The War Report: Upgrading Feline Ferocity

I managed to make a little bit more on my last paycheck than normal, so I was able to squeeze out a little bit extra fun money and picked up some cards the other day on a whim. I was out and about already, and was actually thinking of picking up a few Unstable packs for funsies, but I ended up seeing a lone Commander 2017 deck lying there, lonely and forgotten. It deserved a new home, so I grabbed it. Behold, our fearless new leader:

Being a C17 product, the featured commander of the deck has the Eminence ability, meaning he packs some utility despite residing in the command zone. It’s a great tool for Edgar, and I’ve already talked about how I’ve revamped that deck back when these released in August. Since then I made or brewed multiple decks with the Arcane Wizardry deck. This was the last of the precons that I wanted, as the Dragons have been overdone in my playgroup. Since the deck sort of revolves around equipment the natural choice is to build this into a voltron deck, but since I already have Sram doing a great job at that style, I didn’t want to follow the trend. As such, I’m sticking with a go-wide win strategy that tends to work well with tribal builds, but I’m going to stick with the equipment-matters subtheme. Some of the cards here work so well with equipment without necessitating a single swinging minion. It did lack a clear cut win condition though, which I think is something all of the precons this year had suffered from. Still, the tools are here and we’re going to use them. I’ll show you how I made some upgrades on a budget, but kept the heart of the deck alive. This could of course go much further by modifying the land base and replacing some cards with strictly-better versions, but for budget and time’s sake, I’ll show you a quick way to make this deck your own without spending a lot of dough. Here’s the original deck list: (removed cards crossed out)

Feline Ferocity:

1 Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith
1 Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
1 Alms Collector
1 Balan, Wandering Knight
1 Stalking Leonin
1 Hungry Lynx
1 Qasali Slingers
1 Jazal Goldmane
1 Jareth, Leonine Titan
1 Kemba, Kha Regent
1 Leonin Arbiter
1 Leonin Shikari
1 Raksha Golden Cub
1 Seht’s Tiger
1 Spirit of the Hearth
1 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
1 Fleecemane Lion
1 Phantom Nishoba
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Oreskos Explorer
1 Sunspear Shikari
1 Taj-Nar Swordsmith
1 Temur Sabertooth
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Traverse the Outlands
1 Divine Reckoning
1 Rout
1 Hunter’s Prowess
1 Soul’s Majesty
1 Cultivate
1 Harmonize
1 Nissa’s Pilgrimage
1 Kindred Summons
1 White Sun’s Zenith
1 Condemn
1 Wing Shards
1 Crushing Vines
1 Relic Crush
1 Bloodforged Battle-Axe
1 Hammer of Nazahn
1 Argentum Armor
1 Grappling Hook
1 Quietus Spike
1 Staff of Nin
1 Sword of the Animist
1 Sword of Vengeance
1 Heirloom Blade
1 Herald’s Horn
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Dreamstone Hedron
1 Hedron Archive
1 Hero’s Blade
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Mirari’s Wake
1 Abundance
1 Zendikar Resurgent
1 Curse of Vitality
1 Curse of Bounty
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Stirring Wildwood
7 Plains
6 Forest
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Blighted Woodland
1 Blossoming Sands
1 Command Tower
1 Elfhame Palace
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Grasslands
1 Graypelt Refuge
1 Krosan Verge
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Opal Palace
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Saltcrusted Steppe
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Tranquil Expanse
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Vivid Grove

As you can see I didn’t remove too much. With the land base present I only removed the strictest tap lands because I feel like they slow things down and there are several ramp spells that rely on pulling basic land cards so I replaced them with basics. Otherwise, I added some nice cat cards that weren’t present in the precon, and adjusted some spells along with adding some win conditions. Let’s check out the additional cards:

Brimaz is the only card that is really an expense, at about $12-14. Everything else is pocket change, and you should be able to pick all of them up for under $30. Here’s my reasoning for the additions: The few cats that I added stay on theme, being able to utilize Arahbo’s eminence ability but also do cool things like summon more cats or beef up cats, or even make your cat spells uncounterable! I added in a tribal themed equipment that I’m surprised didn’t make the precon, and added some more card draw with Rishkar’s Expertise and give my equipments flash with Sigarda’s Aid. As for the win cons:

You can obviously go wide if you get the right combination of cats and equipments on the field. Several of the creatures benefit from being equipped, and you should be getting in some chip damage from early on in the game. One goal will be to have several creatures out that can attack, and play Beastmaster Ascension during your first main phase, then attack with seven creatures simultaneously to get the +5/+5 affect which should be eliminating an opponent from play. You can also use Overwhelming Stampede before combat for a similar effect. I may later add in Triumph of the Hordes for redundancy as the infect is usually enough to defeat even the healthiest of opponents. You also have a voltron subtheme here, and tools like Rogue’s passage can sometimes be enough to win via commander damage, but I think if you want to go that route you should probably run Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith or Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist as they benefit more from voltron strategies. Conversely, you can actually play Arahbo and then kit him out to swing for lethal commander damage too, but my playgroup rarely wins that way.

I think these small improvements will be better than the precon itself but I already see where I could easily spend a few more dollars on this to make it more efficient and honed in. For now, we’ll call it a budget upgrade and move on. You can see my full deck list here.

Hope this gave you some ideas at least. Happy Gaming!

TWR: My Love it is a Black Rose

A week or so ago my girlfriend was at Target and picked me up another of the Commander 2017 preconstructed decks, this time it was Arcane Wizardy, and I was really unsure what to do with it. I played it once and it felt severely underpowered compared to some of the other precons from the set. I sat and thought about it long and hard — I didn’t want to play it with Enalla at the helm, but some of the other legendary creatures in the deck that were still Grixis seemed much more interesting to play.

I had narrowed things down to building a deck around either Kess, Mairsil, or Marchesa. As I looked around on EDHREC and other resources, it seemed that the latter, Marchesa, was most suited to my playstyle and after putting together an initial decklist, I felt satisfied with using her to lead the troops. It helped that one of the guys in my playgroup had an integral piece needed to build the deck, and he was interested in doing a trade. So I ended up with a very cool card that will help the deck out, and he gained Mairsil, whom he would like to build a deck around. I ended up cutting out a large chunk of what came with the precon, so let’s look at that list and see what I got rid of:

1 Kess, Dissident Mage
1 Mairsil, the Pretender
1 Galecaster Colossus
1 Magus of the Mind
1 Portal Mage
1 Vindictive Lich
1 Izzet Chemister
1 Taigam, Sidisi’s Hand
1 Havengul Lich
1 Marchesa, the Black Rose
1 Vela the Night-Clad
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
1 Body Double
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Serendib Sorcerer
1 Apprentice Necromancer
1 Magus of the Abyss
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
1 Mercurial Chemister
1 Nin, the Pain Artist
1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Bloodline Necromancer
1 Archaeomancer
1 Merchant of Secrets
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Corpse Augur
1 Izzet Chronarch
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 Kindred Dominance
1 Clone Legion
1 Spelltwine
1 Decree of Pain
1 Necromantic Selection
1 Comet Storm
1 Polymorphist’s Jest
1 Chaos Warp
1 Memory Plunder
1 Silumgar’s Command
1 Into the Roil
1 Opportunity
1 Reality Shift
1 Go for the Throat
1 Cauldron Dance
1 Crosis’s Charm
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Terminate
1 Nevinyrral’s Disk
1 Mirror of the Forebears
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Unstable Obelisk
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Shifting Shadow
1 Curse of Verbosity
1 Curse of Disturbance
1 Curse of Opulence

As you can see, there wasn’t much left after I pulled out most of the wizards and many of the spells. That curse series in C17 is pretty much garbage, so those were taken out instantly. I removed most of the wizards because the tribal theme isn’t necessary for this deck. Marchesa wants to focus on getting +1/+1 counters on her minions so that when they die, they come right back onto the battlefield.  As such, most of the deck is focused around cards that have nice enter the battlefield effects, or that give/benefit from the counters. Let’s take a look at what I’ve added.


Not a huge amount of fuckery, as Grixis can be known for, but there are still some key elements here. Mikeaus is the card I traded Mairsil for, mainly because he grants undying to all other creatures. Between Marchesa’s Dethrone global and this, it going to be tough for my creatures to go down, as they either come back to the battlefield at end of turn due to Marchesa (if they have counters on them), or come back due to Mikeaus’s Undying (if they don’t have counters on them) thereby giving them the counters so that later Marchesa can save them again. I’m looking at trying to overload the battlefield with creatures and not letting them be taken out by boardwipes or the like. Onward to spells!


This was pretty straightforward. I added some card draw and counterspells, along with a couple interesting cards in Press into Service and Tezzeret’s Gambit. The former has a rare keyword called Support, which allows you to distribute two +1/+1 counters as you see fit. The latter has the keyword Proliferate, which allows you to add additional counters to things that already have counters on them. I figured these spells and effects would be helpful for the theme. Onward to the other bits!


I tried to stay on theme, so things like Unspeakable Symbol and Dragon Blood allow me to generate +1/+1 counters. I also added in some card draw with Phyrexian Arena and Greed. I’ve also tried to add some sacrifice outlets, since being able to sacrifice a creature and get it back the same turn seems like great value. Cards like Ashnod’s altar can be instrumental in getting out other high CMC cards out quickly, and enchantments like Attrition allow me to sac a creature to destroy a high threat target. Overall I think the deck looks pretty good, though I may have to tune it a bit after the fact. I know I don’t have anything to protect Marchesa (like hexproof or shroud) though I have ways to add that to the deck if needbe. I know that lately my commanders have been targeted to the point where I couldn’t actually get anything going, so that’s a potential weakness of the deck. I also may have gone a little too spell heavy in a creature oriented deck, but testing will tell. Anyway, that’s all for this time, happy gaming everyone!

The War Report: What to Do with Arcane Wizardry?

EDIT (9/25): I decided what to do with this deck, and you can read about that here

The only new Commander 2017 product I was really into was the Edgar Markov led Vampire deck. I’ve spoken about this a time or two already, so I don’t think I need to repeat myself. This wasn’t to say that I didn’t see value in the other decks, it just so happened that I already had a Vampire deck in the works, and being able to play a 3 color commander opens up more opportunities (like the White Vampires coming in Ixalan… a couple of those are sweet auto includes!).

I had passing interest in the Cat deck, mainly because it had a few cards that would benefit my Sram-led, Voltron-themed deck. I also had passing interest in the Wizard deck because it has some interesting cards along with a Grixis color scheme which I have yet to build a deck out of. Wizards seem pretty cool too, though finding a killer win condition was a little more difficult. I had no real interest in the Dragon deck, outside of Ramos who would be a cool 5-color commander that doesn’t require tribal synergy.

Having a lady that supports your bad habits is fantastic. She called me when I was at work the other day and said that she had found the precons at Target (they must have finally put them up on display!) and was asking which ones I wanted. Turns out they didn’t have the Vampire deck (but I already have that one) but they had all of the others. I was torn between the Cat and Wizard options, but I eventually picked Wizards and when I came home there it was.

At this point I’ve opened the deck and sleeved it up. I haven’t altered it in any way. Honestly I think I’ll probably play it as-is to see what the power level is like, but I don’t think it will stay that way for long. I don’t really care for the intended commander of the deck, Inalla.

Eminence is a powerful tool, but I just think the hasty tokens aren’t that great in conjunction with Wizards who are less likely to attack, and more likely want to just tap for an activated ability. Having haste enables that, but it just seems like it would have been more appropriate in like the Cat or Dragon decks. There is the added bonus of being able to tap 5 wizards to ping an opponent for 7 damage, but it seems like you’d just be leaving yourself open to die, unless of course that 7 damage would count towards commander damage which I’m unsure of.

It does turn out that there are several other legendary creatures packed in that I find much more appealing as a commander, and they still fit the Grixis color scheme. I just don’t know which one to roll with:

Kess and Mairsil are both new cards, and Marchesa is a reprint, but a popular commander choice. Kess has the graveyard focus and is screaming to be made into a spellslinging recursion deck. Mairsil wants things to go into the graveyard as well, but he then exiles cards and steals their active abilities. That seems cool enough, but then how many of those abilities are going to translate into a win condition? Lastly, Marchesa has Dethrone and gives this ability to all other creatures I control. Definitely don’t have to stick with a Wizard theme in that case, but I don’t know what sort of theme to go with. Big beaters? Fliers? Trickery? The same can be said of all three of these. I enjoy their abilities more than Inalla’s, but I don’t know what to do with them.

I’ve been scouring EDHREC for the last few days since I ended up with this precon and don’t know which route I want to go. Originally I thought Mairsil was the go-to option, but now I’m seeing the pros and cons of each and am torn with which direction to go. I suppose I will try the precon out since tomorrow is our weekly gathering, and that might give me some more insight into which route suits me.

I’ll be back to report on this once I have made a decision.

The War Report: Upgrading Vampiric Bloodlust

The new Commander 2017 decks released this past Friday, and I must say it was a chore to get my hands on one! With the commander series passed, I had no trouble grabbing a 2015 (Daxos) online for less than the MSRP, and picked up a 2016 (Saskia) deck at Target, six months after it had released. The Commander 2017 editions however were not so easy to come by. It seems that there were rumors of a limited print run, so online stores were price gouging — I saw decks that are supposed to be $35.99 MSRP going for $50-60 at the online stores I typically buy singles from. Even Amazon and Ebay had the decks listed higher than the going price, it was ridiculous. I figured that I’d get my hands on the deck by going to Target or Walmart and paying the $35.99 + tax and be done with it, but that wasn’t how it went down.

I went to Target on Friday evening, and there were no Commander 2017 decks to be found. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see any of the precons whatsoever. I figured perhaps they just hadn’t gotten them up on the shelves yet, and I had an impending trip to visit my Mother for her birthday that weekend, so I figured I’d look again when I had the chance. On Saturday we had to run about and do some errands and ended up at Walmart. I went straight to the card section and lo and behold, there were no commander decks on display current or otherwise. Again on Sunday, I ended up at the Target where she lives, and still no dice. It was beginning to appear that I might not get my hands on one for regular price, and I surely didn’t want to pay the extra money despite really wanting to get my hands on the Edgar Markov deck. I remembered that there was a comic book store that also sold some Magic products when I used to live out there, so I Googled that, and it turns out that the store had closed. As a last ditch effort, I used the store locator on the official Magic website and found another LGS that was on the other side of town. I called and they had all four of the decks in stock so we rushed over there and I finally got the deck I was looking for. This store wasn’t gouging either, only charging $40 for the deck. What an ordeal!

Because of the trip I mentioned, I had to miss out on our weekly playgroup but I know that the guys went to a Commander event at an LGS and at least one of them picked up one of the new C17 decks. This next weekend we are set to move into the new house, so I already know I won’t be playing again, as they move on the 1st (Friday) and I’ll be moving in on my normal day off, Sunday. If all goes well, I’ll be able to play again the following Friday. I’m really looking forward to it, as I’ll have my Vampire deck ready to go in its fancy new accessories: a themed Deck Box + Sleeves.

So as the deck itself goes, it’s pretty good right out of the box. However, there were obvious ways to improve the deck significantly, along with having several important vampires missing from the list. Here’s the decklist for the precon:

1 Licia, Sanguine Tribune
1 Mathas, Fiend Seeker
1 Kheru Mind-Eater
1 Patron of the Vein
1 Bloodsworn Steward
1 Crimson Honor Guard
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Dark Impostor
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Sangromancer
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Vein Drinker
1 Bloodline Necromancer
1 Blood Artist
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Rakish Heir
1 Stromkirk Captain
1 Tithe Drinker
1 New Blood
1 Disrupt Decorum
1 Kindred Charge
1 Fell the Mighty
1 Blood Tribute
1 Consuming Vapors
1 Damnable Pact
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Ambition’s Cost
1 Read the Bones
1 Syphon Mind
1 Teferi’s Protection
1 Crackling Doom
1 Return to Dust
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Go for the Throat
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Mortify
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Door of Destinies
1 Well of Lost Dreams
1 Heirloom Blade
1 Boros Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Kindred Boon
1 Blind Obedience
1 Black Market
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Underworld Connections
1 Outpost Siege
1 Curse of Vitality
1 Curse of Disturbance
8 Swamp
4 Mountain
3 Plains
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Cinder Barrens
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forsaken Sanctuary
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Nomad Outpost
1 Opal Palace
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Stone Quarry
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg Volcano
1 Wind-Scarred Crag

There are some great cards included, and a decent landbase. However, many of the shitty tap lands are included, and some really powerful (and valuable) cards are great to have, but are screaming to be put into some of my other creations (Teferi’s Protection is one that is worth almost $30 but I want to use elsewhere). The curse cycle that was added with this commander set is also fairly weak, so I immediately removed the two in this list. Everything that I crossed out was removed and these are the cards that I added in their place:

I removed a couple of vampires that just weren’t that great and instead added some recent additions to the tribe along with an old card that is essentially half an Elesh Norn for black. These vampires simply have better effects, and I’m trying to abuse the +1/+1 counter theme that the deck was already riding. Speaking of counters and tokens, what else can we do?

Anointed Procession in combination with Edgar Markov’s Emminence ability is just absurd. Remember, he creates a 1/1 vampire everytime you cast a vampire. So cast one, get two with the enchantment’s effect. Couple that with Cathars’ Crusade and you’re giving +1/+1 to everything for each vampire hitting the battlefield. Add in a Coat of Arms, and they all get +1/+1 for every other creature that shares a creature type with it! You can really go wide with these simple additions!

Lastly, I added in the most obvious of Planeswalker choices. Each version of Sorin (who is of Markov decent and fits so well thematically) can create vampire tokens, and each has some other perks that add to the overall theme and flavor of the deck. He was an obvious choice and he was removed from other decks that really didn’t deserve him. He will lead with Edgar and turn all of humanity into an army of bloodsuckers if I have my way!

There are likely other cards that could easily slot in, and in some cases I had considered them but ultimately decided to keep my upgrades budget friendly. Overall, the $40 for the deck plus singles will end up being an $80 investment, and that’s on the low end for most of the decks I’ve created, so I’m glad to have been able to keep it within my means but still make it more powerful. Next time I’m planning on sharing another deck’s revamp that I am working on, so look for that soon!

The War Report: Thoughts on Commander 2017

I know, I know, I’m obsessed. This used to be a gaming blog, and though I know that Magic: The Gathering could still be considered gaming, it’s definitely not “video gaming” despite having some titles in the digital space. Regardless, there is more news that interests me coming out of the Wizards of the Coast space than there is the gaming sphere, so here we are with another column of The War Report!

It’s spoiler season, which happens multiple times a year when it comes to MTG — each time a new set or collection comes out there are spoilers for it, as people want to know what they can expect before buying in, and I must say that having the spoilers is nice because you can tell if something you are going to buy is going to be worth your while. Given the spoilers of the last couple of main sets, Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation, I knew right away that I wouldn’t be buying too many packs, that most of the “power” cards that I wanted would be easier to just buy singles of and be done with. At this point I have done that for most of the cards I’d like to own from that block. Then once a year a new commander set comes out and we all get to take a peek into the minds of the creative teams at Wizards, and are rewarded with new cards in each set as well.

At this point, we know the exact color make ups, tribes and commanders for the new pre-constructed 2017 sets. Here they are:

5-color Dragons, Green/White Cats, Mardu Vampires and Grixis Wizards. Interesting color combinations, and an interesting new mechanic called “Eminence” which gives each new commander a bonus effect that triggers even when it is in the command zone. Well, this isn’t entirely new, as Oloro, The Ageless Acetic released with the 2013 commander sets and had what is now called Eminence. However, it’s a cool and powerful utility and I think we will see some awesome creative uses for the commanders outside of the precons. Out of these sets, as I mentioned in my last post I’m most interested in Vampires, but I was unsure how things would go having a mardu color-theme. Having seen Edgar Markov however, I’m sold. His Eminence ability is amazing and fits the aggro theme I wanted to use in the mono-black vampire deck I had been planning. I feel like sacrifice outlets and recursion are going to work out great in the deck, and I’m sure there will be some weaker cards that can easily be pulled out. I feel like there are some amazing dual colored vampires (orzhov and rakdos) that will slot right in, and if it ends up that I’m just splashing red, that’s fine — it’s what ended up happening with Kaalia as well.

I feel like the other Eminence abilities are less useful, but some of those commanders are more powerful in their own ways. Time will tell how the decks themselves play out, but I’m excited to get my hands on Markov and to build out the deck in my own way. The guys in my play group are excited as well, one for Dragons and the other for Wizards — no one is too thrilled with Cat tribal, but I’m sure someone will pick it up anyway.

There are some other great cards that are making their way into the decks as well, with some old school mechanics like phasing making their way back to the game. It’s been a great spoiler season thus far, and soon we’ll be looking forward to Ixalan as well. I will report back once I have the deck in hand and can start to modify it!