The Kitchen Table #416: From Toolkit To Commander #3

Abe continues to explore building Commander decks from Deckbuilder’s Toolkits, this time starting from scratch with a Magic 2014 Deckbuilder’s Toolkit.

Do you think that acquiring cards for a Commander deck seems out of reach? Where do you begin to build a deck that big and with so many individual copies of each card? It’s not easy. Maybe you are a newer player to Magic and trying to get started.

Or perhaps you are more experienced. Have you ever looked at a Deckbuilder’s Toolkit and wondered what value it really held for you? What are you going to do with a handful of card stock and four booster packs?

Whether you are a new player looking for ways to build that Commander deck or a player jaded with your collection, this series is for you. I originally began with a Deckbuilder’s Toolkit from Magic 2013 that I picked up for half off and then spent some time last week trading into a Teneb, the Harvester Commander deck. The deck is not finished, but we went really far much faster than I thought. I was expecting a little bit more of a challenge frankly.

What would happen if we turned this challenge up a notch? What if I opened an M14 Toolkit and tried to build a second Commander deck out of it? My rares from the four boosters the first time around were very conducive to trading and finding good Commander cards for my deck. But what if my next Toolkit were not so generous? How would I ever build a deck from four low-value rares?

Plus, there is also some love we have of the unknown as Magic players. We love to crack open that pack to see what is in that foil, even when we are likely to fail. I can drop $12 on three packs and see what I crack, or I can spend it on singles and guarantee I get what I want. But I grab the packs because there is something about the unknown. I want to crack another Toolkit because it’s unknown. Let’s do another one, sure!

What goods will I crack this time?

Magic 2014 Deckbuilder’s Toolkit


4 Transguild Promenade
1 Sliver Construct
20 Plains
20 Mountain
20 Forest
20 Island
20 Swamp


1 Urban Evolution
1 Nimbus Swimmer
1 Skyknight Legionnaire
1 Wojek Halberdiers
1 Viashino Firstblade
1 Sunhome Guildmage
1 Truefire Paladin
1 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
1 Call of the Conclave
1 Trostani’s Summoner
1 Coursers’ Accord

Just three guilds are represented here, and unfortunately one is Selesnya. That’s bad because I emphasized Selesnya’s cards in my last deck and don’t want a similar deck here. Let’s break out and get some new blood in here!



2 Pacifism
1 Hive Stirrings
2 Seller of Songbirds
1 Fortify
2 Master of Diversion
1 Trostani’s Judgment
1 Eyes in the Skies
1 Assault Griffin
1 Dawnstrike Paladin
1 Avenging Arrow
1 Capashen Knight
1 Sunspire Griffin
1 Angelic Wall
1 Griffin Sentinel
1 Suntail Hawk
1 Show of Valor


1 Serra Angel
1 Blessing
1 Righteous Charge

It lacks the depth of white the first time around, which not only had the Serra but also Oblivion Ring, Seraph of Dawn, and many others. Outside of the Selesnya populate theme, this is pretty weak. That’s a disappointment. I love to lean on white, and I know what cards to look for to make it work.



1 Tenement Crasher
2 Riot Piker
2 Shock
1 Act of Treason
1 Chandra’s Outrage
1 Annihilating Fire
1 Seismic Stomp
1 Goblin Shortcutter
1 Regathan Firecat
1 Pitchburn Devils
1 Blur Sliver
1 Dragon Hatchling
1 Viashino Racketeer


1 Flames of the Firebrand
1 Guttersnipe
1 Firefist Striker

This is still not that hot. It’s hard to make red work for Commander (or multiplayer generally) with commons and uncommons from recently printed sets. The burn suite here is weaker than the one I opened from the M13 Toolkit, save for the redemptive Flames. There’s not a lot here to work with.



1 Wring Flesh
2 Mind Rot
1 Perilous Shadow
1 Drainpipe Vermin
1 Minotaur Abomination
1 Festering Newt
1 Stab Wound
1 Duress
2 Liturgy of Blood
2 Child of Night
2 Deathgaze Cockatrice
1 Nightwing Shade
1 Accursed Spirit
1 Corpse Hauler
2 Quag Sickness


2 Corrupt
2 Doom Blade
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Diabolic Tutor

Wow. Hello black! The doubles of Corrupt and Doom Blade are sad, but this is a great section to build off of. We have a tutor, removal, and a big flyer, and then at the common section we have nice options like Deathgaze Cockatrice and Corpse Hauler alongside decent choices such as Quag Sickness. This is the best color I’ve opened so far by a lot. Will blue and green measure up?



2 Divination
2 Archaeomancer
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Frost Breath
1 Stealer of Secrets
1 Wind Drake
2 Voidwielder
1 Messenger Drake
1 Seacoast Drake
1 Cancel
1 Doorkeeper
1 Disperse
1 Tome Scour


1 Skyline Predator
1 Opportunity

The previous blue from my M13 Toolkit wasted a bunch of cards on milling strategies. This skips all of that crap and just looks at flyers and such. The card drawing of Opportunity and Divination starts things off nicely, and Cancel is always a good choice. These cards are not bad, but there is not a lot of sexiness under the hood.



2 Elvish Mystic
2 Axebane Stag
1 Trollhide
1 Verdant Haven
2 Centaur’s Herald
1 Predatory Sliver
1 Kraul Warrior
1 Aerial Predation
1 Deadly Recluse
1 Brindle Boar
1 Sporemound
1 Rumbling Baloth
1 Giant Growth
1 Hunt the Weak
1 Axebane Guardian
1 Gatecreeper Vine
1 Druid’s Deliverance


1 Slime Molding
1 Seek the Horizon
1 Woodborn Behemoth
1 Howl of the Night Pack
1 Briarpack Alpha

This is a strong color as well. We have a mana accelerant and the nasty Seek the Horizon. Gatecreeper Vine and Axebane Guardian are good mana makers as well. The creatures are weak though, and I don’t have as much removal as I would like. There’s no Naturalize or Natural End, no Acidic Slime, no Bramblecrush—nothing like that. But it’s not a bad start.

Everything now depends on the four booster packs I crack. This is where I find the rares that should trade for some goodies. The problem is that a lot of rares from Return to Ravnica block go for little on the secondary market. If I don’t manage at least one halfway valuable card, it will be a lot harder to assemble my Commander deck.

Can I crack value?

The Boosters

Return to Ravnica

1 Plains
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Selesnya Charm
1 Slum Reaper
1 Psychic Spiral
1 Ethereal Armor
1 Pursuit of Flight
1 Drainpipe Vermin
1 Giant Growth
1 Grisly Salvage
1 Frostburn Weird
1 Sundering Growth
1 Auger Spree
1 Perilous Shadow
1 Tenement Crasher

I’m sad at the number of duplicate commons. Cyclonic Rift is a house in Commander. It’s not worth a lot of money, but it is a fun little card. Slum Reaper is an expensive but useful variant on Fleshbag Marauder, and that has some serious play value. It really enhances the black quality of my pulls. Otherwise, this pack lacks zest.


1 Mountain
1 Rubblehulk
1 Wight of Precinct Six
1 Illness in the Ranks
1 Coerced Confession
1 Shadow Alley Denizen
1 Crocanura
1 Drakewing Krasis
1 Martial Glory
1 Slate Street Ruffian
1 Ember Beast
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Wildwood Rebirth
1 Foundry Street Denizen
1 Corpse Blockade

This is the worst pack I have opened up in either of these challenges thus far. Rubblehulk is an unexciting six-mana Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer but without trample, in two colors, and with the rarely useful bloodrush. Coerced Confession is a two-color card that is secretly a milling-strategy uncommon. Illness is too limited to be good, so the Wight is the solitary playable from my rare/uncommon section (unless I really want to push Gruul). But that’s alright because hopefully my commons will save me. Crack five or seven great commons and I’d be in happy camp. Not only did I not scratch a lot of high-quality cards, but I got a ton of crap. Ember Beast? Corpse Blockade? The two Denizens? Wow.

We need to pick things up. Come on core sets!

Magic 2013

1 Plains
1 FOIL Show of Valor
1 Captain of the Watch
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Blood Reckoning
1 Courtly Provocateur
1 Bloodhunter Bat
1 Hydrosurge
1 Glorious Charge
1 Tricks of the Trade
1 Aven Squire
1 Vastwood Gorger
1 Arbor Elf
1 Reckless Brute
1 Show of Valor

I know there are better commons in M13! That’s a horrible stretch of common crap. Blood Reckoning is strong in multiplayer formats that start at twenty life, not 40. This pack is all about that Nighthawk and maybe the Captain and Arbor Elf. So far, my rares and card stock are not improving much from these boosters. I need a major hit from my M14 pack. (Why did this come with a M13 pack and not a Dragon’s Maze pack?) 

Here’s the Hail Mary!

Magic 2014

1 Swamp
1 Quicken
1 Wall of Frost
1 Vial of Poison
1 Gnawing Zombie
1 Dragon Hatchling
1 Fog
1 Trollhide
1 Capashen Knight
1 Demolish
1 Rootwalla
1 Solemn Offering
1 Quag Sickness
1 Divine Favor
1 Gladecover Scout

Well, that just increased the challenge level of this thing considerably. Quicken? Yuck. This may take some time. I also have a large amount of duplication (Trollhide, Knight, etc.). My cards here are weaker as ammunition for future trades.

None of these rares are sexy enough to fetch a lot in trade.

After opening up my packs, where do I stand on the colors? Hold on, let me combine the cards together.

Black – Let’s begin with the big winner of this Toolkit. Black is clearly the strongest color. With cards like Sengir Vampire, Vampire Nighthawk, Slum Reaper, Diabolic Tutor, Doom Blade, and Corrupt leading the way, it is a nice section of quality.

White – The most powerful color last time is the last color this time. That saddens me because I love white sooooooo much in multiplayer. All it got from the boosters was Captain of the Watch and Solemn Offering. I doubt white will be my color of choice.

Red – I don’t usually like red that much in multiplayer. It added nothing from the packs, just seven crappy commons and nothing in a higher commonality. I can safely consider letting red go and just moving on to the other colors.

Blue – Blue was adequate from the first section. Then I moved into the packs. All it gained was a Wall of Frost and Cyclonic Rift, but those are two great cards. Add those to Opportunity, Archaeomancer, and the many decent flyers and we have something to build from.

Green – The boosters added Arbor Elf and perhaps a few other cards that are the 23rd choice in a Draft deck (such as Crocanura, Rootwalla, and Wildwood Rebirth). Not a strong color, as I was hoping to add some sterling choices. But the color is here, and it works.

Gold – This may shape the project considerably. Some colors will change based on these cards. Selesnya cards are quite common and useful: Selesnya Charm, Sundering Growth, Courser’s Accord, Trostani’s Summoner, Call of the Conclave, and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage. That’s quite a load of cards to consider.

We also have six Boros cards. White and red might be my two weakest colors this time around, but if there are some powers here, that means something. Martial Glory is weak. Sunhome Guildmage is quite interesting because it churns out 1/1 Soldiers. Truefire Paladin is a decent enough Knight. But I just don’t see a lot of staying power here.

I have three Simic cards. Urban Evolution and Nimbus Swimmer are very strong. I love them both. Drakewing Krasis could be that 23rd card as well. Simic has fewer cards, but they have some heft to them.

Five colors had one card each. Frostburn Weird is crap. Auger Spree could be a decent removal spell if I went with Rakdos. Rubblehulk has already been considered. Grisly Salvage is a very powerful instant in a Golgari build. Coerced Confession is okay as card drawing in a push. But it’s probably not strong enough to make the cut over a three-mana Divination.

With that said, what colors are my targets? If I play black/blue/green, it would be tough to roll. That is just the combination of Damia, Sage of Stone; The Mimeoplasm; and Vorosh, the Hunter.

Now, if I go with Golgari colors, it opens up everything from Glissa, the Traitor to Jarad, Lich Lord. I could run the Sapling of Colfenor; Savra, Queen of the Golgari; Varolz, the Scar-Striped; Skullbriar, the Walking Grave; Sisters of Stone Death; and a few others. If I rock Dimir colors, I have a lot more options because the friendly colors see more legendary creatures printed rocking them.

Again, it all depends on what I trade for first. The first project opened up a lot more valuable rares to trade. A $3 Wolf Run, a $10 Omniscience, a $2 Predator Ooze, and a $0.50 Reforge the Soul and Ludevic’s Test Subject. Here my most valuable rare is $2 Cyclonic Rift, along with $1 Quicken, $0.50 Rubblehulk, and $0.50 Captain of the Watch. (All money values in this article are as of the writing of it. Values may change not only from the writing to its publication but even from publication at midnight through reading it the next day. I include them in order to demonstrate the relative value of the cards and what I can expect for them.)

What I need to do is press my good valuable commons and uncommons: Elvish Mystic, Doom Blade, and so forth. I doubt I will be able to assemble a working deck as quickly as I did with Teneb. This is going to be really hard; this is going to be really fun!

Until later,
Abe Sargent