This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Accumulated Knowledge

By SEAN aka SWORDTOPLOW

Not a day goes by that I don’t get asked, “How did you get so awesome?” I mean sure, it’s from my cats and I guess the meowing could also mean “Feed me now or I will sharpen my claws on your scrotum.” The latter would explain some things. The point is, I have not always played Commander or even Magic the Gathering. For my Olde Tyme article, I am going to go over how I started playing Magic and Commander. Then, I am going to show you my first deck in its latest form.

My first experience with Magic was back in a simpler time, when you could invest in a house and the internet. America had no greater worry than which homely intern the president was currently porking. Back then, I knew a few friends who played Magic and I liked the art on the cards. Using the logic of the times, I bought $100 in Magic Cards without knowing anything about them. A few weeks later, these were promptly placed in a box in my closet for safe keeping where they staid for the next few years.  I held on to them until I could trade them away for a really good bottle of whiskey. It was a trade for which I still have no regrets. I traded them for a 21yr old bottle of Macallans that I used to celebrate every major event in my life until it was empty. Major milestones like graduating college, moving into a new place or being home Wednesday night.

We have to fast forward about a decade from the time I bought my first Magic cards for my triumphant return to a game. I literally learned to play Magic on a kitchen table, at my friend Steve’s house. Being reintroduced to Magic was a bit surprising. It was surprising because I didn’t remember liking it at all. After months and months of pestering, I gave into peer pressure and gave it another shot. Imagine my surprise when the game turned out to be fun to play. The best thing about playing back then was that everyone had their own distinct casual decks. People were playing everything from token generating enchantments to mill stone control. It was a purely casual group focused entirely on having fun.  A few times a year, we still get together and play.  While I have moved on to play with more active players now, I am still friends with my original playgroup.  I probably would have stayed playing 60 card casual decks for years had I not accepted a promotion that involved moving to Kansas.

When I moved to Kansas, I found I had much more free time than I was expecting. It was almost as if there was nothing to do in Wichita. I quickly became immersed in the local FNM scene and started playing in 3-4 small tournaments a week. From there, I moved to what I consider my first big tournament, the 2009 states. Most of you know states as just a large FNM, but to me a 70-90 person tournament was a huge step. I did well enough to really get catch the Magic bug. I started going to whatever bigger tournament were within reasonable driving distance, 4-8 hours. I did fairly well at these tournaments, but had no notable successes. Simply put, I was not a proficient enough player to try and play the rogue decks I played despite my friends better suggestions.

Trying to climb the competitive ladder meant I was spending a lot of time at local gaming stores. During one of the Sundays slotted for Magic’s most popular format, extended, not enough people showed up for a tournament. This was a someone common occurrence because it wasn’t extended season. However, two guys did show up with some extra EDH (Commander) decks and that is when I was first introduced to the format. I instantly fell in love with Commander. Over the next year my focus shifted from competitive back to entirely casual.  EDH had accomplished the impossible, it had brought the fun back to Magic.

This introduction brings me to the very first Commander deck that I built for myself, Sharuum the Hegemon. I went through a long and rigorous process for deciding which legend I should use for my flagship Commander. Out of the stacks and stacks of cards available to me at the time, she was the only legend.  Building the deck was an exciting process for me.  There where so many cards I could use and so much space to work with.  I finally had a reason to look at cards that were older than Ravnica block.  EDH is a format that lets you explore the history and flavor of Magic as much as you want. The process of building Sharuum taught me more than I thought possible about the world of artifacts in Magic. 

For anyone in a casual environment, stay away from Sharuum. After I sold my Sharuum deck, I vowed never to rebuild it. Whether you mean to or not, Sharuum will evolve into something that promotes the power creep and inbred decks in your local metagame. Sharuum encourages you to use artifact acceleration, control spells, combos, graveyard abuse, absurd card draw, and the best set of tutors you can afford. Sharuum is one of the few legendary creatures that has an immediate impact on the board. This means that your opponents need to have instant speed answers or lose the game. If the deck was still assembled, it would look very similar to this;

[mtg_deck]
Commander:
1 Sharuum the Hegemon

Creatures:

1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Disciple of the Vault
1 Duplicant
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
1 Karn, Silver Golem
1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
1 Magister Sphinx
1 Master Transmuter
1 Memnarch
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Scarecrone
1 Sorin Markov
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
1 Vampire Hexmage

Spells:

1 Animate Dead
1 Basalt Monolith
1 Beacon of Tomorrows
1 Bitter Ordeal
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Buried Alive
1 Capsize
1 Coalition Relic
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Entomb
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Fabricate
1 Grim Monolith
1 Hallowed Burial
1 Intuition
1 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mindslaver
1 Mox Opal
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mycosynth Lattice
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Necromancy
1 Nevinyrral’s Disk
1 Open the Vaults
1 Planar Portal
1 Power Artifact
1 Reanimate
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Time Sieve
1 Vampiric Tutor

Lands:

1 Academy Ruins
1 Ancient Den
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Buried Ruin
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Cabal Coffers
1 City of Brass
1 Command Tower
1 Dark Depths
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Mirrodin’s Core
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Scrubland
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Strip Mine
1 Swamp
1 Tolaria West
1 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
[/mtg_deck]

This list is just a time bomb. It has so many paths to victory;

  • For basic aggro, most of the creatures in the deck are big enough to finish people off in a group game with no little problem. If they are not, Tezzeret or Karn can animate your non-creature artifacts for some damage.
  • You have the Hexmage+Dark Depths combo.
  • If you want to lock people out of the game, you can reanimate Iona with Necromancy, Animate Dead or Reanimate.
  • You can always use the Crucible/Strip to deny mana forever.
  • If Crucible/Strip is too slow, Karn with Lattice can accomplish the same thing on a grander scale.
  • Sorin and Magister Sphinx can make opponents easy to take down with one or two swings.
  • You can use the Disk+Lattice+Forge lockout.
  • You can generate infinite mana and use Blue Sun’s Zenith, Capsize or Memnarch to win.
  • I suppose you could use the traditional Sharuum + Sculpting Steel combos to storm out.
  • You can take infinite turns with Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek and Time Sieve or simply with Planar Portal + Beacon of Tomorrows.
  • If you don’t like extra turns, you can still take your opponents’ turns using a Mindslaver lock.

None of these plans is an issue within itself. The issue it the deck is so resistant to hate that it usually forces a playgroup to start trying to race it rather than stop it. While that is definitely doable, it changes the dynamics of a playgroup for the worse. I decided I did not like forcing people to upgrade their decks or lose, so I took the deck apart. Ok, so maybe I quit my job in Kansas, moved back to California, was unemployed for 6 months without unemployment, and was forced to sell all my cards. Either way, reflecting upon on the deck made me realized I had completely forgotten why I liked playing Commander. When I got back on my feet and started building Commander Decks again, Sharuum was out of my mind. I had moved on to a more fun and balanced Commander, Arcum Dagsson.

Even though Sharuum may be my first love in Commander, I have moved on and it is unlikely I will ever try and get her back. Besides, she and Jack LaCroix seem very happy together. For now, I just have the memories.

Sharuum,

For all the pain and memories we had together, this is for you;

-STP
Twitter: @swordstoplow
Mail: swordstoplow@gmail.com

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