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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Jun 21 2010 1:27am
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I.  Introduction:  Great minds think alike

So as many of you are aware, the Community Cup recently took place, and the Community took the Cup once again.  One of the events that took place wahttp://puremtgo.com/node/3072/edit?destination=articles_management%3Fsid%3D3%26uid%3Ds Unified Commander.  Based on the coverage, it appears the WotC did pretty well in this portion of the event.  This is probably due in part to the fact that most of the Community team had very little background in EDH, while EDH is a pet format for a lot of WotC employees.  I thought it would be good to take a look at what the WotC employees brought to the table.

First, however, we need to lay the foundation.  The Unified Commander rules meant that other than basic land, only 1 of any card could be used in the 8 decks.  That means that you couldn't put Solemn Simulacrum in each of the decks, as there could only be 1.  So deck builders had to be a little bit more creative in some of their card choices.  Hopefully I will be able to point out some of the less seen card choices for you so that you can increase your deckbuilding options.

Second, although these would be 4 player games, they were essentially teamed.  Each game would pit 2 Community players against 2 WotC players.  This meant that cards that gave your opponent an option, or benefited your opponent in some way, were especially powerful, as you could just choose your teammate to make the "tough" choice.  Cards like Trade Secrets certainly became much more powerful.  If you were to play these decks in the multiplayer room, these would be described as "political" cards.  They may still be powerful, but not nearly as powerful as they were in this competition.  The blue political cards are typically worth playing even if you don't have a teammate, because their effects are just that good.  As for everything else listed as "Political," it's up to you whether you think the effect is worth it when you don't have a teammate helping you out.

Third, it appears that these decks were created by Aaron Forsythe, Ken Nagle and Dave Guskin.  So there are some fine minds behind them.  Finally, these were meant for competition, so they don't play the friendliest Generals.  These are all pretty well known archetypes, so I'm not really going to delve into what makes them tick.  I'm just going to hit the highlights and things I find interesting.

II.  Zur the Enchanter:  You mean he's good?

I figure we can start with the most successful deck, as it won both of the games that it was involved in.  Here's the deck played by Aaron Forsythe. 

Zur the Enchanter
Played by AaronF
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Angel of Despair
1 Auramancer
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Magister Sphinx
1 Monk Idealist
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Sundering Titan
1 Zur the Enchanter
12 cards

Other Spells
1 Azorius Signet
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Dimir Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Terrarion
1 Wayfarer's Bauble
1 Strip Mine
1 Animate Dead
1 Attunement
1 Aura of Silence
1 Compulsion
1 Copy Enchantment
1 Dance of the Dead
1 Daybreak Coronet
1 Debtors' Knell
1 Eel Umbra
1 Empyrial Armor
1 Flickerform
1 Hobble
1 Mystic Veil
1 Necromancy
1 Necropotence
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Prison Term
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Seal of Doom
1 Solitary Confinement
1 Spreading Seas
1 Steel of the Godhead
1 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Careful Consideration
1 Dromar's Charm
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Entomb
1 Esper Charm
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Intuition
1 Lim-Dúl's Vault
1 Memory Plunder
1 Mortify
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Undermine
1 Akroma's Vengeance
1 Armageddon
1 Brilliant Ultimatum
1 Buried Alive
1 Deep Analysis
1 Ravages of War
1 Vindicate
49 cards
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Bad River
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Darkwater Catacombs
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Esper Panorama
1 Faerie Conclave
1 Fetid Heath
1 Flood Plain
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Frost Marsh
1 Godless Shrine
3 Island
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
1 Marsh Flats
1 Orzhov Basilica
2 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Rainbow Vale
1 Scrubland
1 Secluded Glen
1 Sejiri Refuge
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Plains
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Tundra
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Watery Grave
38 cards

Zur the Enchanter


Aaron played control via Zur beatdown using everyone's favorite enchanter.  Zur is not the most friendly General, so expect to experience hate if you bring this.  Aaron didn't go overboard on the enchantments, though, as you will typically see from these lists.  Instead, had plenty of answers in the Seals and other cards, as well as some land destruction in the form of Armageddon and Ravages of War to help out when he was ahead.  Let's take a closer look at some of the cards.

Political Cards
Rainbow Vale
IntuitionFact or FictionBrilliant UltimatumRainbow Vale
Intuition, Fact or Fiction, Brilliant Ultimatum, Rainbow Vale:  First, Rainbow Vale isn't a card that you would expect to use outside of this specific format.  However, the remaining three are very powerful cards that become much more powerful when you have a friendly opponent.  I guess Aaron case Intuition pulling Animate Dead, Iona, and a random card, and got his partner to put the Animate Dead into his hand, which is just a beating against the mono-colored deck they were facing.  Brilliant Ultimatum is a card that is definitely worth checking out that I haven't seen played very much.  But free spells are always good.
Interesting Cards
Eel UmbraAttunementSpreading SeasTerrarion
Eel Umbra, Attunement, Spreading Seas, Terrarion:  I was surprised to see Eel Umbra here, as I originally thought that there were plenty of other good enchantments for Zur.  But I think the fact that it has Flash helped, and the Totem Armor aspect is good as well.  Attunement is an interesting card draw spell that I just can't see getting played in other formats.  Spreading Seas is great at shutting down annoying lands and cantrips as well.  This is good if you have a few Islandwalkers in your deck too.  Finally, Terrarion helps with mana fixing, and obviously can be replaced by something a little better, but it does provide mana fixing and cantrips.

So with a more controlling version of Zur, you get a slightly more consistent deck.  This deck can also go on the offensive real quick though, so don't be fooled.  Actually the thing that I like most about the deck are the large beaters that are listed in it.  I didn't expect to see Sundering Titan and Sphinx of the Steel Wind in this deck.  This deck also packs Magister Sphinx for bringing the extra pain.  Even with some of these bigger creatures the average converted mana cost of the deck is 3.43, which seems right.  There are 23 enchantments in this deck, and all but one Debtors' Knell can be tutored for with Zur.  Just keep in mind that if you play a Zur deck in the multiplayer room, you will probably be target number 1.

III.  Uril, the Miststalker:  Beatdown with sexy lady backup

Here's the deck played by Lee Sharpe.


A little Uril beatdown for your pleasure.  Playing Enchantresses and a mess of enchantments in colors different from Zur.

Political Cards
Shieldmage Advocate
Shieldmage AdvocateFiery Justice
Shieldmage Advocate, Fiery Justice:  The Advocate doesn't really fit the theme of the deck, and seems to really be more of a way to help your teammate with recursion.  Although I guess preventing Commander damage isn't a bad thing.  But it looks like you can definitely replace the Advocate with something else.  Fiery Justice is a nice little bit of removal with some lifegain for your partner.
Interesting Cards
Three Dreams
Gaea's EmbraceCatastropheCopperhoof VorracThree DreamsNurturing Licid
Gaea's Embrace, Cataclysm, Catastrophe, Copperhoof Vorrac, Three Dreams, Nurturing Licid:  I'm not an expert on Uril decks, but I don't think that I've seen Gaea's Embrace in any of them before.  Besides the boost, the regeneration is nothing to sneeze at.  Three Dreams also seems like a great way to fill your hands with awesome Auras to put on Uril.  The land destruction theme continues with Cataclysm and Catastrophe.  I already mentioned Catastrophe in my article about Isperia, and it's still good.  Cataclysm is just mean.  Finally, a fun creature that doesn't really see any love anymore is Copperhoof Vorrac.  Despite the removal of mana burn, he still can get huge.  I need to play him more.  As for Nurturing Licid:  I don't get it.

Uril is as Uril does.  Get him large, play with Enchantresses and a few other guys with troll shroud, and beat down.  A couple of other interesting choices include Brion Stoutarm to fling Uril when he gets really large, and Dauntless Escort to save your guys from mass destruction.  This deck also has Scroll Rack and Land Tax.  I expected more Umbras, but I guess 2 is enough.  There are 14 Auras to put on Uril, with plenty more enchantments providing defense, acceleration and Angel tokens.  There are also a few other creatures that enjoy Auras as well, such as Aura Gnarlid and Totem-Guide Hartebeest.  There's also a little bit of recursion with Nomad Mythmaker and Naya Charm.  The other cards that sort of stick out are the direct damage spells Lightning Helix and Fiery Justice, and even Galvanic Arc is sort of surprising.  I think the reasoning is that these cards can provide ways to get rid of smaller utility creatures without taking out the whole board, or maybe just pushing some of the last couple points of damage past an opponent.  

IV.  Kresh the Bloodbraided:  Sneakier than expected

Here's the deck played by Charles Rapkin. 

Kresh the Bloodbraided
Played by WotC_Charles
1 Acidic Slime
1 Anger
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Borderland Ranger
1 Brawn
1 Broodmate Dragon
1 Charnelhoard Wurm
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Dragon Broodmother
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Genesis
1 Hunted Dragon
1 Hunted Troll
1 Indrik Stomphowler
1 Kaervek the Merciless
1 Karplusan Minotaur
1 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
1 Kresh the Bloodbraided
1 Lord of Extinction
1 Mephidross Vampire
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Ondu Giant
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Scarland Thrinax
1 Shriekmaw
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Silklash Spider
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Triskelion
1 Varchild's War-Riders
1 Vinelasher Kudzu
1 Yavimaya Dryad
1 Yavimaya Elder
35 cards

Other Spells
1 Altar Of Dementia
1 Erratic Portal
1 Sarkhan the Mad
1 Greater Good
1 Lurking Predators
1 Oversold Cemetery
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Vicious Shadows
1 Bituminous Blast
1 Fling
1 Grab the Reins
1 Makeshift Mannequin
1 Putrefy
1 Terminate
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Life from the Loam
1 Living Death
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Torrent of Souls
21 cards
1 Badlands
1 Barren Moor
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Diamond Valley
8 Forest
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Gruul Turf
1 Lavaclaw Reaches
1 Mosswort Bridge
6 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Polluted Mire
1 Raging Ravine
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Savage Lands
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Slippery Karst
1 Smoldering Crater
4 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Wooded Foothills
42 cards

Kresh the Bloodbraided


Kresh.  Make him big and swing away.  Lots of synergy in this deck.

Political Cards
Hunted Troll
Hunted DragonHunted TrollKarplusan MinotaurVarchild's War-Riders
Hunted Dragon, Hunted Troll, Karplusan Minotaur, Varchild's War-Riders:  Kresh got two of the Hunted creatures, to give a teammate a bunch of little guys.  Varchild's War-Riders does essentially the same thing.  This actually works out well for Kresh, as the deaths of the little guys makes him that much larger.  The Minotaur is also good fun, as the coin flips end up benefiting you or your teammate.  I know that the Hunted creatures have been played just to make friends in regular games, but I can't see the other two creatures being valuable.
Interesting Cards
Sarkhan the Mad
Sarkhan the Mad
Erratic Portal, Sarkhan the Mad:  I saw Sarkhan at work in a dedicated dragon deck, and I have to change my initial assessment:  He works well.  You can kill off a creature of yours to get a dragon if you have recursion.  Dragons are generally large, so even if you only have 2 or 3 out, Sarkhan's ultimate is a pretty good hit.  That said, in a creature heavy deck with forms of recursion like this one, I think he fits well.  A lot of the creatures have "enters the battlefield" abilities, and I think people forget about Erratic Portal, typically relying on Crystal Shard.  But the Portal is a colorless way to bounce and replay your guys.

This Kresh deck gets the use of Survival of the Fittest, along with Squee and Genesis, as a great way to tutor up creatures and recur them.  It also has a couple of sacrifice outlets that take advantage of just how big Kresh can get.  Sneaking in here is the Mephidross Vampire/Triskelion combo, which is an old school combo that I never see played anymore that can be tutored up with Tooth and Nail.  Recursion is brought about through Charnelhoard Wurm, Oversold Cemetery, Makeshift Mannequin and Torrent of Souls, and Life from the Loam is a good way to get extra draw out of your cycling lands, as well as get more than one use out of your fetchlands.  With a high creature count, Lurking Predators can lead to free creatures.  And Living Death is a personal favorite clearing the board and bringing back all your dead critters.  The average converted mana cost of this deck is 4.1. 

V.  Venser, Shaper Savant:  I heard that blue is a good color to play

Played by Ethan Schwager, this deck can use either Venser or Thada Adel as its Commander. 


That's some mono-blue control right there.  

Political Cards
Jester's Mask
Jester's MaskWheel and Deal
Jester's Mask, Wheel and Deal:  I only found two cards that was in the deck to abuse the opponent/teammate distinction.  The Mask could be used on a teammate to find answers and or threats.  In a typical game, this card is much less useful, and I don't really see it being played.  Wheel and Deal in a typical game would be great if you had Spiteful Visions or Underworld Dreams in play, but in this format it's pretty sweet.  However you want a deck that's tailored around the effect if you want to play it in normal games.

Interesting Cards
InundateProteus StaffFathom Seer
Inundate, Proteus Staff:  Inundate is a card that I've never seen played, and would obviously be good for mono-blue decks.  The Staff is something that I see played very rarely.  I know that Spin into Myth and Condemn are two cards that get a lot of use.  Putting one of those on a stick seems like it's worth looking into.  However, I guess the side effect of dropping some large fattie into play for your opponent is what scares people off.  Finally, Fathom Seer provides some card draw with a body for some tempo loss.  I guess the reason for this over something like Sphinx of Magosi is casting cost.

There are 12 counterspells in the deck (13 if you include Time Stop), which seems like a lot to me.  I guess it may be more of a support deck in a team environment.  It's possible to try to take on a group with this deck, but you may have some difficulties.  However, it does contain the Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo, as well as Academy Ruins/Mindslaver and Lighthouse Chronologist, who doesn't need anything else to combo.  This deck also has the traditional blue strengths of card draw with Mind Spring, Stroke of Genius and Compulsive Research.  In addition, there is a ton of theft in the deck, with everything from Mind Control to Bribery to Confiscate.  Plus it has Sakashima, who can copy the best creature on the board.  The average converted mana cost of this deck is 3.71.

VI.  Rafiq of the Many:  Bringing all his buddies along for the ride

Rafiq was played by Eric Sorenson. 

Rafiq of the Many
Played by WotC_Eric
1 Augury Adept
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Battlegrace Angel
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Body Double
1 Clone
1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
1 Exalted Angel
1 Forcemage Advocate
1 Great Sable Stag
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Hunted Lammasu
1 Jenara, Asura of War
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Knight of the White Orchid
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Meddling Mage
1 Mirror Entity
1 Mulldrifter
1 Mystic Snake
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Ohran Viper
1 Oversoul of Dusk
1 Phelddagrif
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Questing Phelddagrif
1 Rafiq of the Many
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Reveillark
1 Rhox War Monk
1 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Scute Mob
1 Selesnya Guildmage
1 Simic Sky Swallower
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Stonehewer Giant
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Thornling
1 Trygon Predator
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Wilt-Leaf Liege
43 cards

Other Spells
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Finest Hour
1 Hibernation's End
1 Mirari's Wake
1 Bant Charm
1 Path to Exile
1 Voidslime
1 Death or Glory
1 Rampant Growth
1 Spitting Image
16 cards
1 Brushland
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Grasslands
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Sejiri Steppe
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Simic Growth Chamber
10 Snow-Covered Forest
8 Snow-Covered Island
8 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Tropical Island
1 Windbrisk Heights
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Bastion
41 cards

Rafiq of the Many


Rafiq has always been a beast.

Political Cards
Questing Phelddagrif
Forcemage AdvocateHunted LammasuPhelddagrifQuesting PhelddagrifDeath or Glory
Forcemage Advocate, Hunted Lammasu,  Phelddagrif, Questing Phelddagrif, Death or Glory:  Obviously the Advocate is useful for recurring your teammate's cards, but I don't think it would be strong enough for typical play.  the Lammasu and both Phelddagrifs are typically found in group hug decks.  They give others everything from creatures to card draw, and were all probably houses during this tournament.  Death or Glory is another card that makes an opponent make a decision for you.  In the Community Cup format, it works as a Twilight's Call only for you.
Interesting Cards
Death or Glory
Hibernation's EndDeath or Glory
Hibernation's End, Death or Glory:  In a deck that is mostly creatures, both of these cards really stand out.  Hibernation's End is a tutor that puts cards into play for a minor upkeep cost.  As many of your creatures provide a variety of purposes, you should be able to find an answer with this tutor.  And due to the high creature density of the deck, Death or Glory will bring at least half of your graveyard back into play, which is pretty sweet.

I really like the look of this deck.  Although some people may complain that it's just "Bant Good Stuff.dec" it looks like it's pretty interesting to play.  It has powerful enchantments and equipment, and interesting interactions.  But I think that the thing I find I like the most is that almost half of the deck is creatures.  Of all the decks that are shown here, this is the one that I want to put together to play.  Spitting Image is a fun late game Clone variant.  Almost all of the creatures have some sort of useful ability.  This deck also has the ability to perform shenanigans with Reveillark/Mirror Entity/Body Double, although it looks like it's missing a last abusive piece, such as Essence Warden to gain infinite life or something.  The average converted mana cost of this deck is 3.51.

VII.  Jhoira of the Ghitu:  Everyones' favorite redhead

This deck was originally Ken Nagle's, but I guess he couldn't make it, so it was played by Dave Guskin. 


Suspend big spells and bigger spells.

Political Cards
Trade Secrets
Phyrexian GrimoireTrade Secrets
Phyrexian Grimoire, Trade Secrets:  Obviously Trade Secrets is a bomb when you are playing with a teammate.  But it can be a pretty good card on its own, as it draws you at least 4 cards, and sometimes more.  The Grimoire is nice in that there typically isn't a whole lot of recursion in these colors.  However, if you want to play it, you have to remember that it is a "graveyard order matters" card, and make plans accordingly.  I know that when someone pops an Oblivion Stone I typically rush through clicking all my stuff into the graveyard.  But with Phyrexian Grimoire in your deck, you need to think about those things more.
Interesting Cards
Bringer of the Red Dawn

Savor the MomentDragonstormBringer of the Red DawnHoverguard Sweepers
Savor the Moment, Dragonstorm, Bringer of the Red Dawn, Hoverguard Sweepers:  There are a lot of Time Walk variants in this deck, but I wasn't expecting to see Savor the Moment.  I guess it works in this deck because it basically allows you to take another time counter off of your suspended spells.  Dragonstorm is another one I hadn't ever thought of, but if you hardcast it, should typically allow you to search up 2 of your 4 dragons.  Even if you don't hardcast it, you can suspend it with another card, and time it so the other card comes into play first, netting you 2 dragons.  And Hoverguard Sweepers is something that I typically don't worry about unless I'm playing Momir basic.

The Bringer is interesting mainly because it brings up a rules issue with the client that I hadn't realized existed.  In Commander,  you are allowed to play with cards that have mana symbols in the text box that don't match the rest of your deck.  This means that you can play Bringer of the Black Dawn in your Maga deck if you want.  Just something to keep in mind.

So Jhoira obviously gets the Eldrazi bombs, as well as every big red "blow up the world" type of spell.  It also has a couple of theft cards in the Red Bringer and Dominus of Fealty.   Basically you want to get Jhoira out early and start suspending big spells.  There are a lot of support cards for your suspended cards, like Fury Charm and Clockspinning.  All of your creatures have haste once they come out of suspension, so start beating down as fast as possible, hopefully after you've cleared the board.  Spellbound Dragon serves a couple of different purposes.  First, it serves as a looter effect.  Second, if you discard an Eldrazi you can shuffle your graveyard back into your library.  Finally, it can hit really hard when you discard any of your high casting cost spells.  The one card that seems out of place to me is Conflagrate.  People will hate you once they see Jhoira, so be prepared.  Average CMC:  5.65.

VIII.  Omnath, Locus of Mana:  Elves FTW!

Omnath was played by Scott Larabee. 


Omnath brought his elf friends to help him make mana and swarm the opponent.

Political Cards
Phyrexian Portal
Liar's PendulumPhyrexian Portal
Liar's Pendulum, Phyrexian Portal:  The Pendulum actually seems pretty cool.  If you're playing online, people aren't really going to be able to "read" you either.  It seems pretty fun, actually, and I'm going to stick it in a deck or two to see how I do.  As for the Portal, in a typical game there's a lot of guessing and uncertainty involved.  With a teammate involved, it basically becomes "pick the best card from the top 10 in your library" for 3.
Interesting Cards
Glacial Chasm
Forgotten AncientGlacial Chasm
Forgotten Ancient, Glacial Chasm:  So the Ancient is almost Forgotten.  I still see him occasionally played, but I just want to remind people that this is a good creature that has the ability to make the rest of your dudes large.  He's obviously in here for the combo with Joraga Warcaller, but he is a good creature on his own.  As for Glacial Chasm, I've never seen it played before.  I assume that the deck can have problems with flying Commanders, and this is a way to temporarily deal with them.  But with such a low land count, and no real way to recur your lands, I can't imagine that it stays in play that long.

Omnath likes to get huge and crush people.  In this deck, he brings an elf army and other tokens to back him up.  You have the opportunity to make a lot of dudes in this deck and essentially overrun your opponent.  This deck includes the Earthcraft/Squirrel Nest combo, along with Concordant Crossroads to give all your little furry friends haste.  Like most token decks, it packs Eldrazi Monument and Beastmaster Ascension to pump up your dudes.  Caller of the Claw is a fun card that can help you recover from mass destruction effects.  There are also a couple of tutors in here, such as Natural Order and Chord of Calling.  Finally, there is a little bit of card draw with Skullclamp, Harmonize, Staff of Domination and Regal Force, which is much better when every creature in your deck is green.  Average CMC:  2.9.

IX.  Maga, Traitor to Mortals:  Hey buddy, got a light?

Here's the deck played by Ron Foster. 


Maga is a mono-black control deck that likes to bring the pain.

Political Cards
Witch Engine
GravestormHead GamesWitch EngineHunted HorrorCuombajj Witches
Gravestorm, Head Games, Witch Engine, Hunted Horror, Cuombajj Witches:  Witch Engine is pretty cool, and I wish that I would play it in regular decks.  Unfortunately, without a teammate that I could pass it back and forth with, I don't think i would ever get it back.  Gravestorm is free card draw, and Hunted Horror lets you pass out dudes.  Cuombajj Witches basically taps for 2 damage a turn, which adds up.  Head Games can be a beast in this format, giving your teammate exactly the cards he wants.  However, I don't really see it being useful in regular games.  Actually, of all of these cards, probably only Gravestorm would see regular play, working as graveyard hate and card draw in the early game.
Interesting Cards
Ghost-Lit Stalker
Consuming VaporsGhost-Lit Stalker
Consuming Vapors, Ghost-Lit Stalker:  So I guess I was wrong in my review about Consuming Vapors.  It seems to perform much better than I was giving it credit for.  I think what I really didn't take into consideration was the fact that it rebounds.  The card that I was more surprised about seeing was the Stalker.  I guess repeatable discard is good, but I have a feeling this was used more for its channel ability, as uncounterable discard.

So as I noted in my previous article about Maga, these decks are concerned with making a ton of mana and hitting people in the head with your Commander.  So the obvious includes are Cabal Coffers and Nirkana Revenant.  However, other favorites such as Gauntlet of Might and Magus of the Coffers were not included.   There is your traditional card draw, with Phyrexian Arena, Sign in Blood and Graveborn Muse.  There is also your typical control suite of Damnation, Mutilate and Kagemaro, First to Suffer.  There are also a few tutors in Diabolic Tutor and Beseech the Queen, and a couple of beaters with Korlash and Reiver Demon.  Interestingly he included some discard in Mind Sludge, Cabal Conditioning, Mindslicer and Persecute, as well as the Stalker.  The deck only has mass board wipe that these types of decks play in Oblivion Stone.  I guess the blue deck was the one that got All is Dust.  Average CMC:  3.76.

X.  Conclusion: aka, the Wrap Up

So what can we learn from these decks?

1.  Land count:  Out of the 8 decks presented, 6 have 41 lands or more.  The only two that don't are Zur, with 39, and Omnath, with 33 (which seems low to me).  What this means is that I should probably be adding more lands to my decks.  Typically, I have 38 lands with some form of mana acceleration, usually with artifacts.  However, many of these decks eschew the typical acceleration such as signets, and instead try to lay a land every turn.  There is some accel in some of these decks, though, whether in the form of creatures (Omnath), enchantments (Uril) or artifacts (Venser).  But the land counts are typically high even taking these into consideration.  Basically, I think that I need to play more lands.

2.  Card variation:  There are a ton of cards available.  As you can see, it's possible to make 8 successful decks without using multiples of a single cards.  So keep this in mind when you want to put Loxodon Warhammer in yet another deck.  Try to branch out and use cards that don't see a ton of play.  I know that a lot of these cards are typical EDH cards, but don't be afraid to mix it up.

3.  Karoos:  In the same vein as #2 above, a few of these decks play with the original Karoo lands from Mirage, mainly the mono-colored decks.  These are lands that I pretty much forgot about, but can give you a little bit of extra mana as you play.  Something to keep in mind.

4.  Planeswalkers:  I was interested to see which planeswalkers managed to make the cut.  The ones that were played were Elspeth, both Ajani's, Liliana Vess, Sarkhan the Mad, Garruk and Jace 2.0.  The ones that didn't make the cut?  Sorin Markov, Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Tezzeret the Seeker, Nicol Bolas, Sarkhan Vol, both Chandras, and Nissa Revane.  Bolas wasn't played because no deck played the colors to support him, but I was surprised that Sorin and Tezzeret didn't see some play.  Take that info and do what you want with it.

5.  Average CMCs:  For the WotC decks, they average between 3.5 and 4.0, with the Jhoira and Omnath decks being the outliers.  For the decks that I've been writing about, my averages are typically 4.1 to 4.5.  Obviously I need to work on bringing the numbers down on my decks if I want them to be more effective.  I know that I like playing big high casting cost spells as much as the next guy, but I can't play all of them.  The cheapest average CMC for any of the decks I've shown was my Isperia deck, at 3.9.

So there you go.  Keep in mind that if you do decide to put these decks together for play, you may get ganged up on.  Zur and Jhoira especially get a lot of hate, but people definitely don't like Uril, Maga, and mono-blue decks as well.  But hopefully by looking at these decks you can get some ideas of your own to work off of.

Hope you enjoyed the overview.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO


Yeah if your cmcs are higher by Paul Leicht at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 03:31
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Yeah if your cmcs are higher it goes to show in a performance type of deck (kill quickly as opposed to hope for a late kill at some nebulous future time) you need fixing and a high land count. I'd love to see your take the decks Gavin built. The 59 land deck in particular was pretty gruesome but some of the decks performed much better than they looked on paper.

It is an interesting thing to note that the Unified formats tend to be WotC's strong point. Do you think that was on purpose to see how well the community can work together? Last year the guys were really active on MODO and got us all excited about it and played lots of practice games with us. This year none of that seemed to have happened and yet the results were similar with Joe Hill pulling out an edge case win to secure our victory. (Last October/November it was Bubba's multiball efforts that won the day because the constructed formats were so crushing.)

I wish I could build the Zur's deck but it has enough cards I don't that this will take a bit of time. On the other hand there could be some cards which get replaced with lesser effects for a similar idea. And I would have to do my own version anyway just because. I might have to get a copy of him for that purpose.

I don't know if I'm going to by Leviathan at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:27
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I don't know if I'm going to look at the Community decks. They really didn't do all that poorly, it's just that the way the scoring worked, there was a pretty huge disparity between the teams that won, and those that didn't. In fact, the Community only lost one more match than the WotC team, including the third, unreported round that dealt with determining the multiball multiplier. However, I don't know how comfortable I feel critiquing their decks, especially since it appears one (or two) guys created all of them the night before. I may take a look at them after some time has passed.

Next article I'm writing about an effective 65 land deck. So it can be done. Some of the other Community decks definitely went for a more punishing, versus a more outright powerful, strategies. I know I played against Tempesteye as he was practicing, but I didn't see anyone else. You are correct, there wasn't as much hype this year. But I think your article last week talked about that already.

The scoring for unified Standard seemed normal. I'm sure that the WotC team wants to win for bragging rights, but I don't believe that they would screw with the scoring system just to make sure they would win.

Wow, you want to build the Zur deck? I'm surprised, especially after your professed hatred of Maga decks. Talk about bringing the hate! It is obviously a good deck though, and there are a lot of options for changes.

I don't understand what Maga by Paul Leicht at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:45
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I don't understand what Maga and Zur have in common other than people might assume both are some heinous combo deck for the kill. I happen to like the way Zur works. I have played with him in very casual decks elsewhere (not on MODO) so I have a great like for his abilities. Now Maga is just heinous in and of himself and needs no intruction. As soon as I first saw that card I knew it was a kill or be killed fight. No time for slow development against that deck. Also Jhoira is another "fun" commander whom I like. But then again I hate cards like Emrakul so you would not catch me suspending him for 4 anyway in any casual format.

Rules glitch by OGB at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 11:05
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The rules glitch brough up by Bringer of the Red Dawn in the Jhoira deck is interesting. Does this mean I can use Bosh, Iron Golem as my Commander?? Or at least include him in my Karn deck?

You can use Bosh as your by Leviathan at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:25
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You can use Bosh as your commander. However, the client checks the colors used in the casting cost of your commander to determine what kind of colors your lands can produce. Meaning that if you play Bosh, your lands will only be able to produce colorless mana. Therefore, you will have a tough time being able to use Bosh's ability. However, I'm not sure if that precludes artifacts like signets from producing colored mana. It's worth looking into.

Same issue with including him in your Karn deck. Lands should only produce colorless mana. At least that's the way it used to be. I'm not sure if there have been any changes to the rules manager recently.

It is a cool rules issue though. I saw someone use Momentary Blink in a Teneb deck the other night, so it's not only for creatures.

I don't believe you can have by Paul Leicht at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:47
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I don't believe you can have colored mana of any sort that your commander doesn't cost. I haven't tested that in a while but I remember it being distinctly warned against when I was first rolling up my commander lists.

When to play by Obiah at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 17:44
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When do you play or is there a playgroup that gets together on MTGO?

I'm usually on weeknights, by Leviathan at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 19:19
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I'm usually on weeknights, 9:30 to 11:30 pm Pacific Standard Time. No playgroup, I just do pick up games with whoever is there. Not on every night though.

Lower CMC by themonkey at Mon, 06/21/2010 - 23:01
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I bet the lower CMC cost is more due to the "friendly opponent/team" environment then an optimum Commander strategy. You can rush a player while still having another player watch your back. This doesn't happen in normal multiplayer games, where if you overextend yourself one of the other opponents is going to take advantage of it.

Uril deck choices by Felorin at Tue, 06/22/2010 - 14:32
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The Shieldmage Advocate and Nurturing Licid seem like they have pretty obvious reasons in the Uril deck. Protect Uril, and protect Uril. Something like an Earthquake to wipe out Uril and lose you whatever auras were on him is a significant setback in a deck that's all about attacking with a big Uril. Likewise, the Licid helps out against big blockers, deathtouch blockers, gang-blocks, etc. by making sure you can keep swinging in with Uril every turn anyway.

Licid also has the benefit of being able to decide which creature to protect in response to removal, giving your whole team regeneration potential any time you leave extra green mana up. He can protect more than one creature sometimes, or provide a free unkillable blocker.

Consider a turn when someone's attacking you with three nasty huge creatures, and you already have the Licid on some random little elf. You also have 5 green mana open. You pay one green mana to regenerate the elf. Pay another to make Licid stop being an enchantment and be a creature. Then let Declare Blockers step arrive, block one creature with the elf, one with the Nurturing Licid, one with Uril. Then you pay and tap to make Licid an aura again, put it on Uril, and pay your 4th green to regenerate Uril. Bam, all 3 huge fatties are blocked, two of your blockers are regenerated so they don't die, the third doesn't exist as a creature any more to take damage.

Mainly though, I'd think as many ways to keep Uril around with all his auras + swinging every turn is really the focus of an Uril deck. So these two cards really fit the theme just fine. If you ever let them kill Uril with red sweepers or with blockers it sets back the plan of the deck significantly.