You’re pretentious, this club sucks, I have beef. Let’s do it.
– Scott Pilgrim
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. A big milestone in Take Back My Life 2011 took place, with my ex moving out of the house and into her new
house, and me moving back into the old house. Of course, that meant I had to break the lease on my apartment, costing me just under $900. Since I
don’t have that kind of money hanging around, I’ve been working insane hours at my part-time job to cover that in addition to the new
mortgage. Of course, I’ve also had to pack, clean the apartment, move everything over to the house all by June 30. By the time you read this, I
will have accomplished all this or perhaps died trying—you’ll know which if you see another article next week.
What’s been particularly frustrating about the insane busy-ness of these past couple weeks has been my inability to play any Magic! And of course
we’ve got the awesome new Commander product that everyone’s been buying and playing with and writing about… while I haven’t
been able to do much more than stare longingly at my Commander decks and try to avoid packing them and losing them in a stack of boxes in a corner of
Well, that isn’t entirely true. My part-time job involves some occasional downtime where the phones aren’t ringing ,and I can
actually tinker with my Magic decks. When the complete Commander decklists were posted, and I realized just how many awesome new cards and Legends were
going to be available, I made a snap-decision to dismantle all my Commander decks and use the stock to create brand new Commander decks built around
some of the new options. I tweeted my intentions, and Andy from CommanderCast talked me down, “Don’t do it! Keep what you have and make them
fight the new commanders for your love. Like a crazy parent.”
Something about what he said had my mind immediately spring to one of my new favorite movies. “LOL, maybe I’ll make each new CMDR deck fight my
evil exes #scottpilgrimvsCMDR.”
While I’m not entirely sure which of the new Legends will be my first Scott Pilgrim, I did want to upgrade of few of my evil not-quite-exes with
some of the new cards. It made perfect sense to add Command Tower to color-heavy Glissa, the Traitor, but she’s already such a badass she
didn’t need anything else; I guess she’d be Todd Ingram with his vegan superpowers. Because you’ll be dust by Monday, because you’ll be pulverized in two seconds; and the cleaning lady, she cleans up dust. She dusts.
Scavenging Ooze was a perfect addition to the mono-green Melira, Sylvok Outcast deck, and I also gave her a Champion’s Helm and a Homeward Path.
Hm, she’d be good as Roxy Richter right? I’m just a little bi-furious! Thada Adel, Acquisitor (as the heavy eyeliner Matthew Patel) got
a little counter boost from Flusterstorm and Spell Crumple.
Pirates are in this year!
About the same time as I started tinkering with my evil not-quite-exes, I got a message from Chris Bourroughs. In 2009 Chris ruined my legendary run at
reclaiming my Virginia State Champion title by soundly beating me in the finals, but despite being a dadgum whippersnapper he’s a pretty nice
guy. Some of you might be familiar with Chris as one of the hosts of Richmond’s own Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author] podcast
over on MTGCast. It turns out that a couple of the tournaments in the Richmond City Champs series (yet another thing I’ve been missing out with
my hectic schedule) are Commander Events, and Chris wanted to borrow a Commander deck. Chris is a pretty competitive player, so I wanted to give him a
good competitive deck, but I also wanted him to have a good time.
Looking over my evil not-quite-exes, I figured Uril was probably the best bet. The problem of course is that my Uril deck hasn’t been
particularly impressive the couple of times I’ve run it there, not being nearly as “Spike-y” as I’d want; it’s like my
fun-odometer is permanently stuck at full-throttle even when I’m trying to be mean and crushing dreams. With some new cards from the Commander
decks to add to the mix, I decided to pop the hood one last time and see if I could make the deck Evil with a capital E.
Yes, that’s right—I needed to make Uril into my Gideon Graves.
You made me swallow my gum! That’s going to be in my digestive tract for seven years!
One of the things I thought would be powerful when building my Uril deck was to also include an enchantress theme to the deck, figuring that since I
was playing a bunch of Auras anyway, why not add a bunch of enchantments and draw a bunch of cards along the way? The problem I kept running into
though was never drawing enough actual Auras to make sure I had them to play on Uril—I’d keep drawing Enchantresses and non-Aura
enchantments while Uril sat over there twiddling his thumbs and admiring his newly minted keyword hexproof (not exactly a halo, but close).
I decided to do a major overhaul—the first order of business was to saturate the deck with Auras to make sure I’d never find my hand devoid
of one. The new Auras from Commander were perfect: Vow of Lightning, Vow of Duty, and Vow of Wildness. They could either pump up Uril, or be used as
the awesome pseudo-removal spell that they are so good at. To make room for all the additional Auras I took a hacksaw to anything that wasn’t
absolutely necessary and/or too powerful not to include. Many non-Aura enchantments got the boot, and a couple Enchantresses hit the streets. The new
Soul Snare enchantment certainly earned a spot. Command Tower is a gimme for just about any three-color Commander deck.
One thing I thought I’d point out, not just for Uril players but anyone who might be adding some Auras to their Commander decks: Armadillo Cloak
and Spirit Loop are not errata’d to give the spiritlink ability, so they can be used to effectively “stack” with actual spiritlink
abilities (like Daybreak Coronet in the Uril deck).
Here’s what I handed off to Chris to play:
- 1 Verduran Enchantress
- 1 Argothian Enchantress
- 1 Anger
- 1 Silent Arbiter
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Troll Ascetic
- 1 Wall of Roots
- 1 Skyshroud Elf
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Nomad Mythmaker
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Radha, Heir to Keld
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Vexing Shusher
- 1 Bloom Tender
- 1 Uril, the Miststalker
- 1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Kor Spiritdancer
- 1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
- 1 Serra's Sanctum
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 1 Taiga
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Rith's Grove
- 4 Snow-Covered Plains
- 3 Snow-Covered Mountain
- 6 Snow-Covered Forest
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Boros Garrison
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Vivid Meadow
- 1 Fire-Lit Thicket
- 1 Madblind Mountain
- 1 Mistveil Plains
- 1 Sapseep Forest
- 1 Wooded Bastion
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Rancor
- 1 Worship
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Winds of Rath
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Sterling Grove
- 1 Armadillo Cloak
- 1 Serra's Embrace
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Crystal Chimes
- 1 Carpet of Flowers
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Exoskeletal Armor
- 1 Fists of Ironwood
- 1 Flickerform
- 1 Moldervine Cloak
- 1 Three Dreams
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 Verdant Embrace
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Retether
- 1 Seal of Primordium
- 1 Coalition Relic
- 1 Daybreak Coronet
- 1 Battle Mastery
- 1 Epic Proportions
- 1 Garruk Wildspeaker
- 1 Runes of the Deus
- 1 Shield of the Oversoul
- 1 Trace of Abundance
- 1 Indestructibility
- 1 Gigantiform
- 1 Predatory Urge
- 1 Bear Umbra
- 1 Eldrazi Conscription
- 1 Snake Umbra
- 1 Vow of Duty
- 1 Vow of Wildness
- 1 Soul Snare
- 1 Vow of Lightning
I asked Chris to write up a little something about his experiences with the deck and he was kind enough to comply:
To quickly introduce myself, my name is Chris Bourroughs and I’ve been playing MTG in the Richmond area for about five years. I have
some moderate finishes which include playing at the final table of VA states for two years running, taking the title in ’09—sorry Bennie! I want
to talk about my first foray into the world of Commander a couple weeks ago, and my opinion on the format.
When I first began playing I was a kitchen table player, and learned a lot about the game through multiplayer interactions. There was one player in
particular who was the most experienced, and his decks were always much more powerful than the rest of the playgroup. Instead of smashing us into the
ground though, this player would dole out damage equally, prolong the game, and generally play in such a way that we all had a good bit of fun before
he dispatched us. The reason I bring this up is that I feel all multiplayer forms of this game should embody that spirit of keeping people in the game.
One of the local players put it best when he said that multiplayer (especially Commander) is “a lot like a monster truck rally. Everyone gets to
run big, cool effects and try to smash each other.”
When I first heard about the Commander release weekend I was skeptical. When people are playing in flights with something on the line I assumed that
the spirit of multiplayer I enjoyed so much would be thrown out the window. The fact that the Commander precons themselves were a little underpowered
made the format actually fun, and I watched a couple flights in between rounds at my local FNM. Everything seemed to be going really well!
Every year Richmond runs a city championship event series, and in the spirit of Commander weekend the first two events were to be EDH-based. I didn’t
get to compete last year, so this year I was really excited about jumping right in. I read a lot of Bennie’s articles so I know that he enjoys his
multiplayer the way I do – monster truck style! I quickly contacted him about procuring a deck, and after discussing a couple options I asked him
for his Uril, the Miststalker deck. It has a lot of raw power and obvious synergies, and it gives me a chance to be at the top tables while still
having a ton of fun.
Sitting down at my first table, I was up against three precons: Devour for Power, Mirror Mastery, and goat-flavored group hug. Our game lasted probably
an hour and a half, and we were having a good time of it. Uril stomped around and trampled over stuff while Aura Shards blew up troublesome permanents
and everyone got their licks in before it was all over. That being said, I noticed that we were the only game to last that long, and much as I had
feared about turning a fun format into something competitive, two of the other three pods had finished somewhere between turn 6 and 10.
When we sat down for the final tables, I experienced the absolute misery of an extremely Spiked-out Commander deck, and after three turns of being
locked under Back to Basics, we were combo-killed by a Stroke of Genius. The guy who took the event down decided I got third place which in and of
itself was pretty disheartening. Not that I got third place, but that I took an arbitrary finish at the final pod instead of earning my way to a spot
through politics, play skill, and big fatty boom booms.
All in all, I think I will be returning to Commander at some point with a deck of my own, but I just can’t see this format as tournament playable. I
can’t imagine a pod of four combo kill decks that just want to nut draw their way to a die-roll victory, nor do I want to. Embrace Commander at your
kitchen tables and your local shops, jump 18 flaming buses in your monster truck, and keep the games fun.
Hear hear, Chris! I’m glad he got to have fun in one of the pods and I’m even gladder to hear he’ll be brewing up his own deck and
looking for some fun in the near future. Hopefully we can sit down together and have a good time.
Speaking of which—I actually have this Friday night off, so I’m going to take advantage of this rare window of opportunity to run down to
Richmond Comix for some Commander action! Maybe I’ll see you there?
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
I’ve started a blog, it’s not Magic-related but you may find it fun to read and comment on. I update at least once a week so check on it often!
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 Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus: