By Carlos

I’ll be honest, guys: I was terrified that B/G was going to win the color vote and that–no matter what won– the deck was going to be boring to build.  I mean, really, Glissa, Savra, and Nath are the best generals in that color combination by a lot, and they all spell out their themes in no uncertain terms.

Lyzolda, on the other hand… Read the rest of this entry »

By Carlos

Let me be perfectly frank:  I’m getting more and more frustrated with the online commander community.  It’s not because you guys are bad people; I get along with most of you pretty well, and I think that the online community is, in general, a good thing for the format.  However, I’m getting a little tired of people running “good” cards just because they’re “good,” and not thinking about why they’re “good.”

The whole idea of running good cards because they’re good in the abstract is something that I can relate to and talk about.  As someone who builds and tweaks a lot of decks, I’ve played with a lot of bad cards.  Like just about everyone, I’ve identified some of the better cards in the format and tried to find excuses to fit them into decks.  The problem that arises is that people (myself included) want to run cards that are generically good rather than contextually good. Read the rest of this entry »

By Carlos

Now it’s time to wrap up the series of mono-colored decks with a mono-brown list.  Having a colorless general raises a whole slew of interesting problems that don’t come up with a typical deck, the most obvious of which is your manabase.  It becomes pretty difficult to fill out 40ish lands when you can’t use basics.  It’s also reasonably difficult to build a cohesive deck when you’re using exclusively artifacts.  Each color has a unique identity and a set of things that it does well, and artifacts are typically used to supplement those identities.  When the artifacts are the central theme, sometimes you’ve got to reach and focus more on the interactions than on individual cards.

Which brings up another concern:  In general, there are three kinds of decks that are playing lots of artifacts.  First, there are decks that don’t have access to mana acceleration, so they use mana rocks instead (example: Mono Blue).  Second, there are decks that are going Voltron and use equipment to suit up their general (example: Kemba).  Lastly, there are prison-themed decks that use artifact-based mana disruption to prevent people from interacting positively with their plays.  Now, I’d argue that none of these styles are particularly interesting when you’re building mono-artifacts.  I think that the pivotal point here is choosing a general that enables you to do novel things, thereby forcing the deck’s style away from these overly familiar archetypes.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Carlos

And finally we come to the mono-blue deck. I have not been looking forward to building this deck, because blue and I have had a pretty hit-or-miss relationship in this format. It’s not that I don’t like the color; just the opposite, actually. Blue does a lot of awesome things, and brings a lot to a deck that no other color is capable of. The problem is that the color is really powerful and tends toward broken shenanigans that can be seen as “against the spirit of the format.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely fine with combo existing in the format. I love building and playing combo decks. That doesn’t mean that I want my blue decks to devolve into “Mind over Matter plus Temple Bell. Good game?” Let me reiterate: I have no problem with other people who play decks that do these kinds of things, but as a deckbuilder, it just doesn’t do anything for me. Neither does sitting back on a grip of countermagic and just answering everything that anyone tries to play. Read the rest of this entry »

By Carlos

So, in my ongoing foray into mono-colored theme-decks, I’m looking at Red this week. Partly because the podcast about pressure decks went up recently, and partly because I want nothing to do with building a blue deck just yet. I’ve still got absolutely nothing worth building in that color as of yet; everything that I try to build does stupid, unfun, broken things.

But red is a lot of fun to play. You get to burn EVERYTHING, and go all in on a certain gameplan, even a certain play. I’ve found that when building red decks, it’s often best to pick a game plan, and to pursue that particular game plan as efficiently and consistently as possible. Unless you’re trying for mono-red control, forget all your value engines, forget your utility. Obviously, you’ve got to run SOME answers, but you want them to serve the additional purpose of getting your opponent dead, Steel Hellkite being one of the best examples of this.

That’s sort of how I approach building a red deck. You pick a theme, and pursue it almost single-mindedly until you run out of cards that fit the theme (It’ll happen, trust me). Then you start looking for another theme, the powerful cards that fit that theme, and then some cards that sort of bridge the two. You’re basically trying to find two plans that mesh reasonably well, since there frequently just aren’t enough cards to do ONE thing and one thing only. Read the rest of this entry »

By Carlos

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past two weeks, it’s that there are more people reading these articles than I thought (more than my girlfriend and Andy, and least). If there’s a second thing, it’s that people like pointing out mistakes, which is good, because I can trust people to point out any stupid things I say.

In the Sasaya article, I commented on how Candelabra of Tawnos and Cloudstone Curio combo. Well, if you actually read Cloudstone Curio, it clearly says non-artifact; something that completely slipped my mind. Almost every single one of the decks I build has a slip like this, where I completely forget how cards work because of how cool an interaction is if it did work. The most recent example of this is when I tried to use Sovereigns of Lost Alara to put an Eldrazi Conscription on my Progenitus to get in for 21 points of general damage. Let me tell you, that went over REALLY well. In short, I appreciate people pointing out mistakes like this so I can fix them and (hopefully) not make stupid mistakes like that again in the future. Read the rest of this entry »