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By: ShardFenix, Thomas Rayne
Oct 11 2010 2:23am
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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Part 1

Hello faithful Commander players and curious wanderers.  Welcome to another of ShardFenix's Commander Primers.  This week we were going to look at threat assessment...but none of my replays are working.  So we have a new theme.  But first we have some terrible news...

I was broke!  At the worst possible time too.  Normally my phone bill is just fine and right around $60.00 a month.  Unfortunately I met someone who lives two hours we talk...a lot.  Well my phone company really hates it when you go over the monthly limit of minutes you get.  And they tend to charge roughly $.49 a minute after that.  So my bill was $350.00...don't judge.  But I had to pay this so my phone didn't get cut off.  (I have since changed plans to have more minutes) but I had two options.  Sell my PS3 for some cash, or sell off my collection.  Well I decided to sell off my collection for two reasons.  One, I haven't been playing as much lately as I would like, so the cards are just sitting there.  Two, and this is weird, but I had everything I needed.  The decks I was building for Commander were becoming simply GoodStuff.dek.  I mean I would play black and the first cards in every time no matter what were Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Intent, Damnation, etc.  And this wasn't fun to me.  So I sold everything bots/people would buy.  I ended up with $300 dollars at the end of this which was sufficient to pay my phone bill.  But I was left with nothing...well somethings, but nothing impressive.  Out of all my decks the only workable shell I had left was my Stonebrow, Krosan Hero deck.  Even it was neutered.  So I started with Stonebrow.  I had 20.00 in credit from my previous article and had to build from there.


So there we are the newly 'refurbished' Stonebrow deck for under 30 tickets total.  I decided to include some of the suggestions from last week.  Mainly Bear Umbra, Overrun, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and alphabetizing the decklist.  So far in testing the only one I've seen is the Bear Umbra but WOW...

Hellkite Charger+Bear Umbra=

However, I don't mind the new deck at all.  I think I may have one too many "Creatures I control gain trample." effects but that easily stands to change.  Also some cards like Baloth Woodcrasher are only holding space for now.  Rampaging Baloths will certainly be returning to the deck as will Primeval Titan if I ever decide to purchase him again.  So did I learn anything from all this?  Well actually yes.  Things in life happen.  And we have no idea when or where something might pop up that can completely ruin our collection.  You may have a situation like mine.  Or you might unfortunately get hacked.  The main thing is it's just a game.  No matter what happens, its still just a game.  It may suck and you may get disheartened, but you can come back from it.  And as far as this goes with my article series, well now you get to watch me build decks on a budget as I show you how a collection can grow.

My Personal Favorite!  Theme Decks

Ok so as you can tell I love theme decks.  Of all the decks I ever built perhaps only my Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and Intet, the Dreamer were not theme decks.  Is building a theme deck easy though?  Not really.  Not even close to be honest.  I mean sure anyone can make a theme deck, but a lot of the ones I see are tribal and I'm just like meh if it's elves or goblins or something easy.  And sure its themed, same with tribal decks.  But I like the more interesting themes that take advantage of a general and their abilities.

Agrus Kos, Wojek VeteranRaksha Golden CubVhati il-DalBrion Stoutarm

All of these are decks I have thought about building.  Just for a quick overview I will discuss the main theme I'm interested in exploring with each general.

Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran= This would be a straight-up aggro beatdown deck.  It would be running support cards like Goblin Assault, Goblin Trenches, (Rise of the Hobgobolins), Glory of Warfare, Glorious Anthem, and Waves of Aggression.  Creature-wise it would focus on the Red and White double-strikers, hasters, and first strikers with Angels and Dragons filling up the fattie end. 

Raksha Golden Cub= This is obviously the 'Voltron' deck.  It would take advantage of all the cats, humans, and kor in Mirrodin and Zndikar block who get bonuses from being equipped.  I would be running Steelshaper's Gift, Quest for the Holy Relic, Stoneforge Mystic, Leonin Shikari alongside equipment like Sword of Fire and Ice, Umezawa's Jitte, and Lightning Greaves.  I would love to see what SoM has in store for this deck.

Vhati il-Dal= This would be interesting to me.  I like the colors of Black Green and they both tend to be colors with a good amount of Wither and Infect.  All those -1/-1 counters work wonders with a general whose ability turns creatures into 0/1's or in this case -1/0's.  So Night of Souls' Betrayal, Midnight Banshee, Nausea, Darkblast, Creakwood Liege and al the Infect creatures in SoM.

Brion Stoutarm= I know I said I disliked the tribal decks, but those are more the cookie cutter tribes like elves, merfolk, goblins, soldier, boring...but Giants?  Giants are Hardcore!  Ok maybe not hardcore, but I think they are fun and great for Commander.  Desolation Giant, Feudkiller's Verdict, Arbiter of Knollridge, Sunrise Sovereign, and Hamletback Goliath all backed by red and white's enormous amount of sweepers.

Following my rules that I have been laying out it's obvious I should look into a white general first since three of my suggested generals are white.  With that in mind lets take a look at some white staples.


This is actually only a suggested list of staples.  Obviously not all of these are made for all decks.  Land Tax would obviously be useful for all our decks.  The rest though tend to be situational.  For example, Sacred Mesa and Mobilization could both go into the Agrus Kos deck but would be woefully out of place in a Brion Stoutarm or Raksha build.  So to narrow this down into cards I would use lets 75% of the time that I'm playing white we are left with the following cards:

Akroma, Angel of WrathMagus of the DiskStonecloakerYosei, the Morning Star

Austere CommandCondemnFaith's FettersLand TaxReturn to DustSwords to PlowsharesWrath of God

Total Cost= $9.64 ($3.00 of which is Land Tax )

So if we are using my $20 a week limit then I am still left with $10.36 to pick out deck specific cards.  Right now it's between an Agrus-Kos deck or a Brion deck.  Come back next week and see just how we end up building.


Like the horribly translated video game screenshot above declares we do have winners from the contest.  There were a lot of guesses as far as my favorite Commander card in the new set.  Prizes only go to the people who guessed my number 1 but there were a lot of good choices. 

My top 5

5. Molten Psyche

4 Getn

3. Ratchet Bomb

2. Exsanguinate

1. Genesis Wave

We actually have four winners on this one.  Plank. Stealthbadger. Enderfall. and Lythand.  Congrats you four.  Message me in game to receive your prize(a free commander).

More contests to come to stay tuned.  Other than that that is all this week.  I hope you enjoyed what you read and please return next week for part 2 of the theme deck build.



ShardFenix, Love the NES by Xaoslegend at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 05:12
Xaoslegend's picture


Love the NES reference, Nostalgia is mondo my thing. Sorry to hear about the money issues, phone companies are full of smurfs for what they're allowed to get away with sometimes. I remember the first time I had a huge phone bill when it was being paid by my parents way back when. (parachute pants were just becoming lame even to lame people) Well after the sting of my parent's reaction to that I swore off any circumstance that would allow a phone company to rip me a new one, needless to say I do not text atm and lived without a cell phone until about five years ago.

Liquidating your collection for cash is rough, but so long as one realizes that players make the game and that having the priciest cards is just the gold plating on your grill you'll find that the best thing in this life are of very modest greenback cost once you have enough food, shelter, medical care and clothing to get by healthily enough.

In many ways I find magic on a budget to be more rewarding than magic with unlimited resources. It becomes about your ability to innovate and scrounge instead of defaulting to the "good stuff" decks.

All the best,


Hi ShardFenix, First thing's by plank at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 06:17
plank's picture

Hi ShardFenix,

First thing's first: I've sent you a message in-game from a friends account (Archorian) regarding the prize. I've got to say - Gelatinous Genesis got me quite excited too. Not a lot of M:TG formats frequently generate the sort of manapool that EDH does.

As for the article: I can sympathise about the money issues, I'm a student with a 15-month old, so money for Magic is pretty much nonexistent these days. That will pass, I'm sure. Vhati il-Dal was a lot of fun for me when Tempest came out - the idea of creating an EDH deck around him appeals!

Sorry about the money issues by Scartore at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 09:36
Scartore's picture

Sorry about the money issues Shard. I'm in the "my account got hacked" boat myself, which is one of the reasons I'm playing commander almost exclusively now. And seriously budget strapped commander as well.

I've stripped my stonebrow deck of all its "creatures gain trample" cards except for gruul war plow because it acts like a manland as well. I found that all the critters I wanted to use had trample anyways.

Sorry about the money issues, by Leviathan at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:12
Leviathan's picture

Sorry about the money issues, but at least you were able to put your collection to good use. You were also to put together what looks like a competitive list on a budget, which is nice.

I'm writing about a Brion deck this week, but it isn't giant themed. Hopefully it will give you some ideas though. I would probably add Archon of Justice to your white staples, as being able to Vindicate stuff isn't bad.

Raksha really goes well with Kemba. Just a thought. And Genesis Wave is going to be a bomb.

yeah i was going through the by ShardFenix at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:28
ShardFenix's picture

yeah i was going through the deck editor building before a list befre i ought anything ad i saw archon of justice. Took about two seconds to throw him in, so youre right.

I can't stand how much phone by enderfall at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:23
enderfall's picture

I can't stand how much phone companies charge you for going over your minutes! Sorry to hear about sacrificing your collection to pay the bill. Is skype an option for you and your friend to talk in the future?

Thanks for the contest, I'll be on later today and message you if you're online.

i increased my phone plan to by ShardFenix at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:29
ShardFenix's picture

i increased my phone plan to the next level which gave me that friends and family deal were i can call any 5 numbers for free.

Even better! by enderfall at Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:58
enderfall's picture

Even better!