Featured recently in an article by Wargamer, Brian “CurefortheCommonGame” Canada set out on a journey to build every Commander deck available in Magic. Impressed and inspired by his story, we reached out to Brian directly to learn more about his incredible undertaking.
First, a little about Brian.
Brian started playing Magic in 1994 where he learned how to play in a multiplayer environment. He and his friends would simply enjoy the gathering — playing with however many players they had.
Around Time Spiral block, Brian read an article on the Magic mothership, talking about a “wacky format that the judges were playing after-hours at Pro Tours.” This turned out to be Commander (EDH at the time), and he was hooked.
He started by building two decks and took them to his local game store where he played the first Commander games in Tennessee.
Q & A
SCG: How did this all begin?
Brian: I started building decks, slowly at first, and then in 2016, I found that I had some time on my hands so I started a YouTube channel — going through my decks and explaining the strategies behind my card choices. At this time I had 70-80 decks.
One day I was at the counter of an LGS when a friend of mine walked up and asked what I was doing. I told him that I didn’t know which one of the two new legends I was going to buy/build, and he said ‘I thought you were building them all’ and laughed… The idea was amazing, build all the decks! So I looked it up and there were around 700 possible legends at the time, and I already had 80 done… so yeah. As you know, 2020 was the year of Commander and it seems that is the new normal.
SCG: How many decks have you built?
Brian: As of this moment I have 894 completed Commander decks, sleeved up and ready to play. I keep each deck legal, no proxies or card sharing, once a card is in a deck, it belongs to that commander. I do not take them apart, the goal is to have an EDH deck with every legal legendary creature. Yes, legal. I’m not doing the silver border or the banned commanders. Partners I only use once. That’s about the only practical way I could think of since every time they print a partner the possible partner combinations increase exponentially. But that number will increase frequently.
SCG: How much time have you put into the project?
Brian: This is incalculable. For over 25 years, I was the same as every other avid magic fan — work, family, life taking a lot of time, so in my spare time I built decks. It is my only hobby (lol) probably more than a hobby at this point. However, last year I retired from my 30 year retail job and now I have plenty of time.
SCG: Do your children have any interest in MTG?
Brian: Short answer, marginally. I have four children. Ages 29, 28, 20, and 18. I never wanted to try to push my hobby on them, but at one point each of them asked me to teach them how to play. So all of them know how to play, but they also have other hobbies. They are a little more diversified than I in entertainment.
The rule I used when teaching was, “You have to get good grades in reading and math for daddy to teach you how to play Magic.” It worked, every time.
As far as what they think of the collection, it’s weirdly normal to them, as they have seen it grow slowly over the years. None of them have memories before MTG.
SCG: Do you think you’ll ever play a game with every deck?
Brian: I want to believe that I will, but realistically I don’t know. I generally play once a week, on Fridays, and we meet here in this room (the viewers have named the room “The Mana Vault”), and we have several players in the playgroup, and not all can come every week, but they all know that they don’t really need to bring a deck if they don’t want [to].
One of the favorite ways to pick which deck to play is to roll three D10’s and play that number. So with that, a lot of the decks get played, maybe not by me, but they do get played.
SCG: With the announcement of the return of CommandFests, will you be attending?
Brian: I have never been to a CommandFest, but I would love to go to any and all — the idea excites me, more Magic! However they tend to be on either side of the U.S. and me living in TN, that’s a trip that I have yet to make.
SCG: If you were to attend, which decks would you bring?
Brian: I have this idea, if this ever happens. I built the shelving system that the decks are on. It measures 10 decks tall and 10 decks wide, so that each block has 100 decks. I would build a portable box to carry 100 decks, carefully chosen of course, and probably roll a D100 for each game.
SCG: Do you have any personal favorites? If so, why?
Brian: I often answer this question with “that’s like trying to pick a favorite child!”, but seriously, I find myself reaching for Azusa, Lost but Seeking more than any other deck.
SCG: Which decks were the most expensive to build?
Brian: Off the top of my head, I would have to say Deck #500 Angus Mackenzie, it’s sitting in the $1,800 range. Deck #700 Negan, is up there as well, it being all foiled.
SCG: What is your go to sleeve brand?
Brian: Sleeves and deck boxes are the number one cost of this project. My favorite brand is Ultra Pro, whom I have tried several times to get a sponsorship to no avail…lol. The deck box I use is the Ultra Pro 2-piece Gaming Box. It’s very secure, stacks nicely, and I built the wall around its dimensions.
SCG: Any popular questions that you get asked often?
Brian: Is this even possible, as Wizards of the Coast (WotC) prints new legends? With the current rate that WotC is printing new legends, it is difficult. For example, there are 37 decks that I need to build for Streets of New Capenna, and if I do a deck a day, then I can get caught up and go back and do some of the older ones that I haven’t done yet.
SCG: Do you ever update your decks?
Brian: Not as much as I would like — the pace I must work at keeps me from updating them all.
SCG: So what is the process?
Brian: First, I acquire the legendary creature (this can be a challenge … P3K), then I build the deck. Once built, I mark it as done on the spreadsheet that I make for each set. Next, I list the deck on Archidekt and I’ve started making the thumbnail image. Lastly, I upload the deck for the day.
SCG: With a project this large, what is the organizational aspects?
Brian: In order to build decks quickly, I need to access the cards I need quickly, so every set has its own binder that is in Wizards Number order, and any overflow from that set goes into two row boxes per-set.
SCG: What are you going to do when you are finished?
Brian: When I get finished (and I will), I will only ever be finished until the next set comes out, and that will give me time to go back and update decks that need it.
We’d like to sincerely thank Brian for taking the time to share his story and answer all our questions. We wish him the best of luck in his journey!
Be sure to follow Brian’s incredible story on his YouTube channel — Cure for the Common Game.