Power Level In Commander

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. [c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c] 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 [c]Bribery[/c] based effects. Cards like [c]Blatant Thievery[/c], [c]Treachery[/c], and [c]Acquire[/c], 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.

[d title=”Melek, Izzet Paragon (EDH)”]
Commander
1 Melek, Izzet Paragon

Lands
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Terrain Generator
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Steam Vents
1 Shivan Reef
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Reliquary Tower
10 Mountain
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
1 Izzet Guildgate
1 Izzet Boilerworks
12 Island
1 Halimar Depths
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Command Tower [/d]

[d]
Creatures
1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Talrand, Sky Summoner
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
1 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
1 Kheru Spellsnatcher
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Izzet Chronarch
1 Hypersonic Dragon
1 Goblin Electromancer
1 Galvanoth
1 Clever Impersonator [/d]

[d]
Instants
1 Turn // Burn
1 Spell Crumple
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Pongify
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Izzet Charm
1 Hinder
1 Fire // Ice
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Electrolyze
1 Desertion
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Comet Storm
1 Chaos Warp
1 Capsize
1 Brainstorm [/d]

[d]
Sorceries
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Telemin Performance
1 Stolen Goods
1 Spelltwine
1 Preordain
1 Ponder
1 Past in Flames
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Knowledge Exploitation
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Faithless Looting
1 Epic Experiment
1 Chain Lightning
1 Bribery
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Blatant Thievery
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Acquire [/d]

[d]
Enchantments
1 Treachery

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

Planeswalkers
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Dack Fayden
[/d]

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.

[d title= “Mizzix of the Izmagnus (EDH)”]
Commander
1 Mizzix of the Izmagnus

Lands

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

Creatures
1 Clever Impersonator
1 Gigantoplasm
1 Goblin Electromancer
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Phyrexian Metamorph[/d]

[d]
Instants
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Brainstorm
1 Capsize
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comet Storm
1 Counterflux
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Dig Through Time
1 Dominate
1 Electrolyze
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Firemind’s Foresight
1 Force of Will
1 Izzet Charm
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Magmaquake
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mystic Confluence
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Pongify
1 Prophetic Bolt
1 Smash to SMithereens
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Turn//Burn[/d]

[d]
1 Acquire
1 Blatent Thievery
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Bribery
1 Chain Lightning
1 Faithless Looting
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Knowledge Exploitation
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Mizzix’s Mastery
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Roast
1 Spelltwine
1 Telemin Performance
1 Tezzeret’s Gambit
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Volcanic Vision

Enchantment
1 Treachery[/d]

[d]
Artifacts
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel INgot
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Izzet SIgnet
1 Pyromancer’s Goggles
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Sphinx-Bone Wand
1 Thought Vessel

Planeswalkers
1 Dack Fayden
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage[/d]

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 [c]Volcanic Island[/c] 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. [c]Mizzix of the Izmagnus[/c] 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, [c]Ruhan of the Fomori[/c].

stf148_ruhan

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

[d title= “Ruhan of the Fomori (EDH)’]
Commander
1 Ruhan of the Fomori

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

[d]
Creature
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Instants
1 Afterlife
1 Azorius Charm
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Brainstorm
1 Brutal Expulsion
1 Capsize
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comeuppance
1 Counterflux
1 Counterspell
1 Crib Swap
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Dig Through Time
1 Dismiss
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Izzet Charm
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mystic Confluence
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Path to Exile
1 Prophetic Bolt
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Turn//Burn
1 Wear//Tear[/d]

[d]
Sorceries
1 Call the Gatewatch
1 Exquisite Firecraft
1 Faithless Looting
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Roast
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Volcanic Visions
1 Wrath of God

Enchantments
1 Myth Realized
1 Steel of the Godhead[/d]

[d]
Artifacts
1 Azorius Signet
1 Boros Signet
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Izzet Signet
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Sphinx-Bone Wand
1 Thought Vessel

Planeswalkers
1 Ajani VEngeant
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
1 Dack Fayden
1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
1 Narset Transcendent
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1 Venser, the Sojurner[/d]

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. [c]Ruhan of the Fomori[/c] 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 [c]Force of Will[/c]s and pick up [c]Dismiss[/c] 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

A Case Worth Discussing: The Banning of Zach Jesse

Welcome,

My apologies if you were expecting an EDH article this week from me. Normally today would be a day where we talk about the most recent Commander build I have brewed up for you guys and gals, but not this week. I’ve decided to take the time to voice my opinions on the matter of Zach Jesse being banned from Magic. For those of you who are unaware of the situation, let me explain. I do feel like putting in a fair warning, this article will get a bit touchy, as it does cover some sensitive subjects.

If you don’t wish to continue, I understand. If you do though, you have been warned. I will also say that this article may not reflect the same opinions that the rest of the crew here at MagicGatheringStrat have. These are my own opinions, and I feel like sharing them with you since I feel that this is a topic worth discussing. If you want to read more about the incident, there will be a link at the bottom of the page that will take you to Zach’s public response on Reddit pertaining to the situation.

ScionofVituGhazi_MTG_DragonsMaze_Willmurai_910

Zach Jesse was convicted of sexual battery in 2004. During the trials, he took a plea bargain, as was suggested by his lawyer. His sentence was to serve three months of an eight year sentence. The court allowed him to serve his time on a work release program, so he could continue an internship. An article was written in the local paper about what had happened.

Many years passed since this incident. During that time, he had gotten married and had gotten a degree in law from the University of Richmond. In his application to the school, he stated how he wanted to use his conviction as a driving force to better himself and his community around him. During his time he school, he stated that he has logged 100 hours of community service, as to live up to his promises he made in the application. He has also had his civil rights reinstated by the governor of Virginia.

Currently, Zach says he does roughly 30-40 hours of community service a week doing various things. He also donates about 30 or more hours of his time a week volunteering his time at local law office to help people with legal aid that can’t afford it.

During Grand Prix Atlantic City, Zach made top 8. During the event, Drew Levin, a well known Magic player and content producer, tweeted about Zach’s criminal history. Drew ended up citing the article from the local newspaper written about the Zach’s conviction. This of course led to Zach being banned from all sanctioned Magic events, and having his MTGO account seized away from him.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not condone what Zach was convicted of. That type of behavior is deplorable, abhorrent, and shameful. I do not think he should have been banned though. In order to help explain my opinion, I feel like I need to tell a personal story. It’s something that I did in my past that I deeply regret. I do not think what I did is in any way, shape, or form as heinous as what Zach did. It will help convey my opinions though, so here we go.

Back in high school, I ended up getting into a relatively serious relationship, for the time at least, with a boy that we will call “Joey” for all intents and purposes. Joey and I hit it off great in the beginning. We were wonderful together. We ended up being together for quite a while. During the relationship, I ended up making a terrible mistake. I made the mistake of cheating on him. When Joey found out, he was devastated. We didn’t talk for what felt like months at the time. When we did end up talking, with me apologizing and begging for forgiveness, we reconciled and moved on. After that, our relationship was never the same, and we broke up later due to other complications. Even though that was long ago, I still think about it from time to time. I wonder what things would have been like if I didn’t make that mistake.

Since then, I have made strides to better myself. I’ve become more open and honest with people, and done my best to never hurt others again.  I feel like I have paid my dues, and put in the effort to learn from my mistakes. I know there is always more work to be done, but it’s a start. Zach has definitely done the same.

He has shown that he has put in the time and effort to improve himself as a person. His commitment to his community is a beacon of goodwill that we quite frankly don’t see too often anymore. He puts in so much effort into working on himself and helping out his community that it’s amazing that he even has time to play Magic at all. He’s a different man that he once was when he committed that horrible crime back in 2004. He deserves a second chance. Everybody has done wrong in there lifetime, some things much more severe than others, but if that person has put in the time to better themselves and learn from their mistakes, then I believe that they deserve a second chance.

Now if a person does not put in the effort to better themselves, then they don’t get that second chance. It’s not something that should be handed out willy-nilly, it has to be earned. Zach earned his second chance, though it doesn’t seem like WotC agrees.

I can understand from a business perspective why Wizards did what they did. They want to protect their image and promote a safe, healthy environment for every person involved. It makes sense that they don’t want a person who has convicted of these horrible acts as a part of the Magic community. They failed to delve deeper into the situation, and see what accomplishments Zach has done to help better himself and his community. I feel like they just followed their gut reaction and banned him without any further thought or research. It feels like they just blindly followed the angry mob that was rallied against him once Drew tweeted about his checkered past.

Wizards needs to take more time into looking into these situations in order to get the full picture of who this person is. They need to take these situations on a case by case basis, and take the time to analyze the person in question and see if they have made attempts to right their wrongs. If Zach just had commited this crime recently, then yes I would be behind banning him in the name of public safety. Since so much time has passed, and Zach clearly has changed himself for the better and learned his lesson, he should have not been cut out of competitive Magic. I believe Wizards needs to reconsider and give him a second chance.

Thank you guys for checking out my article this week. As I said before, I’m very sorry for not talking about Commander today. We will be back on track next week with another deck for you guys and gals to enjoy. I just felt like this was a topic worth discussing, as it affects the entire Magic community. If you have any comments, leave them below. I’ll take a look at them as soon as I can. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Link to Zach’s Reddit response – https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/35q0yx/in_light_of_recent_discussion_a_post_by_zach_jesse/

Legacy on Tuesdays, No. 10: Fetchland Reprint Community Discussion

Welcome Back!

This week, I would like to discuss the upcoming Onslaught Fetchland reprint that will happen in Khans of Tarkir. Wizards of the Coast finally decided to give those of us who had been lobbying in a disorganized manner for reprints of staples something over which to drool. I would love for this article to foster some community discussion and talk. Standard players: Are you excited for fetchlands in the format, even without those Ravnica shocks? Legacy/Vintage players or those looking to break into the format: Are you finally stoked to finish your mana base without breaking the bank? It would be sweet to just share my opinion here, then have the community continue the discussion in the comment section or on Reddit.

Onslaught Fetches

[c]Polluted Delta[/c] [c]Windswept Heath[/c] [c]Bloodstained Mire[/c] [c]Flooded Strand[/c] [c]Wooded Foothills[/c]

These five power players have been a crucial part of the eternal mana base since they were printed. Unlike the notoriously [c]Bad River[/c], which did see play before the printing of these, the Onslaught fetch lands come into play untapped and can find a dual for the low cost of 1 life. Fetch lands make [c]Brainstorm[/c] a power house card, improve the quality of [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c] spins, and allow for easy color fixing in demanding mana bases. Zendikar saw the printing of the enemy-colored fetchlands, which are the only fetches currently legal in Modern until Khans reprints the allies.

Analysis

So, a staple reprint. There are ups and downs to such a thing, but fortunately I believe that in this case, the reprint is more beneficial than not.

-PROS

The reprinted copies will be four times cheaper than those printed in Onslaught. Thank goodness, because $80.00 US for a [c]Polluted Delta[/c] (in paper) is quite steep. Even online, Deltas run at 25+ tickets, which is not an insignificant amount for most people. This lowering in price will open up new people to the eternal formats who before perhaps could not afford the crazy mana base that most tier 1-2 decks use. This coupled with the recent release of Vintage Masters with the dual reprints means that come September 26, there will hopefully be many new players jumping into the most expensive formats in the game.

Even though the Onslaught fetches are the ones being reprinted, their reprinting will cause the price of the Zendikar fetch lands such as [c]Scalding Tarn[/c] to drop. This may seem odd, but the answer is simple. If I am playing a [c]High Tide[/c] deck in Legacy, I need to use blue fetch lands for perfect brainstorms and deck thinning. Normally, I might use [c]Misty Rainforest[/c] and [c]Scalding Tarn[/c] because they are a little bit easier to get than the Onslaught blues [c]Polluted Delta[/c] and [c]Flooded Strand[/c]. However, the reprinting will make the Onslaughts more accessible (Delta’s Onslaught printing has already started to crash, even with Khans deltas on pre-order only), and this will mean that I no longer need to use Misties and Tarns for the job. In other scenarios, players might use fetchlands that are not perfectly on-color, i.e. using a [c]Bloodstained Mire[/c] to find a [c]Steam Vents[/c] in a {u}{r} Twin deck, all of which will reduce the demand for Zendikar fetches. Modern Jund decks have been known to play [c]Marsh Flats[/c] as a black fetch due to lack of [c]Bloodstained Mire[/c] and [c]Wooded Foothills[/c] as perfectly on-color lands.

In a nutshell, prices will drop and more people will want to play eternal formats as a result.

-CONS

Unfortunately, I forsee an issue with the reprinting of these wonderful money cards. I am afraid that this will drive the price of other staples such as [c]Wasteland[/c], [c]Dark Confidant[/c], and even lowly [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] up. This is due to the simple fact that more players attracted to a format because of the accessibility of one type of staple will put more demand on the others. As great as it will be to have cheaper fetches, the new player base will be putting demand on those other cards that have not seen reprint in recent memory. But why [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]? Because Burn is a fairly budget deck that benefits from cheap fetch lands for deck thinning. This is the only real issue with the reprint.

NOTE: This section, while it falls under cons, is NOT technically a con. It is just me ranting at Wizards for the reason behind the reprint.

Let us be perfectly honest. Wizards of the Coast is NOT reprinting fetchlands to crash their prices and make other formats more accessible to new players. I will give one word as to the real reason for the reprint: Modern. That’s right, the lovely new format that was made to “replace” Legacy as a more budget option is the reason these cards are seeing print. Wizards wants to promote the Modern format and expand its player base by making it more like Legacy and making Modern decks and mana bases more powerful. More Modern Players = More Money for WOTC because they can make more from events like the World Champs, which are now Modern. I’m not the biggest fan of Modern, because Wizards killed Extended to “make room” for it, which was totally unnecessary and alienated a large portion of Magic fans.

Modern is not the best format. Arguably, there is no “best” format at all. It may be your favorite, but it’s not mine, and I do not agree with reprinting something in a Standard (and therefore Modern) legal set just to promote a format. I would not mind a dual-land reprint in a special set like Commander, which is not legal in Modern, but WOTC doesn’t really want to give us that carrot yet… Or at all.

Alright, enough ranting! I want to hear from you now. Please, leave comments and ideas about the reprint and its effects on other formats. I know very little about Standard at the moment, and would love to know what kind of impact these cards might have.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you next week!

/Peyton