By William aka BlueRam

The M13 pre-release has been in the books for a couple of weeks now, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the Return to Ravnica set to appear. It’s not hard to see why. New guild master cards for new decks to be built around, and “guild packs” to reward you for your loyalty to your chosen faction.

But whenever I start getting excited for a pre-release, I’m reminded of a story. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Greg goes to a pre-release and sits down to open his packs, not really expecting to get anything good. His first few are alright, but then he opens a pack and finds the golden ticket: a legendary, mythic rare creature, possibly a foil.

He grins, shows it off to his friends, and starts thinking of an EDH deck he can build for it. He’s not really rubbing it in anyone’s face, but he’s excited by the card he pulled.

The deck he makes for it turns out swell, and he goes on to tell the story about how he got his card for years afterwards, living happily ever after.

Oh, so you HAVE heard that one? Well here’s another one; Brian spends weeks reading the new set’s spoilers. He sees the new legends that are coming out, and the excitement builds. He starts seeing the cards in his sleep, and furiously comes up with all kinds of deck ideas that he can use the new legends in. He starts getting a “feeling” that he’s going to pull a certain card at the pre-release. It would be fair to say that Brian’s just a tad obsessed.

He goes to the pre-release, and slowly makes his way through the packs, waiting for the payload. When it’s over, his shoulders fall and he sighs. He looks across the table and sees that one of the other players got the legendary creature he had a “feeling” about. Brian tells his friend about the lucky player when he finds out his friend pulled that card too.

No matter where he goes, or how many events he does, it seems like everyone but Brian got the card he wanted. He tries to trade for it, even offers cash. But no one is willing to part with their cards. Brian is crushed.

He orders the card online when the price seems right. It comes in the mail but, while he’s happy to finally get the card, he’s reminded of how disappointed he was that the card hadn’t “chosen him” like it had for the other players.

You might think that this guy’s a little too serious about this “getting chosen” thing, but I know where he’s coming from. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve decided it didn’t matter either way just to pull a legend anyway, and been horribly disappointed to get nothing at all. You know it’s a long shot to pull a legend (let alone a mythic) to begin with, but it’s still crushing when you realise your lottery ticket wasn’t a winner.

You might share a special moment with a card you pull from a normal pack, or even be disappointed that the pack you bought didn’t have anything but pre-releases magnify those feelings for players like us. If you don’t get that legend, you can’t just buy another pack and try again. There aren’t any stores that sell them as singles yet. You’ll have to wait a whole week if you want to try your luck with a booster box, unless you want to try buying one of the intro decks (which I’ve done on a couple of occasions). This is your one chance to be ‘chosen’ by your next partner.

I started going to pre-releases with the M12 set. I went into last year’s event hoping to pull a planeswalker, but no such luck. Instead, I played against a newer player who had pulled not just Inferno Titan, but Chandra’s Phoenix, AND Chandra, the Firebrand herself.

Lucky bastard.

Innistrad wouldn’t send any legends my way, but I did have fun running with the werewolves. And just like last time, I ended up playing against someone who had paired the unholy tandem of Olivia Voldaren with the Bloodgift Demon. Grimgrin, Corpse-Born was just as bad during the Dark Ascension event.

Then came Avacyn Restored. I was probably more jazzed about this event than any of the previous three, and wouldn’t you know it, it seemed like everyone else was pulling the Gisela, Blade of Goldnight that I wanted. I must’ve seen at least 7 get pulled by other people at all of the events I went to.

When you’re desperately wishing to get a card, you set yourself up to be pretty devastated when you don’t. It’s like the time you finally screwed up the courage to ask out the girl you liked and she stood you up, which is pretty much how my senior prom went.

By the time the Saturday evening event had started, I was ready to call it quits. My matches weren’t going well, and I had stayed up all night to go straight from the midnight event to an AM event at another store.

Although I did have the joy of finding a Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, he was promptly traded for Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. (Though as a side note, Tibalt decided he wasn’t done with me as I got a foil version of him from a box I bought a week later)

I was tired. I was sore. I was ready to leave with the idea that I wasn’t special enough to get “chosen” by the card I had come to love so much.

But I decided to try one more time, for one last chance.

Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. I finally gave up as I opened my last pack. There was no shine that foils give off, but someone had decided to take pity on the dejected player sitting in my seat.

She was far and away from the card I wanted, but I still gave a tired grin when I saw her, Sigarda, Host of Herons.

“Well…you’re not Gisela, but I’m glad you came anyway,” I told her.

I guess she didn’t appreciate being treated like a door prize.

During that tournament, Sigarda rarely showed up to help me out. Even in games that were drawn out far longer then they should’ve been, she sat at the bottom of my deck, probably trying to punish me for undervaluing her.

Oh how I apologized to her. I had to remind myself that I was lucky enough to be blessed by her hand, and to avoid looking gift-angels in the mouth.

She didn’t bother showing up for my next match, but in a dark hour, as I faced a wretched Harvester of Souls, she came. I was finally able to call upon my guardian angel. The clash between demon and angel was epic, as my opponent and I tried to dance around each other, fearing what would happen if either of us lost our flagship creature.

Overtime though, his demon army was too much for Sigarda to handle by herself, and we lost.

With my last event ending in a downer, I slid Sigarda into my binder and went home, still disappointed that Gisela hadn’t considered me worthy of her, but grateful that I wasn’t leaving the event empty-handed.

In my binder Sigarda sat, unused. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with her. My Rhys token deck already took up most, if not all, of my G/W resources, and she was the weakest of her sister angels. But I knew that most people at least tried to build decks around the legends that they pulled, and I felt a certain obligation to show Sigarda at least that much respect.

I decided throwing something together was better than letting her sit in my binder the whole time, so I began thinking about what I could do.

Sigarda herself is fairly easy to cast, and she’s in colors that have a decent amount of land-ramping available. But she didn’t have any utility effects that I could build around, like Teysa, Kaalia, or Olivia do. She’s closer to Uril, the Mistalker in terms of ability, so it looked like voltron was the best way to go.

My first thought was to run a standard equipment package, but with the majority  of my equipment was being used by Jor Kadeen, I thought about what else I could use to protect Sigarda. Going back to the game against Harvester of Souls, I decided that Sigarda needed some defensive measures.  Moonsilver Spear seemed like something a disciple of Avacyn would use. But aside from that, I was pretty limited.

Fortunately, I had just bought the Savage Auras deck from the planechase cycle that just came out. It was in her colors and it came with plenty of totem auras that could save her from wrath effects. Some additional support was needed, like Umbra Mystic and Totem-Guide Hartebeest, but it gave me the motivation I needed to try an enchantress-voltron build.

I decided to forego my usual route of proxying my ideal deck list ahead of time, deciding to let Sigarda go au natural. Outside of the “Savage Auras” deck, my collection of enchantment support was slim, requiring me to actively seek out cheap cards that could be added to the list.

Sigarda seemed to complain about the quality of her support but, as most of my decks tend to do, the influx of cards helped her get better in leaps and bounds.

Although I advocate having back-up generals for voltron builds, there aren’t a lot of creatures that are as effective in a G/W enchantment build. There are a couple,  like Krond the Dawn-Clad, but without proper back-up, Sigarda’s forced to carry most of the deck herself. I think she enjoyed it, personally.

She finally got to see the spotlight, finally given the recognition she deserved. It probably helped her warm up to me, and I like to think we’ve moved on from our spat at the tournament.

I’ve played her more than a few times by now (usually against Bruna, Light of Alabaster), and every time I use her I’m reminded of how powerful her hexproof/no-sac abilities are. She might not be as strong as her sisters, but Sigarda makes up for it with crazy evasion.

Olivia is terribly fun to play, but I still shudder when I remember that awful experience with Rebuke. Teysa plays a central role in her deck, but she sends her hordes of minions to fight for her, rather than taking up the mantle herself. Kaalia is fast, aggressive, and relentless, but gets hated on more than any general in my meta. Karrthus smashes people good, but sometimes I want better dinner conversation than what I could get from the Jurassic Park T-rex.

Sigarda is more beautiful and elegant than I’d ever realised before. I wasn’t expecting much when I originally built her deck, but I have no plans to take it apart, even as a brand new Rafiq deck project bangs on my door, demanding Sigarda’s enchantment support as well as the angel herself.

It would make sense. Sigarda and Krond could easily slip into an enchantment-based Rafiq deck and give me the additional generals I prefer when running voltron strategies. She would even be with Bruna, and fellow hexproof legend, the Geist of Saint Traft.

But I respect Sigarda far too much to relegate her to a lower position at the drop of a hat. If, as time passes, it proves that carrying a deck is too much for her to handle, then I’ll let Rafiq take over. But until then, I’m looking forward to seeing my angel take to the skies.

And all because she smiled at me when everyone else had turned away.

Welp, our time together has been short, but fun. With the final podcast going up Monday, this will be my last article before we here at Commandercast take a break and try to catch our breath from the craziness that’s bombarded us this season.

I’ve been allowed to explore a number of different things with my writing, and I’ve enjoyed discussing my articles with the editors of Commandercast as well as the small following that I’ve gathered so far.

I even got to join one of the podcast’s episodes (for which I apologise to all. Despite my silver pen, I’m not much of a public speaker). I hope I’ll get the chance to join Andy & Co. again, hopefully with less derp from me.

Let me just say, writing about commander flavor is HARD. It’s not easy to come up with something every week, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Commander flavor doesn’t come from just the Vorthos side of the buffet, it comes from everything the variant has to offer.

You seemed to enjoy both of my narrative deck-tech articles, so you can definitely expect more of those in the future! But there were also the analytical articles that got readers to provide discussion worthy comments, so I’ll write more of those too.

If there’s anything you enjoyed about my column so far, any sort of requests for particular types of articles, or what have you, leave some comments down below, tweets to my account @BlueRam1409, emails in my inbox at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m also “BlueRam” on the MTG Salvation forums. I really do enjoy getting feedback for my work!

Until next season, dream of big things and hold tightly onto those who deem you worthy.

~William