The Every Deck Project

As a fan of collections, Sheldon Menery is starting The Every Deck Project, in which he will build and maintain a Commander deck of each possible color combination. This week he tackles the Oros wedge (W/B/R).

I’m a fan of collections…and themes…or styles…or being a completist. I actually have no idea what part of my psychological makeup is steering this bus, but I know the road it’s headed down. I’m going to build and maintain a deck of each possible color combination, which I count at 27 (if you include what we used to call "Mono Brown," which is Artifacts). You’re going to have a front-row seat for the ride. Former fellow Level 5 Judge Gis Hoogendijk embarked on such a trip back in the day. I’ll have to check to see how far he got.

The first leg of the journey is to see where we are and identify the possibilities. For easy reference, I’ve broken them down like this:

:  Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, Naya
Wedges:  Intet (RUG), Numot (R/W/U), Oros (W/B/R), Teneb (W/B/G), Vorosh (BUG)
Two-Color:  White/Blue, White/Black, White/Red, White/Green, Blue/Black, Blue/Red, Blue/Green, Black/Red, Black/Green, Red/Green
Mono-Color:  White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Artifacts

Here are the decks I already have:

Jund:  Kresh the Bloodbraided and Adun Oakenshield
Esper:  Merieke Ri Berit
Bant:  Phelddagrif
Grixis:  Thraximundar and Lord of Tresserhorn
Naya:  Rith, the Awakener
Intet (RUG):  Intet, the Dreamer and Animar, Soul of Elements
Numot (R/W/U):  Ruhan of the Fomori
Teneb (W/B/G): Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Vorosh (BUG):  The Mimeoplasm and Vorosh, the Hunter
White:  Isamaru, Hound of Konda

Meaning the ones I don’t have are:

Oros (W/B/R)

I thought to start this project by deciding on which general I’d be using to build each, but I realized that this effort is going to stretch out over many months during which new legendary creatures are going to be introduced. No sense in limiting myself to only what’s available right now, so I won’t decide on a particular general until I’m ready to build a deck. If you have ideas, feel free to ship them.

The only of the two-color decks that I have in mind are Nath of the Gilt-Leaf for G/B and something with Angels and Spirits for W/U (since I did indeed pull all of the Angels out of Karador). After that, nothing is off the table.

The only reasonable place to start is the last three-color combo I’m lacking (well, I suppose the five-color might also do). White, black, red: the Oros wedge. There are three choices:  Oros himself, Kaalia of the Vast, and Tariel, Reckoner of Souls. All three are attractive with interesting abilities to build around.

I’m a little drawn to Kaalia because of the Angels. She’d certainly allow me to use all of them; I’d include the "off-color" choices of Angel of Despair, Crypt Angel, Fallen Angel, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Basandra, Battle Seraph, Firemane Angel, and Razia, Boros Archangel. For completion’s sake, I’ll mention that there’s Maelstrom Archangel in five-color, Gabriel Angelfire in G/W, and Filigree Angel, Guiding Spirit, and Iridescent Angel in W/U.

Tariel has me intrigued because of the graveyard recursion, which is one of my favorite mechanics. It’s random, so it feels less good strategically but far better politically. I could play Withered Wretch to keep only the viable targets around so I don’t randomly pick up something useless, but that already feels like going a long way around for a narrow value.

I’m going to go instead with Oros, the Avenger. He (she?) is the original for the wedge, which is a strong draw. I also have a foil copy (unavailable for the other two). There are already some Kaalia and Tariel decks running around the Armada League, so I’d rather do something no one else is doing, and I simply like the ability. Finally, it gives me the opportunity to build the "Your Tears Sustain Me" deck I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

I always thought that it would be a Grixis deck, but these colors will also allow me to build a punisher-style deck. It’s going to end up a punisher in the same way that Ruhan is:  you don’t get hurt (too badly) for doing things that players do in Commander games; you get hurt for doing them to excess. It’s also going to allow me to go back to a Sunforger package, which I abandoned in Ruhan due to lack of real commitment.

Oros, Pretty Much the Punisher

Artifacts (9)

Armillary Sphere:  Non-green decks are at a disadvantage when it comes to land ramp, so the Sphere will help some. It still doesn’t put them onto the battlefield, but early on it will ensure at least getting the right colors.

Boros Signet:  Signet-style things are the ramp that the deck will have to run. I’m not a big fan of mana rocks, but they’ll have to do.

Coalition Relic:  Kind of double ramp.

Contagion Clasp:  There’s a wither component and some other shenanigans to the deck, so the Clasp is the first proliferate part…

Contagion Engine: …the Engine being the second.

Darksteel Ingot:  Might as well make your mana rocks indestructible.

Orzhov Signet:  More Signet action. Without at least one early mana rock, I think the deck just won’t be able to keep up.

Sol Ring:  Of course, this is the nice one.

Sunforger: There’s a significant commitment to the Sunforger plan here. There are a zillion ways to go. I think I’ve chosen a nice spread of things for Sunforger to get which are also simply good in their own right. Maybe I need to try to put together a Naya Sunforger deck so that I can play Wheel of Sun and Moon.

Artifact Creature (1)

Solemn Simulacrum:  Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly in a Roman Polanski film called "Carnage." If you like non-Hollywood films, this is your cup of tea.

Creatures (16)

Anathemancer:  Part of the punisher plan. I’m pretty sure it’s in every R/B deck I play.

Archon of Justice:  Stuff needs to get exiled.

Bloodgift Demon:  Affordable card draw on a flying body.

Carnifex Demon:  Part of the proliferate plan; I’m pretty sure there’s a tricky play or two with adding counters to him.

Hateflayer:  The idea of battling and then killing a creature is pleasing to me.

Invader Parasite:  In other decks, this there to take out troublesome non-basics, but here I may also use it to punish especially the Mono-Green guy for plopping a bunch of lands out.

Kulrath Knight:  You can’t play wither without playing this guy.

Loxodon Gatekeeper:  This isn’t a punishment piece so much as just a slow-down. It’s reasonable protection against giant Genesis Waves or hasty Avenger of Zendikar tokens.

Galepowder Mage:  I like the option of resetting things with a large number of counters or using good enters-the-battlefield triggers.

Massacre Wurm:  One of the stated goals of the deck is to punish players for doing things to excess. Few cards do that better than Massacre Wurm.

Necroskitter:  Super-combo with Black Sun’s Zenith anyone?

Netherborn Phalanx:  I want this to kill people with too many creatures, but the transmute ability may also be worthwhile, especially for some of the instants in the Sunforger package.

Spike Cannibal:  The dream for this card is taking the counters off of all those Plant tokens.

Viashino Heretic:  A superstar from the format’s early days, the Heretic will keep a fair number of artifacts in check.

Wall of Omens:  A little early defense and card draw, which the colors are weak in.

Withered Wretch:  Stuff must be removed from graveyards. It’s the way of things.

Legendary Creatures (3)

Myojin of Cleansing Fire:  I want creatures that do double-duty, so Wrathing Myojin fits the bill. Proliferating extra counters onto him before the Wrath effect is spicy.

Myojin of Night’s Reach:  I’m on the fence about this card. It’s undeniably good; I’m just not sure that it will create the kinds of games that I want to play in.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre:  I knew I needed an Eldrazi to get my graveyard back into my library, and Ulamog kills stuff as well. Interesting to me that the primary use for Eldrazi in Commander seems to be the reshuffle ability.

Enchantments (8)

Aura of Silence:  Slowing down everyone’s artifact ramp is the primary purpose of the Aura. It provides on-board protection against many things and may serve as a deterrent or at least force opponents to play around it.

Everlasting Torment:  It does three things, simply and directly, all of which I’m happy to have done.

Land Tax:  Effectively card draw, Land Tax smooths out things early and thins them out late.

Leyline of Punishment:  This does two of the things that Everlasting Torment does, and there’s a chance it comes out for free.

Painful Quandary:  I guess if I’m going for the mean deck, I have to go for it. This has gotten played a few times in the League, and I find that it’s always an interesting card to watch people (including myself) play around.

Porphyry Nodes:  In a relatively creature-light deck, I’m pretty sure that this will rarely hit my own stuff.

Martyr’s Bond:  This card is such a beating; I think I have to play it in every white deck.

Spiteful Visions:  I’m okay with taking a little damage in order to help everyone else take some. Take this, Consecrated Sphinx!

Underworld Dreams:  The same as Spiteful Visions only there’s no forced draw. If I could play Phyrexian Tyranny in this deck, I would.

Instants (18) [Cards marked with * are Sunforger-applicable]

Batwing Brume *:  Fog is good. Fog that murders the opponent is better.

Backlash *:  What’s that? Your Omnath is 49/49? Spend the mana or die, please.

Brightflame:  I’m a little skeptical about Brightflame, but we’ll see how it goes.

Debt of Loyalty *:  I predict this card will be amazing nearly every time it gets played.

Delirium *:  So if Player A casts Bribery getting Player B’s Blightsteel Colossus

Exile *:  Sure, it’s non-white and has to be attacking, but it’s pretty cheap for exiling.

Enlightened Tutor *:  Obviously it can get any of the enchantments as well, but it’s primarily there to fetch Sunforger.

Grave Consequences:  Another one that I’m not 100% sure about but want to see in action. Worst case I draw a card.

Ghostway *:  Especially for its cost, one of the most flexible cards you’ll ever want to cast.

Holy Day *:  This card will for sure keep you alive. I thought for a moment about playing Darkness instead to be stylish but then realized I couldn’t get it with Sunforger.

Into the Core *:  It’s all about the exile.

Mirror Strike *:  Another card I’m hard-pressed to not play in white decks since it can turn someone’s attack into their undoing. In Ruhan, it’s already killed more than one person with their own Blightsteel Colossus.

Oblation *:  More and more flexibility. Drawing cards when someone wants to blow up something of mine is good. Shuffling in someone’s general is good.

Pollen Lullaby *:  I discovered this one late in the process, and it’s another Fog with the opportunity to Tangle.

Price of Progress *:  Back to punishment.

Return to Dust *:  Once again, it’s all about the exile.

Sudden Impact *:  The fact that I can Tutor this up with Sunforger makes it even more valuable than just having a one-off, especially if draws-too-many-cards-guy taps out at EOT.

Swords to Plowshares *:  I’m not normally a fan of one-for-ones, but the capability of playing this multiple times in a game (not to mention the potential absence of lifegain) makes Swords way more attractive to me.

Sorceries (7)

Austere Command:  Need flexibility. Don’t like blowing up my own stuff, but hey, sometimes you just gotta.

Black Sun’s Zenith:  Living the dream with Necroskitter.

Decree of Pain:  Another nod to the otherwise weak card draw.

Hallowed Burial:  Sorry, you may not run your graveyard recursion you jackanapes.

Rivals’ Duel:  The not sharing of creature types puts some limitations on it, but it’s almost always going to target things controlled by other people. Seems like it could be a blowout when both creatures belong to one person.

Starstorm:  I’m not really sure if this is the best call. The cycling ability interests me a great deal, but it feels like when I want it and need it Blasphemous Act will just be better.

Wrath of God:  It was either this or Damnation, and I’m pretty sure I’m out of the latter.

Lands (9)

Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Command Tower
Marsh Flats
Mistveil Plains
Rocky Tar Pit
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Legendary Land (1)

Kher Keep

Basic Lands (26)

Mountain 6
Plains 11
Swamp 9

I wanted to keep the non-basic count low so my Price of Progress doesn’t hurt so badly. Using the fetches means getting the right lands when I need them. Mistveil Plains is obvious for Sunforger, but I might need to go back to ensure that I have enough white permanents. I had initially put Kjeldoran Outpost in as one of the lands to do just that, but the land base is thin enough as it is. I may reconsider after actually playing the deck. Kher Keep is there to make sure I have something to attach Sunforger to if I’m playing in an environment with a great number of board wipes.

The Every Deck Project (perhaps more accurately named "Every Color Combination Project," but that just seems awkward) will be a continuing effort to Embrace the Chaos in new ways. One of the drivers will certainly be the ever-dwindling number of cards in my collection which aren’t already in Commander decks. I’m going to have to occasionally make a choice that’s not the best, but I only have so many original dual lands or even copies of Command Tower. If I want each of the decks to be foiled out, I suppose I’ll be spending many hours putting stuff into my StarCityGames.com shopping cart. There are worse ways to spend my time.