June 29, 2012
By Sean aka SwordsToPlow
Most people are smart enough to avoid staring directly at the sun. The density of foils in my Commander decks can cause a similar danger to the eyes. Recently I discovered that forcing other players to wear sunglasses to read my cards isn’t as fun for them as it is for me. When Johnnie Walker isn’t reminding me of my undeniable greatness, I come to the realization that maybe, just maybe, Commander isn’t a dick measuring competition. It is in these brief moments of sobriety that I realize a game should be fun for everyone involved.
Powering down a deck is about focusing on goals that may be separate from winning. In terms of video games, powering down happens when you have won the game and now it’s time to unlock all the achievements and extra levels. You will still be trying to win the game. You will also be trying to win in a very particular way. Shooting an apple is fun. Shooting an apple, off a panda’s head, while blindfolded, is a blast.
It pains me to admit that I am not perfect. I know this may come as a shock to the few of you that do stare at the sun. When it comes to inventing new bat shit crazy ideas for decks, I draw a blank. When I need pure creativity, I go to the coked up Andy Warhol of the online Commander community, Andrew Magrini. I mean that in the nicest way, of course. My logic based brain just can’t contemplate how he comes up with the constant stream of Evil Kenevil/Wile E. Coyote inspired deck ideas.
Andrew’s latest goal is to gain the ‘Avalanche’ achievement. While regular players may want to use creatures or spells to take out their opponents, Andrew things it would be a great idea to beat somebody to death with some basic lands. Well sir;
The best way to accomplish such an obscure objective is to keep your eye on the prize. You want to make sure your whole deck revolves around the central theme. It’s better to lose a few games and finally win the right way than to win in a boring, ordinary manner. We only need a few categories of cards;
- Animate Lands – Let us not forget why we are here. If we can’t do this, well we should just resign to a life of boring mediocrity.
- Ramp – A deck without ramp is like a woman without a personality. It doesn’t matter how good it looks, it’s not worth your time.
- Recursion –Don’t let death stop you. Brush that dirt off, spit out the maggots and keep going after that achievement.
- Card Advantage – Animate lands effects are essential to getting this deck working. We will need ways to dig for and to find these effects, or be left with nothing to do. We also need to grab any extra cards so we can pitch them to our Commander.
- Answers – Some people don’t realize that you are trying to do something awesome. They are going to try and end the game before you get a chance to show them how cool you are. For them we need a few silver bullets or at least a good bat to take their legs out from under them.
- Overrun – The achievement is ‘slowly corrupt the foundations of their buildings with roots’. The achievement is AVALANCHE!!!! When it come time to win, you want to take them out in one show of unbridled natural force.
The problem with building an achievement deck is that the cards dedicated to the achievement take up the space of good cards. You just aren’t going to have the same kind of room for efficient value as you would with a mainstream plan. The last thing you want to do is cut out your cards that will help you with your achievement. You are going to want to save space by choosing cards that have versatility. These cards may not be the best at each thing they do, but they make up for it by giving you greater options. Perfect examples of this for include;
- Kamahl, Fist of Krosa– Kamahl animates lands and generates repeated overrun effects. Is that good? You bet your sweet ass it is. Kamahl is a win condition all on his own.
- Garruk Wildspeaker – Garruk counts as both ramp and an [/mtg_card]overrun[/mtg_card] effect. After playing with all three Garruks in Commander, the original is still my favorite. It lets me forgive the fact that he wears uncomfortable little clothing in all of his art.
- Brutalizer Exarch – Brutalizer is a tutor and an answer. I am still surprised at his lack of presence within the community. He is cheap money wise. He destroys indestructible cards. He has a kickass name. It won’t hurt you to give him a shot.
- Primal Command – The Command cycle is a great example of cards that can save you space in your deck. This card is no joke.
Powering Up the Powered Down
Just rolling over and taking a pounding isn’t fun for me; I’m not a reality TV star. Just because your deck is meant to be fun, doesn’t mean it needs be absolutely awful. I like to think of powered down decks like a magical Christmas land. They have to have a perfect scenario to go off, but when they do its spectacular. You want to have the ability to have an absolutely devastating finish. You want everyone to remember the few games you do win. Your finishers should make math unnecessary for figuring out if there is enough damage. Let’s review a couple of examples;
- Beastmaster Ascension – The more I play with quests and ascension in Commander the more I like them. Aside from Pyromancer’s Ascension , they are all relatively easy to get active and have powerful effects.
- Craterhoof Behemoth – All your lands are creatures, then this enters play. Any idea how much damage this will do? If you answered, “enough” or “holy shit” you got it right. This is the king of overkill.
These next few weeks I will be trying to unlock the Avalanche achievement. Any game can get boring if you don’t mix it up every now and then. Giving yourself obscure goals will make things more fun for you, because you get to look at the game from a different angle. It also allows you to keep having fun with a group that you were dominating. When you think about powering down, make sure you are not turning the power off completely. As for the Avalanche deck, this is what my version currently looks like;
If you need any help making your decks better or more casual, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are looking for ideas, hunt down Andrew Magrini. He is overflowing with crazy 90% of the time.
Till next time, keep your glasses full and your games fun.
P.S. They are Snow-Covered forests because otherwise it would be called a landslide.