Tales of the Squire – Commander Talk

I realize I have not written anything in a while. That is basically because I have been doing very poor at Legacy and have not been playing any other format. With not having anything to write about, I did not want to just ramble for x number of words. Hopefully you don’t all read this and think that’s all I do here. Let us begin.

Commander is still booming and I still love Damia and everything she offers. I actually ended getting milled out the other day (that will be covered later). Basically my list has not changed since the creation of the deck. I did make the smart change by cutting Jin-Gitaxis and adding in Griselbrand. People definitely hate the praetors in commander and for some reason I’ve had people tell me Gris is fairer than Jin, which is hilarious because I can just bury you in card advantage at instant speed. I actually discussed with a friend about the fairness of the praetors and how they rank. We both agreed that Vorinclex took the top spot as least fair, followed by Jin. Elesh Norn and Sheoldred were tied for the 3rd spot, with Urabrask taking the last spot as the most fair of the praetors. Now this is strictly in a commander sense but if you disagree with my list, let me know in the comments.

But I do have to say if you are playing black and have access to a Griselbrand, I would definitely put him into your deck to try it out. Starting at 40 life lets you draw at least 7 cards, if not more. I think in the one game I drew 21 to kill my opponent the following turn.

So I want to now talk about the different levels of commander and how sometimes just having a certain general can get you killed. Commander was originally created to be a fun format and that is exactly how I play it, but also I want to make sure my deck is good. Its surely not fun to build a deck, spending money on it, to then get crushed every game you play with the deck. My Damia deck does not win all the time, but it surely is powerful. So this is where the first level comes in and this level is actually the middle level. I can’t think of a great name to get it, but let’s call it Non-mean Competitive. Basically this is what I stated, your deck is good and you invested into it but you don’t do things that just make your opponents want to quit immediately.

The wanting to quit immediately level happens to be the top level and sticking with my poor theme, let’s call it Mean Competitive. These are the decks that are filled with infinite combos and just straight up unfun cards (in my opinion). If you are playing green and black, cast tooth and nail, and just get Mikaeus the Unhallowed and Triskelion, I don’t want to play with you. Casting one card should not win you the game without any real set up. So what else are some things that set these decks apart from the non-mean and those basically are infinite combos and land destruction (LD).

Commander is a format where you get to cast those giant costing spells and plenty of decks are filled primarily with high costing spells. Therefore commander is never fun when your opponent casts a low costing general and follows it up with a nice Armageddon. “Cool, you now have Khalia online and I have no land. Thanks for wasting my time.” That is exactly how I feel about land destruction. It’s perfectly fine to run cards like Strip Mine, Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, and any others I am missing because there are definitely problem lands in the format. But when you kill all my lands or your primary goal is to land lock me, I really do not want to play with you. I recently had a player come up to me and ask if I wanted to play heads up commander and I told him no because I knew exactly what his deck did, and that was cast Khalia and then destroy my land. When I told him no he came back and commented by saying he thought I had a “big boy” deck and should be able to handle that. Then told me how he and two other players could go through 7 games in like 20 minutes. So basically the longest part was the shuffling of the decks. While Damia is definitely a good deck in my opinion, I often do not want to place myself in a situation where I am facing an infinite combo deck or LD deck. Now don’t take this as me saying I’m afraid of losing because I really do not care if I lose. I just value my time.

Now the final level of commander is casual. I can usually identify the casual players just by their mana base. I have seen plenty of 3 color decks where they have a majority of basics on the battlefield. I’m not saying that my way is correct, but I run 3 basics out of my 36 mana producing lands. I took the time and spent the money on my deck and don’t really like basics in it. I have definitely played against people though who have a lot of basics but then have surprised me. Now obviously in mono colored decks the basic count is fairly high, but there are still non-basics most players have. Also I can usually look at a deck and just tell by card quality what their level is. I am not bashing any of these players. I am glad they are enjoying themselves and in order to keep them doing that, I do not want to cram Damia down their throat. I have been placed into pods and had my opponent cast a Dross Ripper and then really do nothing else in the game. Those decks usually can’t handle some of the cards in Damia. I have had players who wanted to make their decks better because of getting crushed, but that is not always the case. I had one guy defend how he is a casual player for half an hour and how my deck is just unfun.

Sorry sir.

Note: I am not trying to disrespect anyone. It does not matter to me what level you play on and maybe you do not even agree with my level system. I will play against the mean decks and play against the casual decks but I like to keep the decks on a similar level for the most fun.

So what else can I say about commander. How about the format is very political? I do not think anyone can deny this statement because anyone who has played multiplayer has heard, “Don’t attack me, I don’t even have anything out” or “I may have 7 cards in my hand, but they are all garbage.” I recently had this happen in a 4 player pod. My friend Joe was playing his Sharum deck which I knew had a decent amount of infi combos and such and whiles he really had nothing on the board or in his graveyard (love me some bojuka bog), I knew enough about his deck to realize it could kill us at any moment. Every time I had a chance to swing my creatures into Joe, I did. He ended up at 1 while everyone else was at a pretty high life total (like above 30) but figured if he started to seem dangerous one simple swing would end him. Joe played the politics game a lot and my friendship with him also helped him out. I hit a point in the game where I thought I could kill everyone and went for it. I had to do 38 to one player, 14 to another, and 1 to Joe. I thought I couldn’t kill the guy at 38 because of his elf with reach and Joe helped me out by using a Duplicant on him. Come to find out, I didn’t actually need Joe, but still his generosity was rewarded. The way the pod worked was that first got 3 packs and second got 1. If I killed everyone at once, the player at 38 would take second. So I let Joe live for the turn and then swing my monsters into him. Politics helped out Joe and I used a strategy of letting one player become a threat before me, and get to a point I could take them out of the game at any time. A lot goes on in players’ heads while playing a multiplayer game and sometimes their plans work out and other times they do not.

One example of when one of my plans did not end up working out. I recently played a 4 man pod against some friends at Jupiter. I was facing Karador, a Rogue deck, and Grimgrin. My planeswalkers really got out of hand during the game with Jace Beleren, Garruk Wildspeaker, and Karn sticking around for a very long time. It got near the end of the game and basically Ian (Karador player) and I were going back and forth at each other while Rob (rogues) caused disruptions and Josh (Grimgrin) really did not do anything. To be fair, Josh did not have any black mana sources until I played an Urborg. So as things went longer and longer I got some serious card advantage which was stripped by Rob when he made me discard 3 cards at random from my 13 card hand. He hit, Sheoldred, Phyrexian Metamorph, and Krosan Grip. Not too bad seeing as I still had 6 land in my hand. I eventually one shotted Rob with Marit Lage and then tried to take down Ian. I wanted to kill Ian and then restart the game with Karn because I had a Woodfall Primus under him along with a Sensei’s Top. Well Ian cast Baneslayer Angel along with Asceticism so I had to use Karn to remove the Asceticism so the Grimgrin I stole could finish the job. Josh joked about how he would get Mesmeric Orb and mill me out. He told me earlier he did not have any tutors so I was not too worried. Of course he drew Tezzeret, got Mesmeric Orb and all my answers were gone. So I ended up milling my last 7 cards and dying. Sometimes things just do not work out. Josh had no business winning the game but did. That is the fun with commander; anything can happen and most likely will.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I can bring you a tournament report when I win the Jupiter Invitational. Need to defend that title but there are some big names gunning for it. Good luck if you are playing and I’ll see you there.

Twitter @rocketrae21

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