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

Commander Corner: Keranos, God of Storms

Welcome,

So about that [c]Ghost Council of Orzhova[/c] deck that I alluded to last week… it’s taking me a bit longer to get that done than I originally expected. I’ve decided to work a bit longer on it because I really want to make this one right. I love Ghost Dad and I just want to make sure that I nail it.

So it’s a good thing my friend gave me a bit of a challenge to work on and test for him this week. He has been in and out of Magic for awhile now and wanted me to help him build a new EDH deck. He told me he wanted to build [c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] and had some stuff for it. We were talking back and forth and we decided to attempt to build this deck with a specific restriction. We decided not to run any creatures besides Keranos himself. He said that he wanted something unique, and we both agreed a creatureless build seems pretty unique.

With my restriction set, I was off to build the the deck of my friend’s dreams. I think I did a good job.

xlz3ht2cck_joupwg_kgos

A deck for a friend. To crush me with. I guess it’s fine if I build the tools that lead to my own destruction.

[d title= “Keranos, God of Storms (EDH)”]
Commander
1 Keranos, God of Storms
Lands
1 Command Tower
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Halimar Depths
14 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
11 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Shivan Reef
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Terrain Generator
1 Terramorphic Expanse
[/d]
[d]
Instants
1 Brainstorm
1 Chaos Warp
1 Comet Storm
1 Counterflux
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Desertion
1 Dig Through Time
1 Dissolve
1 Electrolyze
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Fire // Ice
1 Impulse
[/d]
[d]
Instants Cont.
1 Izzet Charm
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Mindswipe
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Negate
1 Prophetic Bolt
1 Reality Shift
1 Remand
1 Rewind
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Stifle
1 Suffocating Blast
1 Swan Song
1 Think Twice
[/d]
[d]
Sorceries
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Bribery
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Past in Flames
1 Plea for Power
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Shattering Spree
1 Spelltwine
1 Treasure Cruise
[/d]
[d]
Enchantments
1 Monastery Siege
1 Rhystic Study
1 Thought Reflection
1 Treachery
Artifacts
1 Coercive Portal
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Izzet Keyrune
1 Izzet Signet
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Sphinx-Bone Wand
[/d]
[d]
Planeswalkers
1 Chandra, the Firebrand
1 Dack Fayden
1 Jace Beleren
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Karn Liberated
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Teferi, Temporal Archmage
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon [/d]

Cost: MTGO = 188.33 TIX | Paper = $383.48

Izzet mages everywhere should be giddy at the sight of this list. It’s pure control, burn, and card advantage. This deck is filled to the brim with cheap interaction, cantrips, sweepers, and best of all, planeswalkers. This deck is the antithesis of anything involving aggression. It’s all about card advantage and controlling the flow of battle.

You control the game. Nothing resolves unless you say so. Nothing lives unless you allow it, including other players. You and Keranos are in control of the the game.

This deck is all about card advantage. Whether it be simply drawing extra cards or getting two-for-ones. To develop this advantage, we have some of the best cards in the business to do so. We have our bread and butter spells in these colors, like [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Counterspell[/c], [c]Fact or Fiction[/c], [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], and [c]Cryptic Command[/c]. These spells are simply the best at what they do, and pretty much should just be in every deck that is trying this game plan in these colors.  In fact, most of our instants and sorceries are in here because I think they are the best at what they do. This package of spells have proven time and time again that they are simply some of the best red and blue instants and sorceries in the format. They have won me countless numbers of games throughout my time playing this format. Things start to get spicy when we look at our haymakers.

The way to turn that card advantage into something meaningful is with our planeswalkers and our general. While some are in here to help generate card advantage, like [c]Jace Beleren[/c], most of them are here to beat our opponent into dust.

[c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] is one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed. He’s one of the only planeswalkers that actually wants the board to be filled with threats. He just comes down and resets the board, except you have a planeswalker and they don’t.

[c]Karn Liberated[/c] is no slouch either. He’s been pulling his weight for years in Modern Tron decks, and he does exactly that here. Unconditional removal and discard on a stick is exactly what we want.

[c]Teferi, Temporal Archmage[/c] is an interesting choice, but one that I found to be quite useful. He can tick up and allow us to sift through our deck and find what we need, or he lets us untap lands and keep mana up after we cast our general. His ultimate is usually “lights out” in most games. Your planeswalkers just get to go bananas and will get out of hand very quickly. Let’s not forget who the real man of the hour here is though.

[c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] is great. If you haven’t had the experience of playing against this guy, you should count yourself lucky, because it is brutal. Playing with this guy on the board is wonderful. Either you get to draw two cards a turn, or you get to draw one card and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] something, which is pretty much the same as drawing an extra card.

Yes, your opponent gets to know what cards you’re drawing, but I have yet to get into a situation where that actually mattered all that much. Yes, they are able to know if we have a counter spell or not, but they still have to deal with it eventually. The more time they spend playing around the cards they know about, the better it is for us because the games end up going longer. The longer the games go, the more likely we are to win.

Keranos will keep your hand stocked with cards, allowing you to get to the late game with ease. Plus, he is extremely hard to deal with. Being an indestructible enchantment, or sometimes creature as well, is difficult to deal with unless your opponent exiles him. He tends to stick around a long time. If he isn’t dealt with, he will just take over a game, there is no two ways about it.

If you’re the kind of guy that likes to win on your terms, not theirs, play this deck. If you like to sit around and dictate how everything plays out, you should be playing this deck. If you’re like me, you should be playing this deck. I would build this if I already didn’t have [c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c]. This deck is a control player’s dream, and an aggressive player’s worst nightmare. Creatures don’t stick around long, and your hand is never without action. Be warned though, you may lose some friends.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a general for me to write about, or a topic, please let me know in the comments below. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

 

Paupers and Kings, Ep. 7: Izzet Blitz!

nivmagus elemental

You can’t blitz someone without using an exclamation mark. It simply cannot be done. I’ve tried.

Hi everyone, and welcome to the seventh episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget. Today’s article will be a bit short, but that’s okay, because we’re all about blitzing this week and, if you know anything about blitzing you know this: it’s over fast!

Blitz in Pauper

Known by various names but probably most commonly as “Delverfiend,” the blitz list in Pauper is all about guys that get bigger when you cast spells. These days that means [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] and [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. There used to be some flying gnomes in the list, but they got replaced by the strictly better ‘clops.

Get big and get sneaky. After your creatures have grown enough, your options are to get through with an unblockable ability, [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c], or, thanks to the new [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c], trample and doublestrike. Surucucu has been playing Delverfiend pretty much nonstop since it has been a list, and he wins with it ALL THE TIME. So if you’re looking for a starting point, use his list. Deluxeicoff has brewed around fiend quite a bit too; he was one of the first people I saw running [c]Gush[/c] in the list, and these days it appears to be more of a staple.

Here is a list from a recent Surucucu daily run.

[d title=”Delverfiend by Surucucu (Pauper)”]
Land
9 Island
5 Mountain
3 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Nivix Cyclops

Spells
4 Preordain
2 Treasure Cruise
4 Apostle’s Blessing
1 Dispel
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mutagenic Growth
1 Piracy Charm
3 Temur Battle Rage
4 Ponder
2 Gush
4 Gitaxian Probe

Sideboard
1 Treasure Cruise
2 Electrickery
1 Faithless Looting
2 Flame Slash
1 Flaring Pain
2 Hydroblast
2 Stormbound Geist
4 Pyroblast [/d]

Against lists with no answers, Delver of Secrets himself can often close out the game, and is even a fine Battle Rage target. Flipped, he can hit for 10 with a battle rage and piracy charm. The charm itself is another unblockable effect, more often than not, or can be used to strip your opponent of his draw if necessary, kill an x/1 creature, or change combat math. It works in every mode.

Older versions of the list used more unblockable effects. Current variants use fewer, mainly just Blessing, and are happy to run over the opponent with trample damage, if necessary. With MBC on the outs, currently, Delverfiend is well-positioned. It is very strong against Delver lists and does fine against the UR variants as well. Any “fair” creature lists will have a hard time racing (it is a “blitz” deck after all), while there is plenty there to work around removal, too. Gush and Treasure Cruise help keep the deck from running out of steam.

Blitz in Modern

One of my very favorite cards in Modern is [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c]. His ability is unique in that he can eat spells on the stack and get bigger, permanently. With the new “Prowess” ability, I figured there were some other creatures that wouldn’t mind spells getting eaten, so long as they were cast in the first place, and so I developed this new, ultra budget UR Blitz list for Modern.

[d title=”Nivmagus Blitz by Bava (Modern)”]
Land
4 Sulfur Falls
8 Mountain
4 Island

Creatures
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Nivmagus Elemental

Spells
2 Ground Rift
4 Apostle’s Blessing
3 Gut Shot
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Artful Dodge
3 Hidden Strings
4 Manamorphose
2 Temur Battle Rage

Sideboard
4 Dismember
2 Shattering Spree
3 Young Pyromancer
2 Pyroclasm
4 Dispel [/d]

Very similar to Delverfiend, we grow creatures and either run over or sneak through our opponents’ defenses. With a focus more on Nivmagus we tend more towards free spells that he can eat, hence the full set of Gitaxian Probe and Mutagenic Growth, along with the Gut Shots. [c]Ground Rift[/c] can null a blocker but really shines when played as the 3rd, 4th, or 5th spell in the turn, giving your Elemental as much as +10/+10 to swing in for the win.

Looking the list over now, I could see taking out Gut Shot and adding another Lightning Bolt and Battle Rage, but it does play pretty well as it sits. Gut Shot is good tech against [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c], which is still flying around all over the place in Modern.

Dismember is the only non-budget card in the list (though Gitaxian Probe was spiking recently); I like having the very difficult to deal with removal for lists that are faster or more explosive than us (Infect, Affinity, Twin), but you could cut it for cheaper red removal if it is too costly.

On the Play with Izzet Blitz

We ran into a sick amount of U Delver in Pauper. It’s a strong match-up for us, but not necessarily “fun” to run up against three times in a row. Still, if you play Pauper right now, you’re probably used to it. The format is sick with islands. Our Modern match-ups were more varied, and we had some good blow-outs and were, in turn, blown out. All in all, both lists feel competitive though the words “glass cannon” do come to mind every so often.

 

I love the smell of Nivmagus Elemental in the morning. It smells like victory.

Next Week on Paupers & Kings

We’re getting tribal again next week, with the most synergiest tribe of all time, Slivers! As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that cross formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your elementals always have double-strike.

/bava

Commander Corner: Melek, Izzet Paragon

Welcome,

As this is my first article, I decided to do a Commander deck that is near and dear to my heart. He is my first and foremost in a long line of Commanders. His name is [c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c].

This man, well more of a weird than a man, represents a lot of the things that I like to do in Magic. I love to play big, bombastic spells that crush the opponent upon resolution. I like making complex turns while generating tons of card advantage. Most of all though, I love playing with new cards, most of those end up being my opponents.

[c]Melek[/c] lets me do all of these things and much more. Lets take a look at what my personal build has to offer you.

a4c22b18d77c6b1ed6f47b3beaf7e9e0-d624ueu

One of my favorite cards of all time

[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]

This deck is juiced with power, even though it lacks a clear win condition on its own. The primary goal of this deck is to use your opponents cards against them to seize the day. Most decks in this format rely on big, dumb idiots or specific spells to win the game overall. This deck punishes those strategies by simply using their tools against them. Cards like [c]Bribery[/c], when cast, can be a nightmare for many decks, as they tend not to be able to handle the best creature in their deck as they are not designed to combat their own tech. Most green-based decks are the best friends of this one.

Outside of [c]Bribery[/c]-based effects, the deck runs your standard gamut of Izzet spells, such as [c]Cyclonic Rift[/c], [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], [c]Izzet Charm[/c], and other things of the sort. You usually want to keep the board clear, since you’re typically going to have one or two creatures on the board at any given time. Cards like [c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c] and [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] will keep you going in the late game by providing you with ongoing card advantage.

What [c]Melek[/c] brings to this deck is something that a lot of decks can’t really do. He brings extra value to every spell you cast, assuming you’re casting off the top of your library, of course.

[c]Melek[/c] forces you to play differently, as playing from the top of the deck rewards you with the best results most of the time. He allows you to dig deeper and find the cards you need for the situation at hand. Since you need to keep the top of the library set up, you’re going to rely on [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c] and [c]Scroll Rack[/c] to provide you with juicy spells to cast from the top. Casting double [c]Bribery[/c], [c]Epic Experiment[/c], [c]Knowledge Exploitation[/c], [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], or [c]Blatant Thievery[/c] will almost always win you the game. Even just casting a double [c]Electrolyze[/c] can sometimes give you the advantage you need and keep the pressure off you so you can set up future turns. With [c]Melek[/c] in play, you have to learn to plan ahead and be able to identify the spell that is needed for the situation, whether it be from your deck or theirs.

[c]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/c] is a card that is very sentimental to me. When I was getting into Magic, which was around the release of Return to Ravnica, he was one of the first cards that I ever really fell in love with. He became my first Commander and this was the first list I ever really took the time to make sure I built right. [c]Melek[/c] represents why I love this game. He brings something unique to the table that not many others can do. He allows you to craft huge, explosive turns and provide you with tons of advantage at the same time. Even after I’ve spread out and gotten into older formats and made new Commander decks, I’ve always had a place for him in my arsenal. [c]Melek[/c] will be at my side until the day I die.

Since this is my first article, also the first for Commander Corner, I should explain how things will go. Every week I’ll have a new list for you guys to take a look at and hopefully it gives you some inspiration for your next deck idea. I also will never have an infinite combo in any of my Commander decks, as they ruin the spirit of the format. As what is supposed to be a mostly casual format, comboing out your friends isn’t exactly my definition of casual. If you guys have any suggestions of Commanders you would like to see built, let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. I’ll catch you guys next Friday with a new Commander deck for you to sleeve up and wreak havoc with across the Multiverse. See you soon my friend.

– Steven Gulsby

Legacy on Mondays: Coin Flip for Fun

Welcome Back!

After last week’s Pauper article, I am coming back at y’all with a crazy and risky deck that is absolutely an assload of fun (Oxford English Dictionary has ‘assload’ as an actual unit of measurement). As it is easy to tell from the title, the deck is based around flipping a ton of coins and doing crazy things that make your opponent go crazy. Get out your quarters, nickels, one yen, loonies, and two euro coins ladies and gents because this one is crazy!

[d title=”Coin Flip Madness by Peyton”]
Creatures
4 Frenetic Efreet
2 Frenetic Sliver
2 Creepy Doll
Artifacts
3 Izzet Signet
4 Krark’s Thumb
1 Mirror Gallery
Enchantments
4 Chance Encounter
3 Planar Chaos
Instants/Sorceries
4 Gamble
3 Game of Chaos
3 Odds // Ends
4 Stitch in Time
Lands
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Volcanic Island
6 Mountain
5 Island
4 Cascade Bluffs
[/d]

Oh yes. Various weird coin flipping effects with fun little combo thrown in? This is my cup of tea. The game plan is very simple. The first few turns of the game will be spent getting some artifact mana into play and casting things to make your opponent unhappy. [c]Planar Chaos[/c] is really just obnoxious. No one wants to flip a coin every time they cast their spells to have them resolve, and the opponent literally cannot play enough [c]Stifle[/c]s to beat all of those triggers. Be wary that it may self destruct and counter our own stuff, but that is less of a liability because of one key card in the deck.

[c]Krark’s Thumb[/c] is the linchpin of the deck. It throws the odds in our favor every time the quarter comes out. [c]Planar Chaos[/c] becomes so much less of a liability when our spells are less likely to be countered. [c]Stitch in Time[/c] starts to do a much better [c]Time Walk[/c] impersonation. Your opponent will never want to play the [c]Game of Chaos[/c] with you… With all of these stacked together, the deck can really function and start winning the necessary flips. The flips in question are, of course, supposed to let the deck survive until the win condition can be played.

The win condition in any coin flip deck is, of course, [c]Chance Encounter[/c]. It is possible to use [c]Goblin Bomb[/c], but it is far less reliable and is easily mitigated by a little bit of life gain ([c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]). However, this magical enchantment can only have four copies. If I am playing a risky deck, and I need to find cards, there might as well be a playset of [c]Gamble[/c]! It will find the Encounters, Krark’s Middle Finger, or one of the Frenetic creatures, depending on what is needed. But why the Frenetics you ask?

It is quite simple. with [c]Frenetic Efreet[/c] and [c]Frenetic Sliver[/c], you can stack an infinite number of coin flips on top of each other at instant speed. With a [c]Chance Encounter[/c] in play, you are guaranteed to win at least 10 of those flips regardless of Krark’s presence. It is entirely possible to win with all of the random flip effects combined with several Middle Fingers ([c]Mirror Gallery[/c] is also a potential [c]Gamble[/c] target), but the Efreet interaction makes it possible to win in one turn with just two cards.

The astute will notice that it is awfully spendy for a fun deck. This is totally true. It is almost entirely in the mana base, though, so those who appreciate risky lists without busting the bank can run 14 mountains 6 islands, and be at no loss for fun factor. It is strangely satisfying to win with the deck, so if you are a Legacy fan with this mana base and want something fun to take to the tournament practice room to mess around, this is the deck for you! Do not expect a ridiculous win percentage, but that is the nature of playing a fun deck.

That’s all for this week! I hope you enjoyed reading, and thank you. Hope to see y’all again next week for something more competitive!

/Peyton

Faithless Looting #15: Izzet Over Yet?

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

I’ll make my call now and then shut up about it. My prediction is the TC gets banned, but not until January, and that it is banned in at least Pauper and Modern; I don’t follow other formats well enough to know if it is breaking them. That said, our weekend Daily results were mixed. One of the dailies had very little Cruise, and the next had plenty. Zero of the 4-0 lists on November 7 were packing Cruise; three out of four were on November 8.

If you can’t beat ’em …

If and until TC gets banned, I recommend picking up the damn card and playing it. You like drawing three, don’t you son? Well, there you go.

The list I like the most is this Kiln Fiend control deck, exemplified by Zakurero22 here:

[d title=”Kiln Control by Zakurero22 (Pauper)”]
Land
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Great Furnace
5 Island
4 Izzet Boilerworks
5 Mountain
2 Seat of the Synod

Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Kiln Fiend
1 Mulldrifter
4 Nivix Cyclops

Spells
2 Deep Analysis
3 Faithless Looting
4 Firebolt
3 Flame Slash
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Preordain
2 Serum Visions
3 Treasure Cruise

Sideboard
1 Deep Analysis
3 Electrickery
2 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Flaring Pain
4 Hydroblast
4 Pyroblast [/d]

Use burn to control your opponent’s board, then hit them for 4-7 with a Kiln Fiend. Use TC to refill (obvs), and you’ll be saying GG before you know it. This deck is great right now because it has both a strong aggro plan and a strong control plan; few decks can switch so capably between a quick goldfish and a grindy game of card advantage.

… stomp ’em.

If playing TC isn’t your thing, now is a good time to go green. Stompy is putting up results and it’s always a strong deck; just tune it slightly for the meta and it can 4-0, no problem. Of course, if you really love green, you might consider giving Elves a shot instead. Here is the list that Garruk17 went 4-0 with this past weekend.

[d title=”Elves by Garruk17 (Pauper)”]
Land
12 Forest
1 Island

Creatures
4 Birchlore Rangers
3 Elvish Mystic
2 Fyndhorn Elves
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Lys Alana Huntmaster
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
3 Sylvan Ranger
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Wellwisher

Spells
4 Distant Melody
3 Viridian Longbow
1 Spidersilk Armor

Sideboard
2 Spidersilk Armor
3 Fog
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
2 Thermokarst [/d]

The 4x Wellwisher in the main make it so that all the other aggro decks have a really hard time racing you. 3x Viridian Longbow and 1x Spidersilk Armor give Delver a tough run, too.

Sign up for our League!

It’s not too late to sign up for Community League #3, but it’s getting close. The format is Standard Pauper, the goal is to have fun and meet people, and there are nearly 30 people signed up so far. Join the fun! Sign up in the comments over here. You’ve only got a couple days left before registration ends. Week One match-ups will be posted here on the site on Friday, November 14.

That’s all for this week. Don’t forget to check out our Extra Life page, and give if you can!

Extra Life

Do it for the children.

Until next time, keep the faith!

/bava

Faithless Looting #14: Still Cruising

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

This week we are just cruising through. In other words, still no contests this week. Also, I’m going to keep telling you about [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] until you stop me. Seriously, have you seen this card? It’s only like THE ONLY CARD that anyone who talks about Magic is talking about; you’re getting tired of it, yes, but some of you are also still trying to tell me that it’s not a thing.

It is a thing. It is a thing in every format. There are no exceptions.

Pauper Daily Events

We didn’t get lists from the Pauper Daily events this past weekend. Thankfully Tom the Scud foresaw the future and magically tracked the entire metagame over the weekend. No lists, but we do get to see who placed. First off, go friend Tom on Facebook and say hi from us. Follow him on Twitter too.

He’s got posts for each daily and then a summary for the weekend, which is what we’ll look at for the sake of brevity. I’ll even make a chart, since he asked nicely on Twitter for someone to do so and give him credit.

Data via Tom the Scud
Data via Tom the Scud

So what does this tell us?

Frankly, the takeaway seems to be that you should NOT be playing MBC, Affinity, or WW Tokens. Delver, which almost always gets the top spot in the meta anyway, really has a stranglehold at the moment. Lists that beat Delver (or at least can claim 50/50 against it), including U/R Fiend, Goblins, and Stompy, are solid choices. If your name is obZen or someoldguy, U/B Control remains a solid choice; otherwise you should probably steer clear.

Standard Pauper Events

I’m going to scoop Brennon slightly, but only because I totally called a top Standard Pauper list before it won an SPDC, and I want to brag. When Dan asked in his recent Extra Life stream what list he should play for the Standard Pauper league, my snap response was U/R Cruise. Obviously Dr. Chris Baker DC was listening in (because U/R Cruise isn’t *at all* obvious), because he went and won the November 2 SPDC with just that deck.

Oh, yeah, and then Mundisv won MPDC the next day with a similar if not identical list. Congrats to both players and my thanks for proving me right.

I like being right.

Extra Life

Want to know what is even more powerful than [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]?

Nothing. That was a trick question. Well, the answer is actually [c]Ancestral Recall[/c] and nothing, but since nobody really ever gets to play Ancestral Recall, I’ll stick with nothing. I can name you a close second, though.

Donating money to local children’s hospitals is totally almost as awesome as refilling your deck with a [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] and then blowing out your opponent. And where everyone who is anyone is doing the latter, you can be one of the elite few doing the former, and donate to our efforts to support Extra Life.

Dan, Peyton, and I each spent some time streaming over the last couple weeks, trying to raise money to support this supercool charity. If you can afford to donate even $1, we’d really appreciate you taking the time to go donate and support our efforts.

You can search on the site for MagicGatheringStrat or, since I’m obviously your favorite, donate on my profile. All of the money raised goes to support local children’s hospitals where, one assumes, white mages cast [c]Healing Salve[/c]s on [c]Reckless Waif[/c]s.

Our goal is to raise $200 as a group by the end of the year. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps, and you can help us make that difference.

Donate now.

If you need convincing, here are all three streams from our Extra Life fundraising efforts.

Until next time, keep the faith!

/bava