This entry is part 15 of 23 in the series Savor That Commander Flavor

By William aka BlueRam

“The Selesnya are gathering armies. Do you still believe they aren’t preparing for war?”
—Teysa, to Isperia -Horncaller’s Chant

In just a few short days, players everywhere will be cracking open packs, tearing through booster boxes, and making Wizards wish they’d printed waaaaay more packs. Seriously, did you SEE the prize support for the pre-release? I don’t know about you, but my store’s was pitiful.

I’m sure plenty of you had the luck to open some legends. I was lucky enough to get not one, but two different guild masters at the pre-release. What did I get? Well, I was lucky enough to pull copies of Trostani, Voice of Selesnya in my Selesnya guildpack, and two copies of Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord in the packs I won.

I think the universe might be telling me something.

Of course, this gives me the perfect opportunity to use both of these guild leaders to talk about something any true guild member should pursue: The ultimate guild deck.

When new mechanics were being created, they were designed with their guilds’ previous mechanics in mind so that players could grab cards from both the new and the original Ravnica blocks and create a deck that feels like the epitome of the guild itself.

Boros won’t be coming out until Gatecrash, but thanks to Trostani and Jarad, we’ve got something to start planning with, and their guild mechanics are the most synergistic of the five we have available.

Convoke requires a lot of creatures to cast bigger and stronger spells than the tokens would be by themselves (Autochthon Wurm, anyone?). Populate gives us a lot of tokens to work with, and Trostani does this consistently. More tokens leads to cheaper spells for Selesnya.

A lot of Selesnya’s cards bring some pretty beefy tokens too. Compared to the original Ravnica where they dealt primarily in saprolings (since moved to Golgari), the tokens that Armada Wurm and Grove of the Guardian (A quick shout-out to Jessica, who kindly traded an elemental token to me after I lost mine at the pre-release on Saturday). Populating these gives us an army that can’t be dealt with…except by Unsummon effects.

Dredge was unholy powerful for the longest time, and it definitely has a place in commander. Jarad’s not the only one who can take advantage of it, but Karador, Ghost Chieftain has been a deck that I’m itchin’ to try out one of these days. Their new “scavenge” mechanic plays very well with dredge, getting our resources into the graveyard and setting up the pump directly.

If your playgroup is similar to mine, then this is important for getting around exile, tuck, and Arrest effects that otherwise nullify the strategy. Graveyard hate is always a real thing that you’ll have to deal with, but at least there are ways to protect yourself from them.

But the guild deck that I can’t wait to try is a little more robust than just throwing together all of the mechanic cards together. In order to create a true guild deck, we’re going to exclusively use cards that are printed with their guild watermark, supplementing the deck with monocolored cards without guild allegiance to make up for any holes the deck has afterwards.

But this still isn’t enough. No, in order to get the flavor of the guild down to a ‘T’, we’re going to need to stick to JUST the two Ravnica blocks for cards. Even if the guild mechanics show up in other places, like Future Sight’s Angel of Salvation, we’ll ignore them for the sake of flavor.

A quick search on Magiccards.info provides us with a list of cards with the mechanics we want (which you can do by typing “mechanic#1 or mechanic#2” into the rules text search box under advance search ). We can even set the criteria to search only Ravnica: City of Guilds and Return to Ravnica, making the sorting process that much easier. When we do this we find 22 cards for the Golgari, and 26 for Selesnya, including Trostani herself.

Going back to the filter, we can find the watermarked cards by searching for color identity towards the bottom. There’s 45 cards listed for both the Golgari and Selesnya, but some of those include the mechanic cards we found earlier. Even so, this helps us find spells with off-color activation costs, as well as our utility artifacts (Crown of Convergence and Plague Boiler, as well as the key runes and signets), stuff that couldn’t be found by looking at just the color of the cards.

Of those 45 dual-colored Selesnya cards, only eight of them have the mechanic. That means that 18 watermarked, mono-colored cards are added into the card pool. From that, we have 63 cards, five of which are lands, two of which are split cards that aren’t playable because of the other side. If we use 37 lands (what I personally consider to be the default amount of lands a deck should start with), then we have 93 cards already on our deck list. The Golgari have similar numbers.

Understandably, though, some of the guild cards aren’t going to be as good as some of the mono-colored cards. This IS the set that brought us Doubling Season, Dark Confidant, Remand, Concerted Effort, etc, etc. If there are guild cards that you don’t like, then you should certainly feel free to swap them out for the unwatermarked options out there (Seriously, I’ll understand if you don’t want to play with Conclave Equenaut).

Speaking of mono-colored tech, there are some good non-colored tech as well. Artifacts have always played a central role in covering for a deck’s weaknesses. The new Chromatic Lantern is a color-fixing wonder in and of itself. Cloudstone Curio let’s you abuse ETB effects that we have, like Armada Wurm or getting repeated value out of Trostani’s lifegain. Codex Shredder gives any guild deck necessary recursion, even if it is a one-shot effect for most of them. Junktroller serves as graveyard hate AND continuous recursion if you can search/shuffle your deck enough. Magewright’s Stone is Trostani’s best friend, and Jarad’s certainly going to like the chance to dump scavenge and dredge cards into the graveyard with Skullmead Cauldron.

Outside of the guilds utility lands, every guild can use a Ghost Quarter for spot removal. Pillar of the Paruns is as close as we’re going to get to a Command Tower that doesn’t enter the battlefield tapped. Even then, we still have Transguild Promenade. Rogue’s Passage gives us a mana-dump to sneak in some good hits while getting some of our triggers off (Wayfaring Temple seems like a good one to use). You get extra credit if you use basic lands exclusively from the two blocks as well. It’s easy enough to get the new art lands if you buy a starter deck or two.

I feel there are plenty of options to choose from, even after restricting ourselves to just four sets of cards, and if the guild you want to build won’t be coming out until GateCrash, then there are still plenty of ways to cover those holes until then. Granted, you won’t have the new toys the way the first five guilds do, but I’ve got a feeling that when we finally do get those toys, they’re going to pack one hell of a punch.

Of course, this is all just theorycraft at this point. I regret to say that I can’t build such a deck yet. We’ll check back in a couple of weeks to see if I can change that, AND see if I can get some people at my LGS to try out the idea too. I’d be very interested to hear how it works out for my readers as well. Ideally, the decks will work best when other players are using guild decks as well, so you may need to make some decks to lend, just as I plan to do (I FINALLY have a place to put Momir Vig, Simic Visionary).

As always, if you have any comments/questions/ideas for articles/etc, feel free to leave some comments down below, tweet my account @BlueRam1409, or send an email to my inbox at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m also “BlueRam” on the MTG Salvation forums, if you want to send me a message there. I’ll try to help with decks as best I can, as quickly as I can, but I’ll always have time to just chat or answer a question.

Join me next week, when I recount the tales of my pre-release, and the unexpected rewards I earned through it.

Until then, build! Build those guild decks! Spread the flavor and share your stories!

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