Welcome to the first installment of Elder Mastery, a weekly column that will, I hope, change the way you think about the Commander format. At the very least, I hope to be enlightening, edifying, and enjoyable to read.
I’ve worked through three different ideas for this first column. They all sucked, so I filed them away in the Very Important Papers bin (aka the trash), and I decided to instead use this first week to introduce myself, my style, and what I hope to do with the column.


My name is Robert, and my first Magic cards were from a ten cent bin at a flea market. I also got the guy to throw in a Mirage rule book. My first pack was from Urza’s Erlenmyer Flask; Rayne, Academy Chancellor was my rare.
The first time I ever played the game was with my Seventh Edition starter set. I shuffled the two decks and my shiny Thorn Elemental together and participated in a thirteen-person melee. This was probably when my preference for Commander was imbued, although it wouldn’t manifest until I actually, you know, heard about the format ten-plus years later.
My first Commander game was actually during Shards of Alara block. I had never heard of the format, and had just come back from a hiatus. I took the only Legendary Creature with me, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV (fondly known as GAAIV, pronounced “Gayve”), and tossed in all the cool rares I could find. Protip: Having Uba Mask and Shared Fate out at the same time will usually result in everyone exiling cards from the top of your library until you are removed from the game.
I play in Colorado, and the playgroup at my LGS leans towards the Spike-y. A lot of the people at the store play constructed Standard on a regular basis, both at FNM and for fun. Which is fine, naturally, because there are many different kinds of bagels but they’re all delicious.
That being said, I also play Commander with a lot of newer players, both to Commander and Magic in general. It can be hard to balance my decks between being powerful and being “fair”; it doesn’t really matter what you do, a Duskdale Wurm is always going to pale in comparison to an Admonition Angel, but there’s no harm in trying.

Currently there are five decks in my posse; I’m working on a few more at this time, because options are nice and being able to loan out decks is a bonus.

Some of my favorite Commanders to date include Nath of the Gilt Leaf; Diaochan, Artful Beauty; Arcum Dagsson; Jasmine Boreal; Thraximundar; and Kemba, Kha Regent. Pet cards include Shinewend; Druidic Satchel; Dismal Failure; Pulse of the Forge; Painful Quandry; and Hollowhenge Beast.
So that’s me. As for the column, I do have some basic goals in mind.

  • Community: I want to enable fun for everyone. I can show you how to build an awesome Avacyn deck that Armageddons on turn eight. It’s not going to be fun for anyone. I’d much rather help everyone find interactive cards and Commanders like Standstill and Johan that enable the best kind of Commander games.
  • Strategy: I’d like to explore the thought processes behind how we build and play. Card parity; suboptimal card selection; timing; all these things are interesting and deserve a closer look. Why do we play with card a over card b?
  • Technology: I’m hoping to explore new methods of deck construction and new formats. I’ll also try and bring more obscure cards to the forefront to allow you to make more educated decisions for your decks.

Those are my main goals. I don’t have any clear direction for the column, so please feel free to comment below if you have ideas or comments. Hope this hasn’t been too boring for you, and barring any mass mutiny, I’ll be back next week!