This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Wild Research

The biggest challenge I have ever faced in Magic is getting my wife to play with me. Over the years my wife has played several games of Magic. For two months or so at the end of college, I even had her playing in a limited league, but we moved away from that store and she does not enjoy our new game store as much as the old one. After a game or two she typically gets bored or frustrated and stops playing. To her Magic is a complicated game with many nuanced rules. EDH, the only format I play anymore, only further complicates the rules. I asked myself how I could change my decks or my playstyle to make the game more fun for her so I get to play more.

I decided changing my playstyle was not the approach to take. We are both competitive and like to earn our victories, not have them given to us. I began to think about how I could build a pair of evenly matched EDH decks. How do I build a deck to develop a newer player’s understanding of the rules? Keep in mind, I am not suggesting you teach a brand new player the game using an EDH deck.

I decided the best way to build these decks would be to build a pair of duel decks. The decks will be built specifically for 1v1 play against each other. They will be tuned to have specific answers for the other deck that may not be relevant in every EDH game. Multiplayer games against a developed metagame will probably be out of the question with these decks. Given this starting boundary condition, let us further explore the requirements to build these decks. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Wild Research

Welcome back! Last time I outlined the goals and restrictions I am using to build a pair of EDH duel decks. To recap, I am trying to build a pair of decks that will create fun, varied, and not super complicated games. The next step in this project is to pick two generals that have the potential to play those kinds of games.

I started this phase where I begin most of my EDH decks, on Gatherer. I made a list of every multicolored legendary creature. I then shortened this list to only allied, bi-color generals. Every general on this list was at least thought about.

Legends from Legends:
All of these got the axe immediately. I’m not going to list them you can just do a Gatherer search for legendary creatures from the set Legends. To prevent myself from incurring the wrath of people that like some of these horrendous cards, I’ll say they were cut because of card availability or price (except for Jasmine Boreal who was timeshifted and does suck). If you have access to one of these and think it would be fun, you should try it, but I will be ignoring them. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Wild Research

The moment of truth is nearly here. Last time I selected Bruna and Stonebrow as the generals for my duel decks and hit the web in search of some solid deck ideas and pitfalls. I cannot stress enough how much heartache a half hour of searching and reading on the MTGS or official Commander forums can save. Apparently Stonebrow is not a very popular general, so deck lists dripping with tech I have never seen were scarce. Bruna on the other hand, offered tens of lists several containing some great auras I did not know about and probably would not have found otherwise. For example, the ideas of including Fool’s Demise as a super-totem aura or Flight of Fancy for card advantage would not ever have occurred to me. Next I headed to the Gatherer to look up red, green, or red/green creatures with trample. Again I found a few gems I would not have thought of otherwise like Mana-Charged Dragon. Of course I knew the card was a sweet red dragon, but I forgot it was a sweet red dragon with trample.

After my initial scouting, I consulted my two five row boxes of commons and uncommons to see which of these obscure cards I actually had to put into the decks and dug into my EDH collection until I had a pile of probably 150 cards for each deck. From here I decided I would give the 7×9 EDH deck construction technique a try, so I sorted the cards by primary function and started making cuts. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Before I begin tweaking my Sonebrow versus Bruna EDH duel decks I will address some of the comments you have all left for me. First thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think of the articles. This has turned out to be more of a time commitment that I could have imagined and knowing someone enjoys the articles is a great motivation. Second, a few comments have been left suggesting ways to make the decks better, Bruna in particular. Remember the goal of this project is not to build the best Bruna deck possible and see how it fairs against a Stonebrow deck, but to build a Bruna deck and a Stonebrow deck that play evenly matched games of one-on-one EDH. Several card choices from the initial builds were far worse than sub-par and this week I will address them to the extent needed to balance, not optimize, the decks.

After finishing deck construction, I sleeved up the decks and asked my wife to play a few games. Here is the first lesson to be learned from this project: if you tell your wife you need to play a few games to be able to write a column, she will play Magic with you more. That aside, the testing went moderately well. As I have already alluded to in the previous article and responses to comments, there were some problems with the deck balance. It only took a few games playing each deck to realize several of my card choices, mostly in Stonebrow, turned out to be rather useless. The decks also had much different tempos. It only takes one or two attacks from Bruna to finish off one opponent from General damage while Stonebrow usually wins by chewing through all 40 life with a group of attackers. However, when both decks usually come online within a turn of each other Bruna easily won most of the games. I also bought and traded for a few cards to take out some of the sub par cards I had chosen or been forced to use because I lacked a better alternative. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Wild Research


After building and tweaking the decks, I asked my wife to sit down and play a few games with me. It turns out Sheldon is completely right that recording games to write articles about is extremely cumbersome and annoying. My wife was not excited when I asked her to record all of her draws so I could present the play from both sides. I started the games by offering my wife first choice of the decks and she selected Bruna. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Wild Research


Welcome to this season’s last installment of Wild Research. It has been a hell of a ride getting here, but I made it. Before I wrap up the duel deck project, I want to thank you all for taking the time to bother reading my direct and not very flavorful writing. Life has proven to be exceptionally busy this summer and fall between work, school, writing, and my other obligations. Your comments are the only thing that kept me struggling to get articles out at 11PM in a hotel room 800 miles from home. Similarly I want to bring to your attention just how much work and dedication it takes to produce content on any kind of regular basis. We are all extremely lucky to have Andy and the rest of the CommanderCast crew working diligently to make all of this possible and I am thankful for the opportunity to write for you all. That should be about enough sappy crap for a while, it is time to get to business.

This project has been awesome and I am quite happy with how the decks turned out. I have especially enjoyed the variance of the decks without tutors. This is most noticeable in Bruna since a suite of tutors would make nearly all of the auras except for Eldrazi Conscription and Diplomatic Immunity nearly worthless. Similarly my wife has enjoyed the lack of tutors because she does not have to sit and read through an entire deck of cards and assess which card would be most useful to her. Overall I think the decks are a little bit more swing-y than I would prefer them to be, but that is more a product of a hundred card singleton deck than anything else. Read the rest of this entry »