Hey folks! We’re back again with another episode of Commander Complaining… I mean, my column. I’m digging into the mailbag a little bit for this one, and I’ll be talking about some decklists I’ve received. This is good, because I’m judging two 1Ks this weekend and didn’t have time to brew my own lists for you fine folks. Hooray for friends! Remember, if you’ve got a deck you want featured in the column, email me at email@example.com. I’m quite likely to talk about it because, well, mailbag stuff is fun!
We spent a lot of time last week discussing Pauper Commander, a format I really enjoy and wish I got to play more of. I solicited decklists to feature, and I’m happy to say I got a sweet one! This beauty of a list comes from my friend Joe Mathes in California. I think Joe’s created a beautiful monster, but I’ll let him talk about it:
“General: Nezumi Graverobber (bonus legendariness when flipped)
The deck spends all its time getting cards into and out of graveyards. It has cycling and Duress effects to create early one-card graveyards, all the reasonable mill effects, lots of discard, and some land destruction to keep the Ulamog’s Crushers in their hand until discard time (sinkhole was a common!). And, of course, lots of creatures that do cool things when they enter or exit the battlefield. And madness, because a bunch of those creatures force self-discard as well.
Almost every card does double duty. Least obvious of the double-duties are the non-[card stinkweed imp]stinkweed-imp[/card] deathtouch-y guys, which are great at filling up graveyards and enabling okiba-gang shinobi (which you can fetch with brainspoil, but that sorta ruins the surprise). In particular, all the land destruction spells also do something else relevant (so no sinkhole).”
This deck is a Grim Reminder that we need to run graveyard hate even in Pauper! Joe even acknowledges this with his inclusion of Relic of Progenitus and Nihil Spellbomb. I’m not totally sold on the Relic in this deck, as it seems like popping it sets us back very, very far.
I love Gorgon Recluse in the list. Being able to KO a fattie like Ulamog’s Crusher is desirable, and in a grindy deck like this, we’ll probably get into attrition wars in the late game where we’ll be happy to trade up. Being able to play it at instant speed with madness doesn’t hurt either. Psychotic Haze wouldn’t be the worst against decks with lots of Saprolings or Goblin tokens, and it would probably do quite a number on my Goblin Recruiter deck, for example.
I wouldn’t say I’m super-jazzed about the land destruction here. I don’t think that cards like Desecrated Earth are doing what we want them to do, although Destroy the Evidence plays reasonably well. I’d also be pretty sad about casting Horrifying Revelation, just in general. I see that sometimes we’ll be getting a 2-for-1, but I’m not convinced Horrifying Revelation is worth a card even with that possibility taken into account.
This list does a lot right, though. I’d go as far as to play Footbottom Feast alongside Bone Harvest (and obviously I think we should be playing Footbottom Feast before we play Bone Harvest), but other than that I think I’m out of nitpicks.
The creatures are fantastic, and I love that there’s a Rat subtheme, no matter how incidental it is. Of course, I also love all the transmutations available. It’s a shame Fleshwrither is an uncommon—or is it? That could be an AWESOME commander. Looks like I’ve got some brewing to do.
This next submission isn’t a Pauper deck, so get your mind back in rare-related gear. This one comes from another Californian, Paul Humann, who appropriately wants help with his Human-themed Kaalia deck.
The Human subtheme seems a little out of place in this deck, and indeed, the issue that it’s a subtheme at all seems like an issue to me, since Paul wants it to be the main theme!
Paul, I think that, if what you want is to be very Human(n)-y, the best thing to do is to switch Commanders.
There are two ways to do this, in my opinion:
1) Switch to another RWB commander, or
2) Switch to a different commander—I’d recommend Naya.
Let’s explore option 1 first.
Does Tariel itself do much for our Human-centric theme? Not really, but it allows us access to the colors we seem to want. A lot of the cards in the deck are already pretty good at this, but we’ve fallen victim to a problem lots of players have, and one that I’ve encountered time and time again:
Spells are freaking awesome.
No, seriously, they are. Creatures, by contrast, are often pretty terrible. It doesn’t take much for them to all be gone. Why should I bother playing little things when I can just blast your stuff and win eventually somehow?
This is the kind of thinking that leads to theme decks turning into good-stuff decks like this one. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this deck in the abstract. It just doesn’t accomplish the theme, as Paul points out himself. Let’s see what we can do with this. What can we add here?
If we’re looking for cards that scale well in multiplayer, Agent of Masks is a great pick. The effect is small enough that it won’t make you a target too quickly, but if there’s a Lightning Bolt or other piece of conditional removal in someone’s hand, expect the Agent to hit the ‘yard quickly. This is a cute combo with Sanguine Bond or Exquisite Blood if you want to go deep on that theme, but this is a Humans deck, dangit! The danger of spells!
If you can get your hands on an Aladdin, stealing artifacts is one of the most amazing things you can do in Commander. Gilded Lotus? Don’t mind if I do! That’s a nice Sword you have there! What a lovely Caged Sun, player who’s using one of my colors! The possibilities are endless. This one tends to make people pretty cagey (get it?) and is thus a bit of a liability—the hate you’ll draw from [card wreak havoc]wreaking havoc[/card] with this fellow will last long after Aladdin himself dies.
I know we’ve been talking about the danger of spells, but we’re going to be playing some, and if we are, we might as well be able to rebuy on the good ones. Thankfully, Anarchist lets us do that and comes with a convenient 2/2 Human body that we can hurl at things with Skirsdag Flayer or whatever. I’m not sold on this one, but it could be okay.
Now this I can get behind. It doesn’t have a big body, but it has a big impact. What has 4 toughness or more in Commander? Wellllll, basically everything! The no-regen clause on this is great for those pesky… uh… who uses regenerators anymore? Gosh, I’m drawing a blank, but I’m sure there’s something. Ancient Silverback? Rhox? Spiritmonger? Those are cards, right? Anyway, I feel like we want to be in the land of “Humans with effects,” and this card fits right in.
Speaking of Humans with effects…
…oh wait, this is 2012. Well, even in 2012, Nekrataal is still all that and a bag of murder. If we’re looking for more Humans with ETB effects, we should make sure to include this guy.
This is giving me an idea.
Why don’t we get a big pile of humans with ETB effects and start blinking the crap out of them? I’m talking Cloudshift, Conjurer’s Closet, and so on. This probably has to have blue as well so we can play cards like Ghostly Flicker, Momentary Blink, and similar. We either have to cut the blue or go 5-color, which gives us an irrelevant commander (frowns) but access to green too (smiles!) That means we can play all the Guildmages we desire as well. But let’s keep talking about blinkin’ it!
Things that work well with that:
Nephalia Smuggler: Blink to your heart’s content!
Ranger of Eos: Dig up those sweet one-drops like Champion and Nephalia Smuggler.
Champion of Lambholt: Talk about blinking for value. As you blink your other cards, this also brings you a more and more insurmountable advantage.
Mentor of the Meek: Draw, draw, draw!
Juniper Order Ranger: Though I am frequently loath to venture into Coldsnap, sometimes it’s worth it, especially with something like this. How big can it get before someone destroys it?
Saffi Eriksdotter: I think you understand this one.
Ulvenwald Tracker: LET’S FIGHTING LOOOOVE.
Throw in cards like Scavenger Folk, Haazda Exonerator, Nova Cleric, War Priest of Thune, Manic Vandal, and Monk Realist to take care of any problems you might encounter and you’ve got a bona fide human deck on your hands! (Most of those are even good Ranger targets!) Will it tangle with someone’s ridiculous [card azusa, lost but seeking]Azusa[/card] deck? Maybe not, but you can sure have plenty of fun in multiplayer.
All told, I think you’re better off going the Blinky route than you are sticking with your guns in terms of RWB, but I hope I’ve helped you either way. Now get out there and start brewing!
Okay! Now that we’re done with Mailbag Madness, I think we’re about through with this article. Join us next time for Nephilim Week, in which I discuss the Nephilim’s upcoming return in the Modern Masters product, since they’re so canonical and important to the format. (DISCLAIMER: This is where I lie to you!)