This entry is part 20 of 23 in the series Savor That Commander Flavor

By William aka BlueRam
“After death you face paradise, damnation, or Tariel.” 
                               -Priest’s teaching “Tariel, Reckoner of Souls

“Are you sure it has to be her?”

“Well, it kinda has to be, doesn’t it? I can’t think of anyone else I COULD replace.”

“But where will she go? I’m the only one who can herald her…”

“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “But I don’t know what else to do. I don’t have another choice.

Kaalia slammed her fist on the table.

“There is ALWAYS another choice to be made! We WILL figure out a way to keep Tariel, if its the last thing we do!”

Most of us here at Commandercast take a few weeks off in between seasons to recuperate and get our bearings. Not me, though. My mind’s always thinking about Commander, the articles I’ll write, the decks I’ll tune, and the way cards play off of each other (more on that next week).

It was the first week of our company vacation, and Kaalia and I were regrouping after a bad loss to Zur.

“That was dreadful!” she lamented. “Why were you holding onto Diabolic Revelations for so long?!”

“I was trying to get more than just two cards out of it,” I told her as we walked into my study. “We don’t have the luxury of a deluxe ramp package like Damia and Karador do.”

“Well who’s fault is that? I’m not the one who decided we could get by on a Sol Ring and some signets.”

“You know we can’t afford the expensive mana rocks,” I said as I slumped into my chair. “And the land we ramp we COULD add in comes in the form of creatures we can’t squeeze in…not unless you’re ready to cut our big guns…which I think I actually need to do.”

“Our big guns?!” Kaalia exclaimed. “But I NEED our big guns! You can’t cut the angels, demons, OR dragons!”

“I’m sorry, but we’ve got to face facts,” I said, holding my ground. “Right now, our current build is bogged down by too much of a good thing. We’ve got cards that are slowing us down and aren’t doing enough. It’s not enough that you can flash them in anymore. We need smaller creatures that can help us out with the long game.”

“What did you have in mind?”

Sun Titan.”

“….he’s not that much smaller though…”

“Size notwithstanding, he’s going to give us a TON of recursion utility,” I said as I started flipping through Kaalia’s deck. “Before now, we’ve NEVER had a way to bring back our swords, our lands, or even the Sunforger, and you know how often we’ve relied on Sunforger before.”

“Alright, fine,” Kaalia said, folding her arms. “But who do you plan on taking out for him, hm? A lot of our creatures have a role to play.”

“I’m not sure…” I admitted. “Your right, a lot of our creatures are role players…I can’t tell which one needs to come out…”

We both thought about it silently. There are a number of cards that I could try and take out, but each one seemed invaluable…each of them, but one…

“Well…” I started. “The only one I can think to cut is Tariel.”

“What? But Tariel’s locked into my color identity…She won’t have a deck anywhere else!”

“I’m sorry, but the more I think about it the more I realize that she’s not doing enough to help our deck. She relies too much on what everyone else is doing, and we can use her all of once a round. She doesn’t have the physical strength to make up for it either.”

“But…but where will she go? You don’t have any other decks she could go in…she’ll sit in the binder completely unused…she’s not like Iname as One where we can’t figure out how to use her, or how Oros, the Avenger can go into the Scion of the Ur-Dragon!. She has a purpose! She has flavor! She’s the damn judge of the afterlife!”

“I don’t like it either,” I admitted. “But we have to accept that, objectively, she’s not as good as we need her to be.”

“Grrr…I don’t like this at all!” Kaalia stormed. “You’re sounding just like…like a tournament try-hard! I’m not cutting Tariel, and you can’t make me!”. With that, she left in a huff, leaving me to think over the options.

Kaalia’s outburst didn’t change the fact that Tariel was acting less than optimal, and cuts still had to be made for the deck to grow. Despite that, I understood how she felt. I’ve always made a point of playing with the cards I wanted to use, which haven’t always been the best ones. If Tariel was a card that Kaalia wanted to use, who was I to separate them?

I left my study and found her outside, watching the passing cars. Her hood hid her face from me, but I still felt her burning gaze.

“What do you want?” she asked with bitterness so strong, my lips almost puckered.

“Look, Kaalia…I’ve been thinking,” I started, hedging a bit. “If we look together, we could probably figure out what else to cut. I’m positive that there are other cards that we’re overlooking.”

“…really?”

“Ya, really. So let’s go back inside.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“There’s got to someone else…someone’s got to be pulling their weight less than we know…what about Ryusei, the Falling Star? He hasn’t been showing up lately, and he’s not a big tutor target.”

“But he’s our psuedo-wrath. We don’t run enough wraths to cut him yet.”

“What about Akroma, Angel of Fury? Now that Merieke Ri Berit is gone, we don’t need to worry about countermagic as much.”

“Yes, but her protection from white’s still relevant in our meta. She’s our scarlet bullet. We can’t cut her any sooner than we could cut the ‘Angel of Wrath’.”

We were still at a standstill. Someone had to be cut, but picking out the lower-tier cards was difficult. I could find options, but Kaalia kept defending each one.

“Alright, then what about Reya, Dawnbringer? She’s been slower than I’d like, and we don’t have creatures often enough to really use the recursion. Her mana cost is high and intensive. Tariel’s better than her, hands down. Plus, it’ll free her to go into Odric’s deck. He’s been in desperate need for a potential game winner.”

“….alright. Reya’s been slacking off anyhow.” She smiled. “If Odric needs a ‘bomb’, then I guess it makes sense…and if we need recursion, then the titan’s just an upgrade, right?”

I smiled back as I unsleeved Reya. “Yup, that’s right.”

The swap had been made, but after my rendezvous with “Team Swag-Awesome”, I realised that I had to consider other options as well. Both Dragon Mage and Grand Abolisher had to go up for consideration, which meant more big bodies had to be taken out.

It was easier this time around now that Ryusei and Redkroma had been identified as potential candidates, and each had another deck that was waiting for patronage.

“So…is this where we’re going now?” Kaalia asked me after I’d finished updating the deck list.

“How do you mean?”

“We’re going to start cutting more angels to make room for better cards.”

“…quite possibly,” I answered as I started clicking over to the GateCrash spoilers. “But I don’t think you’ll have to worry about any huge overhauls, though. Your deck will evolve over time as new cards come out, just like any other deck will.”

“Can you promise me one thing, though?”

“Sure.”

“Don’t cut Tariel…EVER.”

I stopped sifting through the spoilers and called Kaalia over to take a look at some of the new cards.

“No…no, I don’t think I’ll be cutting Tariel any time soon. In fact, she might even have a new best friend…”

Have a comment, question, or topic you’d like to discuss? Leave a comment below, send me an email at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com to hit me up. You can also follow me on twitter @BlueRam1409. I love hearing from my readers…provided anyone actually reads my stuff.

Join me next week when we go back to the basics…OF SCIENCE!!!

Until then, don’t lament too much over difficult cuts until your imaginary friends start to argue back.

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