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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Aug 21 2013 7:24am
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 When I first came to Magic Online four years ago, I had never heard of Commander. That could be because, at the time, Wizards of the Coast would call it "an online-only format" (it's still listed among those in certain official pages, despite the Commander product released for paper Magic in 2011). Then again, I had never heard of the original EDH format as well, and that was strictly paper.

 I was quickly hooked, though, because it took me very few games to see that Commander was inherently about something I always wished Magic would be about: card research. You see, this game, in virtue of its own ever-expanding, collectible nature, quickly reached a point where its theoretical components amounted to several thousands. Currently more than 13,000 different cards are in existence, and all of them are elements of the game. Except not really, because the vast majority of them are never played in Constructed formats. I'd say no more than 5% of them are actually used for constructed competitive play, let's say 10% if we’re being generous and account for rogue decks. I believe the Commander pool might well be up to three or four times that figure.

  

When was the last time you played with these cards in Legacy?

 Commander uses cards that no other format uses, and more cards than any other. How so? Because of some of its inherent characteristics:

  • for starters, it's a format that requires 100 cards per deck, so you need to reach out more;
  • it's a Singleton format, therefore most of those 100 cards (say, at least 75) are always unique;
  • the decks are based around the colors and abilities of any of 500 different legendary creatures, so the choices are often influenced by a top-down approach;
  • it's a multiplayer format, therefore all the cards designed with multiplayer in mind, and usually dismissed in 1v1 formats, are part of the deal;
  • it has a slow, strategical setup (due to 40 starting life and traditionally 3 opponents, free for all), therefore all those high CMC cards you would never consider in other formats are commonly played in Commander;
  • it uses its own ban list, which is way less restrictive than Legacy's, including several Vintage cards.

 On top of all this, Commander is also what it's called "a casual format", which is always a tricky concept to define, but in the end mainly means that Wizards doesn't sanction tournament play for the format. The actual "casual" nature of Commander is debatable, and while it's true that's possibly the best "kitchen table" format Magic can provide, that doesn't mean that the builds are doomed to all resemble the mindless 100-card decks people build for fun, to privilege randomness without caring about internal consistency. Commander is quite the opposite of that. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that Commander is a format that requires advanced deckbuilding skill. Which isn't to say that a beginner wouldn't be able to put 100 cards together and play and have fun; it's actually flexible that way. But the intricacies of building a Commander deck that works like a Swiss clock towards a single battleplan, and never skips a beat, well, those require experience to be fully mastered. Moving parts, interconnections, careful redundancies, that's the bread and butter of a competitive Commander deck. And card research is an important component of it, both active and passive: in Commander, every game you join, you have the chance of be reminded of some cool card that you never saw before or forgot about.

   

I know, right?

 But I just wrote the fateful word, "competitive". Which brought us to the reason why I'm writing this. Once upon a time, there used to be a Commander PRE held every Sunday and called, aptly enough, "Sunday Commander" (formerly "Sunday EDH", and in fact "SEDH" was still the name of the chat room). The host was my fellow citizen Stefano Balocco aka Col_Stefano aka Steve81. Strangely enough, I never met Stefano in real life for a reason or another, but we became online friends and shared many a Commander table. Last summer, however, life played a bad trick on Stefano and he was forced to suspend any online activity, including his PRE. Since then, I wished to rebuild it, running it myself in the hope that one day Stefano will be back and ready to resume from where he left. In the end, I managed to create a new PRE, with the help of the one and only community leader BlippyTheSlug. Its name is Sunday Commander Overdrive!, or SUNCOM, and every information about it can be found here. This bi-weekly series of articles will chronicle my attempt at running it in the best of ways, balancing the broken plays that competitive Commander can easily generate with a more experimental feeling of research, all without putting hand at the ban hammer. Tricky, uh?

THE STORY SO FAR

 SUNCOM started in December 2012, running every week for a total of 35 events and counting. We began small, and we still gravitate around 10-12 players per event, but with more than 50 players taking turns at them. We just do a preliminary round o (usually) f 3-4 tables, the winners of which will face in the final table, that awards prizes to all the participants. This way, the tournament is fast and easy, and you don't risk having to play all day (for the uninitiated: 4-man Commander games can be quite long). We also always end before WAFTT begins, so Commander players who are also Modern players don't have to worry about missing it.

This guy sometimes has to work double shifts

 What did I learn from this experience running a Commander PRE? Well, mostly, that Commander players tend to stick to one deck for a while, trying to better it week after week, especially if a competition and tix are involved. Also because of what I was talking about earlier: these builds are complex, so they're always works in progress, you're always seeking cards that better fit your plan and you missed. The consequence of this, though, is the risk of seeing the same decks over and over again, especially within an environment that involves a limited number of people. SUNCOM is essentially still in a phase where it's a virtual kitchen table, or better a clubhouse where weekly games are organized for its members (but everyone is welcome to join the club!). And as the club manager, I get to dictate the rules. My initial approach to this was to avoid any interference and observe, my ultimate goal always being to try and shape the environment in a way that would allow that kind of research I most closely associate the format with. I knew that wasn't going to happen by itself, and I knew I wasn't going to ban anything, because I wanted my kitchen table to feel as more universal as possible. My attack point was another entirely.

 Around the 25th event, we had 3 players who won 3 events each with the same deck. It wasn't exactly dominance (fortunately), but it was time to start my evil scheme. I announced the Table of Champions (TOC), a special out-of-event table where the 4 best players would challenge each other, win good prizes including a Survival of the Fittest to the winner (see what I did there?), and then retire their power decks for the next 25 events, until another TOC will be held. The 4th player qualified a couple events later. Those are the reigning SUNCOM Champions, and in exchange of taking away their best decks, thusly forcing them to come up with something else, I gave them seating seed priority, so they can't face each other in a preliminary table. With the next TOC, a new set of Champions will be crowned, and so on. (Every 4 TOCs, which is about every 2 years, we'll do a Table of Champions of Champions with the 4 TOC Winners— with some crazy Wasteland-level prize).

 This said, these are the 4 Reigning Champions, and their 4 decklists that they're not allowed to annoy anyone with for a while.

by slug360 - 1st place in SUNCOM 1, 2, 5, 21
Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Duplicant
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Fierce Empath
1 Genesis
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Sun Titan
1 Sylvan Ranger
1 Thragtusk
1 Tilling Treefolk
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Wood Elves
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Yavimaya Dryad
27 cards

Other Spells
1 Akroma's Vengeance
1 All Is Dust
1 Austere Command
1 Cultivate
1 Eladamri's Call
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Expedition Map
1 Explore
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Gideon Jura
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Harmonize
1 Karn Liberated
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Martial Coup
1 Mirari's Wake
1 Natural Order
1 Nature's Lore
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Primal Command
1 Rampant Growth
1 Reap and Sow
1 Rout
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Sylvan Library
1 Sylvan Scrying
1 Three Visits
1 Wrath of God
32 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Dust Bowl
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Flooded Strand
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Kor Haven
1 Krosan Verge
1 Marsh Flats
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Petrified Field
1 Savannah
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Strip Mine
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Vesuva
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Hollow
11 Forest
5 Plains
40 cards

 
Captain Sisay

 

 Again with slug360? This guy is everywhere! Looks like our Spanish tribal wonder is also an excellent Commander player. Sisay is a powerful commander, what with her casting a conditional Demonic Tutor for free each turn. But the list is fair enough, based on strong cards and plays but nothing too broken.

 

 This deck by Taiwan player Edison_88luckyplayer (who always end the tournament when it's late night for him!) was particularly hated. Indeed, Arcanis (with favorite toys like Freed from the Real or Thousand-Year Elixir) guarantees crazy consistency to blue builds that then try to steal the game from everyone else, usually through endless recursion of Time Walk spells, which is probably the most annoying thing ever. There's just a couple of those here (Walk the Aeons, Temporal Manipulation, Capture of Jingzhou), but the battleplan is mainly aimed to ramp via things like Extraplanar LensGauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, High Tide and Dreamscape Artist (or even Apprentice Wizard! See what I mean when I say that in Commander your pool of cards extends into unfathomable directions?), then empty an already thinned library with Jin-Gitaxias, Thought Lash, or Enter the Infinite, in order to achieve a Laboratory Maniac win.

by Frenzy277 - 1st place in SUNCOM 19, 22, 25
Creatures
1 Arbor Elf
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloom Tender
1 Boreal Druid
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Copperhorn Scout
1 Devoted Druid
1 Elvish Archdruid
1 Elvish Harbinger
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Eternal Witness
1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Greenweaver Druid
1 Heart Warden
1 Heritage Druid
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Joraga Treespeaker
1 Leaf Gilder
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lys Alana Huntmaster
1 Magus of the Future
1 Multani's Acolyte
1 Nettle Sentinel
1 Priest of Titania
1 Primordial Sage
1 Quirion Elves
1 Quirion Ranger
1 Regal Force
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Scryb Ranger
1 Seeker of Skybreak
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
1 Terastodon
1 Tidespout Tyrant
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Viridian Corrupter
1 Viridian Joiner
1 Viridian Zealot
1 Wirewood Channeler
1 Wirewood Symbiote
44 cards

Other Spells
1 Brainstorm
1 Chord of Calling
1 Cloudstone Curio
1 Concordant Crossroads
1 Crop Rotation
1 Glimpse of Nature
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Holistic Wisdom
1 Intruder Alarm
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mind Bend
1 Ponder
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Sylvan Tutor
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Umbral Mantle
1 Vitalize
1 Whim of Volrath
1 Windfall
1 Winter Orb
24 cards
Lands
1 Breeding Pool
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Strand
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Tropical Island
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Yavimaya Coast
17 Forest
3 Island
31 cards

 
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

 

 Slovak player Tomáš Tomeček (I like names with complicate accents!), better known as Frenzy277 went on to become the first Champion of Champion, thanks to Momir's extreme creature tutoring power, and typical Elvish infinite mana combos. Those are nothing new in any format really, but still elicited a bit of outcry because this deck is VERY consistent. But considering that we had a weirdly consistent Helm of Obedience combo deck (only briefly, fortunately, and winning only one event), facing some version of Elfball feels almost reassuring. Card you rarely see: Whim of Volrath. I'm not even sure I wanna know the mischievous things these Elves managed to do with that unassuming trick.

by Robin88 - 1st place in SUNCOM 8, 20, 27
Creatures
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Mother of Runes
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Stuffy Doll
1 Trinket Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
7 cards

Other Spells
1 Alexi's Cloak
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Aura of Silence
1 Azorius Signet
1 Batterskull
1 Bitterblossom
1 Bribery
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Chrome Mox
1 Coalition Relic
1 Contamination
1 Counterspell
1 Dimir Signet
1 Duress
1 Empyrial Armor
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Guilty Conscience
1 Hinder
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Karn Liberated
1 Land Tax
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Lim-Dul's Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Drain
1 Mana Leak
1 Mind Twist
1 Mox Diamond
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Necromancy
1 Negate
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Pact of Negation
1 Path to Exile
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Prison Term
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Seal of Doom
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Sol Ring
1 Steel of the Godhead
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Talisman of Dominance
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Terminus
1 Timely Reinforcements
54 cards
Lands
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Command Tower
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Marsh Flats
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Scrubland
1 Seachrome Coast
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Sejiri Refuge
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Tolaria West
1 Transguild Promenade
1 Tundra
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
2 Island
2 Swamp
1 Plains
38 cards

 
Zur the Enchanter

 

 Zur is a Voltron type of deck, where the Commander does all the job by megaborg itself. In particular, Zur is able to self-providing what's needed for him to kick ass, so what the rest of the deck has to do is just trying and protect him somehow. Robin Yuen aka Robin88, from Hong Kong (cool to have several Asian players as regulars in the event, isn't it?), has piloted Zur to 3 wins, so Zur surely likes him.

 And now, after 4 players with numbers in their names, let's skip to last week and players without numbers in their names.

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENT: SUNCOM 35-36

 To date, two players are already qualified for TOC 2 (that'll take place after SUNCOM 50, as soon as there will be 4 qualified players with 3 wins or more). The most recent is our resident Brazilian raf.azevedo with his extremely feared Grand Arbiter Augustin IV hose deck (after a previous win with Momir in Event 18):

by raf.azevedo - 1st place in SUNCOM 31, 32
Creatures
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Gilded Drake
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Sun Titan
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
6 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Arcane Denial
1 Armageddon
1 Aura of Silence
1 Azorius Signet
1 Brainstorm
1 Bribery
1 Careful Consideration
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Coldsteel Heart
1 Compulsive Research
1 Condescend
1 Counterspell
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Detention Sphere
1 Dismiss
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Foil
1 Forbid
1 Force Spike
1 Future Sight
1 Impulse
1 Jace Beleren
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Mana Leak
1 Mana Tithe
1 Miscalculation
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Path to Exile
1 Preordain
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Remand
1 Rhystic Study
1 Rising Waters
1 Rite of Replication
1 Sky Diamond
1 Sol Ring
1 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Terminus
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Think Twice
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Winter Orb
1 Wrath of God
56 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Ancient Den
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Command Tower
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Dust Bowl
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Flood Plain
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Kor Haven
1 Marsh Flats
1 Mystic Gate
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Seachrome Coast
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Strip Mine
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tolaria West
1 Island
2 Snow-Covered Plains
9 Snow-Covered Island
37 cards

 
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

 

 But the first to qualify was Canadian player _BIG_BROTHERS_, who's well known among the Tribal Apocalypse crowd for being an Elf specialist. Well, Commander shows BIG's penta-colored side (mmm, I guess that would be five sides, right?), thanks to Child of Alara's goodness:

by _BIG_BROTHERS_ - 1st place in SUNCOM 4, 13, 28, 33
Creatures
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Body Double
1 Clone
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Eternal Witness
1 Kederekt Leviathan
1 Myojin of Night's Reach
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Riftsweeper
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Sun Titan
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
1 Yavimaya Elder
18 cards

Other Spells
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Austere Command
1 Banishing Stroke
1 Bribery
1 Capsize
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Condemn
1 Corrupted Conscience
1 Cultivate
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Day of Judgment
1 Defense of the Heart
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Devastation Tide
1 Diabolic Servitude
1 Evacuation
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Genesis Wave
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Journey of Discovery
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Praetor's Counsel
1 Primal Command
1 Rampant Growth
1 Recollect
1 Reforge the Soul
1 Regrowth
1 Rise from the Grave
1 Rite of Replication
1 Sol Ring
1 Soulquake
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Sylvan Scrying
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Terminus
1 Time Reversal
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Worldly Tutor
43 cards
Lands
1 Badlands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Breeding Pool
1 Command Tower
1 Diamond Valley
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Krosan Verge
1 Maze of Ith
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Petrified Field
1 Plateau
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Savannah
1 Steam Vents
1 Strip Mine
1 Taiga
1 Temple of the False God
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Vesuva
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath
5 Forest
3 Island
2 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Mountain
38 cards

 
Child of Alara

 

 Among the many, many things this deck can do (when the mana base doesn't get in the way) is to try and Capsize an Eternal Witness to recur a Time Walk spell, which means good game for everyone else. It's a solid if ballsy build in general, and BIG is an expert pilot, but don't feel like you already lost when you see it at your table, as the deck won 4 times but out of 22 participations (which makes BIG the most assiduous SUNCOM player along with Edison).

 BIG was also the first to explicitly embrace the Step Two in my Secret Plan to Promote Diversity. I figured people would be more willing to change commander and deck if there was an incentive to it, rather than if I just forced it with my iron fist. So around SUNCOM 31 I established an ongoing Challenge, rewarded with a special Jackpot, that's in turn made up of any tix from the weekly pool in excess of 10 (the pool is 1 tix per registered player), plus anything I might end up winning as a host, this way also allowing myself to play in my own tournament without causing awkward situations where I can't win prizes but I'm just taking them away from someone else. Now I will still take them away (not that it's that likely), but then I will give them back to the winner of the Challenge! So I play for the people, in a way.

 The first issued Challenge is: play with 10 different commanders in as many events (not necessarily consecutive). And in order to start the run for the Jackpot, BIG decided to bench the Child prematurely, and played with this deck instead, that still reached the final table.

 

 I believe raf might have done the same (without telling me) because he didn't play Augustin as well, in favor of Maelstrom Wanderer... and managed to win the event with it!

by raf.azevedo - 1st place in SUNCOM 35
Creatures
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Brutalizer Exarch
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Frost Titan
1 Inferno Titan
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Sphinx of Uthuun
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Wurmcoil Engine
13 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Apocalypse
1 Basalt Monolith
1 Beast Within
1 Boundless Realms
1 Brainstorm
1 Bribery
1 Burning of Xinye
1 Capsize
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Coalition Relic
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cultivate
1 Destructive Force
1 Devastation
1 Explore
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Gruul Signet
1 Izzet Charm
1 Izzet Signet
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Jokulhaups
1 Karn Liberated
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Lotus Bloom
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nature's Lore
1 Obliterate
1 Ral Zarek
1 Rampant Growth
1 Reap and Sow
1 Simic Signet
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Slagstorm
1 Sylvan Library
1 Talisman of Impulse
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Temporal Mastery
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Urban Evolution
1 Walk the Aeons
1 Wildfire
1 Zealous Conscripts
47 cards
Lands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Breeding Pool
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Crystal Vein
1 Gruul Turf
1 Hickory Woodlot
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Karplusan Forest
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Sandstone Needle
1 Saprazzan Skerry
1 Shivan Reef
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terrain Generator
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Yavimaya Coast
6 Snow-Covered Forest
5 Snow-Covered Island
4 Snow-Covered Mountain
39 cards

 
Maelstrom Wanderer

 

 Capture of Jingzhou might be the most popular Time Warp functional reprint, possibly because it's the cheapest (I doubt that would be true for the original Portal Three Kingdoms paper card). Or maybe it's the exotic, historical name, although that makes the flavor of the card entirely baffling.

 And what would you know, both BIG and raf went on to take the final table in SUNCOM 36 as well, again changing Commander (BIG was using Karador, Ghost Chieftain this time) and again with raf ending on top, thanks to Arcum Dagsson and his artifact shenanigans:

by raf.azevedo - 1st place in SUNCOM 36
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 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
44 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Crystal Vein
1 Dread Statuary
1 Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Scrying Sheets
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Strip Mine
1 Svyelunite Temple
1 Terrain Generator
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Tolaria West
20 Snow-Covered Island
37 cards

 
Arcum Dagsson

 

 I've always liked Arcum (and built at least once), one of the most satisfying thematic commanders. So many combos in there!

 Anyway, raf is having an amazing streak right now (4 first place and 1 final in the last 6 events!), and both him and BIG have played 3 different since SUNCOM 31, and so have other players. Who will manage to reach 10 first? Or will we have a split prize in the end? Once the current Challenge will be cleared, a new and different one will be issued (probably involving playing 5 specific commanders out of a cycle, or something. I still have to decide). Good brewing!

WHAT ABOUT SOME ACTION NOW?

 All right, let's end this inaugural installment with some sweet game video replay. This is one of the preliminary table from SUNCOM 35, a particularly entertaining game between Edison_88luckyplayer who was playing Adun Oakenshield, McCartnay with Kaalia of the Vast, and myself playing Prime Speaker Zegana.

  

A dull-looking guy (for someone who can raise the dead!) and two weird-looking ladies.

 Watch the video while enjoying my old-fashioned, Leviathan-style write-up, as a homage to the best and most prolific Commander writer on PureMTGO (and my eternal inspiration), Mr. Mike Morales!

 A = Adun, K = Kaalia, Z = Zegana (me). My opening hand:

Verdant CatacombsFierce EmpathForestJace BelerenTezzeret the SeekerAnt QueenYavimaya Coast

 Verdant Catacombs, Fierce Empath, Forest, Jace Beleren, Tezzeret the Seeker, Ant Queen, Yavimaya Coast.

 Not an excellent hand, considering my deck packs a lot of accelerators (as it's usual for my green-based builds). My 3 lands allow me to play Jace to hit more mana resources, though, possibly +1-ing him to build goodwill and avoid for him to be killed too soon. Then Tezzeret will fetch Sol Ring and Mana Vault. It's a go.

Round 1
K: Dragonskull Summit.
Z: Draw Thran Dynamo. Play Forest.
A: Forest.

Round 2
K: No land, no play. Ouch. In the cleanup, he's forced to discard Balefire Dragon.
Z: Draw Reflecting Pool. Crack Verdant Catacombs to fetch Tropical Island (39).
A: Swamp, then Fellwar Stone.

Round 3
K: Sulfurous Springs, then (Animated Dead) on the Dragon. He admits he wasn't a tactic, just a topdeck that saved him. How to pass from a bad place to a leading position.
Z: Draw and play Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.
A: Mountain, then Chromatic Lantern.

Round 4
K: Boros Signet. Attacks A with the Dragon (35). The trigger does nothing.
Z: Draw and play Misty Rainforest into Island. Then play Thran Dynamo. I'll untap with 8 mana next turn, but that Dragon is going to wreak havoc. But I have a solution.
A: Mountain, then Soul of the Harvest. Ah, the animated Dragon will only do 5 damage to that, not enough to kill it!

Round 5
K: Mountain, the attacks A again with the Dragon (30).
Z: Draw Glen Elendra Archmage. Play Yavimaya Coast, then the Archmage, the Fierce Empath fetching Sylvan Primordial and leaving Tropical Island open. Next turn, that Animate Dead is going away and the Dragon with it. In the meantime, the Archmage is able to block it and also counter something funny he might think to do to hinder my plan.
A: Forest, then Phyrexian Arena and Loxodon Warhammer. I joke that he's giving the Primordial a lot of choices. Then he attacks K with the Soul of the Harvest (34). In A's end phase, K casts Terminate on my Archmage. I let her die and come back, no point in countering it. He's clearly trying to prevent me from blocking the Dragon AND countering something.

Round 6
K: Mountain. As predicted, he attacks me with the Dragon this time. And here I make my first mistake, a misclick, giving away the chance to block the Dragon. I go down to 33 life and lose the Empath too. Then he casts Perish, killing A's Elemental as well. So I'd have lost the Empath anyway. My misclick cost me 5 life, though, which might prove crucial later.
Z: Draw Forest, play Reflecting Pool. Then it's Primordial time. I kill the Animate Dead and the Arena, fetching a Forest and Breeding Pool in the process. Then I use Oran-Rief to make the Primordial a 7/9. K complains about reach being a pain in the ass for Kaalia. It's the reason I fetched the Primordial and not Terastodon or Woodfall Primus.

You shall not pass, redhead!

A: Sol Ring, then Primordial Sage. Not as good as the Soul, but nearly. He then goes on to play Sakura-Tribe Elder and draws one card out of it.

Round 7
K: Casts Kaalia, then Reckless Charge, making her a 5/2 haste. Scary for A, whom indeed gets attacked. As a nastier surprise, Kaalia's trigger drops onto the battlefield no less than Rakdos the Defiler, tapped and attacking, so he skips his sacrifice but rains it on poor A like hellfire. A goes down to 18 and has to sacrifice 6 permanents, which is Emrakul-level. He chooses Mountain, Forest, Swamp, Fellwar Stone, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Sol Ring. That seems hard to come back from, considering he has only 1 card left in hand. K then plays Mountain and says go.

That's one of the craziest combos you can do with Kaalia.

Z: Draw Woodfall Primus, play Forest. My hand is Jace, Tezzeret, Ant Queen, Primus. I decide that I need reinforcements, so it's time to drop Zegana. With her trigger on the stack, I put an additional counter on her via Oran-Rief, so she's a 9/9 and gets me 9 fresh cards. She may not have the strategical sagacity of Momir Vig, but if you like ramping on Simic as much as I do, she can't be beaten. I draw Momir (lupus in fabula!), Mana Crypt,Command Tower, Lurking Predators, Caged Sun, Farhaven Elf, Island, Mystic Snake, and Vigor. I drop the Crypt, then the Sun, saying green. I keep the Primordial in defense and next turn I'll untap with up to 22 mana. Seems enough, so I discard Tezzeret, the land-fetching Elf and the two lands.
A: Drops Adun, the attacks K with the Sage (30), trusting that I won't attack him yet, being so far behind after enduring Rakdos' fury. It's worth noting that he chose to keep the Warhammer over a mana source, probably in the hope of being able to take some life back with lifelink while I dealt with Kaalia.

Round 8
 K: Attacks A with Kaalia, dropping an Angelic Arbiter (11). The Primordial really caused Kaalia to redirect entirely her attacks on A (I guess K regretted not to have saved that Terminate for my big no fly zone). The Arbiter is annoying, but I'm still intent in building my board to inevitability, and I can fetch solutions to him through Momir anyway.
Z: Mana Crypt's trigger drops me to 30. Draw Djinn of Wishes. I cast Momir, then Mystic Snake (wasting its effect) to tutor an anti-air bomb directly to my hand. I thought I was packing Tornado Elemental, but I was wrong (it's because this is actually a Primal Surge deck where everything is a permanent except the Surge, so if I hit it, I'll put my whole deck into play (giving everything haste with Akroma's Memorial), and at that point Tornado Elemental would kill my own flyers, since the effect is mandatory. I have to make it do with Silklash Spider then, which is good but right now can't kill more than Kaalia. I cast the Spider, keep my mana open for the activation, and say go. With the Momir trigger from the Spider, I put Vorinclex on the top of the library.
A: Bloodstained Mire (which is turned into a mana-producing land by the Lantern), then Devoted Druid drawing a card out of the Sage. The Arbiter is still preventing anyone who cast something to attack, but K has Rakdos in defense anyway.

So not Tornado Elemental. But still good, sometimes better.

Round 9
K: Before his attack, I activate the Spider for 3 damage, killing Kaalia. He plays a Snow-Covered Swamp, then Harvester of Souls. This guy will prove decisive soon.
Z: Mana Crypts brings me down to 27. That thing really hates me. I draw Vorinclex as expected. K is expecting to die this turn. I execute a big plan: cast Vorinclex, fetching Craterhoof Behemoth on top of the library, then Djinn of Wishes to draw into the Behemoth.  Then I activate the Spider, killing Rakdos, the Angel, and my own Djinn. Why I didn't do that BEFORE casting the Djinn beats me. The result is that K draws 3 cards out of the Harvester, going up to 4. That's bad. Even worse is that my math was wrong and I'm 1 mana short of casting the Behemoth this turn. In that case, I could have killed K right there. I didn't have another, cheaper blue creature to use to draw it, but I had Jace! I really managed to turn a potentially triumphant turn into an embarrassing series of mistakes here. I ruefully cast Vigor, fetching a Phyrexian Ingester on the top of my library, the attack K with Zegana for 10 damage (20).
A: Suddenly, it's A's big turn too. He plays Mountain, then thanks to a double Druid activation, casts Molten Primordial, drawing a card out of the Sage and "borrowing" K's Harvester and my Vigor. Then he attacks me with his whole team! I've several blockes, but Vigor on his side will only make his creatures bigger. Damn my Vigor! My last turn is really haunting me, did I do anything right at all? I block only the Primordial with Vorinclex, making it a whopping 14/12, and the Primordial Sage (Primordials everywhere!) with my Spider, turning him into a 7/8. I take 12 damage from Adun, the Harvester and Vigor (15). I choose not to chump block with anything because the Behemoth is coming next turn, and a creature more might make the difference.

Round 10
K: Grim Tutor (17), then untapped Sacred Foundry (15). That eerily spells reset spell. Indeed, it's Cataclysm, one of the most radical resets in the game. Every bet is off now.

The name isn't just for flavor.

 Time for hard decisions: K keeps Boros Signet, Harvester of Souls and Sacred Foundry. I keep Thran Dynamo, Momir Vig and Breeding Pool. My reasoning is: I've enough mana left to activate Momir and hope to come back faster. In the meantime, A will probably deal with K first, even just out of retaliation for the Cataclysm, but they're also both low enough in life to be wary to expose themselves. Indeed, A keeps his gigantic Molten Primordial, along with a Forest and Loxodon Warhammer, which has survived since almost the beginning of the game, yet he never got to use once. Anyway, the twist here is that 7 creatures have died, so the Harvester is re-filling K's hand. That thing is winning the game by itself. K discards two Snow-Covered Swamp and Armillary Sphere and say go.
Z: I draw into Progenitor Mimic. Interesting. I was hoping in a land, though. My hand is Jace, Ant Queen, Primus, Lurking Predators, Behemoth, Mimic. In hindsight, I should have cast that Lurking Predators long ago.
A: Forest (while his other Forest is still tapped by the late Vorinclex trigger). As expected, the Primordial doesn't attack.

Round 11
K: Flagstones of Trokair, then Weathered Wayfarer with it (Sacred Foundry is still tapped as well).
Z: Draw and play Simic Growth Chamber, returning Breeding Pool to hand. Yeah, that was the ONE case where keeping Breeding Pool over Tropical Island would punish me, and here it is. But I deserve it, of course.
A: Temple of the False God. Not very useful right now.

Round 12
K: Says he doesn't believe he's going to win this. Remember how he was screwed at the beginning and then looked the death by Behemoth in the eye? He plays Badlands, then Mark of the Oni on A's Primordial. He attacks me with Harvester (10), A with his own Primordial, killing him (-3). Luckily for me, the Primordial goes away as soon as A leaves play.
Z: Draw and play Academy Ruins. I'm not dead yet. I cast Progenitor Mimic, copying the Harvester and fetching Consecrated Sphinx in the process. I can chump block the Harvester with Momir next turn, then I'll have my own Harvester factory and a Sphinx, and a bunch of cards. I'm not dead yet!
 
Round 13
K: Or I am. He plays Kher Keep into Fellwar Stone into Fire Covenant, paying 7 life (8) and killing my entire team. He draws two cards with his Harvester, I draw one with my clone, a Scavenging Ooze. He then plays Expedition Map too, then attacks me for 6 with the Harvester and the Wayfarer (4).
Z: Draw Forest. Now I have 6 mana on the board, but only 1 blue and 1 green, the rest is colorless. This is my hand:

Jace BelerenAnt QueenWoodfall PrimusLurking PredatorsCraterhoof BehemothBreeding PoolConsecrated SphinxScavenging OozeForest

 Jace Beleren, Ant Queen, Woodfall Primus, Lurking Predators, Craterhoof Behemoth, Breeding Pool, Consecrated Sphinx, Scavenging Ooze, Forest.

I think the right play here would be dropping Forest and Ant Queen to trade with the Harvester. I try the gamble and play an untapped Breeding Pool instead (2), then the Sphinx. It's not entirely wrong: the Sphinx can block the Harvester and survive, will draw me cards, and I have a source of lifegaining in hand that would give me 2 life back next turn. I pass and the Sphinx ends up drawing me Khalni Garden and Mana Reflection.

Round 14
K: It's too late, though. I made my last mistake forgetting Reckless Charge flashing back from the graveyard. The Wayfarer becomes a 4/1 and hits me for lethal (-2), conquering the right to face BIG and raf in the final table. Good game, though. Regretful but fun. Commander as its best: full of surprises, comebacks, big plays.

Damn you, Kuma's memory and general awareness!

 So, this was the guy who beat me in SUNCOM 35, and now I want to showcase the guy against whom I lost (along with doncogollo) in SUNCOM 36, i.e. Zarcron, who was piloting an Animar deck as its craziest.

by Zarcron - Finalist in SUNCOM 36
Creatures
1 Arbor Elf
1 Arctic Merfolk
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Augury Owl
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloom Tender
1 Bond Beetle
1 Cloud of Faeries
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Deadeye Navigator
1 Dream Stalker
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Faerie Impostor
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fierce Empath
1 Flamekin Harbinger
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Gatecreeper Vine
1 Gilded Drake
1 Imperial Recruiter
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Man-o'-War
1 Merchant of Secrets
1 Mulldrifter
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Owl Familiar
1 Palinchron
1 Peregrine Drake
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Quirion Sentinel
1 Raven Familiar
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Shardless Agent
1 Shrieking Drake
1 Slithermuse
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Sylvan Ranger
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
1 Tinder Wall
1 Trinket Mage
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Herald
1 Wirewood Symbiote
1 Wood Elves
52 cards

Other Spells
1 Brainstorm
1 Cloudstone Curio
1 Crop Rotation
1 Earthcraft
1 Glamerdye
1 Glimpse of Nature
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Shared Discovery
1 Skullclamp
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Sylvan Tutor
1 Utopia Sprawl
1 Worldly Tutor
13 cards
Lands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Flooded Grove
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Tropical Island
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
5 Island
7 Forest
34 cards

 
Animar, Soul of Elements

 

 The game was essentially the opposite of the previous one, all ended after only 3 turns, during which I just dropped 3 lands and doncogollo did little more with a couple mana sources. Then Zarcron's 4th turn came, and Animar unleashed its perfectly tuned elemental doom upon us. First a Trinket Mage fetched Skullclamp to kill Wirewood Herald and furtherly fetch Fierce Empath.

  

Unassuming, or ominous?

  The Empath fetched Palinchron, untapping all lands, including Gaea's Cradle (that was less important of what one would think). Then Phyrexian Metamorph came along, copying the Empath and fetching Deadeye Navigator in soulbond with itself.  Of course, during the whole process, Animar was growing, and the cost of the creatures was decreasing more and more.  

  

I've got a bad feeling about this.

 From this point on, it was only a matter of clicking: the Navigator kept blinking the Metamorph to trigger Empath ETBs over and over again, occasionally doing a Palinchron impression to untap the land base, most the blue-producing ones, which were those that actually mattered, since they fueled the Navigator's ability. First came Vorinclex, then Kozilek and his Artisan, then Ulamog. At that point the Metamorph started copying Ulamog, exploiting the new legendary rule and sending the original to the graveyard, and from there back into the library, and from there back to be fetched by the Empath, and from there back onto the battlefield. Animar made him cost 0 by then, so Ula could have mad fun destroying one by one the few permanents I and doncogollo had around (I guess this super-combo is way more satisfying in late game, if riskier and less mindblowing).

 

Which one is the real one? Can you tell them apart?

 Zarcron had to pass before being able to attack to his impressive armada and finish us. I'd say the deck should really find room for Maelstrom Wanderer (Urabrask can't be fetched by Fierce Empath).

 Well, that's it. All the decks from SUNCOM 35 are here, and for SUNCOM 36 are here. See you in the SUNCOM room next Sunday at 15:00 GMT, and with the Chronicles here on PureMTGO in two weeks! Commander ho!

13 Comments

Congratulations for your new by romellos at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 08:13
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5

Congratulations for your new article series debut. I enjoy to read it, even I don't play much Commander.

Personally, I like the Commander format, but not the multiplayer environment. I mostly prefer to play it as 1-1.

Do you think, there can be some special occasions or themes in the future?

"SunCom" was a cellular by RexDart at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 09:30
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"SunCom" was a cellular telecommunications company many years ago that was eventually bought out by AT&T, since I used them for my first cellphone years ago that's all I can think about when I see the word.

I sort of agree with romellos about multiplayer commander. The trouble I have with multiplayer commander, when I've played it in paper and occasionally online, is that too many people play decks that take 20 minute turns where they do a million things and everybody else sits around bored -- that problem is way worse online, since those kinds of turns take twice as long. There's just too much self-indulgent durdling, some of which is slightly mitigated in paper because of announced shortcuts. In 1v1, the games are much faster and cleaner.

Looks like the "biodiversity" award got ported over to this event, sort of. Thought about a system of bounties for winning with certain oddball commanders?

It is certainly nice to see by 3drinks at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:10
3drinks's picture

It is certainly nice to see another Commander event surfacing, even if I don't particularly care for multiplayer formats. That said it looks fun, and I can say I at least have a vested interest in seeing Kaalia of the Vast take down a table.

Since you guys are doing this with some amount of tix on the line, I'd recommend disallowing cards like Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Necropotence and Mana Drain - Commander is already an inherently broken format, and the guy who generates the most mana the quickest will win. Of course these are just my suggestions, from a fellow Commander event host. My events may not be absolutely perfect, but I'd like to think they are quite balanced in allowing all archetypes to show up with reasonable levels of success afforded. :)

Congrats on your event's success and I want to wish you the best of luck in the future with your Commander events.

Thanks everyone for the by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 08/21/2013 - 18:36
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions, although I'd suggest back to come and see what the event is like before deciding what it needs. :)

romellos: down the line everything is possible, bur for now I like to keep things simple. Commander is already complex on its own, and I'd rather make particular building rules the objective of a challenge than a requirement to play the events.

Rex: online, if a player is clearly starting an elaborate endgame, the surviving players can just acknowledge the win and concede. If they stay is out of interest in observing the endgame rolling out (like happened to me and doncogollo in the mentioned game), or hoping for a mistake, or for some miracle stop from the guy playing blue next to them. The only real enemy in multiplayer is the guy with connection issues.
Plus, as I say below, what happens in 1v1 rarely happens in 4-man. You put 4 competitive CMD decks together, you can be reasonably sure the guy who's trying something funny will be stopped cold. If it's not, table has failed, not just you.
The next challenges, as said, might be about "oddball commanders" of sort.

3drinks: the day I'll ban Sol Ring is the day I'll stop running this thing. Commander is "the format with Sol Ring". Demonizing Sol Ring and a couple other cards is, to me, pointless. I won't ban anything, ever. WotC is following and supporting Commander (unlike, say, Tribal Wars), so their ban list is already up to date for a great multiplayer experience.

But here's the thing: I'm talking with multiplayer in mind, you're thinking of 1v1. But comparing Commander multiplayer with Commander 1v1 is like comparing it with Legacy or Vintage. They're entirely, WILDLY different animals. I personally consider 1v1 something WotC shouldn't even have allowed to exist to begin with, since Commander was conceived as a multiplayer format, and reducing it to just two players takes away most of what makes commander unique, turning it essentially into 100cs with a fancy building restriction. But if the format has its fans, then so be it.

Still, what is true for 1v1 isn't true for multiplayer. Hell, actually even 3-man Commander and 4-man Commander are mostly different things (and the SUNCOM's tournament structure prioritizes 4-man). 3-man is a faster format, where combo decks have a say. In 4-man tables, that are long and rich and play like a movie with twists and turns, a combo deck rarely makes it to the final, as there's always someone who has the card that says "you shall not pass".
The described game was a good example of a 3-man game that played like a 4-man game, and you could never predict how it would end at any given time. That's Commander in a nutshell to me.

More so: multiplayer Commander is based on meta-interactions. Politics, diplomacy, meta-strategy are strong components of Commander even some cards acknowledge. I won games myself starting from a so-so initial build and working my way up to unexpected victory by playing Iago in the chat window. You have to understand what each of the other guys is more likely to be doing, and exploit that at your advantage. Everyone is your ally and your enemy at the same time. Reset buttons are pushed by people outside a conflict, changing the balance in surprising ways. There's more to multiplayer Commander than "let's smash each other faces with decks constructed this way". Sometimes I feel like it's not even MTG anymore; it's another game based on MTG.

Kumagoro, I agree with you by ArchGenius at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 07:02
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Kumagoro, I agree with you that 4-man Commander and 1 vs. 1 commander are entirely different animals.

They should have different banned and restricted lists as well as different starting life totals. As a player who was a huge fan of 100cs and is just now getting into 1 vs. 1 Commander I can tell you that the two formats are very different. Straight Aggro and burn decks were a staple in 100cs and are basically non-existant in 1 vs. 1 commander. There are no sideboards in 1 vs. 1 commander. The commander mechanic itself creates a significantly more advanced set of possible decks. For example a black/green deck with Glissa as commander is going to be significantly different than one with Varolz as commander.

I think that multi-player and 1 vs 1 Commander deserve to exist as separate entities. Since WotC started making sets and cards specifically with Commander in mind, I believe they have a right to expand the uses for those cards. I think one of the problems with the two formats is that there isn't enough of a distinction between the formats. 4-man Commander is best seen as kitchen table magic with politics as a major factor, while 1 vs. 1 Commander is more of a competitive slugfest. Unfortunetly this leads to a kind of difficult political decision for WotC. They have decided not to be involved with the banned and restricted decision making process for 4-man Commander, so if they try to make some reasonable changes to make the two formats distinct and to make 1 vs. 1 Commander less broken, they have to deal with the wrath of the 4-man Commander people raising up arms against WotC for taking over their format. On the other hand, without some type of 1 vs 1 Commander rule modifications, 1 vs 1 commander can be incredibly broken. I think 3Drinks has done a great job of creating a reasonable ruleset for 1 vs. 1 Commander but in the end it's not going to do much for the format until WotC gives it some kind of online support. I have no problem if WotC decides to support them as separate entities.

I absolutely agree. In fact, by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 08:43
Kumagoro42's picture

I absolutely agree. In fact, I'd like to start asking WotC directly for the two formats to be more clearly distinct, and to have different ban lists, as you said.
Early on in SUNCOM, we would have a case where the final table was a 2-man table (now we have usually enough players to avoid that, and I ruled it out anyway). It was insane, people that came to play multiplayer suddenly found themselves in a 1v1 game, sometimes with cards in their decks that were only good in multiplayer. Decks that were kept at bay in multiplayer would go to a 1v1 final and crush their opponent in a 2-minute game, which is an aberration in Commander.

However, I don't share your feeling that WotC "decided not to be involved with the banned and restricted decision making process for 4-man Commander". It seems to me that they are, indeed. They recently banned Primeval Titan, a staple of the format, and explained the decision in a way that makes me think that they observe the format closely and care for it to be balanced.

Whereas, I'm not sure they're even aware of the 1v1 community. Honestly, when they made so that 1v1 games were playable in the client, I'm not sure they expected that to be a whole new format, rather than just a way to test decks with a single friend for lack of more opponents or something. But now that the format definitely exists, it should be brought to their attention that it can't possibly be regulated by the same body of rules of its multiplayer parent.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I by ArchGenius at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:03
ArchGenius's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the committee that oversees the Commander ban list and made the decision to ban Primeval Titan is separate from WotC.

The Rules Committee for by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:58
Kumagoro42's picture

The Rules Committee for Commander is lead by Sheldon Menery, which is a former Judge of the highest level. Whatever they decide is DCI-sanctioned, though. They publish it on the official WotC site and enforce it on MTGO. Commander is a WotC product, they have the right to overrule Menery's group at any time. It seems to me that they just elected a committee of experts to deliberate on the topic they know better. The fact that such a committee exists at all (which isn't true for any other fringe format) already proves they care.

It's worth noting that none of the official sources, nor the Menery committee consider Commander anything other than "a multiplayer format for 3-6 players". They're clearly not even thinking of the existence of 1v1 tournaments.

This excerpt from an article by Menery at StarCityGames says it all:

"Commander is unique to Magic formats in that it seeks to shape the mindset of the game before players ever start building decks pointing them in the direction of thinking socially before they choose their first card. (...) We recognize that without drastic measures (like a 200-card banned list) we can't actually prevent an individual from breaking the format. What we can do is create a social environment where that individual doesn't want to or at the very least is discouraged from doing so."

Which is exactly what I'm doing, too! :)

I didn't mean to imply that by ArchGenius at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 14:45
ArchGenius's picture

I didn't mean to imply that WotC doesn't care about Commander. I simply meant that WotC is not taking control of the banned and restricted list for it and letting a committee of players make the decisions for its banned list.

I think you might be overstating the assertion that those in charge of Commander are not even thinking of the existence of a 1 vs 1 Commander format. It is clearly not a large consideration but Sheldon is aware of it. It is clearly referenced in the article that you supplied.

"In creating the banned list there are several factors that are only taken into small consideration if at all:

....

•One on One Play. A 1v1 community exists (and the French community has created a banned list for it) but Commander is designed as a multiplayer format."

At the end of the day, I think we're both dancing around the same point. They are two separate entities and should have different rule sets.

Missed that comment. All more by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/23/2013 - 03:33
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I had missed that line. All more reason (and chances) for our point to be taken into consideration, no?

Holy cow that's a lot of info by Leviathan at Thu, 08/22/2013 - 15:34
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5

Holy cow that's a lot of info in one article! I'd heard of this PRE but, of course, never had the time to join. Didn't know it was yours, congrats on keeping it going! And thanks for the shout out as well. Can't wait to watch the video after work but your play by play was excellent.

Just looking at the decks, there's a variety of very cutthroat things going on. At first I was a little surprised that talk about adjusting the banned list didn't come up until the comments of the article, but my guess is that the people who play in Suncom are perfectly happy with the way things are, and with a stable environment that's what matters. Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see more!

Thank you! I realized while by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 08/23/2013 - 03:42
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Thank you!
I realized while trying to mimic your play by play write ups (that are very fun to do!) that you used to call them "rounds" rather than "turns". Is it because you put together different players' turns?

You have to take into account that those first four decks are the ones that got the closest to dominate - and yet they still didn't because they won just 3 times out of 30 or so, sometimes attempting it 10-12 times. They're strong, but they weren't spared a good beating themselves on occasion. On the other hand, we never saw Sasaya nor Uril, and only rarely Rafiq. Of course, it's all about what the people who actually showed up to play like the most.

And I really don't like to ban stuff in Commander. It has to be the format where you use anything and everything. I prefer to have extremely successful decklists to be "benched" for 6 months or so, so they won't create stale environments, and to give players incentives to try different things.

I called them Rounds because by Leviathan at Fri, 08/23/2013 - 11:09
Leviathan's picture
5

I called them Rounds because I thought of the game as a fight. Early on I think I started all my actual play-by-plays by using the heading "The Game: Fight!" I dunno, just sounded cooler.

I think your method of benching decks is good. As you note, the decks that won weren't completely dominating. But encouraging diversity is always nice. Good job!