The Block Commander Odyssey

If you need a casual break from the competitive scene, nobody knows how to create new Magic fun like Abe Sargent! See his latest kitchen table project work here with more Block Commander goods!

Join The SCG Tour<sup>®</sup> in Philadelphia February 27-28!” border=”1″ /></a></div>
<p>Commander is awesome, but like any format, you want to mix it up at times. Any format can get a bit stale. Any format can get a bit redundant and predictable. That’s just how it is. It’s no disrespect to Commander. But sometimes you just feel that things need to get shaken up a bit. </p>
<p><!--- Ad used to be shown to select users here --></p>
<p>Normally Magic deals with this shakeup with the introduction of new cards, new cards, and more new cards. Just around the time that a new metagame has been sussed out for a format, a new set is released that brings new cards. Then everything is new again, until it slows down and stops, and then people step around it and keep on going.</p>
<p>In a format like Commander, this new slate of cards has a weaker impact. The new addition of 250 cards to Standard is obviously high-impact. The new addition of the same 250 cards to Modern is still pretty saucy, and yet we’ve seen lots of sets go by without as much of a whimper. But the addition of 250 cards to Vintage? Not so much. The same is true of Commander. There’s not as much of a massive changeup each time a new set hits the streets.</p>
<p>So metagames can age. People need something new, and that’s where Block Commander steps in. You are confined to building a deck exclusively with cards from a certain block! (Only your Commander can come from outside the block).</p>
<p>I’ve embraced the various challenges, and I <a href=started with Ice Age Block here for you, and have moved forward in time, rolling out various blocks up through Invasion and Mercadian Masques in my last article. As I’ve been doing this Block Party Commander stuff for a while now, it’s time to mix it up a bit.

Odyssey block had a few themes layered into it. It was the first to have a real graveyard theme. I remember Weatherlight was sold as this major graveyard-centric set, but in retrospect, it really wasn’t. But Odyssey certainly counted. Graveyard use and abuse was a major theme of the block. You also had self-discard and madness, tokens, and who can forget the fun of Mono-Black Control led by Cabal Coffers?

There were just a handful of decks that could be built successfully in this era of Standard and Block, and the major one was U/G Madness and Quiet Roar built around cards like Quiet Speculation, Roar of the Wurm, Basking Rootwalla and Circular Logic.

I want to steer clear of blue for a bit longer after using it a great deal in the early decks. Could we do a Cabal Coffers deck that’s a mono-colored deck? Could we ever do a mono-colored deck from one block for Commander? This would be the block, with the black-centric Torment. Let’s find out!

This is just a quick shell I tossed together. It’s not fully there. We have 93 cards listed, including the Commander, Chainer, Dementia Master. You aren’t required to use a Commander from Odyssey Block, but why not? You’d probably have to stretch to it the last seven cards, but it is close. Very close. As for the Cabal Coffers? Don’t forget that you could tutor for Cabal Coffers with Diabolic Tutor, cast Insidious Dreams, untap it with the Deserted Temple, and recur it with the Petrified Field. That’s a lot of support for the Coffers strategy.

Close, but….

Or you could just go with another strategy. I do like the graveyard tricks of stuff like Buried Alive or Entomb for the graveyard-centric block. You could also do a madness theme as well, but that’s not what I’m looking for.

You have Incarnations like Anger, Genesis and Glory, Flashback stuff like Roar of the Wurm, enablers like Quiet Speculation, and lots more. I do think we could do a graveyard-centric theme, with the good graveyard cards and enablers from black mingling with green and/or red. Let’s do a Golgari-sort of deck.

There’s your deck! We have a few themes layered into the deck: Flashback, tokens, threshold, reanimation, and some control.

Tokens are an obvious place to delve into, since there are a ton of ways to make them for green. My favorite is probably Grizzly Fate, which makes four (usually) Bear tokens of 2/2 size and can be flashed back for another set. Each Grizzly Fate is an instant army, and I like playing one after a mass removal effect to recover quickly and begin the new beats. Meanwhile, a card like Squirrel Nest can be used to slowly make tokens over time and to build an army as you go. Don’t forget to untap the land to make two Squirrels if you have Deserted Temple out.

Another way to have an immediate impact on the battlefield is to play Crush of Wurms. If you drop three Wurm tokens at a 6/6 range of threat-level, then you can begin to toss around your weight with aplomb. This is particularly true if you are playing against other block party decks, which may not have as many answers. Don’t forget your Flashback, either.

Roar of the Wurm? Beast Attack? Call of the Herd? All of these spells make creatures of various sizes with various Flashback costs and add to your creature count considerably when they start getting used. With Mirari or Parallel Evolution, you can increase your creatures exponentially. Because all of these spells have Flashback as well, you are in Token City.

And that’s where the graveyard-friendly nature of this deck crosses into territory with the various token-making spells of Odyssey block. There’s a natural synergy here.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to use green to get some mana for your stuff. Once Invasion block hit, modern design began to include multiple good, playable ways to accelerate land plays with your green stuff. Take a look at a simple card like Far Wanderings. Normally, it’s an expensive Rampant Growth, but later in the game, once you have threshold, you get three lands for three mana, an amazing result from your investment. You can play and flash back Deep Reconnaissance for two lands, smash someone with Centaur Rootcaster, and more. Get those lands!

Check out Krosan Restorer. It might look like a normal mana accelerator, and you can tap it to untap two Swamps, two Forests, or whatever to make two mana . Yay mana! But you can also tap it to make another Squirrel or to untap Cabal Coffers for another run. We have a lot of little ways that the deck plays nicely with its featured cards.

You might not see the reanimation in this deck at first. It’s not obvious, but it is here. We have the obvious black stalwarts like Zombify and Stitch Together, but that’s not all. Check out Genesis. It’s a powerful card to fetch up with Buried Alive or Entomb, has a great long-game value, and recurs creatures as needed. What about Nostalgic Dreams or Restless Dreams? Both can swap cards in your hand for better ones from your graveyard. You can discard junk you don’t need or something with Flashback that you can cast again. Drop a big creature like Hypnox for later reanimation. Replay great spells. Sacrifice a creature to Malevolent Awakening or bring something back with Chainer, Dementia Master. That’s a lot of recursion.

And don’t forget that your leader will bring back dead stuff as well.

Want to get stuff into your graveyard? We have a spot of self-mill with cards like Charmed Pendant or Millikin. You can tap to make mana and then mill some stuff at the same time. Don’t be afraid to use Zoologist. If it hits on a creature, then that’s awesome! You get a free body onto the battlefield. If not, you put another card into the graveyard. Either way you are getting solid value.

We have a bit of self-sacrifice, like Malevolent Awakening and Sadistic Hypnotist or cards like Diligent Farmhand that jump into the graveyard on their own accord. It’s not a major theme, but it’s there if you need to move something into your graveyard to recur or to hit threshold. Sacrifice Gravedigger to Malevolent Awakening to recur a dead creature, and then sacrifice something else to recur Gravedigger, which can then be played to recur what you sacrificed to Malevolent Awakening (or something else). There’s a lot of fun stuff in there like that. And instead of cycling stupidly powerful graveyard creatures with a Karador, Ghost Chieftain deck, you are just doing it with Gravedigger, Genesis, or others. It’s much nicer that way, not graveyard “abuse” so much as mere “use.”

And the self-discard is here in small numbers too. I don’t want it so badly that I want to toss in Patchwork Gnomes and Mortiphobia, but it’s here. Wild Mongrel? Check. The Dreams are a great way to do so as well (Nostalgic Dreams, Restless Dreams – you could add in Insidious Dreams or Sickening Dreams too).

I like Nantuko Cultivator. It’s subtle. Play and discard as many cards as you want. Don’t worry; any card you discard will replace itself. It arrives with your discarded cards as +1/+1 counters as you convert the discards to new cards, so you fill your graveyard, ensure threshold, give yourself more options later, and then draw a new slate of cards. What’s not to love about the Cultivator?

We have some really fun creatures that get better as you get to the critical mass of seven cards in your graveyard. Both Repentant Vampire and Possessed Centaur can begin to tap and slay stuff. Roughly 40% of creatures are either green or black, so tapping to slay them is pretty interesting.

We all know what a card like Krosan Beast or Werebear has to offer when you have threshold: size. But don’t forget a card like Centaur Chieftain and its ability to pump the whole team on arrival and swing as well. It’s a pretty nice haymaker in a deck with a lot of tokens (see also: Overrun).

Threshold isn’t the only graveyard-caring mechanic spliced into this deck either. Mortivore gets bigger as stuff hits the bin as well. The more you slay, the bigger it gets, and it can be so big in a large Commander game that it will hit and kill in just one or two turns. Do you like that? Then check out Exoskeletal Armor, which does the same out of nowhere. Toss that on your Commander for a quick 21 damage as well. Don’t sleep on this block deck!

Shoot, even something that’s totally Timmy-esque like Gurzigost is strong here. A 6/8 for five mana that deals damage to folks despite blockers is nice. Don’t forget that you get to put cards back into your deck. You can use it to restock your deck and keep you going or to put critical spells back in to get later. If your deck is clocking nicely, it’s a great way to put some pressure out there. Another card is Guiltfeeder. It has evasion, deals life loss for a strong amount later in the game, and gets past normal defenses like Maze of Ith or damage prevention.

This deck can feel like a Timmy’s dream. Crush of Wurms? Erhnam Djinn? Sengir Vampire? Krosan Beast? Overrun? Grizzly Fate? There are a lot of big and splashy effects, and many involve playing and attacking with creatures. But there’s a lot of synergy built in here as well.

Most of the cards in this deck are either solid and commonly seen entries in Commander (Diabolic Tutor, Petrified Field, Cabal Coffers, Far Wanderings, Genesis, Buried Alive, Mirari, Parallel Evolution, etc.) or could be quite easily (Grizzly Fate, Exoskeletal Armor, Nantuko Cultivator, Zoologist). Only a handful of cards are left that are more about supporting the deck and a lack of options outside of Odyssey block (Morgue Theft, Morbid Hunger, Toxic Stench, Sylvan Might).

And there are many other cards in B/G to consider. If you like the token-making Flashback spells, then how about Elephant Ambush or Acorn Harvest? You could ramp to Ivy Elemental, drop New Frontiers to really push your deck’s theme. Imagine if you simply got six Swamps to accelerate that Cabal Coffers. Cartographer would return a key land on arrival. You could protect your stuff with Sylvan Safekeeper or Spellbane Centaur and use something like Nullmage Advocate to destroy things you need to take out. How about Nantuko Blightcutter, Organ Grinder, Seton’s Desire, Shade’s Form, Shambling Swarm, or Tainted Pact?

Of course, you can also layer red into the deck to push it even further. You could grab graveyard-friendly burn like Shower of Coals or Flashback like Firebolt, and pull weaker Flashback cards from above like Morbid Hunger and Morgue Theft for them. From Anger and Fledgling Dragon to Pardic Arsonist and such, you’d have a solid three-color deck that’s increasingly synergetic.

There are a lot of ways to invoke red beyond the above. Here are a few that come to mind: Flaming Gambit; Fiery Temper; Anarchist; Browbeat; Decimate; Grim Lavamancer; Jeska, Warrior Adept; Kamahl, Pit Fighter; Lightning Surge; Burning Wish; Magnivore; Petradon; Possessed Barbarian; Radiate; Recoup; Reckless Charge; Temporary Insanity; Violent Eruption; and Volley of Boulders. All of those cards bring something to the table or push the deck in interesting directions.

So why not get your Block on?

It’ll be worth it.

Join The SCG Tour<sup>®</sup> in Philadelphia February 27-28!” border=”1″ /></a></div>
    </div><!-- .entry-content -->
    		<div class=