The “Sending Shea Away” Play-By-Play

With a friend leaving Armada Games, Sheldon had to send him off in style! What shenanigans await in this week’s Commander play-by-play?

Close friend, new father, and Monday Night Gamer Shea Rutenber (whom you’ve met on multiple occasions) is leaving his position at Armada Games to move to the East Coast of Florida. The bad news is that, there won’t be any more Thursday afternoon battles with him at the shop. The good news is that, while where he’s moving to might be awkward for trips to Tampa, it’s close enough to where we live in Lakeland, toward the center of the state, that Shea can continue to be a Monday Night Gamer.

What’s even better news is that he’s moving because his wife got a sweet new job, so things are really looking up for them. I’m a big fan of men moving to follow their women’s careers (I certainly did) being a viable choice in the 21st century. In fact, of our closest straight friends, the women are the primary wage earners in four out of the five couples. It’s a cool time to be alive.

On Shea’s next-to-last day at the shop, all the regulars came around to do their farewell Commander battles with him. In this particular game, Shea played his latest deck, Ishkanah, Grafwidow. I had Rith, the Awakener; Wes had The Ur-Dragon, and Jon Sweet had Cromat. Longtime readers may remember Jon Sweet (we always call him by his full name for some reason, probably because it has a nice rhythm) from an episode some seven years ago in which I called him a fun-wrecker (Arcum Dagsson and Mycosynth Lattice were involved).

There are a few things to mention here. First, I was calling him that tongue-in-cheek because he’s a pretty good guy with a good sense of humor who appreciates the irony. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a great job of articulating that in the article I wrote about the game in question, so I took quite a bit of flak over it. He found it pretty funny at the time and embraced the name (with that ironic sense).

Fast forward seven years. He’s still a regular at the shop, still an excellent Magic player, still a pretty good guy, and still has a great sense of humor. In fact, he hadn’t known (or maybe hadn’t remembered) that I had taken heat for calling shenanigans on him—which, of course, he found immensely amusing when I told him. We had a grand time in the game we played before the one I’m about to tell you about. His deck is loaded with the kind of tomfoolery I would expect out of him and it’s decidedly not fun-wreckery at all. When Shea finally became available for a game, he played it again. It had been kind of durdly in the previous game; as you’ll see in this one, it did some work.

The dice always know, and the Dino Dice (the Official Method of Choosing Who Goes First in Commander) proved no exception. Shea won the roll and got us started.

Turn 1

Shea (Ishkanah): Command Tower.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Dragonskull Summit.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Meandering River.

Me (Rith): Temple Garden (tapped).

Turn 2

Shea (Ishkanah): Swamp.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Thespian Stage.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Evolving Wilds, which he eventually cracks to get a Swamp.

Me (Rith): Windbrisk Heights. It’s one of my classic hideaways, showing three lands and Darien, King of Kjeldor.

Turn 3

Shea (Ishkanah): Needed to play Bojuka Bog to have the mana. Shea saw that Jon Sweet was the only one with cards in the graveyard, so he targeted him. Here’s where we can get into one of the ways we like to play the game: Jon Sweet had cracked his Evolving Wilds before he needed to in order to save time. We agreed that he could have waited until the appropriate time, and since he was doing it early to speed up the game and not to gain some strategic advantage, he didn’t have to exile the Evolving Wilds.

We call this the “reserve the right” clause, and it usually either applies to fetchlands or Sensei’s Divining Top. We take the action as early as opposed to the “proper” time (again, time savings), and then if the battlefield state significantly changes, we can back up and change our mind if we like. It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for competitive play, but it works quite well for our gang.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Snow-Covered Forest, turning his Thespian Stage into a Command Tower.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Island, morph. There will be many of these.

Me (Rith): Mountain, Bastion Protector. All other things being equal, Rith is a decent path to victory. Might as well protect it.

Turn 4

Shea (Ishkanah): Golgari Rot Farm, bouncing back the Bojuka Bog. That unfortunately meant he had to discard.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Ghirapur Orrery. Nice. A little group hug. Opal Palace.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Plains, Forest (off the Ghirapur Orrery), another morph. He started marking his morphs with dice so we would know in which order they entered the battlefield.

Me (Rith): Plains, Explosive Vegetation, Gruul Turf (bouncing back a Forest). At end of turn, Jon Sweet unmorphed Nantuko Vigilante, blowing up the Orrery.

Turn 5

Shea (Ishkanah): Blightwidow. Commitment to theme! I hope there’s a Jar of Eyeballs in the deck.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Darksteel Ingot, Boneyard Scourge.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Tranquil Expanse.

Me (Rith): Forest, Rith.

Turn 6

Shea (Ishkanah): Penumbra Spider.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Rootbound Crag, Scalelord Reckoner, battles Jon Sweet (36).

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Jace Beleren. Does not Party Jace, drawing himself a card instead. Cast another morph.

Me (Rith): Plains, attack Jon Sweet since he’s the one without fliers (28). I paid for the trigger, naming green, netting four Saprolings.

Turn 7

Shea (Ishkanah): Deathreap Ritual. We remark what a nice card it is.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Destructor Dragon. Battles me (36).

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Temple of Epiphany, bottoms the card. He declined to Party Jace again, drawing a card for himself, and told us that any time Jace is at only one loyalty counter, then the party’s on. Then he cast his fourth morph.

Me (Rith): Peeled Akroma’s Memorial, cast it, and sent the team into Jon Sweet (16). Activated Windbrisk Heights, getting that Darien.

Turn 8

Shea (Ishkanah): Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, followed by a brief discussion of how some folks really like the card and some folks don’t think it’s good. I’m in the former camp.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Ur-Dragon. Shea volunteered that if Wes battles with the Destructor Dragon, he’ll block so that they can get rid of Akroma’s Memorial. Wes threw it in his direction, as well as the Boneyard Scourge at Jon Sweet (12). He got Atarka, World Render off the Ur-Dragon’s trigger; Shea double blocked, and Wes took out Akroma’s Memorial—an eminently fair play. That card kills people. At end of turn, Shea got a morbid trigger.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Party Jace! Then, Dream Chisel, followed by Crush of Tentacles for its surge cost, so that he gets the 8/8 Octopus and everything else gets bounced.

Me (Rith): Cast Darien. Play Brushland. Use its colored mana to cast Wood Elves, so that I get a Soldier token. Get Stomping Ground off the Wood Elves trigger, but bring it in tapped; because it’s a payment of life, I wouldn’t get tokens off of it.

Turn 9

Shea (Ishkanah): Lifecrafter’s Bestiary.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Mountain, Cultivate for two Snow-Covered Islands. Play one. Recast Darksteel Ingot and Boneyard Scourge.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Thundering Falls, Zendikar Resurgent. Even though he’s at (12), that’s scary.

Me (Rith): Forest, Bastion Protector. Going back on the Rith plan. Ping myself with the Brushland to cast it (34) and get a Soldier.

Turn 10

Shea (Ishkanah): Scry from Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, ships it to the bottom. Ishkanah, getting three Spiders from delirium.

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Snow-Covered Island. Hour of Revelation. Rith survived thanks to Bastion Protector doing its job. Broodmate Dragon.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Rout (not as an instant) so that he can then cast a morph. Wes brings back Boneyard Scourge.

Me (Rith): Plains, Captain of the Watch, Jazal Goldmane. Time for a different plan.

Turn 11

Shea (Ishkanah): He’s still stuck on five mana. Instead of discarding, he chose to cast Eaten By Spiders on Boneyard Scourge. Glad I didn’t cast Rith…

Wes (Ur-Dragon): Mountain, Animist’s Awakening for eleven, with spell mastery. Found Exotic Orchard, Jungle Shrine, Nimbus Maze, Mosswort Bridge. That’s a lot of mana.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Seaside Citadel, morph.

Me (Rith): Peeled Gaea’s Cradle, which changes everything. That’s enough mana to kill Wes via Jazal Goldmane and force Jon Sweet to block or die if I attack him with one creature (he obviously blocks). Sent Captain of the Watch his way, and everyone else at Wes. Activated Jazal three times to give everything +15/+15. At end of turn, Shea cast Grisly Salvage, revealing a Forest.

Turn 12

Shea (Ishkanah): Forest, pass.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Dream Chisel and a morph.

Me (Rith): Battle the team at Jon Sweet. He unmorphed Weathered Bodyguards, which we agreed is a cool play. Using Cradle mana, cast Rith again.

Turn 13

Shea (Ishkanah): Evolving Wilds, cracked for a Forest.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Command Tower. Looked at Shea’s graveyard and then mine. What’s he up to? Then he targeted himself with Ghastly Conscription, getting the four creatures in his graveyard. We didn’t know which one is which, but we did know the important one—Weathered Bodyguards, which he lacked the mana to activate…

Me (Rith): …which is why I battled him with the team, since it might be one of the last opportunities. Shea decided that I might get out of hand if he doesn’t have help, a situation the cards on the battlefield confirm, and cast Arachnogenesis (which no one calls by its name, but refers to as Spider Fog). Jon Sweet then made another awesome play, turning Mischievous Quanar face up to copy Arachnogenesis to get four Spiders, and blocked Rith with all of them.

Turn 14

Shea (Ishkanah): Deadly Recluse, Arachnus Spinner.

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Went into the tank a bit. Attacked Shea with Mischievous Quanar, asking him to not block. Shea obliged, so sweet ninjutsued in Ninja of the Deep Hours to draw a card. Postcombat, two more morphs.

Me (Rith): During my upkeep, Shea used Arachnus Spinner to get Arachnus Web and put it onto Jazal. I thought the go-wide plan was postponed, but then I drew Aura Shards. I cast it, but Jon Sweet countered it with Voidmage Apprentice. Okay, that’s not great. I did a little more math and realized I could kill Shea for exactsies, but I couldn’t attack Jon Sweet, because he has Weathered Bodyguards mana available. Cast Titanic Ultimatum, swing into Shea, go to (71), and pay for Rith’s trigger, getting seven Saprolings.

Turn 15

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Drew his card, gave us a strong Jon Sweet laugh, and dropped Ixidron onto the battlefield. Everyone shared his laugh. At least it doesn’t affect tokens.

Me (Rith): Jungle Shrine. Attacked with Rith; he blocked with a Spider. At end of turn, he unmorphed Venomspout Brackus.

Turn 16

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Attacked me with the facedown creature I know to be Ninja of the Deep Hours; I block with my facedown Jazal to trade. Palace Siege, naming Khans. Uh-oh.

Me (Rith): Nothing, since I knew he could Voidmage Apprentice. This game’s close being unwinnable. With Indomitable Creativity in my hand, running it into a counter wouldn’t be smart. I knew he also had Mischievous Quanar, meaning he could copy it. But that’s probably okay for me, since my creatures were better than his (assuming they’re still face up).

Turn 17

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Palace Siege fetched back Ninja of the Deep Hours.

Me (Rith): Forest, Oketra the True. He countered it with Voidmage Apprentice. I seriously thought about casting Indomitable Cruelty, but chose to hang onto it due to the Quanar. At end of turn, Jon Sweet unmorphed Riptide Survivor, discarding Ninja of the Deep Hours and Fortune Thief. In the previous game, he almost won with Fortune Thief, getting a roar of approval from the table when he turned it face up—but he was done in by an extort trigger.

Turn 18

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Palace Siege regrows Fortune Thief. My choices were getting limited, as I didn’t have much to make him lose life as opposed to dealing damage. He went into the tank once again before mentioning out loud that he could just block with Spiders for a while.

Me (Rith): I drew and cast Soul of Theros. He cast Backslide on Voidmage Apprentice to counter it. Attack with Rith, block with a Spider. At end of turn, he turned Silumgar Assassin up and killed a Soldier.

Turn 19

Jon Sweet (Cromat): Brought back Ninja of the Deep Hours. I realized that this game might take a while, so I agreed to stop recording the play-by-play so that we could get it done more quickly. There were plenty of people waiting to play with Shea and we don’t want to make them wait all night.

Fast Forward

Over the next few turns, I threw Rith his way to keep eating Spiders. I got in one Rith hit, putting him only more away from dying to commander damage, which he realized that even Fortune Thief couldn’t save him from forever.

At some point at an end of turn, he cast Blue Sun’s Zenith targeting himself for quite a bit. We went several turns further down the road; his engine’s running, although it’s not doing too much to my life total.

Then he opened the door for me by leaving up only three mana; Weathered Bodyguards costs four to turn face up. More importantly, he left himself with only one blue, meaning he couldn’t use Mischievous Quanar. I figure it’s my last chance. I don’t think he made a bad play, because who the hell expects Indomitable Creativity? I cast it to kill all his flyers. None of the replacements flew, so I attacked him with Rith for lethal. Everyone at the table let out a big sigh, knowing that we’ve had a pretty epic game.

I got to play one more great game with Shea before giving up my seat to fellow Monday Night Gamer Todd Palmer—who just so happened to bring his own Rith deck. Shea and I realized that we would still have plenty of battles together, so it seemed right to let other folks get their chances while he was still on the west side of the state. I watched a few of them and then closed the book on the night, confident that we had sent Shea off in exactly the fashion he had hope for—always battling.

Speaking of battling, I’ll remind you that I’ll be at SCG CON 8-10 June. Last week, I even told you which decks I’ll bring. Here’s looking forward to seeing some of you there.

This week’s Deck Without Comment is the Rith’s Tokens one I play above.

Rith, the Awakener
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 12-30-2012
Magic Card Back

Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:


Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.



Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.


Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever.

Shards and Wedges

Adun’s Toolbox; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn.


Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped.


Children of a Greater God


Tana and Kydele; Kynaios and Tiro; Ikra and Kydele.


Adun Oakenshield Do-Over; Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over.

If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”