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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Jun 19 2017 12:00pm
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Dear Wizards of the Coast,

Can I call you WotC?  I sure hope so, because I've been writing about Magic for nearly twenty years, and helping writers grow and express their ideas here at PureMTGO.com for ten years.  I believe that there is a certain level of familiarity here, and besides typing out Wizards of the Coast will only serve myself, I guess as a way to inflate my own word count! 

Can we talk though?  I've got some things that I need to get off my chest and if I don't say that I am afraid I am going to burst and fly around the room like a balloon that is losing all of its air.  I just need to know, what happened last week?

Yeah it was announcement week, and a lot of super cool things are coming up.  We're getting Pirates and Dinosaurs in a new set, Merfolk will fight against Goblins in a Duel Deck.  Teams will get their own Pro Tour, and really important, Aetherworks Marvel was banned. The Play Design team looks great! There is just so much great stuff that is going on and it really is an exciting time to be a Magic player! 

Unless you're a 1v1 player.  I went to bed Monday night, confident that you all were going to make a change to the format, because it's been pretty clear for a while now that Vial Smasher the Fierce, Ancient Tomb and others are messing up the format. Vial Smasher is a really cool card though, so I was not looking forward to seeing it leave the format, but hey, Banned as a Commander is not a thing, and while it would be fair in the deck, as a Commander Vial Smasher is unfair.

After seeing the Marvel ban, I waited for word for the 1v1 ban, and clicked on the tumblr link and was ready to start work on the new format.  I read what the post said and kinda sat in front of my computer like this.  


I had to refresh the page and check the date to make sure that I was not confused and I saw the text again.  No changes. That was a bold move, and I can appreciate you all trying something new WotC, but while saying the meta is shifting and evolving is a bit of a copout, it still continues to have cards that are damaging to the format and would have to be dealt with eventually, why not deal with them now? 

After figuring out that Ashton Kutcher was not going to tackle me in my house about being Punk'd I decided to log on to MTGO and play some more.  I figured I could get at least one more league in before the client went down and would come back ready to battle on Wednesday. 

After downtime WotC, this is what I came back to


Well, at least Food Chain and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant were properly banned. 

This article was written on Saturday, there were three reported leagues since the new one was put up.  What was once a league that hovered around 200 players is now hovering at less than 100.  Results are not looking any better.  24 decks have been reported.  12 of those decks have been a variant of Grixis Vial Smasher.  Another was a version that partnered with Thrasios, Triton Hero is the other Vial Smasher deck.  13 decks in total have the Smasher. 

That's a lot out of 24 results. 

Heck I even made a small edit to this on Sunday, after the challenge and league was reported.  Another 42 decks were reported, and 15 were flavors of Vial Smasher.  28 decks out of 66 reported means 42 percent of the reported decks were a version of Smasher. 


42 players were in this week's challenge, and it seems reasonable to blame the lower turnout on GP Vegas, it's not often that Magic gets it's convention, but with Origins happening as well this past weekend, there is a lot of gaming going on! 

I get it, Grixis is popular, but Vial Smasher is bad for the format.  Grixis would still be playable with any other commander, and would have to make a small amount of changes maybe, but the benefit to Vial Smasher is not that you get to play Grixis, or you get to play with the busted Partner mechanic. 

The benefit to Vial Smasher is dealing a large amount of damage for very cheap.  I'm sure players are enjoying getting large Logic Knots not only countering their spell but also going to the face as well.  I'm sure that players are enjoying watching their creature die and then taking damage.  Vial Smasher is a wonderful card, and it's the reason I wish banned as Commander existed on MTGO, because it's super cool and has a powerful ability, but consistently buying Vial Smasher back is very abusable.  If it were banned as Commander, it would be a lot fairer.  You could still run the card, but your opponent would not have to change how they play Magic.  With the constant threat of the Commander tax being paid there is a feeling of hopelessness when one faces the goblin. 

Maybe the best plan for Vial Smasher is to ignore it, and make Dawts play any other commander!  Look at those results, I think a case could be made that Dawts is what is broken in 1v1!  (I kid, they are an incredibly skilled Grixis player) 

Vial Smasher is not the only busted Commander since the league reset.  Breya, Etherium Shaper is another one that has been all over the place, and again is another super cool card, but is super busted as a Commander.  Losing Breya I feel would put a huge dent in the RUBW control archetype, as there are other Commanders for it, none of them are nearly as packed with value as the Etherium Shaper.  Silas Renn, Seeker Adept and Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder are great leaders, but not really suited for a control strategy.  Kraum, Ludevic's Opus and Tymna the Weaver would be okay I guess, but still the lack of value that one would get from those partners would not match up to Breya.

So what am I asking you to do WotC? 

Make Banned as a Commander a thing on MTGO.  If that cannot be done, Ban Vial Smasher the Fierce, Breya, Etherium Shaper and Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Ban the fast mana.  I've been browned by multiple opponents this week that started off with Ancient Tomb, Chrome Mox into Signets.  Fast mana is bad in EDH and it's bad in 1v1, as no one wants to play a one game match that is not a match. 

Consider banning Dawts!  (Again that's a joke, Dawts is incredible.) 

I hope this letter finds you well my dearest Wizard, now it is back to the front lines as the tide of Grixis needs to be turned away, and hopefully Temur can be where they end.

Thank you for your time

Joshua Claytor
Commander of the Soul of Elements. 

This week's deck features a Commander that is very near and dear to my heart, Animar, Soul of Elements.  Animar was my first Commander, and after picking this precon up and the one with Kaalia of the Vast, I raced home to my girlfriend from a trip to Owensboro.  I no longer have either of those decks, the car that I drove or the girlfriend, but we had a lot of fun playing these precons.  It's also pretty okay against Vial Smasher, and much like an RKO, is capable of winning out of nowhere.  There are several combos in the deck, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Pestermite can do a nice Splinter Twin imitation.  Birthing Pod is incredibly dumb in the deck, and Ancestral Statue can make for the biggest creature you have ever seen! 

1v1 Animar - 99 Cards Total
1 Ancestral Statue
1 Arbor Elf
1 Beastcaller Savant
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Bloom Tender
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Cloud of Faeries
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Deceiver Exarch
1 Den Protector
1 Duskwatch Recruiter
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Fierce Empath
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Primeval Titan
1 Priest of Titania
1 Gatecreeper Vine
1 Gilded Drake
1 Man-o'-War
1 Imperial Recruiter
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Maelstrom Wanderer
1 Mulldrifter
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Peregrine Drake
1 Pestermite
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Gaea's Herald
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Rattleclaw Mystic
1 Raven Familiar
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Surrak Dragonclaw
1 Sylvan Ranger
1 Eternal Witness
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Roots
1 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Symbiote
1 Wood Elves
1 Woodland Bellower
1 Zealous Conscripts
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
52 cards

1 Birthing Pod
1 Chrome Mox
2 cards

1 Earthcraft
1 Wild Growth
2 cards

1 Chord of Calling
1 Worldly Tutor
2 cards

1 Eldritch Evolution
1 Glimpse of Nature
1 Green Sun's Zenith
3 cards

1 Arid Mesa
1 Stomping Ground
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Botanical Sanctum
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cavern of Souls
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Copperline Gorge
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
4 Forest
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Karplusan Forest
3 Island
1 Mana Confluence
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volcanic Island
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Coast
1 Taiga
1 Tropical Island
36 cards
1 Skullclamp
1 cards
1 Animar, Soul of Elements
1 cards


I dabbled in 1v1 Commander by neckfire at Mon, 06/19/2017 - 21:33
neckfire's picture

I dabbled in 1v1 Commander for one league. I used the mono-red deck with blood moons. After 1 league I knew unless I wanted to invest the 700 tix to get one of the blue commanders (which are sweet but boring) that this is not for me. I play storm in paper in EDH and I still think it's obnoxious. I only play it in tournaments and it's not for me on MODO.

I do not paper 1v1, all of my by JXClaytor at Tue, 06/20/2017 - 01:03
JXClaytor's picture

I do not paper 1v1, all of my experience is on MTGO, but I will light some people up with Storm in multiplayer games.

Me and Mizzix are best friends, and I feel real bad for leaving animar behind like I did.

Well said and I mostly agree by Paul Leicht at Tue, 06/20/2017 - 00:29
Paul Leicht's picture

Well said and I mostly agree just from watching you churn out the stats for each league. But I wonder if WOTC is capable of doing "Banned as commander" without breaking the format on the client in a not-so-good way? I mean I am sure the technical know-how is out there but is the will really there?

Also maybe they like it like this. There has to be a "bad boy" right? Maybe 1v1 is it. (Or maybe it is Dawts, but I kid. :D)

Also leave my beloved Tasigur alone, just because some fools can't refrain from breaking him in half, doesn't mean us casual types can't enjoy his cool suave ways and awesome special abilities.

I do not think that WotC was by JXClaytor at Tue, 06/20/2017 - 01:02
JXClaytor's picture

I do not think that WotC was capable of doing that, which is why the paper EDH rules changed to no longer have a banned as commander list.

Sheldon of course says otherwise, so I'll defer to him, but please, allow me to keep my tin foil hat :D


But one can see that Braids and the rest were banned when this was going on MTGO beta.


I think WotC is trying to keep this apart from Duel Commander, because this is a thing I can see them trying to support in paper next year.

The problem is that if you by stsung at Tue, 06/20/2017 - 06:33
stsung's picture

The problem is that if you ban some generals there will be others that will become the oppressors. For example if you ban Breya, Vial Smasher people will play Baral and Titania since these work as opposition to each other and are good against the rest of the field where Tasigur has also a special place because it can fight more or less anything.

I hope people won't run away in the meantime from EDH but I honestly think the format needs a little bit of time. I'd ban fast mana for example (few days ago) but wouldn't ban any of the Legendary creatures. We need to see if by a chance there still isn't a possibility how to fight this silly Goblin or a 4/4 body that brings some thopters and can play the most annoying combos out there. We may end up finding out that there is no way how to keep these in check but I think people didn't explore the format to its fullest yet. (we need more players to explore, not be content with Vial Smasher and co)

I was very afraid that Vial Smasher would be oppressive from week 1 and expected more Barals and Titanias but the metagame evolved differently. I would actually be glad if we as players found a way how to fight all these decks and create some kind of balance rather than wait for another batch of bans. I think that some bans will be necessary but we should be given enough time to explore all the overpowered cards, which means suffer them for a while.

We shouldn't end up playing Boil or Carpet of Flower but rather try to attack these decks with something new and unexplored. There are some decks or generals that people didn't have the time to explore.

Lee Sharpe: "Ah. While them being too strong was motivation for their being banned, we aren't doing "banned as Commander only". It's either legal or not."

btw. If I were to play Storm I'd play Tasigur (since that card works as a tutor/draw your whole library) or Oloro (life gain).

I missed the lee comment. by JXClaytor at Sun, 06/25/2017 - 20:27
JXClaytor's picture

I missed the lee comment. That bums we out kinda.