Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Good Question

It's been a few weeks since I had a chance to play any Commander, but I had a few hours this past weekend to drop by my friendly local gaming store for a round or two. I got smashed by combo - again.

There are "not great" things going on here.

The format itself is set up for long games. That's awesome. When I get assigned to a pod where no one is playing combo, it's almost always a great game. Big things happen. Control of the game passes around the table. Alliances are made, and broken. In short, it's everything I know and love about the Commander format.

Enter the combo player.

Suddenly, the game is either over so quick that I've barely done anything. Or, just when things are getting interesting the fatal combo is assembled and wipes everyone out. There's basically no "game."

I'm not bitter about it. Like I've written before, combo is part of Magic. I get that. But here's what actually happened last weekend. Tell me if you think this is good for the format.

We have a decent turnout on Saturday and are being assigned to our pods (tables) for round one. We are in groups of four players and there are four tables for a total of sixteen players. Nice. I'm introducing myself and meeting everyone at my table while we shuffle, cut, draw, pitch, draw, shuffle, cut, and ready our life totals. At the table across from us (not my pod), I hear someone say, "I mill you all out."

Wait, what?

We haven't even started yet. I break etiquette and probably tournament rules by shouting over to the other table to find out what the dealee-yo.


Oona, Queen of the Fae

Apparently the guy was able to cast Oona, generate infinite mana, and mill everyone at the table out, generating a swarm of rogue faeries... on turn four. Wee! I didn't see it happen myself, but I understand it involved Basalt Monolith and Power Artifact. 

Basalt MonolithPower Artifact

My game went to turn nine where the guy across from me drew cards and generated mana with Mind Over Matter and cast Blue Sun's Zenith on everyone in turn. All of this with multiple counterspells in hand, you know, just in case.

Mind Over MatterBlue Sun's Zenith

I decided to watch the final pod of four players.

It's Oona combo guy. Mind Over Matter combo guy. Jhoira combo guy. And, Mayael, who was not playing combo.

Jhoira of the GhituMayael the Anima

The combo guys were so worried about each other that Mayael won. It was pretty spectacular. He dropped Lurking Predators. No one countered!? And then passed. They were trying to go off, countering, re-countering, and so forth. By the same it came back around to his turn, it was annihilator 5000 and dragons on their asses.

Lurking PredatorsIt That Betrays

In a small way, it was a victory of the non-combo deck over the others. But, that Lurking Predators was a lucky drop that no one was in a position to counter. Otherwise, he would have been marginalized even with a couple of turns to activate Mayael before someone at the table ended the game.

During the match, one of the guys says something to the effect of, "Almost everyone is playing combo." Then, he proceeds to tell a story. I'll paraphrase:

I was at a different gaming store to play some Commander. I brought my Kaalia deck. I was like turn three Master of Cruelties, smash this guy's face, turn four cheat this out, smash that guy's face. I wrecked the table. I go up to get my prize and the store guy tells me that there are no prizes. So, I ask him, "No prizes? Why was I just playing like such a dick?"

Good question.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Commander 2013 Spoiler: Nekusar, Jeleva, Baleful Force

More spoilers for Commander 2013 over at MTGSalvation!

We got a look at the new Grixis commander option, Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, a while back.


With enough ways to generate mana or even bouncing and recasting Jeleva, you could start to make a dent, but she's more appealing for the sweet ability to cast rip-roaring spells for free - provided your opponents' bring something good to the table. That never happens, right?

Joining Jeleva in the Grixis commander colors today, we have Nekusar, the Mindrazer.


Wheel of FortuneWindfall
Memory JarTeferi's Puzzle Box

One way to go with this guy is to build a "wheel" deck around him that pushes card drawing to the max. Classic spells like, Wheel of Fortune and Windfall, along with Memory Jar and even Teferi's puzzle box, can really push the card drawing theme and punish your opponents for doing what we all love. A little Forced Fruition anyone? Some wheeling and dealing, perhaps?

Forced FruitionWheel and Deal

With enough ways to get your key spells back and recast them, you are off to the races. Cards like Call to Mind, Deja Vu, Mystic Retrieval, Relearn, Sage's Knowledge, should get your deck started. Plus, there are a bunch of creatures that will bring back your key sorceries, too. Can you chain your "wheels" into mana and combo everyone out? Probably. Plus, it's a good excuse to throw most of the banned list from Vintage into a deck and call it a day.

Last, but not least, a new elemental joins the team. Will it be part of a cycle? I think so. Check out Baleful Force.


A 7/7 dude for 5BBB mana puts it in the zone for showing up on the table. It's no Consecrated Sphinx, but drawing 2, 3, 4, or more cards before it is even your turn again? Awesome. Sadly, it's not a demon.