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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Apr 06 2016 10:00am
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 "That's weird," you apostrophize. "I don't remember seeing Fun With Commander numbers 1 through 4."

Well they ran on this very site! It was only three years ago; what is wrong with your memory?

Deck 1 Commander Zada

The limitation of Zada is it's not an Ink-Treader Nephilim, meaning you can't target your opponent's creatures—so no Threaten tricks, and the amount you will draw from a Crimson Wisps is cut in half. However, not targeting your opponent's creatures can also be a strength. It means you are able to cast Increasing Savagery without sharing. (Well commander limits us to mono-red, so no Savagery specifically, but you get the idea).

    Crimson Wisps

A good place to start with is cantrips. Even when cut in half, they are still quite great. A mere two non-Zada creatures in play makes Crimson Wisps an Ancestral Recall. If I could run fifteen of those, I would, but I can't even run four of them; this is commander; I can only run one—but red has a lot of cantrips that target a creature.

Note that our thirst for cantrips will even cause us to use suboptimal ones. Stun is more mana and provides no benefit outside of the cantrip itself. Boiling Blood is up to three mana; Flare is a slotrip and an actual liability! And yet even so, running one each of those is better than the alternative—having fewer cantrips in our deck—so trust me, you still want to run them. A three-mana Ancestral is still powerful. Especially since it sometimes draws even more than three cards.

The next Zada trick is pump, and again, the singleton nature of Commander causes us to run some suboptimal (but still playable) choices. Instead of a bunch of Brute Forces, we have to downgrade some of them to Slaughter Cry. And we have room for some miscellaneous Zada tricks, like Twinflame and Seize the Day.

There's more to the deck than just tricks though! We have to think about our creature base. Specifically, we're looking for creatures we can drop early, because the more pre-Zada guys we have going, the better. Let's look in these three categories:

Adding some good ol' fashioned removal (Flame Javelin and Spitting Earth being my favorites), we've got most of the deck together. Here's how I envisioned it, although please feel free to customize.


Deck 2 Commander Macar

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

Now this guy is cool. He's as flavorful as Aurification, yet his version of that concept is much stronger since it permanently removes the creature.

    Witches' Eye

To start, let's look exactly where Wizards wanted us to start when we look for combos for cards with inspired—at cards that tap our own creatures. (That way, we don't have to risk attacking with our inspired guy.) The Theros block had a number of these, like Witches' Eye and Siren Song Lyre, but there are a lot from older blocks too that are even stronger. Paradise Mantle, Springleaf Drum, Leonin Bola, and even Hankyu (ou're elcome) can do the trick quickly and cheaply. Since we need as many singletons as we can, we'll even conscript junk like Honor-Worn Shaku. Is this the first time the Shaku has seen play outside of draft? (Even in draft it's a reluctant inclusion!) Puppet Strings lets us not only tap our own Macar, but also untap him to get double (and quicker) triggers per turn, or even go defensive and tap an opponent's creature out. Versatile!!

My instinct was to say "that's still not enough tappers; let's include more." But then reality set in, as I searched through Gatherer—there weren't any more in black or colorless that I would consider playable. Fortunately, that's not the only way to get a risk-free tap out of Macar! The two other ways are to make him unblockable (Rime Transfusion, Sleeper's Guile, Grisly Transformation) and to give him protection (Skeletal Grimace, Ring of Xathrid, Strands of Undeath). If this is sounding like a lot, remember that we want to do this every single game. We cannot rely on the luck of drawing from a handful of singletons. Gotta inundate! The payoff is strong enough to justify the deck dilution.

Like the above deck, we'll benefit from a little stall as we set up. Black is strong at this, from classics Will-o'-the-Wisp and Wall of Souls to newcomers Stinkweed Imp and Gloom Surgeon. An added bonus of these defensive creatures is they give us things to tap besides Macar.

To win the game, we'll use what we already have. So instead of just dropping a random bomb like Spirit of the Night to do our dirty work for us, let's turn one of the above cards into a bomb. Will-o'-the-Wisps wearing a Lashwrithe or Nightmare Lash can be quite a threat. And the rest of the deck is just removal and general goodstuff. (Note that there is some bleed across categories. Many of the items listed under "Macar enablers" serve dual purposes. Black Oak of Odunos is also a defensive card; Rime Transfusion is also a win condition depending on whom it enchants. The "removal" spell that is Drain Life could also win the game if you have a Magus of the Coffers out.)



Deck 3 Commander Reki

Reki, the History of Kamigawa

This is a commander that lets us go nuts. Our gameplan should be pretty obvious:

  • Turns 1 and 2: Drop some non-legendary accel and/or defense.
  • Turn 3 (or 2, off a Llanowar Elves-type): Cast Reki. (Ideally, equipping the previous turn's Lightning Greaves, but we can't rely on this.)
  • Subsequent turns: Cast a ton of Legendary spells; draw a ton of cards; cast more stuff; overwhelm the opponent; achieve glory.
    Kodama of the South Tree

Our extreme hunger for legendary spells will cause us to make some humorous choices. For example, we'll run Kodama of the South Tree next to VERY few spirits and arcane spells. He's a vanilla 4/4 in most games... yet he's also cantripping and only four mana, so that's still worth it. More still, we're running Oath of Nissa next to ZERO planeswalkers. But it's one single mana to sift and draw TWO cards, so again—worth it!

There's not much to say about most of the legendary creatures besides "run most of them that exist." Some we can safely skip: Kaysa and Shisato, Whispering Hunter are a bit underpowered; Nylea, God of the Hunt and Nissa, Vastwood Seer are a bit overpowered for the Just For Fun room. But just skim through the legendary green creatures that have ever been printed and take most of them.

Also remember that Reki triggers off of legendary non-creatures. Hall of Triumph and Predator, Flagship are worth inclusion when they cantrip. Honden of Life's Web felt a little underwhelming to me so I cut it. Many legendary artifacts themselves pair with our heavy-legend theme, such as Sword of the Chosen, Tenza, Godo's Maul, and Heroes' Podium. Then there are legends-matters cards that are not themselves legendary, such as Hero's Blade.

We will need acceleration, like, a LOT of acceleration, not only because we'll be casting several spells every turn, but because many of those spells are expensive, and we also have to accommodate our various activated abilities. I noticed that many of the legendary creatures were elf lords, so let's choose acceleration that is elf-based. We should also pick some non-elf ones that are powerful enough to justify breaking theme, like Emerald Medallion, Gaea's Touch, and Vernal Bloom.

Lastly, some general goodstuff. Artifact and enchantment removal are always important, and again let's make it elf-based when possible (Viridian Zealot, Elvish Scrapper, Elvish Lyrist). Desert Twister is playable with this much accel, and I've never seen anyone but me run Tornado, but I really like it! What usually happens is you drop it for 5, pay 2GG the next turn to remove a permanent, and pay 2GGG and 3 life the next turn to remove a second permanent. (Sometimes it's advantageous to even go another 2G and 6 life for a third permanent without paying the upkeep again. Rare, but it certainly comes up.)



See you next time!