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Commander And Conquer - Decks At The Ready.

Bad ways to pick which cards to play #217:

Pick based on DCI chance of banning it.

Command and Conquer : Decks at the ready.

By Daniel “Combo Dan” Carleton


Commander is possibly the best format Magic the Gathering has to offer. Its one of the few that allows you to play almost any of the cards of your collection, including those old ones your brother gave you from 1997. It’s highlander, so only one of each card, meaning you only have to buy one of each expensive card, should you find it necessary to possess such a card. Of course being designed for multiplayer, it leads to big plays, epic stories, and games that don’t end on turn 3 (generally).


But where to start in all this madness? There are so many cards, so many legendary creatures to choose from, so many supporting cards for each commander. Basically it can be quite daunting. Of course then you need to move on to improving the deck, testing it, improving it more. The whole process can be a grueling challenge. But it can also be an exciting adventure! Where the sky's the limit and you spend all your spare time brewing more and more decks until your wife complains she can't get into the lounge due to the stacks of cards behind the door (true story).


Over the next few months, I’m going to cover the steps of building a commander deck, Improving it, and getting it right up to the point where your friends murmur between themselves when you sit amongst them at the table. What monstrosity have you brought to crush them with today?


When you run out of floor space, try a more inventive storage system.

Like say the spa pool!.


Starting at Square One:

Personally I think the best way to get into commander is through a Preconstructed Theme Deck. You can pick one of these up for around  $50 and you get a really solid base to start playing Commander. The major pros of these decks include

  1. These decks come with 3 unique Commanders, so you can actually get 3 different decks out of the same pool of cards.

  2. They come with cards which are exclusively available to that theme deck alone.

  3. The come with a Sol Ring, and usually command tower, or something equally as useful.

  4. They have a good mana base, mana curve, and colour blend.

  5. They have a good ratio of spells to creatures, a good coverage of different card types, as well as interesting effects and abilities.

  6. They can win games all on their own. I am not joking these decks are relatively a much better starting point than some of the 60 card precons.


Seriously, these are a great way to get into commander. They provide you with a great foundation to start building from, and still play through quite nicely while you're making those adjustments. I’ve been playing Commander for around 7-8 years and even now I still buy the Preconstructed decks.


Once you have the deck. Try all 3 commanders. Get a feel for what they do and see which is your favourite. The best way to do this to play a lot of games, so do it.


Once you’ve got a grip on playing the deck. Then it's time to make some changes. But what in Bolas’ name do you add to your deck? What does it do well? What does it need? How much do you need to spend? Well, over the next few weeks I hope to teach you how to make those decisions. Because anyone can read a decklist from the internet. But unless you know why, you’ll be stuck reading other people's deck lists for the rest of your days.


Next time we’ll discuss how to choose the right cards for your deck, how to keep within your budget, and why you really don't need that black lotus.


Daniel Carlton



Dan is a seasoned commander player, with many years experience and a keen eye for combos. When he's not dominating the commander tables, or leading the armies of chaos to victory, Dan is tearing up the stage as vocalist of a local heavy metal band.



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