This entry is part 17 of 23 in the series Savor That Commander Flavor

By William aka BlueRam

 “Elspeth’s squires do not seek advancement. For them, no knightly glory could surpass the glory of serving their champion.” -Dauntless Escort

It’s perfectly normal to start getting close to your cards. I do it all of the time. People might look at you funny when you start telling them that you consider some of your cards to be your very own special “partner”, but there are also people who understand that feeling. I’ve had plenty of comments and the like of people sharing stories about their generals, and I’ve loved reading them all!

But when you start having conversations with your imaginary versions of these characters? I think it’s safe to say that you might be in a little deep. Currently, I’m up to hips. What do I mean by that? Well first, let’s have a quick re-cap.

Last week, I recounted my pre-release escapades and realized that I’d been hand chosen by destiny and Mat’Selesnya herself to lead the Conclave to victory when I’d opened TWO copies of Trostani, Voice of Selesnya. If I hadn’t been writing that article at, literally, the last minute, I probably would have written it as an epic fantasy narrative (and don’t think I didn’t try).

Of course I can’t really transition to that type of story after having the first part take place in the real world, but that doesn’t mean today’s story won’t be fantastic in other ways. Of course by ‘fantastic’, I mean Trostani’s been sending me on a guilt trip for at least two weeks now. But more than that, I’ve got someone who isn’t happy at all that he’s being replaced.

When I told Rhys, the Redeemed that Trostani would be taking over his duty as the commander of his token deck, he was understandably upset.

“You can’t do this to me!” he said, as he slammed a fist down on my small, make-shift table. I had to hold onto my laptop to keep it from falling over. “You keep promising me that we’ll work together, that you’ll get around to playing my deck eventually. It’s been months since then!”

I rubbed my temples. This was going to be hard to explain. “You know I’m sworn to my oath. Anybody who aids me at the pre-release is guaranteed a shot at leading a commander deck, no questions asked. That’s why Yeva’s still leading the mono-green deck instead of it degenerating into an Ezuri elf-tribal theme. Besides, your deck’s already green/white. It’s a natural fit, and I don’t want to needlessly create more decks if there’s already a deck in those colors.”

“If it’s about color, then why does Sigarda get a pass?” he asked. “You didn’t have a problem making her a deck when I was already around.”

“Her deck runs along a different axis than yours does, Rhys,” one of Trostani’s heads said as she appeared to defend her angel colleague. “Your deck focuses on token production and overwhelming the opponent with numbers. Her deck’s a voltron build that concentrates all of its resources on its commander. Without her, the deck doesn’t go, but yours can. They’re nothing alike.”

“Are you calling me ‘disposable’?” Rhys demanded as he tried to stand toe-to-toe with her. Trostani barely looked annoyed. Compared to the slender elf, she was a tank of a woman, and not easily pushed around, one of the many perks to being part tree.

“I’m calling you a role player in your own deck,” she snorted. “At most, you make a few tokens and add to the army. But how often have you actually been needed? People don’t bother to tuck you because it’s so easy to shoot you instead, which they do. Repeatedly.”

“At least I can make my own tokens!” Rhys pointed out. “Without any tokens on the field at all, you’re just as useful in battle as a flower in vase. Sure you can block bigger things than I can, but at least I can keep making warriors who’re willing to die for the cause.”

“The cause of what?” she asked. “Not living long enough before the ‘walker can finish setting up his board position? I can grant him life with every creature he produces, and give him a buffer that will ensure that his plans come to fruition. You know how people attack the ‘walker who’s suddenly amassed a twenty soldiers in just a couple of turns.”

“How can you save him, when he can’t cast you?!” Rhys said. The frustration was clearly escalating. “You’re mana intensive as it is! Never mind that the deck has a history of poor color fixing, do you realize how easy it’s going to be for people to keep you out of the game by sniping at our mana base in the early game? It’s why Krond hard to cast on a curve without specific kinds of mana rocks, and we don’t even run those!”

“Guys, guys, stop,” I said continuing to rub my head. “All of the meta talk is giving me a headache.”

“How’s she going to improve the deck anyway?” Rhys asked. “We just rebuilt it from the ground up to be a soldier deck that relies on anthem effects. We took out the heavy saproling makers and went all in on that theme. Even if her life gain is relevant, one new soldier every turn isn’t going to make a difference.”

“Yes, we did just rebuild the deck,” I agreed, but you’re forgetting something. What am I overly fond of?”

“Deck building?”
“Yes, but I was talking about the angels,” I said. “There’s a limited amount of cards that make angel tokens, right?”

“Ya, there’s only seven of them right now, but there’s only three worth running: Entreat the Angels, Decree of Justice, and Luminarch Ascension.”

“But you forget,” Trostani said, interjecting, “we are currently in the testing stage for Moonsilver Spear and Sigil of the Empty Throne. They might have smaller effects, but they still make angel tokens; which is why I’m best suited to take over the deck. If I can start populating those angels, we will have a large flight to protect us from harm while they gain us four life with each new addition.”

Rhys folded his arms impatiently. “Yes, but I can double them for faster results. You’re making you’re third angel on turn three while I’m on my fourth.”

“But you also eat a lot of mana,” I said, as I began to lay out the deck in front of everyone. “You said the deck has a problem with mana fixing, but that’s because we have a hard time mana ramping. You’re only two colors, it shouldn’t be that hard. I’ve tweaked the ramp packages a little, but you’re doubling effect is going to keep us from doing anything else on our turn. If someone plays a wrath, or everyone swarms us, then we’re dead. It’s much easier to put out a token a turn and still have mana left over to play more anthems, or to hold back Rootborn Defenses, Druid’s Deliverance, or Sundering Growth. They’re all quick answers that can populate too.”

“But…but those are still one-shot effects!” Rhys was clearly worried.

“We’re adding in some recurrable effects too. Growing Ranks populates every turn, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage is going to give us a way to populate without tapping herself (no pun intended), and Wayfaring Temple doesn’t just populate. All of our soldiers are going to make him a LOT bigger, especially if we get Doubling Season or Parallel Lives out. In fact, he’s probably our best candidate to wield the Moonsilver Spear to begin with if he hits.”

“But you haven’t even tested the changes you made last time! You said that adding soldier-making cards would save my job. You said that you were FINALLY fixing the deck to play to my strengths! Now you say that you have a duty to Selesnya to make Trostani the commander of the deck automatically? What about your duty to your partners? Your duty to your friends?”

Despite the logic I was presenting, I had to admit…that one hurt. I had to take a few minutes mull this over. He was right. I couldn’t dump him just like that….well, I could, technically, but I’d feel horribly guilty the whole time I did it. I can’t help it. When I get attached to my cards, I get ATTACHED.

“…I get what you’re saying Rhys, I really am,” I said after some thought, “but what do you want me to do? Trostani really came through for me at the pre-release, and I can’t ignore that.”

“Look,” Rhys said, leaning over the table, “All I want is a chance. Give me a chance to prove that I can still get the job done. If it doesn’t work out, then I’ll bow out gracefully. But you can’t decide to use Trostani over me without testing the new deck out first. Who knows? Maybe I can use all of those angel tokens just fine.”

Well, what could I say after that? It seemed like a reasonable request.

“Trostani, are you fine with this?” I asked.

“We are not a greedy, malevolent being,” she said. “As long as we see our fair share of testing as well, we do not object, although we will prove that our voice is stronger than the elf’s ambitions.”

“Alright then,” I said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. We’ll go to Fog of Dusk for a few weeks, and marathon some play testing. I’ll alternate between the two of you to find out who does better overall. After we’ve played enough games, I’ll be able to decide who deserves to lead the deck. But after that, I don’t want any soreness between the two of you. Just because one of you isn’t leading the deck, doesn’t mean I don’t want you in there, alright?”

“We are beyond being ‘sore’ at those who have outclassed us, though there aren’t any who are able to do so,” one of her heads replied.

“Ya, just you wait. I’ll show you I still have what it takes to run this deck right,” Rhys said, thumbing himself in the chest. Despite the uphill battle, he was still confident he could win this fight. That counted for something.

Both of them disappeared from my imagination and I was left alone in my office to thumb through various cards.

The deck still needed some tweaking before Saturday, and I had to make sure I could play both cards effectively, but I was not going to let Rhys down. Mat’Selesnya may have chosen me as her new agent, but I still had some loyalty to Rhys. I wasn’t about to let him down, nor could I let down Trostani, after she’d stuck with me through the pre-release. Secretly, I wished one of them would let me down, just to make the choice easier.

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 as I wrap up this tri-parter with the results of trial through tokens.

Until then, choose carefully when picking between friends unless, you know, you happen to NOT be crazy the way I am.

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