EDH(Commander) - How much can you bear?

Magic the Gathering – As you probably know if you're a regular reader of the blog, I'm a big fan of EDH (Commander). My play group has embraced this and Cube as THE way we play magic. Both formats are fun and I had a blast sorting through cards to build the Cube. 

With different resonsibilites and availabilities the turn out for each weeks game night can be pretty varied. Which is cool because we get different dynamics from week to week and thing don't get to stale. 

Recently we ended our game night on a bit of a sour note. The night started off well enough with everyone playing their favorite decks and control of the table swinging back and forth between all the players. The first two games were a ton of fun. Even though the second game got to be a bit oppressive due to Rise of the Dark Realms, Recover and Eternal Witness doing the dosie do drawing out all the mass removal spells and then going to town killing everyone slowly.

The third game we played was when things got awkward. Everything was going smooth with the guy that won the last game taking earlier beats per the norm. Right up until he was able to set up an Avacyn + Nevineral's Disk hard lock. We let him do his thing of killing everything on the board for a little while to see if anyone could draw into some form of exile, permanent theft or -x/-x. When it became obvious that wasn't going to happen I asked the table if anyone had anything in their deck that could remove his lock. When the answer came back no, I suggested we all scoop and play another game, since the result was inevitable at that point.

The result of that suggestion was some mumbling about not putting that on the table again and watch checking to just call it a night early. Overall it was an uncomfortable way to end our weeky game night.

Now don't get me wrong I love combos and crazy board states and some of the super powerful thing you can do in Commander as a format. A quick combo that kills the table means we can play another game right away. A hard lock that makes it so nobody else can play while you slowly plink away at each opponent drags the game on and honestly nobody likes to watch their opponent play magic by them self.

Have you ever had this happen during one of your games and if so how'd you deal with it?

When You're Hot ... and They're Not

Random – Sometimes you have those days where everything just seems to go your way. Sometimes you get lucky and that happens during a game night. Last night that happened to me.

Every week I have a group of 3-8 guys over to play games. Sometimes we play board games, sometimes tabletop games but most of the time we wind up playing Magic the Gathering: Commander. (During the week it's faster to get a few games in of Magic than it is to play a single tabletop game.)

Lots of real-life stuff (new babies, new houses, etc) meant we had a rather lite turnout last night, so I played a game of 1-on-1 Commander while we waited. The game was pretty crazy as it seemed like I was able to draw an answer to anything my opponent played. I was excited as it's been a long time since my Xiahou Dunn deck hit on all cylinders.

We wrapped up shortly after our last player arrived and jumped into a second game. Again I had an amazing draw: 2 swamp, Hex Mage, Dark Depths which meant on turn three I was swinging with a 20/20. An inopportune Innocent Blood lost me my fancy token, but I drew into Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood followed by Exsanguinate. Just plain crazy as I comboed off on the seventh turn.

At this point I switched up decks, pulling out my Mimeoplasm deck I figured this would be a bit slower. Also at this point we pulled out the community Planechase deck. Wouldn't you know it I had another amazing draw all the land I needed (including Urborg) and a mana doubler. I was riding high, right up until a Planar Phenomenon forced us to shuffled our permanents into the library and reveal that many cards. Turns out my flips were amazing and the other guys were not so much. The game ground on for a while with me building steam and my opponents struggling to build up a resistance. A creepy doll/pariah combo kept me from doing much to one opponent until I drew into some extort creatures and a Jace. End result third win for the evening.

So is there a point to this story, other than gloating about some wins? Well yes, yes there is. You see when you have a night like this where everything goes right you feel really great. That is until you notice that the rest of the table seems to be frustrated as they are not having a good night and your good luck is running the table. Suddenly your shining moment looses it luster.

The question is when this happens what do you do? You can continue to just roll with it and enjoy your luck. Or, do you tone down your game to give everybody else a chance? (You know not make plays you could, maybe "just be a little short" for range, "forget" about an ability, etc.) Even better what do you do if this happens when you're trying to teach a game, is it really the burned hand learns best?

I've been on both sides of the field on this one and can attest to the pure misery that comes from an opponent being on fire during a game while you struggle to get a measly spark from your side of the field. I can also attest to the pure joy you feel when everything is going right. Does it matter are those "rare" instances of extreme luck or bad luck just part of playing games? Or is should you do your best to keep a game "competitive"?

I would feel patronized if I knew they were purposely letting things slip to give me a chance (or is this really just rightious idignation and I wouldn't really care or even know?). That said I'm a hypocrite because I commonly do the same thing during demos or while teaching a game. Sometimes I'll even do it if my opponent seems really bummed or has had a really bad string of luck at the tables. Is that wrong? 

What do you think? Please post comments below.


Commander and Planechase - Like Peanutbutter and Jelly

Magic the Gathering – Lately we've been using a community planar deck for our weekly games of commander; we do things a little differently: all the planes are in a pile in the middle, during a players turn they get one free roll of the planar die and they can pay (1) mana to roll again at sorcery speed. We've found this speeds up getting of "bad" planes and make the game more interesting.

Last night we were six turns into a game in which I was piloting my Mimeoplasm Deck against a Sliver Queen and Venser all artifact deck. Everyone else had a bit of a slow start where I hit all my land drops and was able to bring in some mana rocks to accelerate my game. On turns 4 and five I drew into Traumatize followed by Consuming Aberration. I cast the Traumatize on the Venser player milling away about 44 cards. The sliver player rolls and we planeswalk to Immersturm. The turn passes to me and I cast the Consuming Aberration taking out the Sliver player because of the plane ability, I roll the dice and trigger the chaos ability to blink the Aberration and take out the other player. Utterly insane all because of the plane we happened to be on. 

If you haven't played commander using a Planechase deck I highly recommend it, especially if you like having an element of randomness inserted into your games.

Commander Corner – Xiahou Dun, The One Eyed

Magic the Gathering – Black is my favorite color in magic. I've been slowly tweaking and revisiting my mono black commander deck to fit the playstyle I want. It started as focused on Maga as the general with a ton of ramp to take out or cripple a player each time I choose to bring her into play. While that was fun for a little while eventually it got old. Until I got my hands on Judge Foil of Xiahou Dun.

With Xiahou Dun I was going go the Voltron route with a bunch of artifacts to make him leathal with one swing. This seemed like a great idea for an essentially unblockable general, however his second ability is where I see more potential. 

For the most part I kept my mana doublers to ramp up and be able to pay for the genral tax each time I replay and recur a card from my graveyard. And of course no mono black deck would be complete without Exsanguinate, sure it can be a cheesey way to end the game and recurring it over and over will get old, however with a limited amount of tutoring I don't see it often which softens the blow when it comes up.

Really that is one of the things I like about the commander format is the randomness and odd interactions, packing a deck with every tutor you can to get the same game ending combo everytime isn't fun for anyone. My play group does a pretty good job of sticking to this unspoken rule and as such we ignore most of the Banned List. For most of the legendary creatures on the list we restrict them to being one of the 99, this keeps them from showing up to often and if they become a problem the player will remove the offending card for a while or retire their deck for a few weeks. Most of us have 2-8 decks each so it rarely becomes an issue.

This deck is my favorite and I tend to play it at least once every other session, I even picked up some special card sleeves and a nifty demon skull box. The box is really cool and I can put some spin down life counters in the mouth.

Anyway here's the decklist:

Commander – Xiahou Dun

Planeswalkers – Sorin Markov, Liliana of the Dark Realms, Liliana Vess

Creatures – Nantuko Shade, Vault Skirge, Skithiryx, Ink-Eyes Servant of Oni, Necrotic Ooze, Solemn Simulacrum, Maralen of the Mornsong, Phyrexian Obliterator, Helldozer, Scythe Specter, Maga, Traitor to Mortals, Leaden Myr, Nether TraitorArtisan of Kozilek, Avatar of Woe, Magus of the Coffers, Visara the Dreadful, Chainer, Dementia Master, Balthor the Defiled, Crypt Ghast, Skeletal Vampire, Vampire Hexmage, Nirkana Revenant

Sorceries – Exsanguinate, Perish, Mutilate, Exhume, Plague Wind, Black Sun's Zenith, Killing Wave, Promise of Power, Damnation, Consume Spirit, Temporal Extortion, Virtue's Ruin

Instant - Smother

Enchantments – Gravestorm, Underworld Connections, Exquisite Blood, Sanguine Bond

Artifacts – Bonehoard, Sol Ring, Loxodon Warhammer, Thran Dynamo, Skullclamp, Sensei's Divining Top, Sword of Fire and Ice, Phyrexian Totem, Nuisance Engine, Whispersilk Cloak, Nim Deathmantle, Psychosis Crawler, Lashwrithe, Extraplanar Lens, Mask of Avacyn, Blightsteel Colossus, Caged Sun, Expedition Map, Gauntlet of Power, Lightning Greaves

Land – 27 Swamp, Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Shizo, Death's Storehouse, Vesuva, Ebon Stronghold, Dark Depths, Polluted Mire, Temple of the False God, Reliquary Tower

Commander Corner - The Mimeoplasm Revisited

Magic the Gathering – Lately I've been playing more MTG Commander than anything else and as such I've grown to hate some of the decks I built a while back. While it's normal for a deck to grow and evolve over time my Mimeoplasm deck just wasn't cutting the mustard. While I love the gooey T-Rex armed commander, relying on creatures in graveyards can be tough and putting your own stuff in their is a different game altogether (although dredge was my favorite archtype way back when ... )

Initially I built it to have a bunch of huge creatures and some mana ramp to get them into play quicker than ususal, and once they inevitably die recycle them with my commander. In theory this seemed like a great idea in process it rarely worked out most times I'd mill my opponent for a chunk of cards and then get stuck with a bunch of overcosted creatures in my hand. The end result was this deck didn't see much play. (Couple that with our house rule for 20 poison to lose the game and the other sub theme wasn't doing much either).

I also have come to realize that it is highly unlikely that my play group is ever going to go back to 60 card casual Magic. Which makes sense in some aspects as players with huge collections or more disposable income tend to have the "better" decks making for a negative play experience for those players that don't fine tune their decks (or the reverse of the whole table focusing on killing the guy who tunes his decks [this phenomenon is just as prevalent in Commander however the balance of a singleton format limits the extent of the issue]). This is a bit of a bummer for me as I don't find much joy in competitive magic and as such have to concede to my groups preferred style of play.

Anyway what this meant is I felt safe in taking apart my 60 card decks and implementing some of the strategies into my commander decks. Many of these decks focused on some well established combos that don't seem to be so terrible when put into the singleton format. I also added more efficient mill cards to the deck to improve the odds of my commander benefiting from some cool stuff to copy in other graveyards.

Anyway here's the decklist:

Commander: The Mimeoplasm

Planeswalkers: Liliana Vess

Artifacts: Kusari-Gama, Crucible of Worlds, Sol Ring, Dimir Signet, Sword of Body and Mind, Mindcrank, Simic Signet, Triskelavus, Keening Stone, Sword of Fire and Ice, Quietus Spike

Sorcery: Bribery, Glimpse the Unthinkable, Mind Funeral, Damnation, Traumatize, Psychic Drain, Farseek, Tendrils of Agony, Life from the Loam, Increasing Confusion, Beacon of Unrest

Instant: Krosan Grip, Grisly Spectacle, Spell Crumple

Enchantment: Centaur Glade, Rhystic Study, Memory Erosion, Heart of Spring, Intruder Alarm, Bloodchief Ascension, Aluren

Creature: Vigor, Acidic Slime, Grave Titan, Thragtusk, Grimgrin, Silent-Blade Oni, Cemetery Reaper, Havengul Lich, Massacre Wurm, Imperious Perfect, Geth, Chameleon Colossus, Lich Lord of Unx, Urbog Elf, Primeval Titan, Mikaeus, Seedborn Muse, Sakashima's Student, Ixidron, Hydra Omnivore, Dark Imposter, Duskmantle Guildmage, Pontiff of Blight, Vela the Night-Clad, Consuming Aberration, Wrexial, Nemesis of Reason, Crypt Ghast, Body Double, Cavern Harpy, Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise

Land: 4 Forest, 3 Islands, 4 Swamps, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Verdant Catacombs, Cabal Coffers, Overgrown Tomb, Homeward Path, Jwar Isle Refuge, Command Tower, Watery Grave, Flooded Grove, Polluted Delta, Dimir Aqueduct, Miren, the Moaning Well, Woodland Cemetary, Simic Guildgate, Hinterland Harbor, Drowed Catacomb, Halimar Depths, Golgari Rot Farm, Breeding Pool, Golgari Guilgate, Forbidden Orchard, Winding Canyons, Temple of the False God, Dimir Guildgate

I probably going to add Jace Memory Adept and Mind Grind to the deck to help accelerate the milling aspect, but for now I'm going to see how this plays out. 

Some of the cooler interactions include the Aluren combo which can net me infinite damage and or creatures with the proper set up. The old reliable Intruder Alarm combo with Imperious Perfect and a mana producing creature. Traumatize and Keening Stone to eliminate a players library. Life from the Loam with Crucible of Worlds (and the fetch lands) which will fix my manabase and hopefully get around players that like to blow up all lands. 

For utility I have the Primeval Titan, while I understand the Commander Rules Commitee has banned this guy our group is ok with him seeing play. Yes he's ridiculous if not dealt with right away and he allows you to find those special lands right away but in our group it hasn't been an issue as of yet. 

I'll post a follow up as to how this revision plays out but after an initial round of goldfishing I'm impressed with the various interactions that are going to come up with this deck. I'm hopeful that I may have put together a deck that actually win through milling in EDH.

Some elements I'm also considering adding are Splinter, Liquimetal Coating, Isocron Scepter, and Naturalize. In my group we have a few guys that run Bloodmoon effects and heavy enchantment effects so I'm considering adding these to share the fun of "not being able to play" while increasing the arms race might be a bad plan, it might also be really funny once or twice. The less evil reason for including Splinter is an answer to glut of indestructible things that keep popping up during our Commander games. The Scepter, Naturalize and Liquimetal coating create a reusable way to destroy most permanents. The question then becomes what do I cut for them?

Commander Corner - Maga, Traitor to Mortals

Magic the Gathering – Mono colored decks sometimes have a difficult time operating, as the color pie doles out abilities by color, which means some colors will lack the ability to deal with certain cards. Black however seems to have a particular method of dealing with problem permanents, eliminate the opponent and the threat is gone (the question is can you live to that point).

This week's commander focuses on doing just that. With the proper amount of mana acceleration you can easily reduce an opponent's life total to a critically low level. Granted once he/she (the art and name are so ambiguous I'm not such which is correct) hits the table Maga is easily chump blocked by most anything and black has limited evasion modes available in color. Which means relying on easily destroyed artifacts to accomplish your mission.

Commander: Maga, Traitor to Mortals

Creatures: Nantuko Shade, Mirri the Cursed, Balthor the Defiled, Visara the Dreadful, Maralen of the Mornsong, Dunerider Outlaw, Doomed Necromancer, Nether Traitor, Helldozer, Skeletal Vampire, Scythe Specter, Artisan of Kozilek, Avatar of Woe, Nezumi Graverobber, Magus of the Coffers, Ink-Eyes, Servant of the Oni, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, Nirkana Revenant, Chainer, Dementia Master

Instants: Smother

Sorceries: Perish, Consume Spirit, Sickening Dreams, Virtue's Ruin, Mutilate, Temporal Extortion, Plague Wind, Zombify, Damnation, Exsanguinate, Promise of Power, Nature's Ruin, Exhume

Enchanments: Dance of the Dead, Gravestorm, Breeding Pit, Bad Moon, Diabolic Servitude

Planeswalkers: Liliana Vess

Artifacts: Lashwrithe, Vault Skirge, Blightsteel Colossus, Darksteel Colossus, Leaden Myr, Lightning Greaves, Skullclamp, Psychosis Crawler, Bonehoard, Nuisance Engine, Solemn Simulacrum, Loxodon Warhammer, Thran Dynamo, Phyrexian Totem, Nim Deathmantle, Expedition Map, Spectral Searchlight, Sensei's Divining Top, Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Sword of Fire and Ice, Everflowing Chalice, Sol Ring

Lands: (27) Swamp, Cabal Coffers, Crystal Vein, Temple of the False God, Vesuva, Spawning Pool, Polluted Mire, Ebon Stronghold, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Shizo, Death's Storehouse

As you can see the core of this deck focuses on artifact mana doublers (Caged SunExtraplanar LensGauntlet of Power) that have the unfortunate effect of also doubling you opponents basic swamps and some fairly weak creatures and land that do essentially the same thing (Nirkana Revenant, Magus of the Coffers, Cabal Coffers). When you're able to get them all in play every swamp taps for 5 mana, plus doubling or tripling your mana with the coffers, making it easy to cast your general for a 20-30 life point swing. If Maga can stick around and carry a hammer or sword you can take out a player with one swing. 

The rest of the deck focuses on big threats that can be recurred from the graveyard fairly easily. After playing a few games with the deck I'm considering adding some sacrifice outlets like Nantuko Husk or Phyrexian Altar since at some point it makes more sense to sacrifice Maga and recast to further deplete life totals. 


Commander Corner – The Mimeoplasm

Magic the Gathering – This week I'd like to look at one of the rather odd commanders that came out with the precons: The Mimeoplasm. This legendary ooze has some really cool abilities that allow for several different styles of decks. The most obvious being a graveyard themed deck that revolves around putting stuff in your graveyard and copying it to beat face. However The Mimeoplasm doesn't just grab stuff from your graveyard but it can also snag creatures from your opponents graveyards as well. Keeping this in mind I've incorporated a milling theme to increase the potential targets for casting my general. Initially I thought that you wouldn't be able to do "general damage" with The Mimeoplasm as it comes into play as a copy of another creature. However after doing some research online I found that is not the case.

Here's the Decklist I came up with:

Commander: The Mimeoplasm

Creatures: Rune-Scarred Demon, Seizan, Perverter of Truth, Guiltfeeder, Genesis, Wrexial, the Risen Deep, Herald of Leshrac, Murkfiend Liege, Dreamborn Muse, Simic Sky Swallower, Seedborn Muse, Glissa Sunseeker, Hedron Crab, Chameleon Colossus, Platinum Angel, Nemesis of Reason, Krosan Cloudscraper, Experiment Kraj, Phantom Centaur, Viral Drake, Denizen of the Deep, Glissa, the Traitor, Riddlekeeper, Lich Lord of Unx, Ixidron, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, Scalpelexis, Hydra Omnivore, Vigor, Phantom Nantuko

Sorceries: Syphon Mind, Life's Finale, Unnerve, Beacon of Unrest, Farseek, Damnation, Life from the Loam, Plague Wind, Weird Harvest, Creeping Mold, Traumatize, Bribery

Instants: Spell Crumple

Enchantments: Polluted Bonds, Lifegift, Heartbeat of Spring, Inexorable Tide, Memory Erosion, Centaur Glade

Artifacts: Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Fire and Ice, Loxodon Warhammer, Blade of the Bloodchief, Mindcrank, Copper Myr, Keening Stone, Golgari Signet, Contagion Clasp, Sol Ring, Simic Signet, Dimir Signet, Darksteel Ingot, Silver Myr, Everflowing Chalice, Contagion Clasp, Sheild of Kaldra

Lands: Temple of the False God, Halimar Depths, Drowned Catacomb, Breeding Pool, Watery Grave, Bad River, Hinterland Harbor, Command Tower, Jwar Isle Refuge, Forbidden Orchard, Overgrown Tomb, Yavimaya Coast, Oran-Rief the Vastwood, Homeward Path, Grand Coliseum, Gilt-leaf Palace, Golgari Rot Farm, Dreadship Reef, Woodland Cemetery, Verdant Catacombs, Dimir Aqueduct, Flooded Grove, (3) Forest, (5) Swamp, (3) Island

As you can see there is a minor Proliferate them going on here. Since The Mimeoplasm comes into play with +1/+1 counters on it, you can easily pump him up. Also in the deck are a few sources the have Infect, worst case scenario you should be able to squeek in a poison counter or two and then just Proliferate to add more. 

I also included a few cards (Polluted BondsLifegift, Hedron Crab) that care about land drops, the seem innocuous enough by themselves, but over the course of a large multiplayer game the benefits really rack up, padding your life total for the end game. 

As you can see from the creature selection almost every choice has a relevant ability attached to it with a few huge fatties (Krosan Cloudscraper, Denizen of the Deep) to provide a second choice for the Mimeoplasm's +1/+1 ability. 

I've considered adding in Buried Alive and Entomb to make getting relevant creatures into the graveyard quicker, but I'm hesitant to telegraph my game play to early and in my play group those two spells seem to receive a good amount of hate once they've been played. 

Commander Corner – Niv-mizzet, the Firemind

Magic the Gathering – Welcome to the second installment of Commander Corner. In this article we're going to look at one of my favorite Commanders: Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. This nifty commander deals damage to an opponent or creature every time you draw a card, as well as having the nifty ability to tap him to draw a card. Anything that says he draws a card after damaging an opponent results in him drawing through the deck an typically wiping a good portion of the table out.

Planeswalkers (2): Jace Beleren, Chandra Nalaar

Sorceries (6): Invoke the Firemind, Lava Spike, Trade Secrets, Bribery, Mind's Aglow, Reminisce

Instant (8): Grab the Reins, Lightning Bolt, Unsummon, Vision Skeins, Desperate Ritual, Fact or Fiction, Spin into Myth, Repulse

Enchanments (4): Freed from the Real, Charisma, Ophidian Eye, Curiosity

Artifacts (11): Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang, Scythe of the Wretched, Myr Turbine, Basilisk Collar, Spectral Searchlight, Tenza, Godo's Maul, Foriysian Totem, Izzet Signet, Heart Seeker, Howling Mine, Riptide Replicator,

Creatures (36): Ninja of the Deep Hours, Sharding Sphinx, Myr Battlesphere, Tidewater Minion, Man-o'-war, Cytoplast Manipulator, Gelectrode, Avalanche Riders, Draining Whelk, Torchling, Dragon Whelp, Razorfin Hunter, Vithian Stinger, Iron Myr, Silver Myr, Furnace Whelp, Goblin Sharpshooter, Prodigal Pyromancer, Hissing Iguanar, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Taurean Mauler, Merfolk Thaumaturgist, Dragonspeaker Shaman, Zuran Spellcaster, Rorix Bladewing, Flametongue Kavu, Izzet Guildmage, Akroma Angel of Fury, Vulshok Sorcerer, Anger, Rackling, Kumano, Master Yamabushi, Viseling, Eron the Relentless, Prodigal Sorcerer, Serra Sphinx

Lands (32): 10 Islands, 12 Mountains, Evolving Wilds, Lonely Sandbar, Remote Isle, Faerie Conclave, Command Tower, Forgotten Cave, Izzet Boilerworks, Steam Vents, Smoldering Crater, Valakut, the Molten Pinnnacle

Most of the deck revolves around creatures that can tap to do damage, carrying over the commanders theme. Within are a few little combos that can be devastating if they can go off: Desperate Ritual spliced on to Lava Spike can be replicated infinitely by the Izzet Guildmage; Tidewater Minion enchanted by Freed from the Real with a  Izzet Boilerworks can generate infinite mana for a giant  Invoke the Firemind or Mind's Aglow. Reminisce is in here to save you from milling yourself out completely. 

I'm considering replacing the creature bounce for more general permanent bounce as hexproof and shroud equipment seems to be the preferred method of protecting commanders. I'm also considering adding a Psychosis Crawler to the deck as he also works well with Niv.

Other cards under consideration are Whirlpool Warrior, works amazing if Niv or a crawler are on the table and helps to deal with opponents who spend the game crafting a perfect hand. Winds of Change if I can track one of these down it does the same thing as a sacrificed Whirlpool Warrior for a single red. Teferi's Puzzle Box can be amazing or terrible depending on how attached you are to your hand, however on the turn you go off it really doesn't matter. Consecrated Sphinx, Nin, the Pain Artist and Stuffy Doll are all also worth consideration.

Commander Corner – Sen Triplets

Magic the Gathering – Welcome the the first installment of Commander Corner a semi regular column discussing the EDH/Commander format for Magic the Gathering. In each installment I'll review a general and deck that I've built around them. For more information on how to play Commander please check out the official site.

Every Commander deck has to feature a general, this is a legendary creature and you can only include cards which match you general's color identity (the mana symbols on the card, in the cost or in the abilities) or are colorless. 

The first general I'd like to talk about are the Sen Triplets, a legendary creature for the Alara Reborn expansion. This commander falls into my favorite color combination and the deck began its life as a token machine with Ertai, the Corrupted at the helm. In practice he was a bit annoying as a commander since the threat of counter magic can slow down games and I rarely was able to keep him on the table. 

The deck primarily consists of my favorite cards in Blue, Black and White and is geared to deal with multiple threats. The general while fun isn't required to make the deck run and more or less acts as a surprise by taking threats from an opponents hand. What I like most about the Sen Triplets are the politics involved in using their abilities. Do you cast someones best creature, or use their board sweeper to mess with everyone? There's plenty of ways to use them without making the whole table angry.

Without further ado here's the list:

Commander: Sen Triplets

Creatures (25): Beloved Chaplain, Drift of Phantasms, Disciple of the Vault, Stormscape Familiar,
Silver Myr, Leaden Myr, Alloy Myr, Pride of the Clouds, Pulsemage Advocate, Teysa, Orzhov Scion,
Ambassador Laquatus, Mageta the Lion, Raven Guild Master, Abyssal Persecutor,
Phyrexian Metamorph, Arcum Dagsson, Mindleech Mass, Sharding Sphinx, Skeletal Vampire,
Memnarch, Stuffy Doll, Avatar of Woe, Sphinx Sovereign, Weathered Wayfarer, Wall of Souls

Planeswalkers (1): Jace Beleren

Instants (9): Smother, Unmake, Oblation, Hinder, Spin into Myth, Rend Flesh, Chain of Vapor,
Mortify, Essence Vortex

Sorceries (7): Wrath of God, Demonic Tutor, Life's Finale, Culling Sun, Phyrexian Rebirth,
Show and Tell, Bribery

Enchanments (7): Guilty Conscience, Celestial Dawn, Nevermore, Seal of Doom,
Declaration of Naught, Mobilization, Debtor's Knell

Artifacts (15): Proteus Staff, Orzhov Signet, Dimir Signet, Azorious Signet, Thopter Foundry,
Sol Ring, Witchbane Orb, Darksteel Forge, Mycosynth Lattice, Mask of Avacyn, Trepandation Blade,
Darksteel Plate, Umezawa's Jitte, Sword of the Meek, Bonehoard

Lands (35): Seat of Synod, Glacial Fortress, Volrath's Stronghold, Boreal ShelfJwar Isle Refuge, Drowned Catacomb, Azorius Chancery, Urza's FactoryIsolated Chapel, Creeping Tar Pit, Vault of Whispers, Orzhov Basilica, Academy Ruins, Command Tower, Sejiri Refuge, Arcane Sactum, Dromar's Cavern, Frost MarshGhost Quarter, Bad River, Godless Shrine, Minamo, School at Water's Edge, Wanderwine Hub, Grand Coliseum, Ancient Den, Watery Grave, Hallowed Fountation, Dreadship Reef, Polluted Delta, (2) Island, (2) Swamp, (2) Plains 

The deck has an artifact theme that works to eventually turn everything I control into an indestructible machine. Once Arcum Daggson gets online with a token maker I'm able to fish out all the pieces to protect my permanents and wipe the board.

The amount of tuck spells (spells that put a card back into the library, really effective ways to get rid of annoying generals) is necessary due to my play groups meta. There are a few decks in our group that revolve so heavily on the general that I like to be able to eliminate that threat when cards get out of hand (Doran, the Siege Tower; Niv-Mizzet). 

Some of the better interactions in this deck are Stuffy Doll with Guilty Conscience, which is a great way to eliminate one player. I also like the Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek and Disciple of the Vault little combo, while it doesn't go infinite it is a nifty way to reduce a life total while padding your own.

There is also a minor milling theme, while it's not the best strategy against 99 card decks it is more painful given the singleton nature of the format. Trepandation Blade is a personal favorite as it triggers just by attacking, at the very least your mill out one card and get a slight bump, I have seen it go up to a +15 when a player is mana screwed though, which is funny when it happens. Raven Guild Master is nice because it exiles the cards which means no graveyard recursion shenanigans. Pulsemage Advocate works well with milling your opponent as you can give back those utility creatures that don't threaten your position but will wreck someone else at the table and bring back your own threat.

I've found Abyssal Persecutor to be a great choice as opponents who are in a bad spot like to keep you around for a bit longer as they can't lose while he's on the table. 

I'm considering adding in Grand Arbiter Augustin IV as he combos with several parts of my deck to reduce my mana costs and hinder my opponents. Potentially I'll cut the Sphinx Sovereign to add him in. So far the Sphinx has only attracted a ton of kill spells when he hits the table so I'm not sure if he's worth keeping in.


I Command you ...

Magic the Gathering – I was recently introduced to the Magic the Gathering Commander Format (Formerly called EDH),  and this format is interesting enough to pull me back into the world of cardboard crack. While I primarily like to play miniature games and boardgames I was reintroduced to those hobbies through friends that played Magic. Over the years I've had stints where I'd be totally into the games and spend ridiculous amounts of money for pieces of cardboard and then I'd lose interest because of a format change or new set that I didn't like.

The newest set Innistrad, peaked my interest as it has a Gothic Horror setting which I really enjoy. There are cards the evoke all the major archtypes of the genre including but not limited to werewolves, vampires, zombies and even the exorcist. While looking into this set I also came across Commander Decks, which are a fixed content product (win!) geared for multiplayer play (win again!). After picking one up and reading through the rules, it seemed pretty straightforward and fun. One of my biggest issues with Magic is needing to have four copies of a card to have it be useful in a deck, Commander is a singleton format which means you can only ever have one of any card (other than basic land) in your deck. So now the cost of acquiring something good for your deck has effectively been reduced by 75%, and those random "good" cards you open in a pack that's all you need.

After going over all this with my regular play group we busted out the boxes of cardboard gold we've had stored for a few years and started building decks. The first few iterations of said decks were utter crap and resulted in plenty of "mana screw" (being unable to play cards because of a lack of resources) and lucky drops in which one player won because no one at the table had an answer for their card. It felt much like it did when I first learned the game and players played what was fun for them rather than whatever the current overpowered combo was. The great thing was the banned list is really small so almost any card you own can be played which is cool, I hate owning things I can't use because of a rules change. 

We've started a small league to play commander games and I'll post updates on how it's going in the future as well as the ground rules our group is using.

If you're interested in learning more about the commander format these sites have some interesting tips:

Commandercast.com – Podcast and website with regular articles and good suggestions.

gatheringmagic.com – Website with daily articles dealing with multiple formats