Alan's Commander Corner
We're super excited to be offering a new segment in our regular newsletters! Here's the first installment of 'Alan's Commander Corner'!
Welcome to the first article for the NEW section, dubbed 'Alan's Commander Corner!' To preface this article, let me say I am a committed Commander player. I’ve been among one of the first players in Auckland to play the format and have done my best to spread the Commander gospel.
Marath of the Wild is one new legendary creatures from the Commander 2013 decks. The Naya combination of colours (red/green/white) is not one I’ve considered before despite it having a number of strong commanders like Hazezon Tamar,Mayael the Anima and Uril, the Miststalker. However, Marath has a number of things going for Elemental Beast; its cheap to play and like a number of the new commanders there is no downside to recasting it. With three different abilities, it has the feel of a swiss army knife. However it’s the ability to make elemental tokens that is the starting point of the deck. For one mana you can remove a counter and make a 1/1 elemental token, it’s very efficient and every time you recast Marath he takes on additional counters. Naya is the colour combination that can really take advantage and support Marath.
Marath brings Friends – Naya Tokens
Marath, Will of the Wild
Avenger of Zendikar
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Oracle of Mul-Daya
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Essence of the Wild
Bow of Nylea
Hammer of Purphoros
Spear of Heliod
Rest in Peace
Fires of Yavimaya
Instants & Sorceries
Howl of the Night Pack
Tooth and Nail
Temple of the False God
The land base is pretty simple. It’s stocked with Fetchlands and dual lands. Playing magic for a number of years has let me accumulate a lot of cards. If you don’t have a collection as extensive as mine, never fear. Return to Ravnica dual lands are easy to get at the moment. Guildgates, Theros block scry lands or the core set duals are staple replacements. Three of my favourite non-basic lands in the deck are Winding Canyons (allowing you to cast creatures on other players turns), Kessig Wolf-run (a great way to make any attacking creature a threat) and Gavony Township (Allows you to pump up any horde of tokens). The deck isn’t all non-basics, it runs a healthy number of basic lands as many of your ramp spells only search up basic lands and it also allows you to have some game when all your non-basic lands get destroyed.
There is a simple reason green is the best colour in Commander, RAMP! If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it simply means the ability to either put additional lands into play or have permanents that generate additional mana. Green has access to spells like Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate and Ranger’s Path, each allows you to get to your big drops quicker. The usual band of artifact ramp is included with Sol Ring, Coalition Relic, Gilded Lotus and Chromatic Lantern (with the last two smoothing your mana as well as ramping it). We also make use of enchanments such as Mirari’s Wake andMana Reflection to keep the mana plentiful as we play our big spells.
In Commander, creature selection is vital to making your deck perform. This is now the place for vanilla creatures! Every creature either works for the token theme or provides utility. Creatures who bring friends with them (In this case tokens) are our choice for the deck, we run Avenger of Zendikar, Dragon Broodmother, Hornet Queen and Rampaging Baloths to name a few. Many of these creatures can seal games by themselves with the right assistance. The others are the utility creatures. They either have fantastic come into play affects such as Eternal Witness, Regal Force, Craterhoof Behemoth and Acidic Slime or they provide static effects likeOracle of Mul Daya (I could easily write an article on this as my favourite creature in Commander!), Vigor and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or activated abilities like Kiki-Jiki, The Mirror Breaker. Each creature has terrific value and resolving any of them should put your opponents in a tough position.
The deck doesn’t have a huge number of instants and sorceries but they all pack a punch. Several are straight token generators with Martial Coup (which doubles as Wrath of God effect), Devout Invocation and Howl of the Night Pack. We run several tutors to find both creatures and enchantments with Eladamri’s Call, Worldly Tutor,Enlightened Tutor and the most feared tutor in Commander, Tooth and Nail! It is a brutally efficient spell, entwined and costing nine mana is a steal to tutor up two creatures and put them directly into play. Many decks just use this as a finisher as there are a number of infinite kills that can be pulled off. Putting Kiki-Jiki andRestoration Angel into play allows you to create an infinite number of hasty angels allowing you to kill every player at the table. My deck purposely avoids this (for reasons I shall cover later) but combinations like Avenger of Zendikar and Regal Force are still very powerful.
The deck also supports the token theme with a number of enchantments and artifacts designed to buff your horde. Eldrazi Monument and Akroma’s Memorialoften will blank any removal your opponent has to deal with your team whileDoubling Season and Parallel Lives will simply double your team.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Marath brings Friends.
This deck simply packs in every good token generator and plenty of mana ramp to make sure you can play it early in the game. It has a superb mana base between its dual lands and fetchlands. The deck can simply put out an overwhelming number of creatures and turn them sideways very quickly.
Despite having powerful cards, it has a few issues (some of which are built in on purpose). The deck has very few answer cards, by this I mean cards that can deal with problematic permanents under your opponents control. Acidic Slime and Aura Shards can deal with artifacts and enchantments but we only run two mass removal spells in the form of Martial Coup and Austere Command. The reason for this is that I so often like to play my own game rather than my opponents game. I like to be the one making the big plays rather than trying to stop my opponents plays. Of course depending on your play group you could adjust this in your own build.
The second weakness is simply a lack of card draw, the deck runs Sylvan Libraryand Regal Force but this simply too few options. Despite all the powerful cards the deck can run out of gas in the long game.
The final weakness is a lack of a combo kill. This is on purpose as I’m simply not a fan of killing everyone at once. I won’t deny having plenty of powerful cards but combos like Melira, Sylvan Outcast/Woodfall Primus or Kiki-Jiki/Restoration Angelreally don’t do it for me. I prefer games were everyone gets to play with their toys that and there is nothing like the thrill of getting down to yourself and just one opponent on a table.
So that’s my Monster in a hundred cards. Is it perfect? Not by a longshot! The mana base requires some refining plus squeezing in a few extra basic lands would be nice. The main deck could do with a few more answers cards with more ways to remove troublesome artifacts and enchantments plus the deck could benefit from the Theros planeswalkers Elspeth, Suns Champion and Xenagos, the Reveler. But the only real way to improve the deck is to get more games in, so far it’s been a blast. So if you’re looking for a Naya Commander look no further than the little elemental that could!
Next Time: Whose the best Commander for you? Is there a best Commander?