 5 and then be followed up by all his fiery friends.

Kresh the Bloodbraided

In: Primeval Bounty; Savage Summoning

Out: Woodripper, Feed the Pack (to Ruric Thar?)

Primeval Bounty is just the bee’s knees. It’s one of those cards that will probably eventually find its way into several decks. Savage Summoning is there because there are several creatures I’d like to cast that you want to counter, like Hamletback Goliath and Lord of Extinction. Feed the Pack is out because there are enough other sacrifice outlets, and I’m hoping to find room for it in the new build of Ruric Thar.

Lavinia of the Tenth

In: Martial Law (from Ruhan)

Out: Pristine Talisman

I know my data sampling is small, but I found that the mana in Lavinia has been decent, so it feels like the Talisman can go. Martial Law fits the theme of the deck, can detain any creature, and had just gotten freed up from Ruhan. Win all around.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

In: Elite Arcanist

Out: Blizzard Specter

The deck already has an Isochron Scepter package, so what better than Isochron Scepter on a stick? Blizzard Specter had just been disappointing. It’s still tempting to want to turn this into a mill deck, but since that’s so obv I want to avoid it.

Lord of Tresserhorn

In: Gnawing Zombie, Lifebane Zombie, Liliana’s Reaver

Out: Stroke of Genius, Rise from the Grave, Basilisk Collar

It’s been a few sets since we’ve gotten really nice Zombies, so I was happy to see these three gems in M14. Lifebane cast early is probably going to strip out something the player is holding for later, like Craterhoof Behemoth or Avenger of Zendikar, so we’re going to get that chatter out of here. I found that the deck wasn’t making great use of Stroke, and I won’t mind putting it in Melek. There aren’t that many individuals Zombies I care about bringing back with Rise from the Grave, so it was easy to cut. Basilisk Collar is directly opposed to the idea of letting people attack me and then casting Repay in Kind.

Merieke Ri Berit

In: Dreamstone Hedron (from Karrthus), Liliana of the Dark Realms

Out: Trading Post; Venser, the Sojourner

Merieke gets killed a lot. Dreamstone Hedron will help recast her. Liliana will help smoothing the land drops, and her ultimate going off isn’t the end of the world for anyone (at least in this deck) so she might stay around longer. The foil Venser went into Lavinia. Goat Post is great, but something had to go. I’m sure it’ll find a new home sooner rather than later.

The Mimeoplasm

In: Jace’s Mindseeker, Rise of the Dark Realms

Out: Tornado Elemental (to Animar), Rite of Replication (to Melek)

If Lazav were a mill deck, that would be the right place for the Mindeeker—copy a creature and cast a cool spell. Since Mimeoplasm is my mill deck, this is the right home for it, which may be even better as I can cast the cool spell now and then wait to copy the creature. I spent a long time figuring out where the best place for Rise of the Dark Realms would be. I initially had snap called it into Kresh. Then I realized that with all the milling this deck does, it will be decidedly more epic here.

Nath of the Gilt-Leaf

In: Scavenging Ooze

Out: Bloodline Keeper

Every time I drew Bloodline Keeper in this deck, I had a "WTF???" moment and made a mental note to take it out. Then I’d of course forget, and the scene would repeat itself like some bad 80’s movie "Let’s Get Motivated" montage complete with bad Casio soundtrack. So GTFO Bloodline Keeper. There’s a ScOoze in town.

Obzedat, Ghost Council

In: Path of Bravery, Pristine Talisman

Out: Infernal Genesis (to Rakdos?)

My first thought was to put Path of Bravery in Trostani, the deck that I was 100% sure would turn it on. Trostani has some creatures that would benefit from it, but I like the buff it will give to Obzedat more, turning him from a five-hit killer to four-hit. There’s still a sufficient amount of life gain in the deck (like the two from Obzedat every turn). Infernal Genesis is always good for laughs, but I want to see it in a deck that will take better advantage of my own graveyard. Same with Millikin.

Oros, the Avenger

In: Haunted Plate Mail

Out: Obzedat, Ghost Council

There’s just something about having the general from one deck in another. It’s the EDH equivalent of being a Belieber. It’s just . . . wrong. Haunted Plate Mail thematically seems like it would go into a ghost deck, but Oros likes to wipe the field enough to make good use of it.


In: Windreader Sphinx

Out: Thrun, the Last Troll

Warden of Evos Isle was in here on my first pass, and then I realized that I didn’t actually have that many fliers, which is one of the reasons (besides it’s just awesome) that Akroma’s Memorial is in the deck. Windreader Sphinx is going to draw a few cards here and there, and I’m always going to have the option of jumping the purple hippo when I need. Now I want "jumping the purple hippo" to mean something dirty.

Prime Speaker Zegana

In: Kalonian Hydra, Dismiss Into Dream, Mycoloth (from Rith), Opposition

Out: Civic Wayfinder, Tranquil Grove, Brine Elemental, Miming Slime

In a +1/+1 counters matter deck, Kalonian Hydra is bombtacular. When I started thinking about which deck to put Dismiss Into Dream in, it occurred to me that I have enough targeted activated abilities in this deck to make use of it. I can use the ability of Spike Weaver and Spike Feeder and lands like Maze of Ith and Tower of the Magistrate to kill creatures. I was a little sad to realize that graft isn’t a targeted ability and I can’t machine gun with Forgotten Ancient counters, but I’ll get over it.

Dismiss Into Dream did lead me to Mycoloth, which I now can’t imagine not playing, and Opposition, which can machine gun down things—not to mention being pretty useful by itself. Fellow RC member Toby Elliott said that I should go completely classic and also add Cowardice, but I’m thinking more along the lines of Sway of Illusion or Sea King’s Blessing.

Rith, the Awakener

In: Devout Invocation

Out: Mycoloth (to Prime Speaker)

Rith makes tokens. Devout Invocation makes more tokens. Seems like a match made in heaven.

Ruhan of the Fomori

In: Burning Earth, Reins of Power

Out: Martial Law (to Lavinia); Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Tamiyo is out because she doesn’t really punish anyone and I wanted the one foil one I had to go into Lavinia (which already had a non-foil). Reins of Power is basically a cheaper Insurrection. The more I think about Burning Earth, the more my pulse races. It goes perfectly in Ruhan because if you’re not greedy, it’s really not going to hurt you. If you are, you did this to yourself.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

No changes

As I mentioned above, I’m seriously considering retooling Ruric Thar, so it didn’t make sense to do any changes at this time.


In: Dark Prophecy

Out: Final Strike

Dark Prophecy is another card that I really had to think about putting in somewhere. It occurred to me to put it into Lord of Tresserhorn in order to get my life total low while inevitably drawing into Repay in Kind. It seemed like a nice fit into Thraximundar because I don’t have a big army in the deck, meaning that I won’t just randomly get killed by my own enchantment. I can also sacrifice it to Perilous Research if things get rough. I have a good deal of control over when and how my own creatures die (more accurately are sacrificed) so I don’t have to wait for someone else to kill my creatures in order to draw cards. Dark Prophecy makes me at least consider putting a Blood Artist in this deck, but we’ll see first how it goes.

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

In: Archangel of Thune

Out: Duplicant

Duplicant isn’t an Angel (although I suppose sometimes it can be since it also imprints creature type), so being the slave to theme that I am it had to go, especially in light of one of the most awesome cards in M14, Archangel of Thune. I’m going to need a bigger boat (of +1/+1 counters).

As you read this, we’ll already be deep into Worlds Week coverage. Tune in for all the action as the best of the best compete to write their names in history in what promises to be one of the most unforgettable events of all time.

Embracing the Chaos,


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