This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Spawning Pool

By Nole Clauson

spEditor’s Note: So in an alternate universe. Nole never wrote (Social) Contract from Below. Instead, he was a flavor writer, writing about the stories that get told as we play. (In another universe he is Batman, but that is not relevant to this story.) Please enjoy this look into the “colorshifted” world of Nole Clauson, flavor writer, with his article series “Inside the Commander’s Studio”


nolenew90Being the well-connected internet celebrity I am, I occasionally have the chance to reach out to the various legendary creatures that call Commander home. While I am unable to take the time to interview every commander, (let’s be honest, no one wants to hear Jerrard of the Closed Fist complain about the “good old days” from shady aches home for vanilla legends). When that opportunity arise to sit down and visit with one of the all-stars of the format, I leap at the opportunity. Hence, I ended up serving host to none other than one Maelstrom Wanderer. Between sips of the fine bottle of scotch he brought as a gift and the box of Thin Mints I was saving for a special occasion, we took the time to discuss the kind of games he enjoys, how he feels he is perceived by commander players, and what he is excited about from Journey into Nix. Without Further ado, please enjoy this episode of Inside the Commander’s Studio with special guest, Maelstrom Wander.

mwMe: Mr. Wanderer, let me start out by….

MW: Please, call me Mal.

Me: Alright. Well, let me say that it is truly a pleasure to get a chance to visit with you. It’s not very often that a high-profile commander such as yourself chooses to darken my doorway.

MW: Please, the pleasure is all mine. Besides, I owe you for taking care of that thing with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.

Me: Not a problem, I’ve never liked him much anyway. How are you and him now adays?

MW: Let’s just say we are still pretty strained. Despite the fact that we share a color, we really tend to push in opposite directions.

Me: I’m glad you brought up color identity. I know color identity can be a touchy subject. Do you feel like you do a good job of representing the CEDA wedge?

MW: Absolutely, The big, beefy body, the two “free” spells when you cast me, and the unpredictability of cascade makes me the prefect reflection of Green, Red, and Blue.

Me: I’ve heard a lot of people downplay your blue side, as you cannot play counterspells, something of Blue’s forte.

MW: and I disagree with that for a few reasons. First off, blue does more than just counter spells, they also draw cards, which I love to do. Blue also gives me some sweet evasion options, such as Archetype of Imagination, and Sun Quan, Lord of Wu. And you can run counters in my deck, they just have to be good if you cascade into them. Arcane Denial, Cryptic Command, and Remand are all perfectly fine to cascade into.

Me: I stand corrected. How would you say you stand up to the other CEDA legends?

MW: I feel like I’m the best amongst a whole field of awesome. There is me, Riku, and Animar that are all tier 1.

Me: Don’t forget Intet, the Dreamer.Intet

MW: Yeah, I kinda feel bad for the old girl. She was the only option for so long. She’s still good, no retirement home for her yet, but I feel like the torch has been passed, ya know?

Me: The next generation, for sure. You certainly came onto the scene like a wrecking ball.

MW: Did you just make a Miley Cyrus reference?

Me: No comment.

MW: …Right. Anyway, yeah it’s been a trip. Planechase 2012, Commander’s Arsenal the next year, it’s been a pretty quick rise to glory.

Me: Quite “the climb,” am I right (wink)?

MV: One more Miley reference and this interview is over.

Me: Ok, ok. How about we shift the focus back to you?

MW: Ah, my favorite subject (laughs). Fire away.

Me: What would you say makes your deck “tick”?

MW: My deck is fairly straightforward. Ramp, cast me, enjoy free spell, cast me again, more free spells, repeat until opponents are dead.

Me: Seems pretty east to just jam 50ish splashy things together and go.

MW: Excuse me?

Me: It’s just that “good cards that cost 7 or less” is a pretty wide net.

MW: I’m not hearing a question.

Me: What do you say to people who say your deck is nothing but a pile of “good stuff” that does nothing except mise free wins off of piles of random card advantage?

MW: I don’t talk with people who say that.

Me: You’re avoiding.

MW: and you’re insulting. Yes, me deck runs powerful cards and tries to win off of “piles of random card advantage.” And yes, there are times when, by casting me, people are able to swing games in their favor, just like any other magic card people play. Am I powerful? Yes, that’s why people play me. I am sick and tired of people either saying I’m too broken, needs to be banned, or, my personal favorite, a “cheap” win.

Me: Mal, calm down. You seem to forget, I’ve battled with you before. We’re cool.

MW: My apologies.

Me: No problem, guess we’ve seen the red in your color identity now, huh?

MW: (laughs) I guess we have.

Me: Let’s talk about your perception in a game. How would you say you beat the rap as the “mindless deck”?

MW: I think it has a great deal to do with how you build it, especially when it comes to finding a balance. There are a lot of things that can go into my deck, and finding the right balance of ramp, threats, draw, and removal is key.

Me: But wouldn’t you say that of any deck?

MW: Yes, but in my deck it is doubly important. As you’ll always be getting two “something” you want to get the balances just right. In an ideal world, you want to hit either two threats or a threat and something else. Nothing makes you feel dumber than having the 4th time you cascade with me hit two ramp spells or hitting two draw spells when you already have 7 in hand.

Me: What about the idea that you are a “cheap” deck that steals games you have no right to win?

MW: I’ve been fighting that since I was spoiled. At one point I even hired you co-host Eric to defend me.

Me: Ah yes, the “Vexing Devil’s Advocate.” How was it working with Eric?


Click here for Eric’s thoughts on Mal. (Hint: He’s not a fan.)

MW: A lot of fun, despite the fact that he doesn’t like blue. If I were Jund Colors he’d be all over me.

Me: So I feel like we are winding down. One last question. Any Journey into Nix cards you are looking forward to slotting in?

MW: Kruphix, God of Horizons. That card and I are gonna be bros.

Me: Well, I’d like to thank you for such a fun interview. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you for years to come.

MW: My pleasure.


Well there you have it. The first of my (possibly many) interviews with a Commander. Did you like this? I did, though I admit it would have been easier to interview someone with a bit more personality, rather than an elemental. Let me know what you thought in the comments below, at my email at or on twitter @MtGNole. You can also check me out bi-weekly on my podcast, Rival’s Duel, with Eric Bonvie.

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