The Commander's Workshop With Matthew Miles-Watson
Hello everyone and welcome to the first article in a series that I hope to continue over the next few months. I’m Matt, and you may have seen me around at various events in my usual role as a Judge, but I’m going to be writing today about one of my favourite formats, Commander. I’ve been playing Commander since 2009, when I came back to the game after a long hiatus. I’ve been hooked ever since. Since then, I’ve played almost every different colour combination possible at some point, but at this time I only have a B/G Sapling of Colfenor deck. I intend to change this soon however, and this series will be the driving force behind it.
My goal is to take one of the recent Commander 2014 releases and over the course of a few weeks tweak it and expand upon it, with some input from the community. My current plan is to release a new article every fortnight, so that I have plenty of time to playtest and decide upon new additions to the deck. My fortnightly budget will be somewhere between $20-30, and I will solely use Hobbymaster for this, so that readers who might follow along or be inspired by the series can have access to what I pick up as well. I’ll also include as many game reports as I can, so all of you can get an idea of how the deck plays.
At this point in time, I’ve not chosen a deck to start with, and I’m going to leave this part of the process up to my readers. Given that this doesn’t leave me much to write about with regard to the eventual deck itself, instead I’ll do a quick overview of each deck, with my general thoughts on some of the cards and themes inherent to each one.
Forged in Stone
This deck is all about equipment. Nahiri, the Lithomancer lets you make dudes to equip to, cheat equipment into play from hand or graveyard and eventually (might) make a big sword to make even the smallest of your creatures into a game-ending threat. The deck also boasts a healthy eleven equipment, including the all-new Masterwork of Ingenuity, which lets you clone any equipment in play. It also seems to feature a minor token subtheme with cards like Spectral Procession, Nomads’ Assembly and Sacred Mesa, alongside a few “anthem”-style effects like Cathar’s Crusade to make them huge. This kind of deck is one I have some experience with, and tends to be quite enjoyable.
Peer through Time
Next up is the blue deck, led by Teferi, Temporal Archmage. Teferi is interesting to me in that he’s a planeswalker that not only draws you cards (sort of) but also can accelerate your mana by un-tapping some lands. As to be expected, his ultimate ability is quite insane, allowing all of your planeswalkers to just constantly keep creating advantage for you over time. The rest of his deck is fairly typical blue stuff, primarily concerned with drawing cards and countering spells, though it does play some of the bigger creatures blue has been getting for the last few years. An interesting direction to take with this deck might be making it somewhat planeswalker themed, though on my budget it could prove tricky.
Sworn to Darkness
The black deck is led by what I personally think is the weakest of the planeswalker generals, Ob Nixlis of the Black Oath. He does get to his ultimate fairly quickly and sticks around after if he’s taken no other damage. The rest of the deck is sweet though, containing many cards I already run in my own B/G deck. For this reason I’m not going to put this out as an option, being that I don’t want to bore myself by owning two decks that’ll do largely the same thing.
Built from Scratch
This red deck is arguably the most powerful of the five, with Daretti, Scrap Savant the Goblin planeswalker. He has three extremely powerful effects that have a good amount of internal synergy. I’ve seen this deck at work and it’s always been a good contender to win on the table. It is obviously themed around artifacts and the graveyard and has many interactions within to support this. Goblin Welder and Myr Retriever both interact favourably with Daretti’s +2 ability, and Retriever is also excellent with his -2. The rest of the deck is stacked with powerful artifacts and dragons, as should be in a mono-Red commander deck.
Guided by Nature
Led by the eye-patched Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury, this deck is all about the elves. From Freyalise herself making an excellent imitation of the classic Llanowar Elves, to a wide variety of elves that tend to be better the more elves you have such as Priest of Titania and Elvish Archdruid, this deck to me seem the most fun of the 5 to play. To top off the deck there’s many big creatures to accelerate into, including Terastodon and the all-new Lifeblood Hydra. It also contains several overrun effects, including the titular card itself, and the potentially much more powerful Overwhelming Stampede.
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed my article, and could take something away from it. I intend to put a poll up on Facebook so everyone can vote, and hope to get started on playing the deck next week at Hobbymaster’s Commander League night. Hope to see you there!