Strixhaven Boxing League With The Commander Rules Committee

The Commander Rules Committee has begun its Strixhaven Boxing League. Sheldon Menery delves into his pool, how he built his deck, and the options.

Wandering Archaic, illustrated by Wayne Reynolds

The Commander Rules Committee (RC) has delved into the latest installment of Commander Boxing League.  After the successes of the original iteration and our Commander Legends and Kaldheim versions, we’re looking forward to the Strixhaven rendition.  If you missed out on the rules, I wrote about them in August of last year. The difference is that we’re all obviously starting with a Strixhaven set booster box.  We haven’t picked an upgrade path yet, in which we’ll open more boosters.  We’re going to get a few games under our belts before deciding.

Toby, Scott, and Gavin all got their boxes before I did.  Toby made an interesting discovery — he was missing 29 commons and sixteen uncommons.  After building his deck, he decided to open another box to see if the results were similar.  In that one, he was missing only eleven commons, but a whopping 32 uncommons!  The other two reported somewhat similar results. I opened 91 unique commons (out of 110) and 50 uncommons (out of 80).

We think the culprit is the Mystical Archive cards, which take up one of those slots.  This seems to bode well for deck diversity, since everyone won’t have nearly all the commons and uncommons.  In past iterations, we noticed that the choices there were similar, since people would play the best cards of those rarities in their colors.  It led to a bit of homogenization.  Here, where we’re not necessarily going to have a strong likelihood of getting most of the commons and uncommons in the colors we play, we must make do with what we get.  Of course, we get to play the Commander-legal Mystical Archive cards, so that’s kind of cool.  Unfortunately for Toby, one of his was Channel.


The others had also picked their commanders before I started the process.  Scott is running Valentin, Dean of the Vein; Gavin has Extus, Oriq Overlord; and Toby Dina, Soul Steeper.  There’s not likely a way to metagame against any of them in the set, so I don’t really think I have any kind of advantage by building with that foreknowledge—especially since it looks like I’ll have to play nearly all the cards I got in my colors.  We’re all handicapping Gavin as the odds-on favorite, getting to pick from three colors. 

Before we get to how I strategized my build, let’s talk about the collectible stuff I got.  Here are my Mystical Archive cards:

Agonizing Remorse Agonizing Remorse Chaos Warp Claim the Firstborn Compulsive Research Crux of Fate Cultivate Defiant Strike Defiant Strike Divine Gambit Duress Eliminate Ephemerate Faithless Looting Growth Spiral Harmonize Infuriate Krosan Grip Mana Tithe Negate Opt Regrowth Revitalize Revitalize Shock Shock Snakeskin Veil Teferi’s Protection Thrill of Possibility Village Rites Weather the Storm Weather the Storm Whirlwind Denial

There are a few very saucy cards there, starting with the Teferi’s Protection.  Since I hoped to play Silverquill, I was quite pleased that I opened it in my third pack.  Outside of the Boxing League, I’m pretty happy to have the Cultivate, Growth Spiral, and Krosan Grip to put into existing decks, and that Crux of Fate gets slammed right into my Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund deck. 

My foils are:

Ardent Dustspeaker Closing Statement Creative Outburst Decisive Denial Eager First-Year Essence Infusion Flunk Frost Trickster Island Lashweed Lurker Mercurial Transformation Mountain Necrotic Fumes Pigment Storm Pillardrop Warden Plains Prismari Pledgemage Professor’s Warning Quandrix Pledgemage Quintorius, Field Historian Reckless Amplimancer Soothsayer Adept Spiteful Squad Star Pupil Stonebound Mentor Sudden Breakthrough Tenured Inkcaster Twinscroll Shaman Vortex Runner Witherbloom Campus Witherbloom Command

The only one that I don’t also have in a regular version is Witherbloom Command.  I also got a few List cards:

Balefire Liege Brain Freeze Crown of Empires Lashweed Lurker Relentless Rats Pteramander Warriors’ Lesson

The Balefire Liege looks like it’ll be pretty saucy, and Crown of Empires should be useful despite not having Scepter of Empires and Throne of Empires.

I seem to have gotten a pretty fair selection of rares (I’ll leave the potential commanders out here and mention them after).


Academic Probation Elite Spellbinder Mavinda, Students’ Advocate Selfless Glyphweaver Sparring Regimen Strict Proctor


Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios Teachings of the Archaics Tempted by the Oriq


Callous Bloodmage Oriq Loremage Poet’s Quill Sedgemoor Witch


Conspiracy Theorist Crackle with Power Fervent Mastery Plargg, Dean of Chaos


Accomplished Alchemist Blex, Vexing Pest Verdant Mastery


Culling Ritual Culmination of Studies Double Major Elemental Expressionist Harness Infinity Prismari Command Quandrix Command Radiant Scrollwielder Rushed Rebirth Silverquill Silencer


Mascot Exhibition Strixhaven Stadium Wandering Archaic


The Biblioplex Hall of Oracles Necroblossom Snarl

My legendary creature choice was quite limited.

Quintorius, Field Historian Quintorius, Field Historian Quintorius, Field Historian Shaile, Dean of Radiance Tanazir Quandrix Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy Hofri Ghostforge Codie, Vociferous Codex

Yes, that’s three copies of Quintorius, Field Historian.

As good as Tanazir Quandrix and Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy are, I had to throw them off the raft immediately, because Quandrix simply isn’t playable for me.  I didn’t get enough cards in the two colors to make a viable deck.  I didn’t get a Witherbloom commander, but that’s okay since I don’t have that many green or green/black cards.  That left me with Silverquill (which, as mentioned, I had hoped for) or Lorehold, which I have viable builds for. My white is good, so it’s going to come down to whether the red or black is better, or which of the commanders I think I can get most mileage from.

Of course, there’s also a crazy multicolor build with Codie.  The upside is that I could play three colors, giving me access to a bunch of the hybrid mana cards that have red or black in them.  The downside is that my commander would be essentially useless.  An additional downside is that the mana fixing isn’t great, especially since that Cultivate isn’t in one of my primary colors. 

Continuing to look at which of the two to build, there were lots of red/white cards I liked, but other than Crackle with Power, not that many red ones.  Hofri Ghostforge is the best individual commander, and paired with Quintorious, Field Historian could lead to some big plays, but the rest of the red was left wanting. 

Boxing League is definitely a Limited environment, and removal is what rules Limited environments.  The combination of removal between black and white is what sold me, especially the Crux of Fate battlefield sweeper.  Here’s what I put together:

The cards in the deck are quite inexpensive, so I felt comfortable with 36 lands.  There are no seriously large creatures or too many very expensive spells, reinforcing that choice. 

Based on both faces of the commander, the deck is about +1/+1 counters.  There aren’t too many spells that create multiple tokens, so Shaile isn’t going to be bombstatic, but cast early, it will provide some solid value.  Given the low casting cost of the creatures in the deck, there will be occasion to get double or better return on the investment. 

I’d like Embrose, Dean of Shadow better if I had a way to give him deathtouch.  Otherwise, the primary use for him will be to put counters on my two plus-power creatures and then to draw cards when they die.  In some situations, I can kill my own creature to draw the card, like if it’s chump blocking.  I suppose in desperate times, I can just kill something to find an emergency out.  Embrose combos nicely with Star Pupil and Spiteful Squad, since they get to send their counters elsewhere.  He’s a 4/4, so maybe there’s room for a commander damage kill every now and then.

My favorite creature in the deck is Wandering Archaic. With three opponents and a set built around instants and sorceries, I should get some great piggyback action.  Sedgemoor Witch is clearly meant for the Witherbloom deck, but I’ll take those Pest tokens and a little bit of lifegain.  Mage Hunterwill slowly bleed life away from opponents when they cast spells.  It won’t seem like a great deal, but I suspect it’ll add up. 

I’ll have to be on my A game to play around Strict Proctor.  I have a fair number of enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities, but as I mentioned earlier, the mana value of most of the deck is pretty low.  I’m relatively sure that Strict Proctor will hurt my opponents more than it does me. 

There are plenty of spells to get excited about.  The removal suite is comprised of eleven cards:

Crux of Fate Defend the Campus Eliminate Expel Fracture Introduction to Annihilation Lash of Malice Mage Hunters’ Onslaught Necrotic Fumes Reduce to Memory Rise of Extus

Several of them exile the cards, eliminating any kind of recursion shenanigans, which will be extremely important against Extus, Oriq Overlord. 

Professor’s Warning and Ephemerate will help save a creature (along with the creature Selfless Glyphweaver saving everyone).  The remainder of the spells are your normal assortment of card draw, utility spells, and creature buffs. 

We’ll have played a game already by the time my RC friends get to read this, so I’ll have the two surprise elements of Teferi’s Protection and Mana Tithe.  I expect both of them to lead to some blowouts, whether they know they’re coming or not.  To be honest, I’d really like to be able to cast Mana Tithe in the first game we play so that it’s always in the back of their minds.  Getting inside someone’s head can definitely give you an advantage.

There are two artifacts that will be a big deal in the deck. (I suppose Letter of Acceptance will be a little deal.)  We’ve already talked about Crown of Empires.  The one I’m really excited about is Strixhaven Stadium.  Not only is it a mana rock, it’s a win condition.  I have lots of small creatures, so the normal attrition rate of combat should be in my favor.  Additionally, I’m playing lots of removal.  There should be some situations in which I can get the Stadium kill, maybe after a big surprise Teferi’s Protection.  I’m looking forward to giving it a try.  Poet’s Quill, Zephyr Boots, and Team Pennant aren’t as splashy, but should provide decent value.

Overall, it’s hard to judge the quality of the deck without seeing what the other three have come up with.  I’d like to have some bigger creatures, but I can build them with Shaile and Embrose, plus a number of other cards in the deck. 

Before we go, let’s look at the red and red/white cards that I’m passing up to play Silverquill.  If you think I’m being foolish, let me know.  I’ve already mentioned Hofri Ghostforge as commander alongside best friend Quintorius, Field Historian.


Balefire Liege Conspiracy Theorist Grinning Ignus Lorehold Apprentice Lorehold Pledgemage Plargg, Dean of Chaos Radiant Scrollwielder Returned Pastcaller

Balefire Liege is the biggest loss here, but once again, the red spells just weren’t there in big enough numbers.  There a few bigger beaters than I have now, and there’s the whole Spirit thing—which includes Balefire Liege. 


Crackle with Power Explosive Welcome Lorehold Excavation Mascot Interception Reconstruct History Rip Apart

The one I really want to cast here is obviously Crackle with Power.  I suppose that eleven mana isn’t that out of the question in the Limited environment.  Fourteen isn’t really out of reach.  Maybe I will take the time to put together the Lorehold list.

For now, I’m going with Silverquill.  Like with all the times that the RC streams together, I know we’ll have a great time.  We’ll probably play Strixhaven Boxing League for at least one game each broadcast for the next month.  Join us at 8 PM ET on Thursdays and 2 PM ET on Sundays at twitch.tv/commanderRC.  Come for the games, stay for the fun and friends.

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