The Two Command Men: Bear Essentials

It’s the return of The Command Men! The two friends and rivals are back to debate competitive Commander and just how many 2/2s you could possibly fit into one place!


Danny West: I’ve had it with the casuals, Parnell.

Justin Parnell: Is it possible to derail this article with the very first thing that comes out of your mouth? ‘Cause I think you’ve done it.

West: Good.

Parnell: I know you like to speedrun, but I don’t think this is a record we want.

West: I’ll take anything I can get.

Parnell: Fine. I’ll play along. Why, oh why, have you had it with casuals?

West: You see, I’m fascinated by the Commander banned list. There’s a format with an unspoken agreement to have fun and be merry, but nobody can agree on what exactly that fun truly is. And honestly? It makes me long for tournament Magic, where two consenting adults can just try to kill each other like civilized people and there’s no funny business.

Parnell: Tournament Magic? Now you’re speaking my language! Unless you’re talking about Reflector Mage. That card is too good for any format.


Parnell: Wait.

West: You know how you can still play Reflector Mage in Standard?

Parnell: No. How?

West: Just Smuggle a few copies in.


West: Behold! My Commander deck for this week! A deck that doesn’t care for its opponents or their families!

Parnell: Can you believe the first Commander deck you have me buying into doesn’t have black cards?

West: We’re cut from the same cloth, buddy.

Parnell: Wait a sec. You’re trying to trick me again. Mox Diamond? Thought-Knot Seer? What is this crap?

West: Notice this isn’t a test deck? This is a tournament deck! A real actual Commander tournament deck. No Sol Ring and a Primeval Titan. That means one thing: This deck was born and bred to kill!

Parnell: I can tell. It kills others’ enjoyment of the format.

West: Embrace the dark side!

Parnell: There’s a reason Primeval Titan doesn’t get to play with the other kids, Danny.

West: It’s not all that competitive. It has Titania, Protector of Argoth and Priest of Titania. See? Theme.

Parnell: If this is such a Titania deck, where are all the Constant Mists? That’s the first card that goes in the deck. It’s not even fun for anyone but you, so it should be right up your alley.

West: Hey, I tried to play nice. People keep beating me.

Parnell: We’ve seen all of this before. Elf, Elf, Elf, Elf, Elf, Craterhoof. Sure that’s fun once or twice, but it’s not going to hold my interest. You’re bowling with the bumpers up.

West: It’s a tournament deck, you noob. I’m bowling for prize money!

Who do you think you are? I am!

Parnell: If I want to look someone in the eyes, pull their heart out of their chest and put it in a doggy bag, I’m going to play Vintage. Commander is for tricking people into killing each other.

West: Look at all those singletons! This is Vintage! Except the power cards have been replaced with cards that cost less than a home.

Parnell: This is a format masquerading as competitive but still wants to have fun with cool cards.

West: Don’t project your little kid agenda onto me.

Parnell: In retrospect, that sounded like a compliment, but you’d better not take it as one.

West: I’m taking it. And your life total. Did you know you start at twenty in Duel Commander now? Twenty?!?! Everyone’s dead before it even starts! It’s great! I’m at eighteen right now, and I’m not even playing!

Parnell: The only thing that’s dead is my desire to talk about this deck anymore. How about a format where there isn’t any confusion over how you’re supposed to feel while playing it?


This week’s Cube comes courtesy of Cubetutor.com user jkcompton3.

Parnell: Bear with me as I unleash this beauty. This genius pawed through Magic’s history to find us creatures that can bearly survive combat. The world is better for it.

West: I’ll be honest: This column is built upon us arguing, but I cannot possibly be mad at this for any reason. I love fair creatures so much. I don’t know what to yell at you about.

Parnell: You can’t yell at me! Because I, too, am impressed by the ways you can trudge headfirst into combat with 2/2s in every color.

West: Look at the Cube’s title! How great is this?!

Parnell: The only downside is that I don’t know how to top it for the next time we do this article series. It’s making my job harder.

West: Well, there are too many cards (as usual). We could talk about that.

Parnell: I can’t believe how many 2/2s there are in blue. I know it’s still not a ton, but I think it has the best creatures.

West: Blue has the best creatures? Even here? Are you real?

Parnell: Hey, it’s obvious it should be trimmed to 360, but when you’ve got some house-favorite 2/2s, what are you supposed to do?

West: It isn’t hard to cut cards. You just do it. In fact, just cut all the noncreature spells, period. Except Pyroclasm. ‘Cause holy cow!

Oh my!

Parnell: Noncreature spells? Are you kidding me? Solar Tide. Last Breath. Welcome to the Fold. Staggershock. Grizzly Fate. Bearscape. Stormbind. These cards only exist to be in this Cube.

West: Bonus points for Bearscape for theme alone. You know what would give it more bonus points? Avalanche Riders. Every Cube with bouncelands that has a 2/2 theme should have Darwin Kastle setting storefronts on fire.

Parnell: Darwin can kill all the bouncelands for all I care. Who are you trying to impress with these manabases anyway?

West: Amen.

Parnell: I didn’t want to do this, but seriously, go to the Selesnya section of this and tell me there’s something there to cut. That’s the best two-color section of any Cube I’ve ever seen. If you can find something to cut, I’ll wear a cutout of your face on Commander VS one week.

West: As the most famous Selesyna mage in existence (re: the only player willing to play these colors “competitively”), I will critique the section.

[Danny clears his throat.]

Parnell: Let me sit down for this.

West: No cuts! It’s perfect.

Parnell: Yes!

West: Though we need cuts in nongreen, nonwhite places.

West: I don’t think Sulfuric Vortex has ever been beaten in a normal Cube, so it’s pretty much impossible to beat it here. Also, Crystal Shard. Can we go one week without this card?! Please! One week! That’s all I want!

Parnell: I’m on the other side of this argument. 2/2s will crush the Vortex-er. Except Crystal Shard decks. Perfect metagame balance!

West: Also of importance: Kira, Great Glass-Spinner is unbeatable in every regard.

Parnell: Okay, Kira does need to be shown the door. Only thing is, you have to show it the door twice!

West: Hey oh.

Parnell: I just realized why you want Avalanche Riders. So that the best card in the Cube can dominate without issue.

West: Go on.

Parnell: Gavony Township is the most unbeatable card here. Paws down.

West: Yeah, because you can use it to cast Sol Ring.

Parnell: I think you mean because Sol Ring can tap to activate Gavony Township.

West: It’s kind of cool that Skullclamp isn’t an auto-draw two in this Cube like it is everywhere else. You’re still going to win if you draw it, but still.

Parnell: Give ’em the clamps.

West: Sample pack time. Give your pick and your incorrect reasoning. Additional hat tip if you can tell me what you’d hope for on the wheel.

Parnell: Best card first. I snatch up Glen Elendra Archmage. It’s the only card here that will make people want to quit, so I take it. The wheel is tough because I think Wild Mongrel is gone because all my friends are also 30 and we can’t unsee what we saw fifteen years ago. Terminate, Tooth and Nail, and Crypt Ghast are probably gone. Hmm…

West: Glen Elendra Archmage counters noncreature spells, and this Cube is based around creatures. The player next to you opened Sol Ring. Better luck next time. Also, nobody took Tooth and Nail because nobody wants to pay 400 mana to go get a couple of 2/2s.

Parnell: I’ve decided. Seeker of the Way on the wheel.

West: Another noncreature creature. You’ve failed again.

Parnell: You sure do talk about Sol Ring a lot. It’s not even in this.

West: Check the artifacts section.

Parnell: I thought that was Rol Sing.

West: Sigh.

Parnell: I’d draft Seeker of the Way and a bunch of spells and hope for a Monastery Mentor. Mentor is the most fearsome 2/2 in history, after all.

West: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

Parnell: You heard me.

West: Big words. I think my vote for the most fearsome 2/2 of all time is Zombie token.

Parnell: Stop tugging on my heartstrings, Daniel.

West: If you and I were Zombie tokens put onto the battlefield with Army of the Damned, I’d want my token and your token to be placed near one another.

Parnell: I think this is turning into a different kind of article.

West: Valentine’s Day is coming up. Save the date…you.

Parnell: And I’m done.

West: You’ll be back. They always come back…

Justin Parnell and Danny West enjoy getting the “You Pick 2/2” deal at Panera Bread locations everywhere.