Category Archives: Commander

A mountain short

“One more mountain and I would have won!”

That’s how I got to sleep last night after playing commander with Jeff, Jamie, and Lukas yesterday afternoon.

We had a 2 hour window to squeeze in a game of commander and teach Jeff the basics of Magic (he hadn’t played it before), before the hotel closed for the day. Jeff played with my Vampiric Bloodlust deck from Commander 2017. After a brief run through of how to play Magic, we started our game of commander.

I was playing the Heavenly Inferno preconstructed deck from the Commander Anthology set. The commander for this deck was Kaalia of the Vast (which apparently is going for £33 on sites such as Magic Madhouse, that’s a third of the cost of the set for one card!)

I was using Kaalia early on to cheat out other creatures in my hand for free. I can see why she is the price she is. 4 CMC (Converted Mana Cost) for a 2/2 and that ability. Cards like Akroma, Angel of Fury (8 CMC), Bladewing the Risen (7 CMC), Reiver Demon (8 CMC) and Lightkeeper of Emeria (4 CMC) that were sitting  in my hand were soon out on the battlefield doing their thing with Kaalia’s ability.

I was aided early on by cards like Return to Dust that enabled me to put the brakes on Jamie’s dragon deck (a tweaked 2017 commander deck) by removing his artifact and enchantment he had out that would have enabled him to get his big nasty dragons out earlier by making them cheaper.

It was funny because when Jamie did finally get a dragon out on the board I played Syphon Flesh which meant the other players had to sacrifice a creature, and I got a 2/2 black Zombie token for each creature sacrificed that way. The dragon Jamie had out was his only creature, so that went bye bye. Then Jeff had a creature out that had an ability that kicked in at the start of his upkeep that required each player to sacrifice a creature. Which basically stopped Jamie from playing anything for a few turns because he would have to sacrifice it after his turn finished. Luckily I had enough tokens and cheap creatures out that I didn’t have to lose any of my big flying hitters.

I actually held on to Lightkeeper of Emeria until near the middle of the game when I could bring her out using Kaalia’s ability when attacking, and kick her 4 times to add 8 health to myself. That put me in a pretty good position mid game, 48 health, and 4 flying creatures out on the battlefield.

Towards the end of the game, with the clock ticking away, Jeff took control of Akroma, Angel of Fury. Luckily he was unable to do anything with it to me before I killed it off. Sadly for Jamie he had to take 6 points of damage from it under Jeff’s control.

We all were under 10 health. I had hit everyone for 7 damage with Earthquake, and cleared out some creatures.

With less than 5 minutes on the clock, I had the final turn of the game before the hotel was to shut. I needed to top deck a solution that would give me the win. I drew Diabolic Tutor. That was a pretty good top deck. I could go and look for a solution. With the seconds ticking away, I didn’t have time to look through my whole deck. I came across Sulfurous Blast. That would get everyone down to 2 or three points of damage. I had 2 flying creatures to attack with. Jamie and Jeff had creatures, but they were tapped out, or would die before they could block. Lukas has no creatures out. I only had enough mana to fire Pyrohemia once. Not enough to kill Lukas off he would still have one life left. One more mountain or a third creature and I could win. I swung in and killed Lukas and Jamie (I was not going to have dragons win the game), and left Jeff with a couple of points of life and myself unable to defend him attacking. In hindsight without the pressure of the clock ticking, I should have killed Jeff and Jamie, and let Lukas live. Lukas would take his go, hopefully not have a creature with haste to play, pass the turn back to me, and I’d win. But that hit me on the way into work this morning, as the way I could have won. Instead I was killed by Jeff, leaving him as the last man standing and the winner of his first game of Magic and our game of commander.

It’s hard to get across how much pressure there was with that clock ticking away, knowing that we had seconds to finish, pack up and get out. I’d like to think without that pressure I would have spotted that optimal play to give me the win. But it did rely on Lukas not playing anything that could remove my last 3 points of life.

I really enjoyed this Heavenly Inferno deck. It was fun to play, helped by some awesome card draw.

It was a fun afternoon, Jeff enjoyed his first game of Magic. Who knows we may see Jeff at more commander sessions, he’s more than welcome to use one of my precon decks if he does want to come along again.

Finally a big thank you The White Lion Hotel for their generosity in letting us play there. It is really appreciated.

First World CCG Problems

I wrote this Facebook update yesterday. 

Not my Dinosaur Tribal deck either. It looks like my first commander deck will have The Scarab God as it’s commander.

As you can imagine having the Scarab God as my commander I want to play creatures that are zombies. But not only that I’m going to generate zombie tokens. I’m also going to be getting opponents to discard cards and punish them for doing that. Plus I’m going to be doing some graveyard shinnanagins too.

I’ve been using the above paragraph as my guiding light in thinning out cards. It’s helped cut 50 cards so far. But now the decisions are getting much harder. Mind you it’s the same now when deck building with Star Wars:Destiny. The card pool now for Destiny with 3 sets is large enough that you easily have over 30 good cards that you want in your deck. You just amplify the problem when you have a bigger pool to chose from.

I’m off to make some more hard decisions.

Magic and Politics!

As a “palette cleanser” between MtG leagues we set up a Commander session.

Commander for those wondering what the hell it is, is a multiplayer variant of Magic the Gathering. Each player has a commander (a Legendary creature), a deck of 99 cards (apart from basic lands, you can only have one copy of each card), and starts with 40 health. It’s basically a free for all after that, last man standing is the winner.

But the thing is there is a political element to the game that a “normal” game of Magic doesn’t have. You are making deals, ganging up to remove the current big threat on the table. 


We had seven players turn up to play Commander. Which meant we had two tables with people playing Commander. 4 players on one table, and 3 on the other.

I was on the 4 player table. Which was made up of myself, Diego, Justin, and Jamie.  We were all playing with preconstructed decks. Justin was using the cat tribal 2017 deck, Jamie had the dragon tribal 2017 deck. While Diego and I had decks from the Anthology. I had chosen the Plunder the Graves deck, which I assumed was going to be putting stuff into the graveyard and doing stuff with it. Diego chose Freyalise Llanowar’s Fury that had a Planeswalker as it’s commander. 

Naturally dragons were seen as the biggest threat on the table. So we all smacked Jamie first, although the odd blow went towards each other as well. However that allowed Diego to make use of his deck, get commander out, work those combos. It wasn’t long before Diego had too much out, and was dominating things. Sadly no board wipes were coming. So the inevitable happened, he won.

Our second game started out the same way. Keep those big nasty dragons off the table. This game was looking like a win for Justin. He’d got 22 health left, Diego was on 8, I was on 10. I’d got some creatures on the board (after a great power play a couple of turns earlier) that made me less of a target than Diego. I’m not entirely sure I could have survived Justin swinging at me, but luckily I didn’t have to find out because he swung in with everything he had but 1 creature suffering from summoning sickness at Diego to finish him off. If I swung in with everything I had enough to win, even if Justin blocked. I’d won!

The tables then swapped round. The four player table was now Justin, myself, Josh and Michael. Josh was running the dragon deck. But the biggest threat was Michael and his constructed deck he built. Which meant a pact was made to target him first. I’d mulliganned most games during the afternoon. But I’d forgotten we were using the Paris mulligan, I could have been keeping a card or two I wanted in the mulligans. Doh! The biggest surprise for me in this game was that I lasted so long in this epic long game. I needed lands, particularly a forest so I could start playing cards. I had removal stuff in hand that would ruin Michaels plans, if I only had a flipping forest. 

Our alliance fell apart for a while after I was finally able to cast spells, and a failed attempt to remove Michael’s two creatures in front of him. I had played a card that forced everyone to sacrifice two creatures. I had none, so was ok. It got rid of the creatures in front of Josh and Justin. However it didn’t get rid of the one I’d hoped for with Michael. He flashed in a third creature and sacrificed that saving the threat. Justin soon developed into the biggest threat, and saw him with some nasty pumped up cats in front of him. We all managed to work together to take out one particularly nasty threat from Justin. Josh was getting salty about not being able to keep any dragons out on the battlefield. I don’t think it helped when I took control of one from his graveyard. Justin killed Josh first. I was next on his hit list. Not a surprise really. After such a bad start I was gobsmacked is lasted so long. At my death Michael had just triggered his threat.  He was no getting an extra turn after every other players turn. With his extra turn he somehow wrangled it so that after Justin’s turn he’d be getting 17 extra turns!!! That’s game over once he started taking them for Justin. Sadly for Michael he never got to take them. Justin smacked the life out of him to grab the win.

A great afternoon, some amazing game play. This was such great fun. 

Commander adds that extra political element, and multiplayer that almost makes MtG into a different game! If you don’t like “regular” MtG would you like Commander? It depends on what it is you don’t like about MtG. At the end of the day you are still playing MtG. However as my bad starts have shown that isn’t such a liability in Commander. The bigger liability is being seen as a threat. So if it’s the “I always draw badly” or “it’s down to luck of the draw” as your reasons for not liking MtG then give this a go. If it’s the theme and mechanics, that’s not changed.

A big big thank you to our hosts Fenrock for the use of their facilities, and great coffee.

Our next MtG league starts on the 4th November for anyone interested in joining in the fun. Details of time and location (Fenrock) can be found on the event set up on the Fenland Gamers Facebook page. Where you can also sign up to say you are coming (which would be handy to know so I know how many boosters to get in).

Gisharth’s Army

Welcome to the start of a long and laborious series of posts where I work through building my process (based on the template suggested by The Command Zone, with input from The Prof at Tolarian Community College).

My Commander is…


Considering the title of this blog post, is it really a surprise? So I am running a three colour mana deck. As the rather crude image at the start of this post says, this will be a dinosaur tribal deck. I think it has to be to make use of Gishath’s ability.

Here is The Prof with a short information film about how to choose the right commander.

Obviously I have followed The Prof’s most important rule when selecting a Commander to play with:
I want to play dinosaurs, I want a big fun dinosaur commander. Who in their right mind doesn’t want to play dinosaurs right now? Nope pirates are not even close, so don’t go there. Just for the record in the current set Ixalan, it’s dinosaurs, merfolk, then vampires, and finally the over rated pirates. Why do I hate pirates? Those awful (and that’s the most positive word I can think about them) movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Unlucky for me I don’t seem tick some of the other factors that he hints we might like to consider.

Gishath is not a cheap commander to cast, at a converted mana cost (cmc) of 8. Which means I am breaking his following advice:

But considering this is the only dinosaur commander, then I have no choice but to accept that I won’t be getting Gishath out on to the battlefield early.

I do know that being red, green and white I have ticked one of The Prof’s recommendations.

Having access to those three colours of mana means I can use, or at least have access to all the dinosaurs that are in Ixalan. Which is what I want in a tribal deck (I think).

I’m not sure in what universe Gishath would not be considered an immediate threat when it enters the battlefield. Gishath has trample, vigilance and haste. Plus when it does damage to another player you draw cards and get to put into play any dinosaurs drawn! So I kind of break the following rule from the Prof.

I have to consider the following questions that The Prof raises:

  • is my commander my win condition?
  • does my commander enhance the existing synergy of my cards?
  • is my commander a tool that strengthens my position in the game?

That first point is important, The Prof says that your commander shouldn’t be your win condition because your commander will always be a target and get removed. He recommends you have multiple win conditions, and that you are able to win without your commander. The Prof suggestions a commander that enhances an existing synergy within the deck is the stronger route to go. Considering I haven’t built the rest of the deck yet it’s a hard one to say whether Gishath will do that or not. But it’s something I will need to consider when looking at cards.

In my next post in this limited series I will start looking at constructing my commander deck, starting with my mana base for the deck.

My Commander Deckbuilding Homework

I’ve already pondered on here about the Commander I want to build a deck around.

But I’ve not build a Commander deck before. So this process will be documented on this blog in a series of posts (yes I’m going to bore you with more MtG posts, if you haven’t been bored enough with them already).

However there are some useful videos on building a Commander deck on line.

The first is from The Command Zone podcast. It gives a template to use as the basis for your own deckbuilding process. I’ll be using this template for the basis of building my first deck.

It’s definitely worth looking at the links in the description of the video. There is a lot of useful stuff there, plus a link to a list of essential cards for Commander decks.
They mention another channel that I enjoy Tolarian Community College. I like his style, light humour and honesty. In fact I think his “is such and such value for money” influenced my posts. I’ll say influenced because they are posts and not videos. But you could easily say copied as well, and I wouldn’t disagree.

Here is a video by The Prof about building a three colour mana base in Commander. Which is what I am going to have to do for my first Commander deck.
You can find a whole playlist of The Prof’s videos about Commander basics HERE.

While I am talking Commander, we have a Commander session planned for the 21st October at Fenrock for anyone (locally really) interested in playing. It’s free to attend, you just need to bring a Commander deck with you, which could be one you have built yourself or a precon. I know I will be using a 2017 precon myself if I haven’t finished building my first deck. You can find more details in the events section of the Fenland Gamers Facebook page.

Getting some staples for Commander

I decided that to help me build my first commander deck it was cheaper to use a precon commander deck to get some of the “basics”.

I didn’t want to cannibalise my Commander 2017 or Anthology decks. They are my let’s play magic with a group of friends go tos.

So I grabbed a 2015 precon to act as that sacrificial deck. This will be my first 2015 precon. But seeing as I haven’t any of the others (well all of them), and I won’t be in a position to get them all. It won’t become part of that “let’s play magic” thing I just mentioned for 2017 and Anthology, I don’t feel guilty using it as card fodder.

This deck gives me Sol Ring and Command Tower for starters. Plus 74 other cards (excluding basic lands).


Just to target buy these two cards would be around £6.

I loved the following card Karmic Justice when I saw it. It’s like a warning, leave me alone or something bad will happen to you. Plus with me going with Gishath, Sun’s Avatar as my commander I can play it. But Karmic Justice is a £5 card on Magic Madhouse and eBay but £1.75 from Chaos Cards. So depending on availability of the cards on the sites I would have been looking at between £8 and £11 for three cards! Obviously target buying was looking to be potentially more expensive than just getting the precon. Plus would I have even looked at or known to look at Karmic Justice without getting the precon?

For me just on a value for money exercise I think taking this approach to building my first commander deck, and getting my hands on some of the deck staples, plus expand my card pool to build from, and learning about cards to put into my deck then this was a good buy for the money.

So Karmic Justice protects, kind of, cards like Thought Vessel below.

I like not having to worry about hand size. It means you can keep answers to problems in hand ready to play at the right moment. Like the following bit of jank.

Can I find a place in the deck for this bit of jank below? But this digresses from the point of the post because neither card is in this precon deck.

I’m still looking through the cards, and trying to think if they fit in with the deck I want to build. But then again I just know the commander at the moment, with no real plan.

Maybe in my next post on this first deck I should look at this commander and try and work out a plan for the deck?