Hey folks! I’m back for yet another Commander article, and this time, we’ll be revisiting a topic I’ve talked about before. Back when we started this article series a scant couple of months ago, we built an Odric, Master Tactician deck. I promised that this wouldn’t just be a fire-and-forget type of exercise—and then, of course, I didn’t talk about it for a few weeks. Here we are now, quite a while later, and it’s time to go back to our initial topic.
Due to some “technical difficulties,” the list I put together and the list I posted are a little different from one another. When I say, “technical difficulties,” I mean, “my inability to find all of the cards I wrote down on the decklist in the first article.” So here’s what I’ve actually been working with:
Commander: Odric, Master Tactician
Angel of Jubilation
Captain of the Watch
Crovax, Ascendant Hero
Darien, King of Kjeldor
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Hero of Bladehold
Knight-Captain of Eos
Mentor of the Meek
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Decree of Justice
Entreat the Angels
Cards in italics are cards not in the original decklist.
So, the only mono-colored deck I’ve ever played in Commander before this one was a broken Arcum Dagsson deck that I exclusively played against my friend Jeff’s (also broken) Azami, Lady of Scrolls deck. I would bring it out at other tables occasionally if people were playing crazy stuff, or if one person was just embezzling the fun. (I would kill them and then chill out and move into fun mode.) I didn’t realize, therefore, the unique challenges that mono-colored decks face in Commander. After about 10 games with this deck, including a few games with my friend Ryan, who I mentioned last week, and my fiancée Emily, I discovered a few issues that I’ll have to address. I’ll also mention some bad cards in the deck and potential replacements for them. So what are the large-scale problems?
All of these cards plus Odric come out to 99 cards, not 100.
Well, crap. That’s a huge problem right there. I think I know one way to solve it:
There, that feels better. I can’t believe I had it so wrong. Time to hang me from the gallows, etc.
Protection from Eric
When you play a mono-colored deck, sometimes you run into cards with Protection From You. In one game, Ryan had a Sword of War and Peace and Emily had a Sword of Light and Shadow. Needless to say, I did not win this game. Okay, so that’s an issue. Mostly it’s an issue with some very popular and prevalent equipment cards—I can’t think of another card off the top of my head with pro-white that comes up in Commander a lot. The upshot here is that we’ll need to blow up artifacts and enchantments. Great! White can do that! Let’s see how much ammunition we gave ourselves initially to do that with:
Crap. This is not exactly the stellar roster of disenchant effects we should have. We’re going to need more. A lot more. Hopefully effects that generate two-for-ones for us or come attached to a creature or pile of creatures. My Ghave deck gets things like Seed Spark and Aura Shards, but we don’t have access to those objects, so we’ll have to find ways to work around that.
Go Big Or Go Home
This deck is about generating a pile of tokens or little creatures and then manipulating the game state to our advantage through combat. (Not manipulating game materials! Ha ha! A little judge humor there.) The deck is not, at this time, very good at that. It can do it once or maybe twice, but I think we need to be able to create a massive and terrifying board state three times over the course of the game to win. We’ve got some spells that go big, but we’ll need more of them.
Decrement the Increments
So before you get on my case for talking about different kinds of cement, let me clarify. We want to go big, as we’ve just said. That means that cards that simply generate incremental advantage for us are not very good. We’ve got to get those cards out of here. We’re not a control deck, and that kind of strategy won’t get us very far.
Insert Rob Zombie Song Title Here (Alternate Title: Upon Review, There Are Too Many Parentheses In This Paragraph (and the alternate title being in parentheses (and having parentheses in it) isn’t helping)))
Dragula? Is that right? That’s a song, I think. Regardless, my point is that we have exactly one graveyard hate card, which is sort of an issue. (Go get ‘em, Jötun Grunt!) One of my judge friends (can’t remember who, sorry somebody) has a deck that basically exists to remind people that they need graveyard hate. (I have the same deck. I call it “The Mimeoplasm.”)
We also have some bad cards. Let’s talk about those:
Mimic Vat – Not sure about this one. When Emily saw it in my deck, she said “What’s this one for?” I couldn’t provide a good answer, so I think it has to go, at least until I have a real reason to play it. It was a last-minute replacement, so it was just a good card I had in my grasp when I was building the deck.
Strata Scythe – This deck is not about One Big Creature. This deck is about Lots Of Creatures Murdering Your Face While Odric Unlocks The Gate To Your House And Takes All Your Stuff. Mercilessly. Strata Scythe doesn’t seem super-helpful with that.
Benalish Commander – An incremental advantage card. Not really for us.
Gustcloak Savior – I wondered last time whether or not this card would be the good kind of redundant or the bad kind. Turns out it’s just the bad kind.
Endless Horizons – You need mana to go big. Even if you just grab 10 Plains out of your deck, when it gets blown up (not if, but when), you’ll be a sad robot.
Faith’s Reward – Even when wraths were being cast I didn’t care about this because I make lots of tokens using instants and sorceries. Get this outta here!
Elspeth, Knight-Errant – This is an incremental advantage card, not a “go big” enabler, so it’s not what we want.
Stormfront Riders – This is at its best in an incremental advantage scenario, and since we don’t have lots of creatures with ETB effects, this seems rather poor. You’ll usually just turn tokens into tokens or something horrid like that.
Okay, so that’s nine cards shaved from our list. What do we want to add?
Return to Dust – I will dig through my collection as I sort it to find one of these, and when I do, I will slot it into a sleeve for Odric to enjoy. We’ve just got to get those Swords out of here, and Return to Dust sends them off into exile, never to return. Wonderful!
Alliance of Arms – We all join forces and make tokens. Cool! My tokens are generally going to do more for me than yours will for you, since I get to decide how combat works. This seems like a friendly happy time Commander card that I would usually hate, but I think we can break the symmetry on this one.
Dreamstone Hedron – Lets us go big in the late game or draw three cards when we’re done going big. I think this card and I are going to be friends.
Extraplanar Lens – We want to cast huge X-spells, and this is a good way to do it. This might mean I should switch to Snow-Covered Plains. Maybe I should just give all my Plains a cool name. Yep. From this day forward, all of my Plains are named… um… Douglas. Yeah. That’s cool and rad.
Ray of Distortion – Flashback is an attractive trait since we can get two-for-one in increments. It’s expensive, but hopefully we’ll have the mana.
Twilight Drover – We have a lot of creature tokens, and since they die sometimes, this guy should be kept around to bring them back in double force. (In double force? That’s not an expression!)
Shrine of Loyal Legions – Whenever we cast a white spell this grows, and in the end, we can get a pile of Myr. They may not be Soldiers, but it should really help us reload.
Myr Battlesphere – Run ‘em over, Prince of All Cosmos! Na na na na na na na na na na Odricmari Damacy!
Other cards I am considering but not adding yet:
Aura of Silence – A great way to deter people from playing artifacts and enchantments. Also a great way to get people to attack you! Oof.
Banishing Stroke – We can cast this normally or miracle it, and it won’t even send the opponent’s card to the graveyard. Costs a lot, though.
Orochi Hatchery – This card sticks out a little bit since it makes green Snakes, but it does let us make a pile of Snakes every turn, so it’s certainly worth considering.
Battle Screech – This card can give us four tokens from one card. Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself, and you can usually flash it back the turn you cast it.
Intangible Virtue – The +1/+1 is fine, but the vigilance seals the deal. Odric helps sneak us through and we’re still back to block. Awesome. Well, almost awesome enough. I don’t think it’s quite there yet.
Okay, so that’s what I’m looking at changing. What do you think I’ve missed? Is tokens the right direction to take Odric, or should we look more at a midrange creatures + equipment = happytime strategy? Or should we play control for some reason with Odric as our commander? Should we take it in a bit of a different direction? (Turn to page 146.) Let me know in the comments.
I’d love to talk more about Odric soon, but I’ll need to play some games with the fixed version. I’m not yet sure what my topic for next week is, but if you need someone to play deck doctor or if you have a cool idea, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me via @RagingLevine.
Join me next time when I examine Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and discuss how that relates to … wait, no, that might actually be interesting. Join me next time when I accidentally insult your playstyle and… oops, wait, that already happened. Join me next time when something that won’t happen happens! Sure. Okay. Great. Bye.