Weapon of Choice: First Timid Steps

I’ve never met a bandwagon I didn’t like jumping on. With Magic Origins looming on the horizon, I’m sure the next month’s worth of Magic articles are going to be oozing nostalgia from every pore. Weapon of Choice will be no exception.

I have already covered my start of darkness over the course of my first few articles – so today’s column will not be about me. Instead it will be about my friends, in their own words… Or their words roughly paraphrased and edited to flow within the context of the article. I will present their first Commander deck as it exists today, along with their story of how they found the format and why they built what they did.

Just as Commander is a format of incredibly diverse decks, it is also a format of incredibly diverse players. The trio I have selected today are three very distinct personalities and will give you a wonderful cross-section of the variety that can be found in Commander’s player base.

Steve L – Angels, Demons, and Dragons – Oh My!

1 Kaalia of the Vast
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Command Tower
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Fetid Heath
1 Godless Shrine
1 Graven Cairns
1 High Market
1 Homeward Path
1 Isolated Chapel
3 Mountain
1 Phyrexian Tower
6 Plains
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rugged Prairie
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Scrubland
1 Slayers’ Stronghold
3 Swamp
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of Malice
1 Temple of Silence
1 Temple of the False God
1 Temple of Triumph
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Akroma’s Vengeance
1 Boros Charm
1 Boros Signet
1 Chaos Warp
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Day of Judgment
1 Debtors’ Knell
1 Dolmen Gate
1 Faith’s Reward
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Liliana Vess
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Mortify
1 Necropotence
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Path to Exile
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Return to Dust
1 Sol Ring
1 Spirit Mantle
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Unburial Rites
1 Unquestioned Authority
1 Utter End
1 Waves of Aggression
1 Wrath of God
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Angel of Despair
1 Aurelia, the Warleader
1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Bloodgift Demon
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
1 Hellkite Charger
1 Hellkite Tyrant
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Karmic Guide
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Lord of the Void
1 Master of Cruelties
1 Mother of Runes
1 Overseer of the Damned
1 Rakdos the Defiler
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Scourge of Kher Ridges
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Yosei, the Morning Star

Steve’s Story – Channeling Timmy

I started playing Magic around Dark Ascension. Like most people, I started with Standard. Once I had a taste for Magic, I wanted to see what else was out there. One of my friends recommended Commander since I was a new player and it was a pretty easy-going format.

Even though I was new, I had picked up pretty quick that jamming your deck full of huge angels and dragons was a good way to lose games of Standard. So, as I had continued to play, I had built up a pretty thick stack of big angels, demons, and dragons courtesy of Innistrad block.

Originally, I stacked them all together under [card]Oros, the Avenger[/card] with some other cards that appealed to me. I discovered pretty quick that this route was less-than-optimal. I switched over to Kaalia after a few games and some serious tweaking.

As a newer player I really liked Kaalia. She was super focused and gave me a really straightforward game plan that I could improve on as I grew as a player. Plus, it was really nice that the core of the deck could be made of $1 rares.

Maybe my favourite part of the deck is the fact that it keeps me from being jaded. Whenever a new set comes out, I can spend time being excited about all of the sweet new dragons, demons, and angels and not just about what is going to become a new competitive staple.

Dan H – Allies

1 Karona, False God
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Blood Crypt
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Command Tower
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Forest
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Homeward Path
1 Island
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Lavaclaw Reaches
1 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Raging Ravine
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Steam Vents
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
1 Temple of the False God
1 Watery Grave
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Awakening Zone
1 Banishing Stroke
1 Beacon of Unrest
1 Beast Within
1 Cloudstone Curio
1 Coalition Relic
1 Conflux
1 Conspiracy
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Detention Sphere
1 Diabolic Revelation
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Ghostway
1 Increasing Ambition
1 Liliana Vess
1 Obelisk of Urd
1 Obzedat’s Aid
1 Overwhelming Stampede
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Profane Command
1 Rite of Replication
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Sudden Disappearance
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Tempt with Discovery
1 Terminate
1 Unmake
1 Urza’s Incubator
1 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Xenograft
1 Zombify
1 Agadeem Occultist
1 Akoum Battlesinger
1 Charnelhoard Wurm
1 Galepowder Mage
1 Graypelt Hunter
1 Hada Freeblade
1 Hagra Diabolist
1 Harabaz Druid
1 Jwari Shapeshifter
1 Kabira Evangel
1 Kazandu Blademaster
1 Kazuul Warlord
1 Mercurial Pretender
1 Mistmeadow Witch
1 Murasa Pyromancer
1 Nimana Sell-Sword
1 Ondu Cleric
1 Oran-Rief Survivalist
1 Progenitor Mimic
1 Sea Gate Loremaster
1 Seascape Aerialist
1 Tajuru Archer
1 Talus Paladin
1 Tuktuk Grunts
1 Tuktuk Scrapper
1 Turntimber Ranger
1 Umara Raptor
1 Vastwood Animist

Dan H’s Story – Variety is the Spice of Life

Honestly, I can’t remember much about my motivations for getting into Commander. I know that Jackson introduced me to the format, and it’s likely that he was the one to convince me to actually give it a shot (JM: yup, I sure was).

At that point, I had already been growing bored of the way 60-card constructed played. Decks that aim to do the same thing game after game hold very little appeal to me. I like the idea of playing a different game of Magic every time I sit down to play. That’s what makes memories for me.

If I have built a Commander deck right, it will play a little bit differently every time I use it. Building decks that are really tons of little decks combined is one of the things that really hooked me into Commander. Not all of my decks end up being so deep, but the ones I have the most fun with are the ones that are hard to predict.

No one remembers the games that went exactly as planned and Commander has not left me wanting for memories – which is probably why I keep coming back to it.

Andrew D – Prossh Week

1 Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Command Tower
1 Darigaaz’s Caldera
1 Dust Bowl
4 Forest
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Hammerheim
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Maze of Ith
3 Mountain
1 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Raging Ravine
1 Savage Lands
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Stomping Ground
3 Swamp
1 Taiga
1 Twilight Mire
1 Urborg
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Artifact Mutation
1 Ashnod’s Altar
1 Awakening Zone
1 Beastmaster Ascension
1 Crux of Fate
1 Descent of the Dragons
1 Diabolic Intent
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 Domri Rade
1 Doubling Season
1 Dragon Throne of Tarkir
1 Dreadbore
1 Farseek
1 Food Chain
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Grave Pact
1 Hull Breach
1 Impact Tremors
1 Krosan Grip
1 Mirri’s Guile
1 Momentous Fall
1 Outpost Siege
1 Parallel Lives
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Shamanic Revelation
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Spoils of Victory
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Vicious Shadows
1 Vraska the Unseen
1 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Blood Artist
1 Boltwing Marauder
1 Burnished Hart
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Deathbringer Thoctar
1 Deranged Hermit
1 Eternal Witness
1 Feldon of the Third Path
1 Ghoulcaller Gisa
1 Grave Titan
1 Hornet Queen
1 It That Betrays
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Mycoloth
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Overseer of the Damned
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Sadistic Hypnotist
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Shaman of Forgotten Ways
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Viscera Seer

Andrew’s Story – New Beginnings

I took a long time off from Magic. When I came back to the game, it was mostly as a way to reconnect with estranged friends using a common interest. I knew I didn’t want to commit to Standard and I couldn’t rely on LGS drafts to line up with my schedule or those of my friends. I heard good things about this “Commander” format – and Wizards was kind enough to make pre-constructed decks – so I picked up two with the intention of grinding some casual games.

It turns out, I’m not a big fan of 1 v 1 Commander.

At this point, I didn’t have a sizable playgroup, so the decks collected dust in a drawer. I sold one off for what I paid for it, but kept the other one – just in case.

Eventually, a playgroup formed around me as I successfully began to reconnect with people. Finally, I found the players that would let me enjoy the format the way I wanted to – casually, without pretension, and with a group of friends.

Anyways, I dusted off my leftover precon and began to craft a deck. I knew I wanted Prossh to be my Commander, and since I had the pre-made deck built to support him, I figured I could make a couple of alterations and be good to go.

Boy, was I wrong. Of the original 100, 12 cards remain: 10 basic lands, Prossh, and [card]Deathbringer Thoctar[/card].

I thought that building my deck would take an afternoon. It took two weeks. You see, I completely misunderstood the depth and complexity of the format. It helped having friends more experienced in the format to talk to. Without guidance, I never would have realized the importance of things like sweepers, spot removal, and hate cards.

All I knew when I started was that I wanted my Prossh deck to be explosive, synergistic, and fun.

Fun is, of course, subjective. But I liked the idea of making loads of tokens, sacrificing loads of tokens, and attacking with big dragons – so I was definitely in the right wheelhouse.

I have a Modern Merfolk deck that I have been tweaking and play for 2 years. It is basically my favourite deck. Prossh has yet to break the 12 game mark, yet I feel as comfortable with the big dragon as I do with the fish.

Maybe I got lucky and ended up with a Commander that really suits me, or maybe there is something to having a deck that is entirely your own original creation.

Go Forth and Conquer

However you pick up the format, it is really easy to become a Commander convert. Whether it is an outlet for the cards you want to play but can’t win tournaments with, the chance for you to play Magic the way you want, or a great excuse to hang out with a bunch of people you enjoy – the format has a little something for everyone.

The reason I write these columns is because I have had such a great time playing Commander. I want to share my joy of the format with as many people as I can. The more players there are out there, the better we are for it.

I can only hope that one day Weapon of Choice will feature in at least one aspiring Commander’s origin story.