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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 30 2013 10:40am
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 Welcome back to the wonderful world of Commander multiplayer, as told by SUNCOM, the PRE I run every Sunday at 15:00 GMT (more info about it here). You can read about the Origin of It All in the first article of this series.

 So, while we're approaching the 50th event (wow, already? Where does all the time go?), and with the transition to the management services of Gatherling.com in a still unforeseen future (it depends on when their multiplayer platform will be enabled), we find ourselves with a group of core players that, in turn, delineate a specific meta. And with this meta, it'll come a meta issue that will either be keeping or pushing other players away from the event. The case is typical, and it's when a host needs to intervene.

 I've never liked banning stuff. It's a limitation. We adopt a format, we take in the official list of cards that aren't part of that format (sometimes entire blocks, sometimes single cards within allowed blocks), we should be fine. But then the meta kicks in, and it's when stopping something becomes necessary and a ban becomes a necessary evil. At the same time, this meta-related approach is what keeps me from preemptive banning, which I avoid at any cost. I don't want to say, "See, this card will be bad for us. Don't play it." I want to say, "See, this card has been bad for us. Stop playing it, for the time being." It's an important difference. Among other things, bans of the latter type risk to reveal themselves as meaningless. Oh yeah, there's a lot of big bad cards in every format. DCI doesn't take care of all of them, and certainly not of all those that a specific subset of players would find pernicious, since everyone has different ideas and experiences about that. The opposite is true: there might be cards you decide to eliminate from your own managed pool, because you think they're evil or that people will see them as evil, and then nobody would actually play them – there are a few examples of this back on Tribal Apocalypse, where I adopted this "ban after proof only" approach, unbanning cards like Doomsday, that was considered Enemy of the State since a long time, because of the nasty combo deck you can build around it. However, now that the Big Bad is out, it seems that it decided to just devote itself to gardening and baking, because one year later nobody ever played Doomsday. Not a single time. In other metas, maybe. In this meta, no sirree. (And why is that? Unpredictable, as people are.) So what's the point to say, "this and that go out", before actually seeing that this and that are, in fact, not just potential but actual offenders?

So nasty. So not played.

 All of this just to say that recently SUNCOM has become a constant Extra Turn Feast. There are many ways Commander can go for broken, and some of these ways might happen once in a while and nobody will get hurt (which is another principle of the "meta matters" approach: it matters only if it's a relevant presence, not something that might or might not happen, or even something that does happen, but just rarely enough). The nearly infinite recursive exploitation of all the blue Time Walk variants is one of these, and it's particularly annoying because it's a case of a player taking over the game and playing by himself for half an hour, in a format where you already risk to play a land and say go, then watch three other players going on for 20 minutes before the active player's hat comes back to you. This is why I finally decided to use the Ban Hammer on all those effects.

 Therefore I henceforth declare the following cards BANNED from SUNCOM play until further notice, effective immediately: 

It's almost like if now this card was always in play. Except for the first part. And the other extra turn effects that are allowed.

 On top of this, after SUNCOM 50 I'll introduce a new rule about the use of a commander that just won a previous event (hint: it won't be allowed). Again, I don't like to say, "These commanders are bad, let's get rid of them." Many commanders can be annoying. Some of them really annoying commanders haven't even been played so far. I prefer to limit the proliferation of a streak of wins by a same commander, due to a particular, successful list that might become too dominant out of emulation. But we'll talk about this in a month.

 TODAY'S COMMANDERS (click to go directly to the decklists): Purphoros, God of the Forge, Riku of Two Reflections, Arcum Daggson, Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker, Omnath, Locus of Mana.


SUNCOM 45

 SUNCOM 45 was won by Edison_88luckyplayer with his Niv-Mizzet deck, that had already beaten all the opposition two weeks earlier. It's mostly a solid Izzet deck (with no Time Walk effects!), but of course when you play the original Niv-Mizzet you can't help but include, and chase, the Curiosity combo (with Ophidian Eye for redundancy). As for the opposition, this time at the final table we found one of the Gods themselves, Purphoros, played by returning SUNCOM player Smaug.

 

 Going mono-red is always a tricky proposition, but he Purphoros interaction with all the red token-makers (stuff with obvious names like Goblin Assault, Goblin Offensive, Goblin Rally and Goblin Scouts, but also colorless cards like Snake Basket) more than makes up for it, that's to that sweet "each opponent" wording. It's also interesting that the deck, which is in part a Goblin tribal build, isn't really likely to reach Purphoros's devotion, something that might feel disappointing from the God's point of view: he looks more like an imprisoned entity than a worshipped deity here. There's a very particular flavor at play.

 The second finalist was justcanceled with this powerful Riku of Two Reflections build:

by justcanceled - 1st place in SUNCOM 46, Finalist in SUNCOM 45
Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Body Double
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Draining Whelk
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Lighthouse Chronologist
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Palinchron
1 Phyrexian Ingester
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Wood Elves
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Yavimaya Dryad
20 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Blatant Thievery
1 Brainstorm
1 Capsize
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Coalition Relic
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cultivate
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Hunting Wilds
1 Invoke the Firemind
1 Jace Beleren
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Krosan Grip
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nature's Lore
1 Overwhelming Intellect
1 Pact of Negation
1 Personal Tutor
1 Plasm Capture
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Primal Command
1 Remand
1 Reverberate
1 Rite of Replication
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Sol Ring
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Temporal Mastery
1 Time Stretch
1 Time Warp
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Twincast
1 Vandalblast
1 Walk the Aeons
1 Wild Ricochet
42 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Breeding Pool
1 Command Tower
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Gruul Turf
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Rupture Spire
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Tolaria West
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Coast
2 Mountain
4 Forest
4 Island
37 cards

 
Riku of Two Reflections

 

 As you can see, here there are the Time Walk effects, that paired with Riku's ability make for a really annoying combination. The meta was already cracked in that regard, but we can say that Riku is the one who ended up breaking it.


SUNCOM 46

 And Riku won SUNCOM 46 indeed; justcanceled is on a roll right now, with 3 victories over the past 7 events. After Thada's stealing and Hokori's stasis, now it's the turn of Riku's insane doubling effects. Nothing the good Edison could do to stop those, especially since he was back to his Nicol Bolas build that he already played on SUNCOM 37, as a first step toward the recently started challenge of playing all of the Elder Dragons (speaking of which, did you check the Dragonpedia and the other Dragon Week articles? No? Do it, then!).

 Also in the final rumble was a commander I personally like a lot and consider very powerful, despite the risk posed by his inherent Johnniness: Arcum Dagsson, as played by 7-time winner raf.azevedo.

by raf.azevedo - Finalist in SUNCOM 46
Creatures
1 Copper Gnomes
1 Dross Scorpion
1 Epochrasite
1 Etherium Sculptor
1 Junk Diver
1 Karn, Silver Golem
1 Manakin
1 Master Transmuter
1 Millikin
1 Myr Moonvessel
1 Myr Retriever
1 Palladium Myr
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Plague Myr
1 Scarecrone
1 Scuttlemutt
1 Silver Myr
1 Trinket Mage
18 cards

Other Spells
1 Basalt Monolith
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Clock of Omens
1 Counterspell
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Fabricate
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Hinder
1 Jester's Cap
1 Jeweled Amulet
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Memory Jar
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mycosynth Lattice
1 Myr Turbine
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Null Brooch
1 Pact of Negation
1 Possessed Portal
1 Power Artifact
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Spell Crumple
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Staff of Domination
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Torpor Orb
1 Transmute Artifact
1 Unwinding Clock
1 Voltaic Key
1 Windfall
1 Winter Orb
1 Worn Powerstone
45 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Crystal Vein
1 Dread Statuary
1 Dust Bowl
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Homeward Path
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Scrying Sheets
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Svyelunite Temple
1 Terrain Generator
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Tolaria West
20 Snow-Covered Island
36 cards

 
Arcum Dagsson

 

 I also want to feature this nice build by my countryman and experienced Commander player StGrevi, who used to play a lot in the past incarnation of SUNCOM, back when it was called Sunday Commander – formerly SEDH – and run by Steve81 (remember? I talked about it in the first article of this series). Grevi's deck is interesting mostly because you don't see Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker or this kind milling strategies very often.

 


WHAT ABOUT SOME ACTION NOW?

 This week repurposed as "What about some deck tech now?". In particular, I had a request from Gordani to analyze his latest build (i pushed him to play mono-green! Yay!) and see how it could be improved, while still mostly keeping a budget-friendly approach. As you may know, I'm a devoted green player, and I also wrote a little essay about mono-green in Commander. Let's see what we can do for this Omnath, Locus of Mana deck, then.

 

 Lands: 38 is a high number for this kind of deck in my experience. I rather have more accelerators (the good kind: land fetchers) and 35 lands. Among the utility lands we have a couple of land destroyers in Encroaching Wastes and Ghost Quarter. I prefer Tectonic Edge to the Wastes as a budget choice. You can run all three, too, land removal is never not useful. Of course Wasteland is out of reach for most, but Strip Mine is semi-budget at 6 tix (the FTV version), and it's one of those cards one plays the larger eternal formats to get access to. Reliquary Tower and Temple of the False God are good (I usually don't play the Temple out of fear of getting stuck with it and 3 lands, but it's still a staple). Rogue's Passage is nice, Treetop Village is solid. I like to play Khalni Garden too, you have a lot of use for a free creature. Cavern of Souls is a strong card, but it seems hard to be exploited in a deck that has all kind of creature types in it. I honestly wouldn't know what to call with it. There's several Elves, but who would counter a Wood Elves? Instead, Thespian's Stage is sorely missing. Vesuva is not exactly budget at 3 tix (mileage may vary), but the Stage is 5 cents and an absolute staple of the format. Same cost has Mystifying Maze, which is also good, and I'd add some budget fetchlands like the Panoramas or Krosan Verge. Deck thinning is important.

 Other mana sources: As mentioned, this section should prioritize land fetchers because they can't take the ramping effect away from you short of an Armageddon, while a mana dork can be killed. Priority 2 to the mana rocks, that can also be killed, but less likely. In a 4-man table, I always assume a creature sweeper hitting the board every 3-4 turns. Mana dork can't be trusted. Now, there's 19 alternative mana sources in the deck, that are more than enough. My rule is: run 40 lands, then take out one land every two alternative sources with cost 3 or less you add. But I usually run 35 lands and 15 other sources. In my mono-green Kamahl deck, I run 20, because I really want to be explosive and ends game with a big smash (more on that later). So, Nature's Lore, Cultivate, Wood Elves: great, essential stuff. Rampant GrowthHarrow, Farhaven Elf: okay stuff, but they get beaten by, respectively Three Visits (the land enters untapped), Kodama's Reach (you ramp two lands), and Yavimaya Dryad (again, land untapped). Also missing the important 4-mana, 2-land fetchers that complete the curve: Skyshroud Claim first (two untapped lands!), then also Hunting Wilds and, less favorably in a mono-green build, Explosive Vegetation. Other stuff here is okay, Garruk Wildspeaker is a staple, Awakening Zone is great, and there are a few mana rock replacement for higher-budget things like Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and Mana Vault. A good semi-budget option is always Coalition Relic, which is able to provide 2 mana every other turn. On higher costs Gilded Lotus is present, and that's good. Important and missing: Oracle of Mul Daya (30 cents) and Mana Reflection (a bit more pricey at 1.8 tix, but one of the first cards I'd want to procure for a green build). All of this on top of Omnath, of course, which is a huge source of mana to begin with, and probably allows for scaling down a little the entire mana compartment. (One thing to remember with him is to always keep track of the damage it gets during a turn, because you don't want to kill him accidentally by tapping into his stored mana, which cause his toughness to decrease accordingly and might result in a state-based demise).

 Card drawing and tutoring: This is a very satisfying section in the deck, with even high-profile cards (for a budget deck) like Sword of Fire and Ice Skullclamp, and Sylvan Library. All the featured cards are top-notch (Sensei's Divining Top, Harmonize, Collective Unconscious, Greater Good, Masked Admirers, Soul of the Harvest, Fierce Empath, Eternal Witness, Primal Command, Brutalizer Exarch Fauna Shaman, Lurking Predators, Genesis Wave, Green Sun's Zenith, Tooth and Nail), with the possible exception of Triumph of Ferocity, that's a bit too situational, especially in multiplayer where the chances of it triggering are somehow reduced, and Elvish Visionary, that in Commander just plays as a cantrip, although it has interaction with Skullclamp. Mostly missing are just the non-budget package of Survival of the Fittest and Genesis, and the equally expensive Regal Force (plus of course something like Natural Order). Among the semi-budget stuff, I don't dislike Summoner's Pact and Pattern of Rebirth. Both the previous section, that provides a lot of mana, and this one, that provides some high-end fetching like GSZ and Tooth and Nail, lead us to the real problem with the deck, though: it lacks a clear endgame. What do we hardcast or fetch with all the mana Omnath guarantees?

 Removal: Aside for a few necessary elements of removal in the form of non-permanents or artifacts (Umezawa's Jitte, Beast Within, Prey Upon, Krosan Grip, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Creeping Corrosion, Relic of Progenitus, Tormod's Crypt – and I honestly wouldn't run Creeping Corrosion with all those mana rocks, I'd rather have Rain of Thorns), there's a few low-curve creatures that acts as removal (Ulvenwald Tracker, Viridian Shaman, Acidic Slime, Arashi, the Sky Asunder – I think Silklash Spider might be even better as anti-flyer warfare and Glissa Sunseeker as artifact hater), and just three fattie ones of the same genre: Terastodon, Sylvan Primordial, Tornado Elemental. All realy good ones, and very fetchable with a Tooth and Nail that becomes a way to deal with opposing threats. But they're not gonna win you the game alone.

 Miscellanea: Swiftfoot Boots is essential to protect Omnath. I'd add more of this kind of stuff, starting with Lightning Greaves and all the equipment that gives indestructibility – they're all fairly cheap. Omnath is both an asset and a wincon of his own, so he needs preserving. Other than that both Savage Summoning and Strionic Resonator are a bit situational and occasionally dead draws. Although the Resonator is one of those cards that can do wonders and I can see it being a favorite (Trading Post is another one of this kind.)

 Beaters: Dungrove Elder, Thragtusk, Ant Queen, Hornet Queen. Just these. Going back to what I was saying before, we miss a few big, fat finishers here, so that we can seal the deal once the mana is ripe and the fetchers at hand. Of course, we're venturing into non-budget territory here (something like Ulamog would be great, of course), but we also have Worldspine Wurm at little more than 1 tix, and most other big Wurms can be good additions too for a few cents. But I think the #1 non-budget card that's most needed here is Craterhoof Behemoth. You fetch the Behemoth and a Hornet Queen with Tooth and Nail, somebody will probably die. There's also the Omnath angle. Omnath is a legitimate finisher, so the deck could focus on him and trying to give him protection (through the mentioned equipments) but he will also need some form of evasion. So I'm thinking Rancor, for instance. And/or Ring of Kalonia. And/or the underrated Bellowing Tanglewurm. Possibly Brawn (to be used with Fauna Shaman). And, you know, Kamahl works with all that mana and all those token creatures from the Queens and Awakening Zone. Or just with his own animated lands. Yeah, it seems that mono-green always comes back to Kamahl in the end. He's really, really powerful.

So, that's my analysis and my suggestions. Hope it'll help both Gordani, and someone else trying to build this kind of deck. Green ho!


 And that's it. See you in the SUNCOM room next Sunday at 15:00 GMT, and with the Chronicles here on PureMTGO in two weeks! Commander ho!

2 Comments

Wow, I didn't know you also by Malinsdad at Sat, 11/09/2013 - 16:42
Malinsdad's picture

Wow, I didn't know you also run a Commander tournament. I prefer duels over multiplayer, but this is great. How do I join this? For some reason, the register link in the Google docs page is not working for me.

Also, I am curious. Has anyone ever tried running a Hermit Druid combo deck? I was looking at the Hall of Fame, and I didn't see any Scion of the Ur-Dragon, or any other general that hints Hermit druid. I ask because this would be the first deck I would think of for this kind of tournament, and I find it odd that no Hermit Druid deck has won it yet. Is the hate so intense that combo decks get destroyed early?

Thanks!

Hi! Starting from today, by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 11/10/2013 - 12:16
Kumagoro42's picture

Hi! Starting from today, we're running the tournament on Gatherling.com, so you'll find the registration there during the week and until the starting time.

Nobody ever played a Hermit Druid deck to my knowledge, possibly simply due to nobody in the meta thinking of it. But it's also possible that 4-man tables make it harder to pull it off than in 1v1. Several other combo decks have been successful, anyway.
Hope to see you there next week!