The Kitchen Table #424: From Toolkit To Commander #5

Abe has been working on a pair of Commander decks, each built out of a single Deckbuilder’s Toolkit and the cards he was able to trade out of that card-pool for improvements. They’re nearly done, and ready for some games!

Have you ever been pensive at your local card store? You have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, and you need to buy some Magic. You take a look at all of the various permutations of purchasing Magic – fat packs, booster boxes and more. You slide over to the section on the Deckbuilder’s Toolkit, and pore over the box. Then you think, “What could I really do with this? I already have a bunch of cards. I’ve been playing for X years! ”

What could you do with a Toolkit? That’s what happened to me in King of Prussia, PA. I was looking at a 50%-off Toolkit from 2013 that was on the shelves, thinking about what I could actually do with it. Then it hit me. What if I traded the cards that were in this Toolkit for other cards and build a Commander deck from it? Would I be successful? What would the final deck look like?

Hello and welcome back to what will likely be the penultimate entry in the Toolkit to Commander mini-series. For the last four entries, I opened two separate Deckbuilder’s Toolkits and then traded the cards from them into two different Commanders decks. The first was a Toolkit from 2013 that I turned into a Teneb, the Harvester deck. The second was a Toolkit from 2014 that was destined for a Sol’Kanar, the Swamp King deck. Both are pretty far along after a few more weeks of trading.

Because the decks are more developed and my trade stock is limited, I have only been able to make a few trades here and there. So, my expectation is to give you the last set of trades made for these Commander decks, tell you about some games with each deck, and then leave you with a decklist for each one.

I hope in a few months I’ll have the official final post of this challenge and then give you the “final” lists for it. After all, I may still make a few trades over the next few weeks and months slowly here and there to enhance them, but the decks are basically done.

Since these trades take place over several weeks, I will just break them down for you by Commander.

Deckbuilder’s Toolkit, 2014 – Sol’Kanar, the Swamp King

Trade #1

My Guttersnipe for his Sphinx of Uthuun, Bloodgift Demon, and Reforge the Soul

My trading partner was willing to toss in another cheap rare, since I was losing more than a buck in value. But I just can’t get past the idea of trading an uncommon from an in-print set for more than three rares. That’s a mental gap I cannot leap. I turned it into two great flying creatures that provide cards and a strong card-draw spell. What my first Toolkit opened (Reforge the Soul) and traded away, the second traded for.

Trade #2:

My Eyes in the Skies, Avenging Arrow, Dawnstrike Paladin for his Dissolve

Theros is out, baby! I made some trades in the first couple weeks of the Theros release to give both of my decks a little injection of the new stuff. This is a perfectly acceptable card for Commander, and it gives my Sol’Kanar deck one of its few good hard-counter options.

Trade #3:

My Blur Sliver for her Burnished Hart

The Burnished Hart is a bit harder for Commander than some other options, due to the high cost of the creature + activation. But unlike most other colorless methods of getting lands out, it puts the two basics right into play. Plus, I play what I can get, you know? And I got a Burnished Hart, which few respect, for a solid Sliver.

Trade #4

My Rumbling Baloth for his Opaline Unicorn

I also liked the mana-rock of the Unicorn enough to make this trade too. I hope to pull it out later, when my mana base is more developed, or at least upgrade it to something like Scuttlemutt. The Sol’Kanar deck is a mana guzzler, so cards like this really help.

Trade #5

My Duress, Stab Wound, Trostani’s Judgment, Seller of Songbirds and Tricks of the Trade for his Rise from the Grave and Aethersnipe.

I ran into someone who was looking for Duress for a new discard deck that wanted to play with Thoughtseize and Duress together. I had one Duress in each of my Toolkits to trade away, so I made two trades with him for some deck stock. I have very little reanimation, so this trade is really about getting the Rise from the Grave with the throw-in AEthersnipe replacing the Voidwalker in my deck.

Like I said, very few trades here. Basically just five trades for Sol’Kanar in a month. What about for Teneb?

Deckbuilder’s Toolkit, 2013 – Teneb, the Harvester

Trade #1:

My Hinterland Hermit and Wrack with Madness for her Sedge Scorpion and Fade into Antiquity

Fade into Antiquity is brilliant in Commander. Exiling stuff not only prevents its return but also provides an answer to Gods and Colossi (Akros, Darksteel, Blightteel). The Sedge Scorpion is a valuable early-game drop to help build defense while people often head elsewhere to avoid the deathtouch critter.

Trade #2:

My Arbor Elf for his Grim Backwoods

With its rotation, Arbor Elf is suddenly the low man out, and someone was looking for them to no avail. Grim Backwoods was the cost of getting one. I love the idea of sacrificing token creatures for cards and giving my deck another card-drawing outlet.

Trade #3:

My Mind Sculpt for her Darksteel Sentinel.

Can you believe Darksteel Sentinel is just a quarter? Can you believe that Mind Sculpt is fifty cents? I didn’t even realize that I lost money in this trade until later. Darksteel Sentinel is surprisingly good.

Trade #4:

My Geist Snatch, Duress, and Pacifism for his Slime Molding

This is my other trade to the gentleman who wanted copies of Duress. I tossed in a few more commons to get that valuable Slime Molding. In a deck with populate, it’s a great card. I pulled the Wakedancer for it and the Molding went into the deck with alacrity.

These trades finished out my Teneb deck as well. As can be seen, there was little trading involved. Very few people wanted to trade Theros commons or uncommons the first week or so it was out. They needed the deck stock, I suppose. So many of these had to wait until last week, when people had started to see enough of the crazy cards to be willing to move some.

Teneb Plays

I rolled the Teneb deck at Commander nights twice more. Both times we had some fun with proliferate. The first time I rocked a Phantom General which followed a Lingering Souls. The early beats were potent until one person tutored for a Pernicious Deed, dropped it, and Deeded to kill my stuff. Then I was able to use basic removal, such as Fade into Antiquity, Acidic Slime and Oblivion Ring, to keep myself from being troubled until my larger beaters came online, led by Teneb. Then a board wipe happened again, but Obzedat’s Aid brought back my dead Garruk’s Horde, which I then turned into a variety of creatures and beaters. I managed to kill one player before the third and final wrath hit the table, but after it landed I was unable to come back again.

In game two I rocked a Manaweft Sliver and Harrow for early mana-fixing fun, followed by a Seraph of the Sword for defense. This time I played and flashed back Moan of the Unhallowed, which helped my team when I played Slime Molding as a 7/7 dork. A few turns later, I had used Tronsanti’s Judgment to exile a nasty Colossus of Akros and copied my 7/7 token, then started to swing with my 7/7’s and horde of 2/2 Zombies. I was stopped by a flashed Haze Frog, but the damage to the board position was done and someone else finished off my foe. Then bigger creatures came to play and I had to play defense for a while. I dropped Executioner’s Capsule and hid behind it for a few turns – no one wanted to attack me and lose their best guy. Eventually, someone had enough flyers to do just that and survive, and three turns later I was out.

Here is the current iteration of my Teneb deck. It grew from the cards in just a single Deckbuilder’s Toolkit 2013.

And there is the deck. Sure, there are a few cards here and there that could be improved. We could pull cards such as Pacifism, Serra Angel, and Gather the Townsfolk. But the deck works as it currently is, and needs little else to push it to the next level.


I hadn’t had a chance to play my Sol’Kanar deck yet until after some of these trades. It needed a lot more work (and trades) to get it ready. The first time I played it, this deck (acquired by trades from that Toolkit 2014) still needed some love. It was steamrolled quickly by a trio of highly teched-out decks.

The second game I led with Typhoid Rats and then, after they were killed, dropped Tidehollow Strix. My early deathtouch dorks helped to keep opponents from coming my way in the early game, which really helped keep my deck going. Then someone helped by playing Rites of Flourishing followed by Heartbeat of Spring. Soon enough, my white-bordered Lava Burst blasted someone for enough damage to blow them off the table. Well, that sort of put me on people’s radars. A little bit of bounce and beaters was not enough to keep people from taking out the guy with the X spells.

In the third game, I played an early Jayemdae Tome and Gem of Becoming. I used the Gem to accelerate my game while I played Wall of Frost for early-game defense. Soon enough, I was drawing a lot of cards and dropping removal like Strangling Soot and Flames of the Firehand. (At one point in time someone chose to copy my Jayemdae Tome over many other good artifacts, because he wanted to draw cards). After my Sphinx of Uthuun was killed, I played Rise from the Grave and brought it back; then I played Archaeomancer and brought back my Rise for another go (this time grabbing the Colossal Whale.) I was in the game as two players died, but them my foe, (with Mimeoplasm as his Commander, copying my Entomber Exarch and someone’s big creature) managed to finish me off with Commander damage as we two were left.

So the Sol’Kanar deck was strong there in two games. Considering how bad this deck was at the beginning, it was a nice step up.

Again, the deck needs to have some cards pulled soon – cards such as Liturgy of Blood, Flames of the Firebrand, and Tenement Crasher. But the deck works decent enough for right now. It has the beats and creatures to keep things interesting long-term. What I would like is some more beaters to replace some of the less-than-sexy utility dorks, and a few more good counters and card-drawing options.

We’ll see what I can trade for. Each of these decks needs a little more love. Where will the next iteration of this project take me?

Until Later,

Abe Sargent