The Ultimate Puzzle

The new Commander rules update has put a big hype circle around one particular leader! Bennie sees what he can do with the new rules to push this trio further than they’ve ever been before!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

Oath of the Gatewatch brings seven new legendary creatures for us to build Commander decks around, and my original plan was to write about one of them today. But then Sheldon Menery and the Commander Rules Committee dropped the bomb on the format forever to be known as “The Rule 4 Massacre” and suddenly we’ve got a whole new world of possibilities. How can I step forward into our new Oath of the Gatewatch future when the foundation upon which I stand has suddenly shifted and quaked? I feel the need to pause a moment and take stock of the new normal, and I think the best way to do it is to dive in face first with the ladies who have swum in from the deep end of the pool.

You know who I’m talking about.

They Are the Masters of Your Mind

You can choose your friends, and you can choose your cards.

And sometimes… you can choose your friends’ cards.

When Sen Triplets first came out, I considered it a “mean” card. As someone who has had my large green creatures stolen by blue mages since the beginning of time, Sen Triplets seemed to be the ultimate insult card—as if stealing your creatures wasn’t bad enough, Sen Triplets is potentially able to steal any spell or card right out of your hand!

But playing Sen Triplets as your Commander was a little tricky due to Rule 4 preventing you from generating any colored mana outside of your Commander’s color identity. Sen Triplets is a three-color legendary creature, so the odds are pretty good that at least one of your opponents will be playing one or more of your colors, but if you sat down against Kaysa, Norin the Wary, and Rosheen Meanderer, you were pretty much all in on Celestial Dawn, Mycosynth Lattice or bust.

Now that Rule 4 has been eliminated, we have a multitude of ways to generate the right color mana to cast cards from our opponent’s hands no matter what colors they are playing. Keep in mind that we still cannot play cards that have colored mana symbols outside of Sen Triplets’ color identity – Crystal Quarry, for example, is a no-no– but there are still a bunch of options.

What’s really brought me around on Sen Triplets though from my original “mean” card impression is that building your deck focused heavily on Sen Triplets ability allows you to scale in power based on what your opponents are doing. If everyone wants to play a power game, then you’ll be stealing powerful cards. If everyone wants to durdle and throw giant haymakers, then you can use their cards to durdle and throw giant haymakers. The deck won’t really have win conditions per se, but rather the fun will be seeing how I can puzzle together cool plays and victory based on the cards my opponents are playing.

Getting the Right Mana

Thespian’s Stage, Exotic Orchard, Forbidden Orchard, Grand Coliseum, Holdout Settlement, Rupture Spire, Transguild Promenade, Tarnished Citadel, Vivid Creek, Vivid Marsh, Vivid Meadow, Paradise Mantle, Springleaf Drum, Fellwar Stone, Chromatic Lantern, Coalition Relic, Darksteel Ingot, Scuttlemutt, Gilded Lotus, Meteorite

My first thought when considering Sen Triplets in our brave new world was that Fellwar Stone and its land counterpart Exotic Orchard just became the perfect cards for taking care of our mana needs. Thespian’s Stage is most often used for bigger shenanigans, but we can also just copy one of our opponent’s lands to generate the mana we need when we give them the Sen Triplet Stare.

We can also pepper in a ton of lands and artifacts that can generate any colored mana, helpful in fixing our own three-color mana base but also for maximizing Sen Triplets’ ability. Even if you don’t need it, I recommend generating off-color mana just for kicks whenever you can. It’ll feel weird, but it’ll feel oh so good too.

Choosing Your Partner in Crime

Dakra Mystic, Glasses of Urza, Gitaxian Probe, Peek, Voyage’s End, Cyclonic Rift, Hoodwink, Reflector Mage, Crystal Shard, Wipe Away, Aetherize; Venser, Shaper Savant; Lay Bare, Seer’s Vision, Erratic Portal, Mystic Confluence, Silumgar’s Command, Reality Strobe, Supplant Form

If you’ve got more than one opponent, you’re going to have to make a choice during your upkeep as to which hand you want to plunder. If you make the wrong choice and pick someone’s hand who has no cards you want to play. you’re going to feel quite bummed, so I’ve included some ways to get a glimpse of your opponent’s hands, from the one-shot Peek and Gitaxian Probe to the reusable Glasses of Urza, to the “Let’s See What Everybody’s Got” of Seer’s Vision.

Of course, what if your opponent plays something sweet right before you’re able to lock the Sen Triplet Stare on them? Luckily for us, we’re playing blue and blue’s got bounce! There’s the powerhouse Cyclonic Rift with overload and our new toy Mystic Confluence. I also like having a couple of ways to bounce lands, like Hoodwink and Venser, Shaper Savant, since it would be nice to snag someone’s Maze of Ith or Gaea’s Cradle.

Just keep in mind that if you try to bounce someone’s Commander, they can choose to put it in their Command Zone instead to prevent you from playing it. That might be more a feature than a bug, though, since players are generally going to prefer to recast a Commander from their hand than to ratchet up another two points of Commander tax.

Keeping Their Hands Stocked with Goodies

Strip Mine, Dispeller’s Capsule, Executioner’s Capsule, Seal of Removal, Howling Mine, Kami Of The Crescent Moon, Vision Skeins, Words of Wisdom, Temple Bell, Dictate of Kruphix, Walking Archive, Jace’s Archivist, Otherworld Atlas, Memory Jar, Time Spiral, Well of Ideas, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

No matter how I intend on playing the deck, I can’t get around the fact that I’m still going to be “stealing” cards from my opponents and that’s going to be annoying. So to soften the edges a bit, I’m going to play a fair number of “everybody draws” cards. Perhaps stealing cards might sting a bit less if they’ve got too many cards to cast in their hand anyway. Of course, this generosity also has the side benefit of giving me more options from the Sen Triplets Stare. If I lock on the Stare and there’s nothing there, I figure cards like Jace’s Archivist and Memory Jar can give us a fresh look.

One little wrinkle here is including some cards to disincentivize players from playing their best cards until these cards are removed from the table. Strip Mine, Dispeller’s Capsule, Executioner’s Capsule, and even Seal of Removal can keep the really good stuff in their hands and ripe for the picking.

Protecting the Triplets

Swan Song, Rebuff the Wicked, Mother of Runes, Remand, Arcane Denial, Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Dream Fracture, Foil

So yeah, my Commander is annoying. People are going to want to kill Sen Triplets early and often, so I’ve included a fair number of cards to help protect the three-in-one Commander from untimely death. Remand is particularly fun, since you may want to cast that spell yourself when it comes back around to your upkeep. Some of the bounce spells I mentioned above can pull duty in that regard as well. The last thing you want to do is to end up with Sen Triplets in your Command Zone with too much Commander Tax to cast, but if you do end up in that unfortunate position, Silent-Blade Oni and Mindleech Mass can provide a backup plan.

Sakashima the Impostor

It occurs to me that Sakashima the Impostor copying Sen Triplets could let you put the Sen Triplets Stare on two of your opponents, which has got to be both the coolest thing and the most annoying thing ever.

Okay, so here’s what I’ve pulled together:

Sen Triplets
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-01-2016
Magic Card Back

If you decide to build your own Sen Triplets deck, keep in mind that some rules can get a little tricky when you’re playing cards from someone else’s hand. Here are the Gatherer Card Rulings for convenience:

· 5/1/2009: Playing a card this way works just like playing any other card, with one exception: You’re playing the card from your opponent’s hand rather than your own. To be specific:
— A card played this way follows the normal timing rules for its card type, as well as any other applicable restrictions such as “Cast [this card] only during combat.” For example, you can’t play a card from the targeted opponent’s hand during your end step unless it’s an instant or has flash.
— To cast a nonland card from your opponent’s hand this way, you must pay its mana cost.
— You can play a land card from the targeted opponent’s hand only if you haven’t played a land yet that turn.

· 5/1/2009: You control the spells you cast from your opponent’s hand, so you make decisions for them as appropriate. For example, if one of those spells says “target creature you control,” you’ll target one of your creatures, not one of your opponent’s creatures.

· 5/1/2009: If you cast a spell with cascade this way, you’ll control the cascade ability. When it resolves, you’ll find a new card to cast from your own library.

· 5/1/2009: You can cast spells from the targeted player’s hand, but you can’t activate abilities. Specifically, you can’t cycle cards in that player’s hand.

· 5/1/2009: This ability doesn’t prevent the targeted opponent’s triggered abilities from triggering. If one does, that player puts it on the stack and, if applicable, chooses targets for it. Those abilities will resolve as normal.

· 5/1/2009: If the resolution of a spell or ability involves having the targeted player cast a spell, that part of the effect simply won’t work.

· 5/1/2009: After this ability resolves, the targeted player still gets priority at the appropriate times, and can still perform special actions (such as turning a face-down creature face up). However, since that player can’t cast any spells or activate abilities — including mana abilities — there’s not much he or she can actually accomplish this way.

· 5/1/2009: If you start to play a card from the targeted opponent’s hand, there’s no way for the opponent to get rid of that card in response (like discarding it to pay Gathan Raiders’s morph cost, for example). That’s because the first thing that happens when you start to cast a spell is that it moves to the stack, so it’s not in your opponent’s hand anymore.

· 5/1/2009: Once Sen Triplets’s ability resolves, it remains in effect for the rest of the turn whether or not you still control Sen Triplets.

So what do you think of the way I built Sen Triplets? How would you do things differently? And I’m also curious to hear how you would react if you were playing against someone with this deck: would playing against this be way too annoying and have you put a giant target on their head, or would you just roll with it?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Zurgo Bellstriker (Bellstriking Like a Boss)

Dragonlord Ojutai (Troll Shroud)

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (Dragons, Megamorphs, and Dragons)

Dromoka, the Eternal (One Flying Bolster Basket)

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (Tempests and Teapots)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Hatching Evil Sultai Plots)

Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Dragon Triggers for Everyone)

• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!