The War Report: Commander 2020 Deck Lists

As I mentioned recently, spoilers for the next MTG set is coming very soon. We’re also getting Commander 2020 sets a bit earlier in the year than usual. At this point we know that Ikoria’s release was pushed back to May rather than this month, so we can also assume we won’t see these decks on shelves until then either as they are set to release simultaneously. Whatever the case, we have seen the full deck lists released, plenty of new YouTube videos covering new builds and ideas, and now it’s my turn to throw down my two cents.

My first observation is that there are finally five decks again, rather than the four deck sets of the past couple of years. It’s also nice to see consistency between the precons, in that each is a three color shard, which I think is probably the sweet spot for most decks.  We also know due to others’ diligent work, that there are a total of 71 brand new cards included in these precons, which is the most new cards ever introduced with a Commander product, though that record might again be broken with the draft set later this year. Whatever the case, The Command Zone guys also broke this down further, letting us know that each of these decks have a good chunk of value in them just off of the reprints. One more important note, there’s plenty of good mana rocks included in each deck including the newish Arcane Signet that is in high demand and was limited to being printed into last year’s Brawl decks. Lastly, the deck I am the most drawn to and interested in buying first is Timeless Wisdom, aka the Cycling deck.

Face Commanders:

Because the cycling deck is my favorite of these doesn’t mean I’m not interested in others. I’m kind of over Mardu and another deck with boring humans in it doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m also sort of turned off by the Mutate themed deck, as the mechanic seems sort of pointless. The Keyword Soup Abzan deck is also sort of meh. I find the Temur deck the next most interesting, Instants matter is definitely a thing but I’m more interested in the Snake sub-general so I’ll likely buy both of these immediately. There are plenty of new cards in each though, so I assume buying them all would be the smartest bet just to get a lot of gas. Whatever the case, I love this time of year because when we get all of these new commanders out in the wild the meta changes for a while and brings new and interesting ideas to the table. I’m not going to go over any reprints besides the ones I’ve already mentioned because there are simply too many new cards that deserve to be highlighted, good or not. I should notate that because there is an identical number of new cards per color, I’ve split them up that way but these are all spread about the decks as all of the colors are represented equally between the five decks. I also arranged them so that the cycles of cards are highlighted in the middle of each gallery. Those new cycles are: 1. A free to play spell as long as you control your commander and 2. A mono colored Partners With Legendary creature. Their partners will be highlighted with the other Multicolor cards. There is a cycle of “impetus” that are auras that goad the enchanted creature while buffing it as well, but really these won’t see much play so I don’t have further comment. Let’s dive in.

New Cards:

White:

The free spell for white is Flawless Maneuver, and it is a 3 CMC spell that you can cast for free if you control your commander. This one gives your creatures indestructible until end of turn, which can help you to save blockers/blocked creatures or protect from a boardwipe (including one you might do to yourself). I think it’s a strong card for white. The Partner here isn’t as good, basically giving you tokens for attacking, but not until end of turn. Honestly the best card here is Dismantling Wave, which blows up multiple artifacts/enchantments on the cheap, but then can be cycled and is a boardwipe. I love modular cards, and in a deck that can cheat cycling costs, this is basically a free or cheap wipe. I like Cartographer’s Hawk as well because it’s ramp, but it is a bit situational. I think bird tribal people run it automatically. Otherwise, it’s sort of situational. I think mono white decks will use it.

Blue:

Wait, a FREE counterspell? Yeah, Fierce Guardianship will allow you to counter any noncreature spell (which are usually the best targets for counters) as long as you control your commander. That’s powerful, especially for higher tier decks that partially rely on their general to win. It’s going to see play for sure. The partner here is also pretty interesting as he pairs with a card that exiles opponent’s cards and then he lets you play those for any color of mana. I think they could be a powerful deck by themselves, but also fit into a number of other strategies. Probably my favorite card here otherwise is the Crystalline Resonance, because it’s an enchantment with a payoff for cycling, where you can copy other goodies on the board and use it in different ways.

Black:

Being able to exile for free is pretty damn good, especially because white is the only color that usually exiles on the cheap (with downsides). The only real downside to this card is having to pay four mana for it if you don’t control your commander. The partner is kind of boring, but card draw in black is always paid in blood, so I guess it’s on theme. With its partner it can do things but I don’t really care for it. I do really like the Netherborn Altar, especially for commanders that can get really expensive to recast (say, Vilis after he’s died a few times?). It’s functional jank. Species Specialist could be good black card draw as well, but it’s limited to one type. Ghave might like it.

Red:

The red free spell is pretty powerful as well. Control your commander, and you can cast Deflecting Seal for free, and with that you can choose new targets for a spell or ability. This is instant speed disruption that could potentially stop game winning combos. The partner here is probably one half of the two I like the best, this one is actually good in any deck that cares about discarding cards, and it will likely find a spot in a wheeling deck I’m playing on building after these cards find their way into my hands. I’m not really into the other cards, but you can see what they do above.

Green:

Green’s free spell is equivalent to a fog, which is probably less desirable than the other color’s spells, but still will find its place in certain decks. The partner here is fine for +1/+1 counter synergy, but is less appealing by himself than with his partner who would push him out of a mono green deck. He could still be functional in a mono green counters matter deck. I really like Curious Herd, as it is the next Dockside Extortionist, except for the fact that he only counts one player’s stuff in order to give you 3/3 tokens. I think populate decks will like this card. Glademuse also looks strong in draw go decks, mainly because you’re already planning on casting spells on other players turns, so you might as well draw a card. This is symmetrical though, so I guess it’s a bit of a group hug card.

Multicolored/Colorless:

Next up is the rest. The multicolored cards here are the alternate commanders for the decks, along with the dual colored Partner With creatures that pair with the mono colored ones we already covered. Of the pairings, I like the mono red that is paired with Shabraz the Skyshark. Not only is this un-set level ridiculous, it’s also a very effective pair. I don’t think it’s something I’m going to use only because its colors are off for what I want to use the mono red guy for, but it’s still cool. My secondary favorite is Ukkima, Stalking Shadow, but I ultimately don’t want to use its partner either, instead wanting to put Ukkima into my Yuriko deck because it is unblockable and can be used with ninjitsu to get more value of it’s leaves the battlefield trigger. Of the subgenerals, I’m most interested in Xyris, the Writing Storm, because it’s essentially The Locust God with the addition of green. I love my Locust God deck, but being a 6 CMC commander is sometimes hard to ramp into without green, and green would push that deck over the top. The Locust God is actually included in that precon, so apparently WotC sees the same thing I do. You’ll see that build soon, because I think my original game plan for that deck will work even better even without The Locust God in the command zone. The new artifacts are mostly blah except for the Twinning Staff, but I’ll leave that card for someone else to break. The only new land is Nesting Grounds which is actually pretty good for all of the new keyword tokens as it allows you to move those around. Overall these sets look really good and though it’s unlikely I’ll buy them all, I’m definitely grabbing at least a couple.

Up next, Spoilers for the booster set.

TWR: Thoughts on Ikoria Mechanics

The next Magic: The Gathering set is called Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths and is a new plane filled with giant beasts (among other strange things). Preview season has kicked off, and that means a multitude of things. First off, there’s always a post on the Mothership about the new and/or returning mechanics of the set. You can read that over there, but I’ll be going over them individually along with adding some of my own commentary. Additionally, various YouTube content creators will also be unleashing a ton of new videos centering around these new mechanics, new card previews and discussions about the set. We’re also getting the brand new Commander 2020 sets releasing alongside of Ikoria, so even more spoilers are coming down the pipeline than usual. As was discussed in a post towards the end of last year, when we were looking forward to what 2020 had in store for the game, we’ve already known about Commander 2020, the additional Commander decks being released besides the other major set releases, and the Commander Booster Box set (that doesn’t even count how good Mystery Boxes were for Commander players) coming towards the end of the year. Needless to say it’s “the year of Commander,” and we’re in full swing. As such, I am planning on making separate posts with spoilers for the Commander 2020 precons along with the main set, but I do want to just focus on mechanics for this post. One caveat to keep in mind though: despite spoiler season still rolling out on the normal time table, there has been a delay in the actual release date for these new products, pushing them back about a month to May. This is probably for the best since many players have taken hits to their income, but hopefully many of us will be back to work come that time. With all of that said, let’s get into the mechanics of Ikoria.

Returning Mechanic: Cycling

One of the more interesting past mechanics that is making a return is Cycling. Cycling is a neat ability stapled onto a variety of cards that allows you to pay a mana cost, discard that card from your hand and then draw a new card. Decks that typically want to run a lot of cards with cycling are those that care about drawing cards, so the Locust Gods and Nekusars of the world. I personally only run cycling cards in my Locust God deck, but I’ve had a building interest in turning my Doomsday Zur into an Astral Slide version that wants to cycle a lot. I have a feeling with an influx of new cycling cards coming with this set, that deck might get that much better, or perhaps there will be more options to build in other colors. We already know there’s a cycling focused precon and it already looks pretty spicy. I expect a high number of cards to have the ability itself, along with many new “cycling matters” cards like the one spoiled above. If you can cycle to get draw value but also gain other effects, it can be pretty busted.

New Mechanic: Keyword Counters

Counters have been a thing in Magic for a long time, the most common form being +1/+1 counters, although -1/-1, infect and loyalty counters are getting up there in frequency. Never before has a creature been granted flying via a token though, and that’s where this is a unique mechanic although only really broken in certain circumstances. So normally creatures would be allotted flying from another creature only if that creature remained on the battlefield. Giving a sense of more permanency, these counters mean that even if the originating creature giving the keyword dies, the remaining creature with the counter still gets the benefit. They’re semi-permanent enchantment auras, and that’s pretty cool. But what if you can move counters from one creature to another, or perhaps even remove these types of counters to draw cards or something else exploitative. They’ve already said these counters won’t stack, so proliferating them isn’t powerful — until they print a card that turns this ability up to ten. Whatever the case, a combo has already been discovered with a creature that gives returns a creature without a counter on it who dies to the battlefield with a flying counter on it, but if you have Solemnity on the board that basically reads: if a creature you control dies return it to the battlefield. Pretty cool stuff.

New Mechanic: Mutate

Mutate seems to be WotC’s way of trying to revive the meld mechanic from Innistrad while simultaneously bringing the mashed up creatures of Unstable to standard play. You’re essentially putting two creatures together to get a mash up of keywords, and sometimes when mutating a creature you’ll get additional effects upon doing so. The main consideration when thinking about mutating creatures is what that extra ability might be, and how you’d like to stack the creatures, as you’ll only get the power/toughness of one of them, dependent on which you put on top. In the example above you’ll see what I mean, in that you either get a 5/4 with the additional Vigilance keyword, or you’ll get a 2/4 that gains reach and the mutate ability. However, you can only mutate creatures that have the mutate alternate casting cost, so the Cloudpiercer above is needed to make the meld. It’s an interesting idea but sort of gimmicky and even though I know one of the commander precons will attempt to build a deck around this concept, I think it will fall flat sort of like the morph deck did last year. It’s just kind of silly when you only have to Swords one target to kill two creatures.

New Mechanic: Companion

Companion is another new mechanic being introduced, and it’s already produced waves in the community. There is a partial cycle (known to this point at least) of these cards in color pairings of hybrid mana. They each have a stipulation built into them to allow you to use them in your decks, but they don’t count towards your deck’s card limit. This means you can essentially build 101 card Commander decks with these, and it’s an extra spell in your command zone (almost as if WotC decided to try some Oathbreaker design space). However, before the set has even been released, the Izzet companion card has been banned in commander. The rules committee apparently agreed that the other companions weren’t too broken but this one was. I’m not going to go further into it than that, but it’s still a crazy idea in the first place. The Spike Feeders put up a video where they discussed these in-depth and I thought I’d share that next:

While giving us a new way to include more cards (virtual sideboard, or Oathbreaker style spells in the Command zone) into our decks is a design space I’d like to see more of, these cards are pretty restrictive in their deck building requirements so it’s not quite there yet for me. I feel like I could embrace this more if there were a larger number of companions or cards that use this outside of the game wording to where we could have a virtual sideboard and could then utilize wish style spells effectively. But that’s skirting rules that have been a part of EDH for a long time, so perhaps no one will want to push that boundary. I for one would love sideboards and the ability to use wish effects to target those cards. Anyway, as I said I plan to make posts to preview the main set along with the precons so stay tuned for that!

TWR: The Extortionist’s Hound

I’m not sure why, but the Orzhov color pairing has always spoken to me. Something about the “death and taxes” aspect of it perhaps, maybe it’s the gothic/religious flavoring that isn’t normally my style. Whatever the case, these colors are great at adding taxing effects to the board, and that’s something I enjoy doing to my table (call me a dick if you like). One of the cards that came out with Theros: Beyond Death caught my attention early on, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. First, let’s look at the card and then I’ll extrapolate:

Kunoros, Hound of Athreos (another great Orzhov card himself) is a 3/3 for 3 CMC that comes stacked with vigilance, menace and lifelink. That alone is pretty good, but then he also is basically Grafdigger’s Cage on a stick, in that he doesn’t allow cards to enter from graveyards, nor can you cast spells from graveyards. So this hoses flashback, most recursion, and even the new escape mechanic. All for only 3 mana, are you kidding me? Since this commander is the goodest of boys, I started to think about other Orzhov fun stuff I could do, and remembered the extort mechanic, which is absolutely perfect for this deck. Don’t forget to pay your taxes!

Extort

So the main thing I want to do with this deck is to extort my opponents to death. Extort is a unique mechanic in that every instance of it on the board can be triggered, and each instance can be paid with hybrid WB, so all of our mana is always available to be spent for extort triggers, so we shouldn’t have much if any left over on our turns. Cast a two drop, then use your last mana to extort. Or extort twice now that you have two instances of it on the board. Each time you do, each opponent will lose a life, and you’ll gain 3 (or an amount equal to the amount of opponents you have). This probably isn’t going to make you friends, but with some of the other gameplans I’ve included, I think it’s going to be fun anyway! So most of these cards are straightforward creatures with extort stapled on them, but there are a couple highlights. Crypt Ghast will also double up the mana your swamps make, and Pontiff of Blight just outright gives all of your creatures extort, so he’s probably the MVP of the deck, but a little expensive. Lastly, we have a single enchantment with the keyword, but it also causes some light stax by forcing your opponent’s creatures and artifacts to come into play tapped. Speaking of stax… yeah, let’s go there.

Staxes and Taxes

So here we have all manner of hate pieces. Some are creature based, others are enchantments or artifacts. This smorgasbord of goodness will have creatures and artifacts coming into play tapped, will tax people for drawing cards by allowing you to draw as well or instead (or damaging them), will stop ETB triggers, will keep graveyards empty or unable to be used as a resource, will prevent more than one spell being cast per turn (good thing we can just extort) and will generally piss off someone at the table. Now that we have your attention, drain away that life and stay safe!

Notables

Since our commander has lifelink and comes down early, and we have plenty of ways to extort our opponents means we’re going to be pretty healthy. So we should probably find ways to use that life right? So first, when we have lifegain triggers, we can further damage our opponents with cards like Cliffhaven Vampire and Sanguine Bond, or we have Dawn of Hope to help us draw cards off of the lifegain. I’ve also packed in Phyrexian Arena that will draw us an additional card each turn for a life, but we should be gaining more than that anyway. Finally, if we manage to get Bolas’s Citadel out onto the field we’ll be able to cast the top card of our library for life instead of mana, so as long as we’re always topping off this is just great value. The last card of note is the new Athreos which is particularly important for this deck. Since we have piled on quite a bit of graveyard hate, its not really possible to build in a recursion engine. I did include old Athreos, but he’ll be a dead drop sometimes depending on what other stuff we have on the battlefield. As such, the inclusion of the new one gives us some recursion but it takes time to build up. Once he’s out, each end step you can put counters onto creatures. Then it doesn’t matter if they die OR go to exile, as he will return them to the battlefield regardless. This is great since we have cards like Rest in Peace exiling our graveyards as well.

This deck was created to be resilient in the sense of being able to still do things even while playing heavy stax/tax effects. Most of them are one sided in that they affect our opponents only, but some spill over and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to play cards that hinder you, challenge yourself to find ways to work around them. The payoff is worth it. I’ve also seen in the wobbly meta on the Discord that the majority of people’s decks do a lot of nothing until they suddenly combo off. This is designed to slow that down and hopefully prevent those combos. I have an answer for every major combo I’ve come across, so this should be a safe (and fairly budget) bet towards slowing games down so you can grind it out. Plus, if all else fails you only need to hit someone in the face 7 times with your commander to eliminate them, but you shouldn’t need to given the amount of drain we’re packing in.

TWR: COVID-19 Commander Challenge

While trolling around the interwebs today, I came upon this deckbuilding challenge that was issued in one of the Facebook MTG groups I frequent. I suppose this challenge being named what it is, there’s likely someone out there who will be offended, but nonetheless I think the spirit of deckbuilding because we’re stuck at home with nothing better to do is still valid/pure. Here’s the instructions QFT:

Ok so its time to do the Covid Commander challenge.

your commander is CMC = to the number of letters in your first name.

Colors are determined by Birthdate: Feb-March: Blue

April-June: Green

July-August: Red – If born on leap day then you are Colorless

Sept-Nov.: Black

Dec-Jan: White

1-6: Blue

7-12: Green

13-18: Red

19-24: Black

25-30: White

31: your a 5 color commander or up to if you have enough letters

50’s- White

60’s- Green

70’s- Red

80’s- Blue

90’s- Black

2000’s- Roll a D6 and 6 is colorless

And now the tough part: all cards in the deck must have one of your initials in the name of the card (Initials ECR could not have Wall of Light since E, C, or R are not in the card name.

Basic Lands are the only Exceptions.

Post your Commander and the Reply with a deck list when your done making it!

So following the rules outlined, here are my starting stats:

My commander’s CMC must equal 6
It will be Black, Red and Blue
All cards included in the deck must have the letters G, P or W in the card name (this part might not be possible, but I’ll see what I can do).

Grixis is a color combination I’m familiar with, and it is powerful. Unfortunately I can’t play something like Nekusar because he’s only 5 cmc. At this point my options are:

Sedris, the Traitor King
Crosis, the Purger or
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist partnered with Vial Smasher the Fierce

Now looking at this traditionally, I’d say the obvious choice are the partners, but since that wasn’t actually described in the rules, I’m kind of bending them at this point. Still, they are two 3 CMC commanders that are both in the command zone so I think this should work. They’re also the best for what I’d want to do, despite the fact that I have no idea what I can actually play with the name limitation. So let’s try to build a deck with this in mind. You wait here. I’ll come back with a deck list or lack thereof with some reasoning.

So it’s not the greatest, but I did manage to put together a list, solely with cards with G, P and W in the names. Most of them are cards I would play with normally, but I’d probably be a bit more mindful of the curve were this a less restricted build. Here’s the full list you can take a look at, but I’ll also post it here:

1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arcane Signet
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Chaos Wand
1 Chaos Warp
1 City of Brass
1 Combustible Gearhulk
1 Command Tower
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Counterspell
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Curse of Opulence
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Decree of Pain
1 Dig Through Time
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Dimir Signet
1 Disrupt Decorum
1 Etali, Primal Storm
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Exsanguinate
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Go for the Throat
1 Goblin Electromancer
1 God-Eternal Kefnet
1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
1 Grixis Panorama
1 Guttersnipe
1 Halimar Depths
1 Imprisoned in the Moon
1 In Garruk’s Wake
9 Island
1 Izzet Signet
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist
1 Mana Geyser
1 Mindswipe
1 Mogis, God of Slaughter
7 Mountain
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 Night’s Whisper
1 Nightscape Familiar
1 Obelisk of Grixis
1 Perplex
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Ponder
1 Possibility Storm
1 Preordain
1 Primal Amulet
1 Propaganda
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Reforge the Soul
1 Refuse/Cooperate
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Spark Double
1 Spelltwine
1 Spiteful Visions
7 Swamp
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Temple of the False God
1 Temporal Mastery
1 Temporal Trespass
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Thought Vessel
1 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Vial Smasher the Fierce
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Wild Evocation
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Young Pyromancer

The general play pattern would be to get out your commanders and play spells. There’s removal and interaction plus ways to cheat and steal. It’s definitely not a focused deck, but what do you want for something I threw together in 20 minutes? The challenge was enticing and now that it’s completed we can move onto legitmate builds. However, I am sort of interested in building this commander pairing properly, so perhaps I’ll update this in the future.

The War Report: Yorvo’s Wrath

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it turns out I have quite the collection of Magic: The Gathering cards. Obviously I am aware of having bought said cards on a multitude of occasions over the course of the last four years, but I didn’t realize that I could literally create a handful of decks with cards I had sitting in boxes. There have been times where I have purchased chunks of cards, either via booster boxes, buying multiple commander precons, making a large singles purchase, or even that time when I bought a bundle of guild kits. Despite having a large box full of EDH “staples” and also several large boxes of common/uncommon bulk, I didn’t realize that I could make playable decks with what was there. There are multiple reasons for this discovery, the main one being that I have been playing Magic several times a week via the PlayEDH Discord channel, and because I’m getting in so many more games I’ve been inspired to brew and deck build more often than I already had been. Another reason is financial. I don’t have the same disposable income I once did, so I haven’t been able to buy as many cards of the newer sets, and I’ve only made one singles purchase over the last few months. I’m happy with this situation, mainly because it forced me to look at what I already had and upon going through and sorting cards and other projects, I’ve managed to build out deck ideas I already had using cards I own instead of buying more expensive versions that I had initially brewed.

My typical brewing process is finding a commander or theme I think is interesting, and then going online to MTGGoldfish where I keep my decklists and building it on the spot. I will take into consideration cards I know that I own, but will oftentimes find cards I don’t own that would be integral to the deck. However, upon reflection it has turned out that oftentimes I can still make a solid mid to mid-high deck without spending money, mainly because I have so many staples. This has had the unfortunate effect of blowing up some of my already established decks and borrowing cards from others though, so in effect I’m borrowing from myself in order to make a new deck work, but will have the hassle of swapping out cards when I want to play others, or eventually I’ll have to put together a list of cards that are being shared and buy extra copies, or I’ll have to bite the bullet and make a staples binder and just proxy the more expensive cards to use among multiple decks. Cards like Sensei’s Divining Top are useful in more than one deck, but then it’s a $40 card and I don’t think I want to buy another copy. With all that said, I have been building new decks quite regularly over the past couple of months. As you can see in the picture above, there’s seven new brews there since the end of January, and of those I’ve managed to make six playable and fairly focused decks that have seen success in multiple pods. Today though, we’ll be talking about one deck that I didn’t expect to be as much fun or as effective as it is. Today, we’re talking about my boy, Yorvo:

When this cycle of new legendary creatures from Throne of Eldraine was spoiled, I thought to myself that the only one I found even remotely interesting was Torbran, but I already have a mono red deck helmed by Krenko and Torbran fit right into that one. I never paid attention to Yorvo, but eventually played against a few different players that were running mono green decks that just did crazy things. I attempted to build a mono green ramping deck helmed by Molimo back when I first got into EDH, but it wasn’t very successful. I’ll attribute that to not really understanding how to build good decks and other factors of being “green” to a subject. A couple of weeks ago, the Jumbo Commander YouTube channel posted a video featuring a $35 budget build of Yorvo and upon finishing that video I was sold. Upon looking through my collection of green cards, I knew I could build a solid deck and it ended up being worth about $170. Though dollars don’t necessarily equal success, in this case I think I’ve made the deck even better than the budget build and it has had nothing but good games against decks I would think should beat it pretty handily. So what do we want to do with Yorvo? Well, he’s a creature that enters the battlefield with four +1/+1 counters on him, so he is essentially a turn 2 or 3 beater that just gets bigger over time. That doesn’t meant that we’re going for a full on Voltron build though, despite the fact that it could be effective. Instead, I’ve built a deck that ramps quickly, has a ton of utility and can smash with big beaters, or can go wide with a Craterhoof Behemoth finisher. Let’s first look at our ramp package:

We have mana producing effects in every slot possible. There are mana producing creatures, spells, artifacts and enchantments present. Each of these cards has synergy with green/forests because obviously that’s the only color we’re playing with, but some of these cards can interact with other cards in the deck as well. For example, Gyre Sage comes in as a 1/2 elf that does nothing. However, when you play any 2 power or 3 toughness creature, it will then get a +1/+1 counter put on it due to its evolve ability, and then can be tapped for mana. If this comes down early and you are casting creatures on curve, you might be tapping this guy for 3 or 4 green mana a turn for a low investment. Playing out creatures with Growing Rites of Itlimoc on the field will result it it flipping, and being the budget Gaea’s Cradle it was always meant to be. Next up, creatures that we are ramping towards to pressure our opponents:

These creatures serve as our beaters and our enablers to wipe the board of threats or to finish off opponents. In total there are 18 elves in the deck, so finding Ezuri in the mid to late game while you have a solid board of elves can lead to the victory if you have the mana to pump up your elves via his ability. On the flip side, if you have several 4+ power creatures then Goreclaw can help them out by making them bigger and giving trample, similar to Ezuri’s ability. You can also drop a Thunderfoot Baloth or Craterhoof Behemoth to grant big boosts to your team along with giving trample. Loyal Guardian can give our team +1/+1 counters while Trollbred Guardian will then give everything with counters on it trample. You can see what I’m going for here. Either go wide or go tall, but either way smash through with trample damage. Next, let’s look at our removal package, because we can rest assured that others will take notice of our board and try to stop us, so we should do the same to them.

Unfortunately green doesn’t do much in the way of board wipes. They do however have an amazing suite of artifact and enchantment removal effects. Since we’ll be developing a creature heavy board, our biggest vulnerability is to board wipes. I’ve included Spore Frog for those times when your board has been destroyed and you need to prevent that crack back. Otherwise, most of these effects target artifacts or enchantments. Beast Within can target anything but comes with the downside of giving that opponent a 3/3 beast. Kenrith’s Transformation does the same, though the 3/3 is an elk, and can only target a creature. It’s still worth it to knock out a problematic commander. Lastly, let’s look at some of the other utility within the deck:

Here we have a selection of cards that do stuff we want to do. Fierce Empath will tutor up your big beaters/finishers. Brawn hits the graveyard and gives all of our creatures trample. Genesis will give us some creature recursion. Sandwurm Convergence gives us tokens each turn, but also stops flying creatures from attacking us (and this is literally all the protection we have from them). Others will let us draw cards for sacrificing creatures (like those tokens?) or just in general. There are a few others here that I didn’t highlight, but you can see the full decklist over here. Overall the deck has performed well in every game I’ve played. I’ve regularly out ramped my opponents and typically have a more threatening board state faster than anyone else. Drawing cards is regular. Manipulating +1/+1 counters is often. Swinging for tons of damage and eliminating multiple players has happened as well. I believe it’s won or nearly won most of the games it’s been played. It’s also resilient, because board wipes do happen, yet I seem to still rebuild faster than others. If you want a fast and fun (and kinda dirty) deck to play I’d recommend something like this, and honestly this shell will probably work for most mono green commanders with some minimal tweaking. I’m surprised by how fast and consistent and fun it has been.