It gets tougher every time, but it’s still a labor of love. Finding room in my suite of decks for all the great cards in a new set is more of a challenge than a chore. The difficult part isn’t being excited about the new stuff; it’s about setting aside old friends. I suppose that’s why I have 40+ decks: I guess I’m not ready to say good-bye to some long-time associates just yet. Now it’s just a case of finding time to play them all.
In addition to the Kaladesh updates, you’ll see a few Conspiracy: Take the Crown updates as well. I didn’t do a full update on Conspiracy: Take the Crown since it’s a smaller set. Two decks got three new cards each, a relatively large update. It’s not surprising that the artifact-heavy Glissa, Glissa received the bump, since Kaladesh is a set which features artifacts, but the already well-established and firing-on-all-cylinders Dreaming of Intet was also the beneficiary of some sweet new stuff, doing what it already does just a little better.
As those of you who’ve been following along for a while know, I only put a single copy of new cards into the entire suite. This makes for some tricky choices. I think I might replace every instance of Day of Judgment with Fumigate if I didn’t have the self-restriction. Conspiracy: Take the Crown’s Stunt Double would certainly replace every instance of Clone, although Gigantoplasm might also threaten to do that.
Authority of the Consuls would be useful in nearly any deck. For the low cost of one white mana, you slow down creature strategies and gain some life while you’re doing it. Sure, it’s no Blind Obedience, but what is? The eventual decision to put it into the Heliod deck came from the fact that it’s an enchantment, which goes with the deck’s theme, and Mirror Entity will be of better use in Rith’s Tokens. And don’t worry about that Karmic Guide; I have plans for it.
Into: Obzedat, Ghost Killer
For: Praetor’s Grasp
Obzedat, Ghost Council is all about keeping the battlefield clear. For the most part, that involves battlefield wipes on other peoples’ turns (like with Rout), but occasionally doing it on mine is reasonable. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is a strong control card that keeps in check some of the raw tomfoolery Commander players (me included!) like to engage in. Strong consideration went to the Lavinia Blinks deck (or maybe even the Rith Do-Over), but in the end, I felt like I’d be daggering myself less often in Obzedat.
For: Chain Reaction
As I mentioned earlier, at one additional mana, Fumigate is way better than Day of Judgment. There might be an argument for it not being better than Wrath of God, since creatures can’t regenerate from the latter, but I don’t see too much regeneration going on in the format anyway. Wrath of God is currently live in five different decks, Day of Judgment in two (probably as a budget replacement for Wrath of God). As I play Fumigate, I’ll see if I’m tempted to replace any of them.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
For: Angelic Arbiter
Obviously the blink deck gets the blink Angel. Wispweaver is no Restoration Angel. Sure, it can target another Angel, but it doesn’t have flash, and it brings the creature back under its owner’s control, not yours. Still, it can target your own Restoration Angel, which has plenty of upside. Angelic Arbiter is great at confusing the combat calculation, but the deck has enough other methods of keeping creatures off my back (and I’m playing it elsewhere) to make it a reasonable cut.
Into: Animar Do-Over
I simply searched my decks for Twincast and found the one which I thought would benefit most from having the flexibility which Insidious Will brings to the game. When building the Animar Do-Over, one of my hopes for Twincast was to piggyback on someone else’s early ramp spell, but given the nature of the deck, I found that I was tapped out on those early turns doing my own stuff anyway. Since I would be casting it later in the game anyway, those two extra mana aren’t that big of a deal.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
For: Wurmcoil Engine
This Intet, the Dreamer deck (which sometimes gets played as Riku of Two Reflections) has 23 instants and sorceries. That’s going to make quite a few Construct tokens. And we continue the sad tale of Wurmcoil Engine being the card that still can’t find a home (although I double-checked and there’s already one in Glissa, the Traitor).
The Phelddagrif deck is all about drawing cards and hand size. Imagine bouncing everything I have on the battlefield except for Psychosis Crawler. Obviously, Paradoxical Outcome also saves your best things from a battlefield wipe, plus adds that many cards to your hand. You just have to hope that you have Reliquary Tower on the battlefield. Maro is out because, while he’s the original Maro-Sorcerer, he doesn’t have additional abilities like the rest of them do. Creatures are getting better and better these days, so competition for deck slots is getting even tougher in this Eternal format. Just having a power and toughness often isn’t enough.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
For: Clone Legion
What I found with Clone Legion is that the deck is pretty good at keeping other creatures off the battlefield. Clone Legion is loads of fun when someone else has a great team. If not, it’s an expensive nine mana. Expropriate, on the other hand, is a Blatant Thievery plus Time Walk, which if not dealt with carefully will end the game right away. In one of our last Rotisserie League games, Michael cast Expropriate with a reasonable but not absurd battlefield, but then Todd copied it with Dualcaster Mage and a much spicier battlefield. At that point, it was just a choice of damnations for me, Shea, and Keith. Knowing that Todd’s battlefield would be definitely lethal, we voted timed for Michael (since he’d get the turns first).
There was a little gamesmanship involved there because of two League factors. First is that Todd is in first place; if someone else was going to get points, we’d rather it be someone else. Second is that there is a minus point (called Dookie) for each extra turn beyond the first. We knew that Michael would need at least two turns to kill people, mitigating some of the damage. Analyzing the turn, it seems like the default choice for Expropriate will be to simply vote money and mitigate the damage. It’s a nine-mana sorcery; it’s okay if it sometimes ends the game.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
Poor Clone. It keeps getting kicked right in the Jacobs. First Gigantoplasm, now Stunt Double. We loved you very much, but it’s time to retire. Direct upgrades—cards with identical casting costs which do more—are the easy part of updating decks. I still have a tear in my eye for an old friend who has seen me through difficult battles. Maybe I’ll frame all the foil Clones I have and hang them somewhere on the game room art wall.
Into: Halloween with Karador
What gets me most about Gonti, Lord of Luxury is the tight mana cost. In a deck which reanimates creatures, you’re going to get several uses out of this mini-Praetor’s Grasp, which, in the worst case, simply makes a good card unavailable to that opponent. Players who like to use Oracle of Mul Daya or Future Sight now might want to beware. That juicy thing on top of your library could be joining this team very soon.
Into: Halloween with Karador
It’s a good thing the Gearhulks have colored mana in their casting costs, or I’d probably be trying to jam them all into Animar. First of all, the ability is a may, so you don’t have to kill off one of your own if you don’t want to. Second, it can destroy a black or artifact creature, which many things (like Bone Shredder) can’t. Third, its targeting condition is “another,” which means it can’t be forced to target itself. There’s currently nothing (at least as far as I remember) which retargets a triggered ability (like Reroute does with activated abilities), but if something like that gets printed in the future, you’ll still be safe. On top of that, there’s the life gain. My first instinct was that Combustible Gearhulk would be my favorite, but the more at look at Noxious Gearhulk, the more I think it’s going to rise to the top. Mazirek simply makes more sense in the deck in which the counters matter, so that’s where it went. Worthy Cause suffered from the sin of not being available in foil.
Into: Demons of Kaalia
I had already nicked the copy of Exquisite Blood from Kaalia of the Vast and not replaced it, knowing that something would be coming up in a new set. Marchesa’s Decree is that card. What I like about it is that unlike other monarch cards, Marchesa’s Decree limits the downside of not being the monarch. It provides some protection for you in the case of someone else’s swarm deck. No one’s going to cast Storm Herd and then attack you (unless they’re suicidal). Over the course of a game, the damage which Marchesa’s Decree will save you is well worth the investment.
Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone
For: Mitotic Slime
Combustible Gearhulk does one of two things that I want done in this Kresh deck. It either draws additional cards (which the deck is sometimes weak on) or it puts cards into the graveyard for later reanimation. The damage, which can be significant, is sweet, sweet icing on an already-delicious cake. That the Gearhulk can then get into the Red Zone makes me want to stretch the metaphor even further.
Into: Zegana and a Dice Bag
For: Elvish Visionary
The green Gearhulk’s ability is pretty straightforward, but tasty nonetheless. It could have either gone into the Prime Speaker Zegana deck or Karador Do-Over, but since the latter already got a card, I figured I’d spread around the wealth a bit. Trying to get closer to the theme in which every creature in the deck actually has its own +1/+1 counters, Elvish Visionary was the cut, despite its obvious value. Additionally, it gets played in a number of other decks, so it could take the bench in this one.
Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone
Todd Palmer’s pick in the Rotisserie Draft League when he got daggered out of both Mind’s Dilation (by Michael) and Selvala’s Stampede (by me), Regal Behemoth is great in a deck which is aggressive enough to make others think twice about attacking you, since the crack back can be so significant. An extra mana out of every land is sweet indeed. Kresh often needs a bit of a boost to commit its most heinous acts, and one gets to be the monarch via getting into the red zone, so it all works together.
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds has the potential down side of letting other people draw cards, meaning it’s the perfect addition to a Leovold, Emissary of Trest build (in which Selvala is an original card). You know you’re going to get at least two mana when you tap Selvala, and likely even more. Before I put this version of Selvala into the Leovold deck, I briefly considered putting her into my The Threat of Yasova deck. Because of Yasova Dragonclaw’s ability, players are frequently reticent to cast their best creatures. If Selvala encourages the player to cast them, so much better for me. In the end, the new deck won out (because that way, I didn’t have to agonize over which card to cut).
Into: Rotisserie Draft deck
For: Dauntless Escort
The actual swap was Eldritch Moon’s Selfless Spirit for Dauntless Escort, a straight upgrade, but when I was removing cards after our Eldritch Moon Entry Draft, I forgot to take out Dauntless Escort (things can get confusing when you have an additional pool of cards), so it’s what came out when it came time to put in Selvalva’s Stampede, as I finally assembled the deck with the latest updates.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
I never evoked Mulldrifter anyway, always wanting it around to be able to blink (plus having few ways to do it as an instant), so Cloudblazer is to me an upgrade. Sure, there’s the slightly more awkward extra color of mana, but that’s never a problem once I’m at five lands anyway.
For: It depends.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter will be my first pick in the Rotisserie League Kaladesh Entry Draft, assuming it’s available. The only way it won’t be is if Keith, who, currently being in last place, gets to decide who sits in Seat One, has Todd draft first (Todd is the only other player who can draft U/G). Currently, the order is Keith, Shea, Michael, me, Todd. If he does put Todd in Seat One, I’ll be in the wheel, which isn’t an awful place to be. I think I’ll be circumspect about my Round 1 wheel plan, since so much can go wrong in front of me. I haven’t really decided on what I’ll take out of Intet to put in Rashmi, but it will likely be Aeon Chronicler, since Rashmi does what Aeon Chronicler does a little better and cheaper.
Into: Trostani and Her Angels
For: Minion Reflector
Aetherflux Reservoir belongs in a lifegain deck. I imagine you’ll be seeing it in Oloro, Ageless Ascetic decks quite frequently. You might consider getting yourself some Witchbane Orbs. People have asked if this card will be banned. The Commander Rules Committee met a few weekends back, and it wasn’t even on our radar. Sure, it will occasionally end games if you have 151 or 201 life. We’ll obviously keep an eye on it to see if it’s wrecking environments, but nothing about it tells me that’s the likely case. Minion Reflector comes out of the deck because it was really only there for shenanigans with Serra Avatar, which I’ve taken out to be more fitting with the all-Angels theme. Minion Reflector is a cool card, and I’m still playing it in The Altar of Thraximundar, in which it performs quite admirably.
Into: Glissa, Glissa
For: Goblin Charbelcher
I want to wait for Aether Revolt to make a dedicated Energy deck, but Aetherworks Marvel seems good enough as a one-card way to get my feet wet with the mechanic. Plenty of permanents go to and from the graveyard in this deck, so I suspect I’ll pile up the energy counters reasonably quickly. Goblin Charbelcher went into the deck because I had a foil laying around and it seemed suitably janky. I hope I don’t regret cutting it.
This isn’t actually an update, since the card is already in the deck, but you’d better believe I’m getting a copy of the sweet Masterpiece Series version.
Into: Glissa, Glissa
For: Elf Replica
My first thought on Filigree Familiar is that it wants to be in a deck with Sun Titan. I’m reasonably sure I’ll get just as much mileage out of it here. Elf Replica is a little redundant in the deck, with Sylvok Replica simply doing a better job.
Into: Glissa, Glissa
For: Predator, Flagship
With 49 artifacts or artifact creatures, Foundry Inspector is a no-brainer for the deck. It’s effectively mana acceleration for nearly every spell. Predator, Flagship is a fun idea but is seriously mana-intensive, and I’d prefer the deck to operate on a tighter curve.
Into: Karn, Beatdown Golem
Into: Animar’s Swarm
For: Possibility Storm
We save the best for last. Panharmonicon is just silly. I looked at all my decks, found the one with the most enters-the-battlefield triggers, and found room for it. Whether it’s getting eight damage off Flametongue Kavu, gaining ten life from Thragtusk, or drawing two cards when Garruk’s Packleader triggers, I’m all over the Panharmonicon plan. I’ve had enough fun with Possibility Storm that it’s time to give it a rest. It’s not on the bench forever, just for now. As an aside, I’m taking a History of the English Language class as part of my graduate coursework, and now I’m wondering why forever is a compound word, but “fornow” isn’t. Anyway, expect to see Possibility Storm in another deck in short order.
Last Two Weeks’ Comments
Two weeks ago, when I discussed my favorite planeswalkers in Commander, there were plenty of questions why a particular one didn’t make the list. Joseph Russell Haigler asked specifically about Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
There are two parts to the answer. The first is that the list only had 25 cards on it. Some cuts had to be made (although admittedly some were easier than others). Second is that, although Ugin is indeed powerful, I’m just not a fan of the second ability, which I’ve previously (and repeatedly) mentioned as probably the final nail in the coffin for Painter’s Servant coming off the banned list. I like Painter’s Servant and think there might be some room for cool stuff to happen with it, and Ugin ruined that fun.
Frank Closser asks:
“The Chromatic project at the bottom reminded me: do you plan on building five new decks when we get four-color legends in the winter?”
Absolutely. In addition to building five new decks of my own once the new Commander products come out, the Monday Night Gamers and I have already agreed that the commanders of those decks will serve as the basis for our next Rotisserie Draft League. I imagine that first we’ll play the decks right out of the box for a bit (although I’m not sure if we’ll run with them long enough to consider them a League, like we did with Commander 2015), but since we’ve had such a great time with the first Rotisserie Draft, we’ll likely dive in pretty quickly.
Our regular Deck Without Comment feature will return next week.
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; You Take the Crown, I’ll Take Leovold; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever;
Shards and Wedges
Adun’s Toolbox; Animar’s Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”