Greetings Magic fans, and welcome to the follow-up piece to My New 32, a list of Commander decks I am currently building, testing, and optimizing. As explained last week, the idea to build around each color identity sprang from a desire to create decks that were functionally unique, rather than ones that recycle the same core of staples in a given color, to yield a collection of decks that are truly different from one another and offer distinct play experiences.
Previously, we went over one-, four-, and five-color options. Today, we'll cover two- and three-color decks. Piles based on the shards and wedges of Magic are by far the most common choice in Commander. The land base of two- and three-color decks is easier to assemble now than ever before, and there are plenty of good budget choices in that regard.
Without further ado, I present the rest of my 32.
When I sort collections, I passively pull cards for decks. I have been building a small stack for Tivit for quite some time now, and it is almost complete. I look forward to casting cards like Split Decision and Expropriate while playing thematic cards like Telepathy. When the flavor text of the card matches the deck, you know you are doing it right! Tivit looks powerful, thematic and hopefully the added interaction of voting will make it fun too.
Step one, cast huge Grixis spells. Step two, Zevlor. Step three, profit! I won't care if I ultimately lose the game so long as I get to copy some huge spells like Cruel Ultimatum, Bribery, or Jeska's Will. It's mean to single out an opponent so Zevlor makes it completely fair, right?
This is an oldie but goodie and pure meta call. There are a large number of Dragon decks at one of my local venues. On top of that, there are a lot of decks that utilize changeling. Karthus will give me a powerful Insurrection effect in my back pocket to solve crazy Dragon-based board states. As it's likely just a "Jund good stuff" deck, I'm more interested in the effect of my deck on the meta than how the deck plays.
Can you smell what Roco is cooking? This will be another art-based build restriction. Everything in this deck must feature artwork of food, cooking, kitchen or otherwise culinary things. I don't think this will be an impossible artwork-based deck and I am hoping to stumble into something spicy. Building these types of decks is all about the journey and not so much the destination.
This deck could be something special. Like many others, I saw Falco and thought about the possibilities. One obvious approach is proliferate, but I wanted something a little different.
There are a large number of enchantments like Helix Pinnacle that can get a pile of counters easily. If I can turn them into creatures, I could play my entire deck quickly. Thus, I have built an Enchantress-style deck with just a few creatures but a ton of enchantments, Opalescence, and Starfield of Nyx. It's something I have not seen anyone else try and I'm pumped to test it out.
I opened four copies of this card in one Baldur's Gate box. Guess I should build it, right? Myrkul is a bit all over the place but I am going to explore the enchantment aspect. Maybe I can make a Mulch reanimator deck that leverages constellation effects to great ends. Highly experimental deck incoming!
Jeska is a really powerful planeswalker that makes a strong commander. Ishai? A bit weak for four mana. However, with Jeska's triple damage effect, you don't need much to delete one opponent per combat step. Overall, this deck will have a lot of control and protection effects to guarantee Ishai stays around. In grand total, you only need six enemy spells to make Ishai a potential one-shot.
First and foremost, this is a Ukkima deck; Cazur is a backup wincon at best, but it opens up green. My concept is to buff up Ukkima with various enters the battlefield and copy effects like Elegant Entourage or Bramble Sovereign and use various blink effects like Teferi's Time Twist and Displacer Kitten to flicker Ukkima for damage.
The first time I saw this guy in a game of Brawl on MTG: Arena, I was floored. Your commander is a SORCERY?! What kind of chicanery is this? There's all sorts of fun stuff to be done with Extus, and I intend to do it all!
My favorite part about this card is that it single-handedly solves what I call the "one-third" problem. If you get too many creatures and tokens, you can use Extus as a sorcery. If you have a hand full of spells, you can get extra value from the creature side. A very solid and unique card.
My degenerate Wanderer deck is coming out of semi-retirement. There have been many new cards printed that legitimize the concept such as Magma Opus and great new lands with abilities to interact with the table like Boseiju, Who Endures. After I steal a couple of games, I'll re-retire the deck for a while before pulling it out again.
It Takes Two
Thankfully, Chun-Li, Countless Kicks is already starting to come down in price, and I'm hoping to snag one for $10 or less because this is the next Azorious deck I will work on. The plan: re-casting a pile of cantrips and cheap removal spells over and over again until the deck goes off with copies of Dramatic Reversal, High Tide, and Turnabout, generating insane levels of mana to win in a variety of ways.
The boat deck returns, evolves, and continues to optimize with a much better commander and new Pirate Horror sub-themes. While I have had this deck on ice to limit its power, the constant printing of new boat-based cards has worn away at my self control. Mill, reanimation, and surprisingly a lot of counterspells are all included, on-theme for the deck and color combination.
This card looks so spicy and no one in any of my play groups has ever brought it to a game, so I'm definitely going to be the one. The concept builds itself: a bunch of Warp World-style effects and hopefully a lot of bad blood around the table.
My very first Magic deck was RG beatdown with cards like Kird Ape, Lightning Bolt, and Giant Growth, so Gruul has always been near and dear to my heart. I really enjoyed the Chishiro, the Shattered Blade pre-con and I'm going to work on bringing it up a level. My guiding principle here will be nostalgia and a throwback to many of Gruul's stompiest cards throughout Magic's history, such as Bloodlust Inciter, Berserk, and Rancor.
One day, I will have built a deck for each Elder Dragon. While I have played all of the originals, I have played none of the modern ones, and am going to try a couple. I've drafted and played Dragonlord Dromoka numerous times on Magic Online and it has proven its power. It will definitely be a more controlling, hatebears-style deck with plenty of stax elements.
The diplomatic angle of giving your opponents creatures, +1/+1 counters, or cards is something I want to exploit, and it's really cool to have that kind of effect on an Elder Dragon. Part diplomacy, part double-striking monster, Shadrix offers a lot of replayability and many build options.
I've always loved Dark Ritual and the ability to turn Reckless Charge into a ritual effect with Vadrik looks awesome. The plan is to combo several cards together to create huge turns; think Past in Flames, Galvanic Iteration, and Geist Blast.
Originally I was going to build a theme deck using Baba but this card is too interesting not to explore. The value from interaction with cards that have two or more types is palpable. I look forward to bringing a pile of cards to game night and seeing what the table thinks of my take on "baked lasagna."
This is a tough color combination to design. Boros is a very aggressive deck that loves to completely overkill one player and then, typically, lose. It sort of turns into a non-game for the table. For that reason, I'm going to try something different.
Hofri Ghostforge will let me build a primarily red Spirit tribal deck which I intend to use to match the power of the Millicent, Restless Revenant that I play against at home. Maybe with a broader token-based strategy it will be able to hold its own in a multiplayer game.
Volo is one of two different decks I'm testing for use with Spy Kit. It's a convoluted idea, especially since it will have many weird and different creatures from throughout Magic's history. While it will probably end up as more of a pile of cards than a deck, I'm hoping Volo can give it a more powerful angle of attack.
That's a Whole Lot of Decks...
It sure is! I look forward to the next several months of collecting, trading, building and playtesting. I hope you found my process interesting or insightful. For me a lot of the value of the Commander format comes from the creative process of deck building. The rest of the value? The games themselves, of course! I look forward to sharing the unique highlights and lowlights of my games and the ongoing evolution of each deck.
How do you approach Commander construction? Does it involve going to EDREC? And before or after making a decision? I'd love to hear the details. Let me know in the comments what new decks you are working on. Until next time, happy building!