This entry is part 9 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

By Nole Clauson AKA @MtGNole

UPDATE: While I was unable to get the article that I had written back (my save corrupted) I have since re-written it. My apologies if there are more spelling errors than normal but I wanted to get this out to you. Thanks for your patience.

90x90 nole Hello Everybody! Welcome to this weeks (Social) Contract from Below. As many of you know, last week we lined out possible generals for the “my first Commander” deck that we will be building. You voted on who you wanted the commander to be and I will be announcing that (and giving you guys the next part of the project) at the end of the article. However, I also want to get back into the habit of talking about the social contract.

Fellow Commandercast Writer Eric (of (Vexing) Devil’s Advocate) noticed something about many of the commanders that I had chosen, namely that all of my commanders I had chosen impact the board state in pretty powerful ways. While he pointed out (correctly, I might add) that these traits may draw undue hate our player’s way, I chose to have Commanders that impact the board on purpose. I want to teach players that their Commander matters. When it is on the field I want the player to feel like it is an asset and that he is better off with it in play rather than sitting in the command zone. The commander should be a focal point of the deck. This brings up something that has always, to me, felt like it went against the spirit of the format.

Back in January, I was the head judge for the “Commander Challenge” at GP Denver. While I have already written about how that event went in my first article for this site, there is one small story I did not share. I took the time to write down all the generals in play as I wanted to see if any of the decks were anything interesting. One of the Generals was Sliver Overlord. My words to him were, “Oh Sweet, Slivers. That’ll be fun to watch.” His reply was a less than enthusiastic, “Yeah, kinda.” As I watched the event unfold (and it went like you’d expect a high-value Commander event to go) I went over to watch the pod with, among other things, the sliver deck in it. While that pod was in the middle of losing to Azami / Lab maniac combo, I looked over to the Sliver deck, only to see a Hermit Druid that had been extracted from his deck early on. My Sliver deck was nothing more than a 5 color combo deck in disguise.

you were the chosen one

How I felt, in handy pop-culture meme form.

While that whole event made my soul hurt, this especially irked me. To me, the commander you choose should be about more than just picking a card with the color identity that you want to build your deck around, it should be a tool in your arsenal. While I would never go so far as to say that all commander decks should be built around their commander, you should at least have a passing desire to want to cast him. Please know that this is not me calling out “Goodstuff” decks. If taking the best, most powerful cards in your colors and rocking that makes you happy, then go for it. I myself have a couple of decks that were built before I selected a general because I knew what colors/strategies I wanted to play. However, I made a point of choosing generals that augmented the deck once I finished them or were at least powerful in their own right. If the 5 color player in the story above would have been playing Child of Alara or Cromat then I would have been less upset.

That being said I do need to make one caveat. If you are new to Commander don’t have a legendary creature that fits the theme but has the color identity you want, then by all means play it. This rant is not aimed at you. If you wanna play Boros and all you’ve got is a Tajic, then by all means slot him in until you can trade for the Aruelia you really want at the helm. I’d much rather have you playing the format and enjoying yourself rather than sitting on the sidelines because you haven’t won the pack lottery to get the card you wanted and some internet personality told you you had to play a certain way.

By now you are probably wondering why I chose to write this article now. Since we are just starting out on our deckbuilding experiment, I wanted to emphasize that I don’t want this deck to turn into a purely “goodstuff” deck. While some staples are fine (a new Commander deck should have the powerful cards in the format), us just taking the 30 most powerful cards in each color and adding lands would be a disservice to the players we are trying to teach. So that being said, our goal for this week is to find some cards that interact well with our general.

Oh right! You guys don’t know what the commander is yet! Over the last week you guys voted and we will be building a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck. I’m very pleased with your choice (Ruric was in my personal top 3 as well) and I think this is going to be a blast to work on together. I look forward to smashing things and eating red meat together for the foreseeable future.

Since we are at the point of looking for actual cards it’s probably time to address the budget we will be building this deck under. I have three stores that have (to various degrees) all agreed to help with any commons/uncommons that I need. I also have a decent collection myself that I will be able to draw from. Finally I am willing to spend some money to make sure this deck works as a learn to play commander deck. So where does that leave us, budget wise? The answer is somewhere in the middle of the cash spectrum. If you name of a 1-5 dollar card, it’ll probably make it in, if it’s a 20$ card, it might make it in (If I can get one on the cheap or already have one), and no matter how good you think it is, there is no way you are going to convince me to drop 100$ on a single card. In other terms, Ravnica duals are in, ABU duals are out. This is also the push I need to start using PucaTrade so if you use that feel free to hit me up (I’m nclauson on there and will be posting a bunch of cards over the next few days.)

I’ve already given you a couple of cards that are specific to the Commander we have chosen in Gruul Ragebeast and Ulvenwald Tracker and I am eager to hear more. Feel free to discuss cards in the comments, hit me up on Twitter (@MtGNole) or shoot me an email with ideas @ I’ll see you all next week.


Series Navigation<< (Social) Contract from Below 8- There Can Be Only One! (Did you expect any other joke here?)(Social) Contract from below 10- Wiping the Boards with Ya’ >>