Welcome back,

Its been awhile. Quite a while actually. I think its been about eight or nine months since my last post. Sometimes life gets in the way of things, but you move on through it. Anyway, I’m glad to be back writing and making content for you wonderful guys and gals.

During my time off, I’ve been working on new decks, and tweaking old ones to perfection. Decks have come and gone, ideas have been tested and trashed, and playgroups have moved on. Melek, Izzet Paragon has been a deck that I’ve been playing since I started Magic, and I’ve ended up having to move on from that, sad as it is to say.

Over the course of eight months, I edited the deck, and the power of it crept up to the point where my playgroup just did not want to play with me anymore. I ended up feeling like I created a monster, but didn’t realize it. I mostly just told myself that it was their fault for playing bad cards, and building bad decks. I never looked at myself, and what I ended up doing. I powered up my deck to the point where it was far and away the best thing to be doing at the table. There was no contest. Every game I won by a landslide.

For those of you who don’t remember the deck when I discussed it many moons ago, the core concept of the deck was to win via Bribery based effects. Cards like Blatant Thievery, Treachery, and Acquire, were the back bone of the decks basic strategy. It was a control deck that attacked on a unique axis, and was designed to scale with any playgroup, as it was only as powerful as your opponents cards. Here is the original list for reference.

Melek, Izzet Paragon (EDH)

Commander (1)
Melek, Izzet Paragon
Lands (36)
Terramorphic Expanse
Terrain Generator
Sulfur Falls
Steam Vents
Shivan Reef
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Reliquary Tower
10 Mountain
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Izzet Guildgate
Izzet Boilerworks
12 Island
Halimar Depths
Evolving Wilds
Desolate Lighthouse
Command Tower
Creatures (14)
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Phyrexian Metamorph
Nivix Guildmage
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
Kheru Spellsnatcher
Keranos, God of Storms
Izzet Chronarch
Hypersonic Dragon
Goblin Electromancer
Galvanoth
Clever Impersonator
Instants (19)
Turn // Burn
Spell Crumple
Smash to Smithereens
Rapid Hybridization
Pongify
Mystical Tutor
Muddle the Mixture
Lightning Bolt
Izzet Charm
Hinder
Fire // Ice
Fact or Fiction
Electrolyze
Desertion
Cyclonic Rift
Comet Storm
Chaos Warp
Capsize
Brainstorm
Sorceries (19)
Treasure Cruise
Telemin Performance
Stolen Goods
Spelltwine
Preordain
Ponder
Past in Flames
Mizzium Mortars
Merchant Scroll
Knowledge Exploitation
Gitaxian Probe
Faithless Looting
Epic Experiment
Chain Lightning
Bribery
Bonfire of the Damned
Blatant Thievery
Blasphemous Act
Acquire
Enchantments (1)
Treachery

Artifacts (8)
Sphinx-Bone Wand
Sol Ring
Sensei’s Divining Top
Scroll Rack
Izzet Signet
Gilded Lotus
Darksteel Ingot
Coalition Relic

Planeswalkers (2)
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Dack Fayden

The deck was simple, powerful, and fun. I loved everything about it. It played so well, and was reasonably competitive with the rest of the playgroup. Over time I refined it, cut the excess win conditions, changed the commander, and dumped a lot of money and power into it. To me, it was the same deck I’ve known and loved for all these years, not so much to my friends.

It became oppressive and ruthless. It reflected on what how I ended up playing the game. I naturally lean towards a spike, and that desire to win above all else showed. Instead of playing political, I was just playing the bad guy every time. I wasn’t out for fun, I was out to win. I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way of dominating the board, and ensuring my victory. In the end, this is what I turned it into.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus (EDH)

Commander (1)
Mizzix of the Izmagnus
Lands (36)
Blighted Cataract
Cascade Bluffs
Command Tower
Desolate Lighthouse
Evolving Wilds
Halimar Depths
10 Island
Izzet Boilerworks
Izzet Guildgate
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Mountain
Reliquary Tower
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Swiftwater Cliffs
Terrain Generator
Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures (5)
Clever Impersonator
Gigantoplasm
Goblin Electromancer
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Phyrexian Metamorph
Instants (26)
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Brainstorm
Capsize
Chaos Warp
Comet Storm
Counterflux
Counterspell
Cryptic Command
Cyclonic Rift
Dig Through Time
Dominate
Electrolyze
Fact or Fiction
Firemind’s Foresight
Force of Will
Izzet Charm
Lightning Bolt
Magmaquake
Muddle the Mixture
Mystic Confluence
Mystical Tutor
Pongify
Prophetic Bolt
Smash to SMithereens
Stroke of Genius
Turn//Burn
Enchantment (1)
Treachery
Artifacts (10)
Coalition Relic
Darksteel INgot
Gilded Lotus
Izzet SIgnet
Pyromancer’s Goggles
Scroll Rack
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring
Sphinx-Bone Wand
Thought Vessel

Planeswalkers (2)
Dack Fayden
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

While it might not seem like much, these upgrades outclassed anything that my playgroup was doing. My group was mostly casual guys and girls who just played their favorite cards, and had fun with them. They didn’t have the income to afford the more expensive options, so they played what they had.

I didn’t exactly follow that trend though. I bought the best things I could, outside of Volcanic Island and fetchlands, and just made the best deck I could possibly make to crush everybody. What ended up happening is that people just didn’t want to play with me anymore. People left the playgroup, and cited my deck as the reason for them leaving. They just wanted to have a good time, and when I wandered in, they didn’t let me play anymore. People refused to play games with me because they knew that they would loose.

Once I started losing out on games, and friends, it finally hit me. I had forgotten what I loved about the format in the first place. When I started playing Commander, I loved that all my favorite cards where viable. I loved the wacky shenanigans and high-jinks that ensue whenever a game is played. I waited for the long nights where we made the mistake of mixing Planechase and Commander. I lost sight of what the format was about.

So I decided to take a step back and reevaluate what I was doing. Back to the drawing board I went, and changed my deck for the better. I powered it down, and added a Commander that is a bit more fun due to his random nature. I even added a third color to support this new guy as well. Mizzix of the Izmagnus is a busted commander, and I will never say you shouldn’t run her. She is the best Izzet commander period. If your in the playgroup that is as cutthroat as can be, run her. You will have a great time. For me though, I’ll move onto something a bit more fun, like a certain 7/7 for four mana that attacks random people each turn. I’m talking about that rage filled giant, Ruhan of the Fomori.

stf148_ruhan

Sometimes its fun to just attack somebody for no reason other that being there. At lease Ruhan thinks so.

Commander (1)
Ruhan of the Fomori
Lands (37)
Adarkar Wastes
Azorius Chancery
Azorius Guildgate
Battlefield Forge
Blighted Cataract
Boros Guildgate
Cascade Bluffs
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Desolate Lighthouse
Evolving Wilds
Glacial Fortress
Halimar Depths
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Izzet Boilerworks
Izzet Guildgate
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Mountain
Mystic Gate
Mystic Monastery
Plains
Reliquary Tower
Sacred Foundry
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Swiftwater Cliffs
Terramorphic Expanse

Creature (1)
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Instants (26)
Afterlife
Azorius Charm
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Brainstorm
Brutal Expulsion
Capsize
Chaos Warp
Comeuppance
Counterflux
Counterspell
Crib Swap
Cyclonic Rift
Dig Through Time
Dismiss
Fact or Fiction
Izzet Charm
Lightning Bolt
Muddle the Mixture
Mystic Confluence
Mystical Tutor
Path to Exile
Prophetic Bolt
Sphinx’s Revelation
Swords to Plowshares
Turn//Burn
Wear//Tear
Sorceries (13)
Call the Gatewatch
Exquisite Firecraft
Faithless Looting
Gitaxian Probe
Merchant Scroll
Mizzium Mortars
Ponder
Preordain
Roast
Supreme Verdict
Treasure Cruise
Volcanic Visions
Wrath of God

Enchantments (2)
Myth Realized
Steel of the Godhead
Artifacts (12)
Azorius Signet
Boros Signet
Coalition Relic
Darksteel Ingot
Gilded Lotus
Izzet Signet
Lightning Greaves
Scroll Rack
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring
Sphinx-Bone Wand
Thought Vessel

Planeswalkers (8)
Ajani VEngeant
Chandra, Flamecaller
Dack Fayden
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Narset Transcendent
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Venser, the Sojurner

Ever since I changed my deck, things have been going much better. People actually enjoy playing against me. I may be a bit less powerful, but at least I’m actually able to play with people now. Ruhan of the Fomori has been especially good in my playgroup. He will end games, but in a fun, exciting way. It may be random, but that commander damage will matter. The super friends sub-theme has also been great. Each planeswalker serves their own purpose, and each fill their respective rolls perfectly. The deck is not overpowering, but its powerful enough to be effective. Most importantly, its just damn good fun for a control mage like me.

The biggest thing to take away from all of this, is to understand your playgroup’s power level. You don’t need to play the most powerful, busted cards of all time to make something work well enough, and you don’t need to win every game. You don’t need to be able to answer everything all the time. What matters most is that everybody is having a good time. Talk to your playgroup about your card selections and what power level you collectively will be around. If you end up overpowering them to the point of them not being able to compete anymore, you’ll just have nobody to play with anymore. Put down the Force of Wills and pick up Dismiss instead.

As always, thanks for sticking it out this far, I know it was a bit of a long one this time around. I’ll only be able to write biweekly, mostly because I have a full time job now. So just keep checking back for new spicy brews, cause I have some great ones coming down the pipeline. Ill see you soon my friends.

– Steven Gulsby

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