Perhaps you wanted to wait a little while and see how the new Commander decks were received. Perhaps you couldn’t find them at a reasonable price and decided to wait until the next wave of printings hit the shelves. Or perhaps you picked up one to try it and it wasn’t quite your speed. Whatever the reason you haven’t found your Commander match yet, the fact that you’re still reading this you very much would like to. Well worry no more friend! We’re here today to play matchmaker and help you find the Commander deck of your dreams!
Well alright, let’s be fair. The ‘Commander deck of your dreams’ is probably one you’ll want to build yourself. Unlike the endlessly iterated Standard lists, or the predetermined preconstructed packages, Commander decks more than most any other tend to reflect the personalities of their creators. Which legendary character most resonates with you? What sort of deck would you most enjoy playing? As you grow in the format, these questions will begin to emerge, and you might start to feel that familiar little tickle in the back of your mind that compels you to start browsing through your boxes, binders, or Gatherer to start brewing a deck.
Like all preconstructed products, the Commander series has not been min/maxed to provide the ultimate, nigh unbeatable deck, but rather a more balanced and mid-rate deck. You might soon find that certain cards beg to be removed, while others from your collection might be a better fit. Like the urge to brew, the urge to tinker won’t be long in coming.
Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Let’s worry about all that some other day. For many reading this, you’ve never played the Commander format and are intrigued to try. You want to find the right place to dip your toes into it, perhaps, but at an MSRP of $29.99 you don’t want to get stuck with the wrong choice. That’s what today’s article looks to address. Other questions for other times, there’s only one thing we’re concerned with today:
Which Commander deck is right for you?
When looking to play a particular deck from a list of options, most players tend to gravitate toward a certain color over another. Lay five monocolored intro decks on the table before a group of novice players, and it’s an interesting study to see where they gravitate to. Some might feel comfortable with the fat stomping of green. Others feel empowered with the ability to throw damage around the table and drift to red. Evolving from there, we begin to have certain groupings of colors we like. Which fits you more? Boros (red-white) or Golgari (black-green)? Grixis (black-red-blue) or Naya (green-white-red)?
Up until this point, that mentality has probably guided you true more often than not. Go for a particular color, and you know what you’re going to get. Some decks are better than others, but sticking to your own preferences (your colour identity) has provided reliable guidance when faced with the unknown. Today, though, I need you to do something rather radical, but it’s important to find your right match:
Forget what you know.
What if I told you that the red Commander deck was a deck that tried to be everybody’s buddy at the table, happily giving away permanent after permanent in order to attain extra cards and lifegain? Is that the red you know? Or if the black deck focused on creating token creatures? How is that black? Doesn’t that sound rather suspiciously like green? No preconcieved notion is spared: blue likes the fatties, white trades advantage later for immediate gain now, and green worries about your graveyard.
If you haven’t found yourself hopelessly confused yet, no, we haven’t entered “Bizzarro World,” and this isn’t another silver-bordered Un-set. Forget what you know about the colors because they’re an unreliable guide here. Instead, we’ll want to focus on the deck’s actual personality, strategy, and tactics to find that one most aligned with your playstyle. So grab a sheet of paper and a sharpened #2, and let’s dive right in!
Colours: White, Red, Black
Commanders: Kaalia of the Vast lets you cheat an Angel, Demon, and Dragon into play every time she swings. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls instead goes fishing in any graveyard to pull you out a random creature. Oros, the Avenger detonates a Spontaneous Combustion-size effect with every successful attack on a player.
Strategy: Get Kaalia out as fast as you can and hope your hand is filled with ridiculously powerful nasties like Akroma, Angel of Fury, Reiver Demon, or the new Mana-Charged Dragon. Nothing subtle here; just a massive wrecking ball that can demolish an unprepared enemy in just a few hits with a good hand.
Personality: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.” – C. T. Barbarian
Players who choose this deck might enjoy a career in: Demolitions, Navy SEALs
Colours: Blue, Red, Green
Commanders: Riku of Two Reflections lets you double any creature, instant, or sorcery for only two mana more. Animar, Soul of Elements gets bigger with every creature you cast, and makes casting other creatures cheaper. Intet, the Dreamer gives you a free card off the top of your library.
Strategy: Whenever feasible, hold off on any major investments until you’ve had a chance to consult with Riku. For a little more capital up front, he can provide an amazing return on investment as you double almost everything you cast. Twin [card Magmatic Force]Magmatic Forces[/card]? A doubled-up Hunting Pack? All this and more can be yours if the price is right.
Personality: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” – G. Gekko
Players who choose this deck might enjoy a career in: Capital management, investment banking
Colours: Black, Green, White
Commanders: Ghave, Guru of Spores enters play with +1/+1 counters and lets you convert creatures to +1/+1 counters and vice versa. Karador, Ghost Chieftain is cheaper the more full your graveyard is, then lets you cast creatures from your graveyard itself. Teneb, the Harvester gives you a Rise from the Grave on impact.
Strategy: Play a bunch of token creatures, then use those tokens to fuel up sacrifice effects like Attrition, Skullclamp, and Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter to take control of the board. There are a lot of moving parts and combo effects here, so it can be a little tricky to get every string tuned just right. If you’re up to the challenge, you can keep your enemies on virtual house arrest.
Personality: “Tactics flow from a superior position.” – B. Fisher
Players who choose this deck might enjoy a career in: Weapons engineering, symphony conductor
Colours: Red, White, Blue
Commanders: Zedruu the Greathearted donates permanents to your opponents, then lets you reap life and cards for your generosity. (Who says virtue has to be its own reward?) Ruhan of the Fomori is a 7/7 for four mana who attacks a random opponent each turn, giving you superior firepower and plausible deniability all in one! Numot, the Devastator throws subtlety to the winds and just blasts your enemies’ lands.
Strategy: This deck is as reliant on your people skills as it is on any card out of the deck. To get the most from Political Puppets, you’ll need to charm and wheedle your way to a point of indispensability, helped all the while by generous gifts and grants you rain on your allies and withhold from your enemies. Use subtle defensive tactics to dissuade aggressors from going after you, and be the power behind the throne as you use players to smash each other. Once other players have outlived their usefulness, stage a coup of your own and claim victory.
Personality: “Politics is the art of the possible.” – O. V. Bismarck
Players who choose this deck might enjoy a career in: Politics (duh), law, lobbying
Colours: Green, Blue, Black
Commanders: The Mimeoplasm is the ultimate morphling, never appearing on the battlefield the same way twice. Damia, Sage of Stone is a card-drawing engine of extraordinary power. Vorosh, the Hunter becomes overwhelmingly massive after just a few hits, growing each time he connects with an enemy.
Strategy: Fill everyone’s graveyards with milling and other effects, then sample the choicest bits from each through graveyard recursion. Their owners may have callously thrown these cards away, but you know that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! The Mimeoplasm, and the deck itself, work better the more stocked this ghoulish pantry is, so use effects like Syphon Mind, Syphon Flesh, and Shared Trauma to put plenty on the menu. After all, every card deserves a second chance!
Personality: “I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.” – M. Theresa
Players who choose this deck might enjoy a career in: Environmental sustainability, recycling, salvage
As you’ve seen, each deck is filled with themes and strategies that are very separate and distinct from one another. Hopefully now you’ll be able to make a more informed choice as to which Commander offering is right for you, and avoid the awkward discomfort that comes from a poorly-matched pairing. If you’ve been waiting until now to make the call, go forward and buy with confidence- these decks (and the format as a whole) are tremendously fun, and are easily the best multiplayer release to date.
Oh, and once you’re ready to break ground on your own deck or modify one of these, we’ve got plenty of Commander offerings here on Quiet Speculation! Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear which deck you’ve enjoyed the most, and what spoke to you about it. Let us know in the comments below.