This entry is part 8 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

By: Nole Clauson AKA- @MtGNole

90x90 noleHello everyone and welcome back to (Social) Contract from Below. This week will be a little light on social contract material and a little heavy on stuff for the project this season. Bear with me and next week look for a better balance.

For those of you just tuning in, this season this series will (while delivering your normal weekly dosage of commentary on the social contract and overuse of parenthesis), be building a “my first Commander” deck. Last week I lined out what makes a good first commander deck. This week we will be choosing our commander from a potential list of five, four of which were chosen by me and one chosen by you guys. Now without further ado, here are the five choices in no particular order.

#1. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite (The Lady Gaga look alike)-

enI really like the way that Ms. Norm works in Commander. The Vorthos in me sees her sitting atop a throne made of the bones of her former enemies, inspiring her troop with her very presence while causing her enemies to cower in fear. While it would be rare to have her enter the fray herself (with a 7 butt it makes me want to have her as a blocker), her presence on the field is felt regardless. The Melvin in me likes that she shuts off tokens from Avenger of Zendikar before they even begin as well as make life hell for utility commanders such as Azusa and Azami.

This deck would feel a little like a weenie deck and a little like control. We would probably look at running a few “armies in a can,” such as White Sun’s Zenith and Cloudgoat Ranger as well as sweepers as we can probably rebuild faster than most decks. It’s also worth noting that this deck is both simple to run and demonstrates that even a mono colored deck can be powerful.




#2. Maelstrom Wanderer (The card likely to be confused with a Commander Precon)-

mwOf the five options that we have, I feel that this one is the most commander-y commander in that this is the biggest, flashiest commander that we have to run. We can fill the deck with a little ramp, some good utility creatures, and enough fat to get there. I also like that MW encourages players to cast their commander as well as not punish players for getting it killed.

It’s worth noting that there are a few cards we will NOT be putting into this deck. All too often MW decks turn into decks that cast Wanderer, cascade into obliterate and win while the rest of the table threatens to do unspeakable things to you. While there is little doubt that our MW deck will be powerful, we will have to work to make sure that we do not break the social contract.





#3. Vela, the Night-Clad (The Lady who loves Elementals)-

vncSpecifically, the elementals she is in love with is Shriekmaw, Aethersnipe, and Mulldrifter. Vela lets us do something unique, and that is play u/b (a traditionally controlling color) as a more aggressive one. With Vela giving all of our dudes pseudo-evasion, even utility dudes (like the aforementioned Shriekmaw) start adding in the damage. Vela’s second ability it also plays to have our creatures die, making blocking incredibly unfavorable.

I see this deck being full of utility dudes and cards with ETB triggers. We will probably add a slight reanimation suite as well as some sweepers and control cards (We may add a couple of high value counterspells like Overwhelming Intellect and/or Spelljack. While I won’t turn this into counters.dec, counters are a part of the game and giving our deck a few wouldn’t be terrible.) This may finally be a deck that can run Living Death without me feeling like I’m losing by casting it.





#4. Ruric Thar, The Unbowed (aka The maze runner who listens to C.W. McCall)-

rtDuring the genesis of this series, I was contemplating trying to complete the 27 deck challenge (where you simultaneously have 27 commander decks, 1 for each color combination). One of my biggest hold ups was finding a Gruul general that I actually wanted to play. All that changed when Ruric was spoiled. Ruric also lets us, as deck designers, explore some neat space. Instead of using spells and enchantments to advance our state, we will instead focus on creatures and how we can parley the most out of them. (Note: Regardless of how we build this, we will be putting some non-creature cards in the deck for a couple reasons. The personal one is that I already have an all creatures commander deck, and that I feel like teaching players about risk/payoff is an important part of learning to play commander. Besides, I have an extra Domri Rade that is just itching to get into a deck.)

My idea for this deck is to run what I’ve been calling “Survival of the Biggest.”  I love that commander is filled with big creatures. In a way I think it appeals to the little kid in us who are just learning to play magic (You know, before someone introduced us to counterspells and stole our innocence). This deck would bring the biggest creatures in R/G to bear against our opponents. This deck would also use the sheer size of our creatures to our advantage. I’ve wanted to build a deck with Gruul Ragebeast and Ulvenwald Tracker and this seems like the deck.

#5. Rafiq of the Many (The community pick, with credits to Uncle Kaka in the Comments)-

rmThere were a lot of great suggestions and I could have chosen many of them (In fact, I may be making a few of the decks that were recommended). I have chosen Rafiq mostly because of the interesting dichotomy that Rafiq can give us. I envision us building a deck that has a good number of creatures that can benefit from Rafiq’s pump effect as well as well as come equipment and auras to pump them (hello Ogre’s Cleaver!) the question that our player will have to decide is whether to put all his proverbial eggs in the Rafiq basket or to pump something else and try to not draw to much attention to him/herself.








(I would like to point out that this spot would have gone to Mayael of the Anima as I really feel that she is a great first commander. However, I already have a Mayael deck so she was out of the running before the race began.)

So there you have our five choices. Feel free to discuss them in the comments. When you are ready, go ahead and vote either here in the comments (Just leave a comment that says “I’m voting for XXXXX”), talk about your vote on twitter (I am there on @MtGNole) (I’d love to see #TeamElesh, #TeamWanderer, #TeamVela, #TeamRuric, and #TeamRafiq be an MtG twitter trend for the next week), or e-mail me at You have until Sunday at noon to vote (gotta give me some time to write the article haha). I look forward to the discussion and I’ll see you next week when we start flashing out this deck. See you next week.

Series Navigation<< (Social) Contract from Below 7- Welcome Wagons(Social) Contract from Below 9- More than just a color >>