The War Report: Works in Progress

There have been some recent acquisitions of late and I thought I would start the column off this time with some minor tweaks and updates to existing decks before jumping into my hopes and aspirations for some that are under construction. Recently I finished off building my Goblin deck after starting with a base made from the Merfolk vs. Goblins Duel Decks release, and then I brewed up a Merfolk deck from that same base. I also put in a miscellaneous order before the holiday, and received a few magic related belated birthday gifts since. One gift was a lot of random rares that my mom procured for me via Amazon, and the other was three boosters of the new Iconic Masters set that just released courtesy of my roommate. I also purchased a couple additional packs from the set (one more was courtesy of my lovely girlfriend). I managed to get some decent pulls throughout, and wanted to take a short look at some small changes I made to some of my old favorites:

My “money pulls” so to speak (cards that I pulled from packs that are worth more than the packs themselves) were Flusterstorm, and the above Grove of the Burnwillows. The former was going for $30 when I pulled it, and the land about $15. I traded Flusterstorm to my roommate for the Avacyn, Angel of Hope that he pulled, and though it is worth less at $15, I instantly added it to my Kaalia of the Vast deck. I also removed Conqueror’s Flail from that deck in favor of Elbrus, The Binding Blade. I did not realize that the flip side of that card is black by color-identity (the small black sphere next to the Legendary Creature type-line), and had this card in Temmet, so I removed it in favor of a Daring Saboteur, a card I happened to own that would fit in with the established themes of that deck nicely. Besides, Withengar Unbound is a big ass demon that belongs in Kaalia. Conqueror’s Flail was moved over to Sram, as the bonus effect gives redundancy to my Grand Abolisher. The land card ended up in my project Werewolf deck that I mentioned here previously (but have yet to complete). I picked up Herald of Secret Streams for Marchesa, as it fits perfectly with the counters matter theme. Finally, I removed the janky infinite turn win condition from Goblins and put in Herald’s Horn and Vanquisher’s Banner (plus an extra mountain) as that combo would fit better in Kess anyway. Speaking of Kess, there are a bunch of EDH decks I have sitting around in various states of completion, but the nice part is that I keep procuring cards that I need either from random orders, packs, gifts, or via trades, so they are all coming closer to completion. I’d like to share those now and go over my goals.

Generally speaking, my decks are all built with a similar formula:

  • ~38 lands – unless I can justify less due to things like Kaalia’s cheat creatures into play ability, or I include a shitload of mana rocks.
  • ~3-5 mana rocks minimum – prefer around 8.
  • ~10 removal – destruction, exile, or counterspells
  • ~5 board wipes/mass bounces
  • ~3-5 ramp spells if possible, or additional ramp via artifacts
  • ~5+ card draw effects
  • win-cons

A win con can be something like going wide with a lot of creatures, in which case I will usually run 25+ creatures. If I’m spell slinging, I’ll try for 40 spells and less than 10 creatures. Each deck is different but the sweet spot is usually around 25 creatures and 25 spells, including enchantments. 10ish artifacts and the rest is land, which all of these numbers varying to some degree. With this in mind, you can expect that I’m building each of the following decks in different styles but they will mostly adhere to the above averages.


Hailing from the plane of Ixalan, Gishath is a hulking dinosaur tribal commander that I intend to use as such. His ability to pull dinosaurs from your library onto the battlefield is amazing, and they did include a number of very fun, very playable dinos with the first set of the block, but I feel like despite having a working build drawn up that there are going to be some fun additions made during the second part of the block which comes out in January. I’m going to wait on this one to see what else it can do, but I look forward to getting it done.

Kess is one of the alternate commanders that came packed with the Wizard tribal deck from Commander 2017. I knew immediately that I wanted to build her, but at first I really didn’t know how to go about doing so. I ended up focusing my energies on Marchesa instead. I have since figured out what I want to do with her, and as her abilities allow her to essentially cast every spell twice, I’m going the spellslinging route, meaning very few creatures (but instants and sorceries matter!) and tons of spells. Should be fun to play in a completely different playstyle than I’m used to.

This creature has seen absolutely zero play despite the fact that I’ve owned it for quite a while. I originally picked it up for use in Temmet, but as I explained a while back, that deck was partially rebuilt with a different focus and this was just a “good stuff” card that happened to share colors with that commander. Back during Hour of Devastation, there was a Sphinx lord added to the game and initially I thought about building him but then decided that I didn’t want to build a mono-blue Sphinx deck. Having this creature on hand and enjoying the thought of regular extra turns meant this should be my commander, opening up white to help support my Sphinxes with powerful Azourious spells. I’m looking to control the game and then start taking more turns regularly to close out games with this one.

I’ve had this guy in my sights for a very long time. I’ve built and tweaked his deck on MTG Goldfish over and over as new sets have added new options to the build. I finally picked him up in a recent order and have a handful of cards for the deck. It’s another “different style” than my usual sort of deck, with the win conditions revolving around having a certain life total and flat out winning the game, while building a pillowfort until that win condition can come to fruition. I can’t wait to try him out.

When I start thinking about a new brew, I’ll oftentimes look at things other players have done, and there are some common themes in the community. Things like Voltron and Tribal are build types and slang all the same, but these builds have formed the meta. “Super Friends” is one such style and is called such because it focuses on planeswalkers and the ability to quickly get to their ultimate abilities by abusing certain mechanics that allow you to add or double the counters on them. Many people play Atraxa as their Super Friends commander due to her proliferate ability, but because she is only four colors I didn’t use her. Instead I opted for Ramos, Dragon Engine as the commander, mainly because he is 5 colors but also because he will benefit from additional counters and can get me big mana here and there. Seems legit. I look forward to building this, as I have several planeswalkers that aren’t currently being used but they are a pretty big investment so I’ll likely put this one off for a while.

Back when we were waiting for teasers for the Commander 2017 decks I was sort of hoping for Cleric tribal, as there are so many interesting Clerics throughout Magic’s history. Unfortunately, we got Wizards instead, but I ended up benefiting greatly from that precon so perhaps I shouldn’t be ungrateful. Regardless, I decided to build my own Cleric tribal deck and it looks to be pretty fun. There are Clerics in every color but the best ones tended to be Orzhov so I went with that. It was difficult to pick a commander at first, but Ravos, Soultender seemed to be the most on point with what I was trying to do. Having partner is a nice bonus though, so I put him together with Tymna the Weaver as they keep me in Orzhov but I have the added benefit of two commanders. Thankfully I owned both, one from Daxos and the other from Saskia, so I threw them and the other good Clerics I had on hand into a pile and this one is a fairly budget build so I’ll be putting it together soon enough.

Yet another commander option built from the Wizard precon. I didn’t give Taigam much thought at first, but I have some experience with Dimir and what it can do. I was intrigued by his ability to scry but also self mill, with the added bonus of spot removal if needed. Initially I wanted to exploit this further by using other cards that also want you to skip your draw step (like Necropotence) and I did to some degree, but where I found real value was by cheating in big fuck you Eldrazis by dumping them into my graveyard and using shenanigans to cheat them into play. Honestly think this deck will be a lot of fun with the cards I’ve included, but I’m not sure that it will be tier 1 like Kess could be.

I have a card called Assemble the Legion which basically makes a shit ton of soldier tokens if left unchecked. I wanted to build around this, and prove that Boros isn’t as shit as some people make it out to be. Turns out that Tajic, Blade of the Legion is from the same set and built for the aforementioned card so I decided to build a soldier deck. This revolves heavily around going wide as most tribal decks do, and also seems to be one of my favorite things to build. Lots of tokens, effects, and the ability to overwhelm with cheap creatures should be fun if nothing else.

After writing my article about brewing my Simic Merfolk, I put in that miscellaneous order that I have partially talked about, and the remainder of that order contained this commander herself, along with some of the cheap cards I needed for the deck. Shouldn’t have to invest too much more to be able to complete it. I had no real theme or wincon here as I discussed, but I think it might go off on its own accord. We’ll see.

And finally, my Werewolf tribal deck. This one is actually close to being done as I did some trading to get some cards of importance, and had much of it already from the standard deck I had built last year. I don’t need too much more and this deck will probably be one of the most complex to pilot but I still think it should be fun!

Overall I have far too many decks built and not enough money to get them all built, but they each keep taking shape and they keep getting finished off sooner or later. I just wanted to jot down some notes on what I have been working on, and I hope to go into more detail on these as time progresses. That’s all for this time!