Attention Magic fans! Musical artist and fellow Magic aficionado Post Malone is engaging with the MTG community in a big way. You have a chance to play him and win $100,000. Besides being a huge publicity stunt for the Whatnot app, this is a chance to throw down in a contest of the ages for ultimate bragging rights. Let's talk strategy and winning that huge cash prize!
Which Deck Would You Play?
It depends. The rules are a little unclear. In a couple of articles it mentions a "match" and in others a "game." However, I would not play a four- or five-color deck for the plain fact that mana can be an issue. Everyone has lost to mana screw before, and there's no way I'd risk it here. Two or three colors is a lot safer. While I currently have a deck of each single color, they are just too limited in card selection.
First, Some Ground Rules
This is the part where details are a bit sketchy, but it looks like you're playing one game or potentially one match of 1v1 Commander for all the marbles. There's also this gem from the Official Rules: "Post Malone determines in his discretion that the Winner has won the Game." This is, in fact, the best super power.
With the data we have at hand, our next-best resources are EDREC for the saltiest cards and the French or Duel Commander banned list. These are some of the most powerful, impactful, and unfair cards available. When you bring a deck full of these cards to a 1v1, you are at a huge advantage versus an opponent that does not fight fire with fire.
The overall strategy should be total game control through either raw Counterspell power or hard stax prison elements. Which are the best commanders for that?
Winning at the Commander Selection Screen
These are the only three commanders I would consider, for several reasons. Both Edric, Spymaster of Trest and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician are banned in Duel Commander and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is commonly considered to be oppressive. In many ways, they are all sort of the same card. Derevi allows you to play all three, which is a nice bonus for three colors.
I feel like my version of Edric could steal a game, but in a series, with any kind of swapping decks or alterations, it's the frailest. Meanwhile, both Derevi and Augustin would be more solid on average over a series, but be a lot less explosive in any given single game.
So we are potentially Azorious, Simic, or Bant. Here's why.
Blue Opens Up Free Counters
You have to play blue. Permission is the universal answer to nearly everything in Magic, and your opponent has an unlimited budget, so they could be playing anything. The only way to have an answer for everything and anything is to play blue, and with it free counterspells and the best two-mana counterspell in Mana Drain.
White Offers Removal and Control
Obviously, white has the most efficient removal in the game with Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. It also has low-cost stax effects like Drannith Magistrate and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. As a bonus, if you add blue, you get access to uncounterable spells like Supreme Verdict and Dovin's Veto, which is very important considering I assume my opponent will also play blue.
Green Means Ramp and Hate
Green has the best ramp for only one mana. Is that alone enough to legitimize playing it, though? How about some powerful, blue-centric hate on top of that? If I put my opponent on blue, there are very powerful cards green specifically brings to this matchup, and I want to play them.
Sorry, Rakdos Players!
Red and black? I just would not risk 100K on Lightning Bolt and Demonic Tutor, even if they are excellent cards. Some cards that are normally powerful like Dockside Extortionist, Jeska's Will, and Blasphemous Act are all much less effective when used in a 1v1. Furthermore, black brings the obvious to the table: a boatload of tutor effects, which is normally a good thing. But here, there's a problem.
Just Counter It
Regularly I counter a tutor instead of what was tutored up. This is contrary to normal Magic logic, and has tilted many players I've played. This is the right move in many cases in multiplayer, but not always. In a 1v1? It's correct every single time. The following cards, and cards like them, are why.
Countering lands is exceedingly difficult, and there are more than a few that can ruin your day. Either version of Boseiju can prove a massive headache in many scenarios. Cavern of Souls obviously gives your opponent uncounterable creatures for the rest of the game. Strip Mine can ruin your mana base and, if you have two lands up for a counter, they can kill one and then safely make their play.
Next, there are plenty of uncounterable spells, some of which we spoke about already. Allosaurus Shepherd turns every counter in your hand into a brick for the rest of the game. Talk about game-winning.
What about cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Emrakul, the Promised End that heavily impact the gamestate even when they do get countered? There are more than a few "when cast" cards that do not care about resolving.
Allowing an opponent to dig through their deck is a demonstrably bad idea. Keep this in mind and don't let them do it!
There's Jail, and There's Super Jail
We've talked a lot about how to control the game and not let our opponent get an early start by leaning into a controlling archetype. This begs the question of how we are going to close out the game. It's as simple as letting the other player quit. For $100,000, I'm not taking any chances. I am stacking the sandbags high until my arms fall off. The best part about these commanders, though, is that we have the potential to both pile on various stax effects and slowly win at the same time with creatures.
Ding Dong, Your Ability to Play Magic Is Gone
It's extremely hard to play Magic without mana. All of these cards do a very good job of removing mana from the equation. We are essentially countering or removing everything for the first few turns, and then attacking the mana base as of turn four. Finally, no matter which commander we pick, we are aided by untap effects, card draw, or cost reduction so we can always keep ahead of the curve.
Once the Lands Are Locked Down, the Wincon Emerges
Winning in twenty turns is still a win. I see no point in taking a risk, so any creature will do. Hatebears with stax effects will be more than adequate to take the win as a side effect of controlling the game. Simple and effective, "bears" have been finishing games since '93.
Good Luck Out There!
Even assuming that the number of people following Mr. Post on Whatnot doubles in the next day before selection, each person would have a 1 in 20,000 chance to get invited. This is a lot more probable than winning the lottery. If you were lucky enough to be picked, what deck would you bring versus Post Malone? Let me know in the comments.