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: 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