This entry is part 2 of 26 in the series Staple Remover

Posted By Chris-B

It’s Friday and that means its time to look at some ways to make your decks a bit more fun and most likely more budget friendly.  This week on Staple Remover I’ll be making a case against using proxies in your commander deck. Why am I against the use of proxies? They are a crutch that I don’t think anyone needs in this format. Using proxies means you are missing out on trying new cards and experimenting.  Dump those proxies and open up some new deck building challenges and add some play variety. Read on, and if you agree or disagree with my thoughts on proxies be sure to leave a comment below.


Typical Reasons For Proxies
When do you find you are usually proxying a card for a deck? I’m guessing it probably falls into one of these categories:

1. Testing – You want to test out a new deck or card that you do not own before deciding if you want to start acquiring those cards.
2. I Only Own One – Its an expensive or hard to find card that you own less of than the number of decks you want to use it in.
3. I’ll Never Own One – The card is so expensive/rare that you don’t plan on actually acquiring one and, hey, since its a non sanctioned casual format, why spend that much or worry about using a proxy?

As far as reason 1 is concerned if you are just testing out ideas with friends who are cool with your test proxies, go for it. You may want to reconsider unleashing your proxy heavy test deck on an unsuspecting playgroup at your local shop though.

The two main reasons I want to address are 2 & 3. I am guessing that reason 2 is probably the most common reason for the use of proxies in EDH. Maybe you only own one Crucible of Worlds or one Sensei’s Divining Top. Since they are pretty versatile and strong cards you most likely want to include them in multiple decks. This is usually the point where proxies begin to enter your decks as placeholders. Whether you swap out the proxies for the real deal before each game or just keep them in, I urge you to cease this type of proxying at once!

Why Ditching Proxies Is A Great Choice
Lets be honest, the power level of commander is all over the map and will continue to be since its an unsanctioned casual format. What that means for us is we can run oddball “sub optimal” cards and get away with it. This isn’t a razor sharp format like legacy where swapping a playset of Brainstorms for a playset of Indexes in your RUG Delver deck would be suicide. In commander we are lucky because we have the flexibility and freedom to fudge it a bit and still have a deck that will be fun and effective. I urge you to take advantage of this luxury. 60 card constructed formats, like legacy, have the allure of competition while I feel the big allure of commander isn’t specifically “playing bombs” or even “the social contract”, as much as it is pure entertainment. If you are doing the same things, with the same cards over and over that entertainment begins to wear thin.

What do you have to gain by ditching your proxies? “But I am a compulsive deck builder and I don’t own 15 Divining Tops, but have 15 decks,” you might be thinking. So lets say you only own 5 Tops but have Top proxies in your other ten decks. If you just tear up those proxies that’s ten slots we get to hunt down new cards for! If you are anything like me you probably have anywhere from 5 to 20 cards on the back burner you are itching to try in any given deck anyway.
Now is your chance, free your deck building creativity from the burden of proxies! That Top can be a Crystal Ball or an Ancestral Knowledge or a Descendant of Soramaro. Try breaking out of your comfort zone and finding other cards to fill in those proxy gaps. Maybe your opponent will point out that your Descendant of Soramaro looks just like Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China, which is totally badass. Or maybe your playgroup will be impressed at how you found a way to start some shenanigans with Ancestral Knowledge and a Sun Titan. Your CommanderCred points will then increase* much more than if you had just plopped a Top. That way you can save those Tops that you do own for your decks that can really take advantage of them via Trinket Mage, shuffle effects, etc.

*CommanderCred points not available in all areas and may not be combined with any other offers.

I’m not just trying to pick on poor Top either. There are plenty of cards in this format I see proxied often that absolutely do not need to be.

The Original Duals: If you are lucky enough to own ‘em go ahead and put them in any deck you want. They are some seriously cool retro bling. Why on earth are you proxying them though? They provide a slight color fixing edge to 3 or more color decks that run fetches and even then you can easily replace them with the shocklands. Shocks are 1/10th the price in most cases.








Wasteland: Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, Dust Bowl and Strip Mine are all cards that are usually easier to come by and can fill in nicely for a Wasteland instead of a boring proxy. Why use that proxy print out while you are waiting to acquire another Wasteland when you can use a sexy FNM Tec Edge?








Fetches: Another cycle that’s really only going to make a difference in 3+ color decks. While nearly free color fixing that also thins lands from your deck while not taking spell slots is a pretty attractive option, I’m sure your deck won’t be hopelessly crippled by using some Mirage fetches instead. Maybe add a little additional color fixing like a favorite of mine, the Skyshroud Elf.








Sword of X and Y: The cycle of swords are nice and efficient, but I bet there is other equipment out there that would have plenty of, or perhaps even more synergy with your general. If you are running a voltron strategy or if your general triggers on dealing combat damage, instead of Fire and Ice how about a Fireshrieker?  Plenty of options abound.








Force of Will: Thwart, Daze, or any other great blue counterspell out there will get the job done. I have never seen a commander deck that needed a FoW.









I think you get the picture, if you have played some commander you probably have a feel for what is often proxied and which cards are “staples.”

Alternatives to Proxies
If you are finding it hard to remove those proxied staples and venture into uncharted deck building territory, don’t worry, that’s what I am here to help with this season.  Here are a few basic ideas for kicking the proxy habit:

1. Reduce Your Colors: Land bases seem to be a popular proxy target.  If all of your decks are 3 or more colors and they hunger for all of those popular non basics you have a limited supply of, why not give a mono colored or 2 color deck a shot?  Cutting down to 1 or 2 colors introduces a more focused card pool to pick from.  More importantly it eases the requirements of your mana base greatly.
2. Use Fill-In Cards: So your deck really wants another copy of a card already in another deck.  Put the actual copy in the deck that wants it the most.  In the other deck, instead of a proxy, use a fill-in card.  Pick out another card you were thinking of trying in that deck and slot it in.  When you get around to acquiring that second copy of the desired card you can cut something else for it.  Maybe you’ll even want to keep your fill-in if you were pleasantly surprised by how it worked.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Retool: I have a Glissa, the Traitor deck that used a land sub theme where you could tutor for the Coffers combo via Scapeshift, protect it with Crucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam and also recycle cards like Strip Mine.  Then I started building a new Borborygmos, Enraged deck that wanted those cards even more.  Instead of proxying them in Glissa and moving the actual copies to Borborygmos, I just cut the land sub theme in Glissa.  It was a great chance to try something new and the deck is actually playing better now that you don’t have to be as concerned about your non basics.  The ramping is done more through mana rocks now since Glissa can naturally recur those anyways.

I hope you enjoyed my perspective on proxies in commander. If you take away anything from the article, let it be this: when you look at a proxy in your deck ask yourself “Will removing this and replacing it with a new card make the deck useless or much less entertaining?” More often than not the honest answer to both questions will be “no.” If the answer is “yes” and removing the singleton makes the deck much worse, don’t worry, I’ll probably end up fishing it out for you with a Praetor’s Grasp or Sadistic Sacrament anyways.

This season I will be introducing a new section in my Staple Remover articles to cap off each week called Staple Remover of the Week (+2 creativity points for that name). In this section I’ll be highlighting a change I have made to one of my own Commander decks where I remove a staple or just an idea for an alternative to a common staple. Additionally next week I’ll be taking a look at some commonly used mana rocks and some budget options you can run in their place.

Staple Remover of the Week
Deck: Animar
Staple Removed: Defense of the Heart
Card Added: Progenitor Mimic
My Kiki/Exarch combo is still in the deck for when I just need to end games, but now its a bit more challenging to pull off without Defense. Progenitor Mimic should be a more fun and variable replacement especially with the new Legend rules.







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