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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
Jul 07 2015 12:24pm
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 Commander is the type of format that's only as fun and excited as you make it. The more creative and willing you are to explore different things, the more joyful it becomes. My friends and I are pretty willing to do just that. We don't really play Commander like everyone else does. We like to take a different approach. We play Block Commander (if you haven't checked out my article on that, click here), and we also enjoy what we call Maze Runner Commander.

 This is how it works: you each choose a Maze Runner from Return to Ravnica block as your commander, build a deck using only cards from Return to Ravnica and Ravnica: City of Guilds blocks, and enjoy! It's that easy, and I think once you play it you'll be pleasantly surprised on how competitive your deck actually is. I know some of ours are probably strong enough to take into regular Commander and they will be able to stand their ground a lot of the time.

 So to summarize the rules for you:

  1. Your Commanders must be a Maze Runner from Return to Ravnica block
  2. Your card pool consists of only cards from the blocks of Return to Ravnica and Ravnica: City of Guilds
  3. All other Commander rules and banned cards apply (this is automatic when playing Online but can be optional at your kitchen table)

 That's it. Three simple rules, and let me tell you, this format is a lot of fun! If you can't remember who exactly the Maze Runners are, I'll make it easy for ya. Below is the list of all Runners and their respective guilds.

Emmara Tandris = Selesnya Conclave

Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch = Cult of Rakdos

Lavinia of the Tenth = Azorius Senate 

Melek, Izzet Paragon = Izzet League

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker = House Dimir 

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed = Gruul Clans

Tajic, Blade of the Legion = Boros Legion

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts = Orzhov Syndicate

Varolz, the Scar-Striped = Golgari Swarm

Vorel of the Hull Clade = Simic Combine

 So far my play group hasn't encountered any problems and we don't think anything is too overpowered, but we also haven't built a deck revolving around each guild, so if your group comes across a commander or a card that is broken in this particular Commander variant then a house rule may need to be implemented, but I highly doubt you will encounter a problem that will require a special ban.

 

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 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch feeds off aggression. We don't care about defense. What's defense? This deck is all about creatures entering the red zone no matter what stands in their way. When it comes to this deck, chaos is the name of the game, and Sire of Insanity helps in creating that kind of chaos we are looking for. The sooner everyone is sitting there with empty hands and top decking, the more fun we are having!

 Rakdos, Lord of Riots even makes an appearance, giving us a chance to ramp into some really dangerous threats, such as Excruciator and Lord of the Void. I also really like seeing Stalking Vengeance in here, giving us a reason to throw our creatures into blockers that are bigger than them. Hissing Miasma also allows us to not have to worry about leaving creatures back, since more than likely people's life totals will be dwindling so fast that most won't want to attack with everything they got when it means losing life for each one.

 Honestly, if you're the kind of person who's self-conscious about your life total then I can't recommend this deck, but if all you want to do is create pandemonium, then I think you've finally found a place to call home.

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War's Toll Possibility Storm Havoc Festival

 Are these spells actually beneficial for you? Don't know. Don't care. Like I've already stated, this deck doesn't want you nor anyone else to think ahead. Really, you just want to watch the world burn.

 War's Toll is nasty for decks that would like to cast a spell but would also like to leave mana open. The second ability on War's Toll may make you lose the game if you're forcing your opponents to attack with everything they got, especially since this Exava deck doesn't have very good ways to block them. But team this enchantment up with Hissing Miasma and it won't even matter in the first place.

 Possibility Storm is a degenerate card. It turns the entire game into a complete and utter mess. Against this enchantment you may as well take those plans you had written down with your fancy quill pen and crumple them up. Throw them in the toilet. With Possibility Storm they're now worthless.

 The last card is a double edged sword. Can you win because of Havoc Festival? Yeah, I guess you could. But can you lose because of it? Yeah, it's possible. Do you care? No, you don't. Just remember, entertain Rakdos with this game you've turned into a circus and he will love you.

 

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 Tajic, Blade of the Legion is the most likely commander to kill your opponents by commander damage than any of the others mentioned in this article. Perfect scenario, Tajic will deal 21 damage to one of your poor rivals in just three turns. Of course, he will need some help from other creatures. Legion Loyalist, Boros Elite, and Daring Skyjek are all good options to have by Tajic's side in a battle. Frontline Medic is also nice since he makes all your attacking creatures indestructible.

 I like the inclusion of Sunforger as a way to tutor for narrow answers you may need in a game. Wear/Tear for those pesky noncreature permanents, Condemn for a pesky creature, and Riot Control as a way to survive and trick an opponent who's all in on beating you.

 There are some crazy bombs in this list, as well. Blazing Archon will shut down any deck that relies on winning through attacking, Aurelia, the Warleader can allow Tajic, Blade of the Legion to kill a turn sooner than usual, and my personal favorite, Razia, Boros Archangel. I like that you can redirect three damage to Tajic in a pinch.

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Blessing of the Nephilim Ethereal Armor Holy Mantle 

 Using Tajic, Blade of the Legion's battalion ability is not the only game plan here. You can also go the voltron route and enchant him with some purdy armor. Blessing of the Nephilim, along with Madcap Skills will make your indestructible commander an even bigger pain for your opponents to deal with. 

 This deck has a surprising amount of enchantments which is nice when you draw Ethereal Armor. Just goes to prove Tajic likes to look good when he's beating people's faces in.

 Ethereal Armor gives a creature first strike, which is all fine and dandy, but Holy Mantle takes it one step further. If you really want to kill someone in three turns, preventing them from even chump blocking Tajic is a sound strategy. Holy Mantle does just that.

 

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 If you like token decks than this is the deck for you, with plenty of ramp so we never have to worry about not being able to cast our high end spells, which we have a lot of. 12 ramp spells in all, including Gyre Sage, Verdant Haven, Civic Wayfinder, Mana Bloom, and Seek the Horizon. Casting our seven drop commander should never be a problem with this deck.

 The main goal here is rather simple. Spend your early turns ramping then cast as many bombs as possible, and yes, we got some bombs! Armada Wurm is a total of 10 power across the board; Giant Adephage is 14+ power if you get the chance to deal combat damage with it. Then there are cards like Slime Molding that can be cast early if you're in desperate need of a blocker, or you can hold off and create one heck of a blob to end the game with.

 Emmara Tandris makes it extremely difficult for opponents to effectively block or attack into all these tokens we're making. Team this up with Privileged Position and our opponents should just give up ever destroying any of our creatures, including our Maze Runner. Board sweepers like Cyclonic Rift or Supreme Verdict will still work, but hey, that's a chance I'm willing to take if it means beating them down with a ragtag army of Wurms, Knights, Birds, Slime, and a Rhino.

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Collective Blessing Doubling Season Palisade Giant 

 Collective Blessing is just over the top, turning all your creatures into threats, even those 2/2 Knights or 1/1 Birds you'll be busy making.

 Swarming the board becomes even easier with Doubling Season on the battlefield, and we even get value from its second ability if you have Experiment One or Gyre Sage out.

 I wish there was more synergy between Emmara Tandris and Palisade Giant because then we'd never lose from combat damage, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that. But even still, Palisade Giant will prevent a lot of damage...well, at least seven points of damage. Who's countin' anyways! 

 

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 I'm not usually a fan of mill decks, especially when everyone is playing with a pile of 99 cards. But with that said, this deck still packs a punch. It's not like the only way to win is through milling our opponents, and honestly. that is not even the idea here. We're just looking for juicy targets for Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, Dimir Doppelganger, and Sepulchral Primordial, among of things.

 I like to think of this deck as merely a control deck where you want to devote your time and resources on attacking your opponents' hands and the tops of their libraries. Spells like Nightveil Specter, Induce Paranoia, and Wit's End do a good job in doing just that.

 This deck seems like a fun deck to play, and it's exciting to see just how big we can get Wight of Precinct Six or Consuming Aberration. The deck also has some pretty nifty closers in the forms of Necropolis Regent and Mindleech Mass. If you're looking for a control deck to frustrate and lose friends with, build this deck and start milling! It's like what Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker's momma always said, "Life is like a Magic Library, you just never know what you're going to hit."

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Dream Leash Followed Footsteps Stolen Identity 

 This deck really wants to win the game by using opponents' creatures, and not just with Lazav, Dimir Mastermind or Dimir Doppelganger. You can outright steal a creature with Dream Leash, including someone else's commander.

 Followed Footsteps and Stolen Identity will copy a creature, and if that's not good enough as is, it will then create copies of that creature on each of your turns. So your opponent may think he's sitting high and mighty with that Armada Wurm now, but once you enchant it with one of these spells in a couple turns they'll be turning that smile upside down.

 You don't necessarily have to copy an opponent's creature. Making copies of Consuming Aberration or even Dimir Cutpurse is not horrible, in fact I would love five or six Cutpurses filling your hand with spells while the other players are twiddling their thumbs because they have no cards to hold anymore.

 

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 I highly encourage people to try this version of Commander out. Just like with Block Commander I wrote about, this is a cheap way to play EDH. I think most people are like me, where we have a lot of leftovers from Return to Ravnica drafts or old standard decks that we can rip apart and make one of these decks or one of your own. And as I said earlier in this article, these decks are aggressive and powerful. I'm actually surprised how fast the games are! Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch is over there attacking with unleashed minions while Emmara Tandris is ramping into giant tokens, and Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker is sitting back disrupting people and deciding what creature to copy so he can steal a win from someone else.

 It's great fun, running the maze with your friends, and if you don't belong to a play group Online then shoot me a message, add me as a buddy, and play with us. We're always looking for new players and would love some fresh meat...I mean, some fresh competition. Until next time, thanks for reading!