Truly a Commander Among Commanders

Back in 2010, Wizards of the Coast released the first set of 5 pre-constructed Commander decks. These decks were not only a way of showing that Wizards of the Coast recognized Commander, or as many call it Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH for short), as a legitimate format, but also that they encouraged the idea. They wanted the player base to know about it, to play it, and they were willing to help us take that first step into the 100-card singleton format. Overall, the sets were a success, and due to the growing popularity of the format and a limited print run, the pre-constructed decks soon became a rare commodity. Prices skyrocketed, jumping from the initial MSRP price of $29.99 to $60 and $80 dollars a piece.

In November of 2012, players saw some relief. Wizards released another supplementary product, Commander’s Arsenal, to the public. The seventy-five dollar box contained what Wizards considered to be some of the most powerful staples of the commander format such as Rhystic StudyDecree of Pain, and Chaos Warp. Commander’s Arsenal was well received by the public, but much like with other supplementary products such as the From The Vaults sets, public demand and a limited print run caused the price of the product to spike in local game stores, reaching prices as high as $250 a piece in a short amount of time. Many players were displeased, and a public outcry rang forth. People wanted to play Commander, and as a casual format, they wanted it to be…more financially accessible to say the least, but at the time, the 2010 Commander decks and Commander’s Arsenal had done all they could to increase the availability of cards for the rapidly growing Commander Community.

For a while, the two sets were all the public saw of Wizard’s support for the Commander format, and while the pre-constructed decks and Commander’s arsenal had become all but impossible to attain, the set had succeeded on one front. The prices of a large quantity of cards had plummeted. Five dollar cards were down to one or two dollars, dollar rares cost players quarters instead, and the prices of a good few Commander staples that were reprinted dropped by 40% or more. Cards like Consecrated Sphinx went from $20 to $10, and popular cards people had previously attained for their decks at a dollar or less spiked to $5 or more, increasing card availability via trades. However, the players still wanted more. They wanted more variety, new strategies, new Commanders, and the cards being printed in new, scheduled sets didn’t suffice. They provided a few cards here and there that were what we considered “Commander Playable”, but for the most part they simply fit into existing strategies, they didn’t spark new ideas.

And then, after more than a year of waiting, Wizards gave us what we’d all be craving. On December 20, 2013, Wizards of the Coast released the Commander 2013 pre-constructed decks to the public, giving us access to Commanders like Derevi, Empyrial TacticianNekusar, the Mindrazer, and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. Suddenly, a new breed of Commander decks was released into the wild world of Commander Leagues, Sanctioned Tournament Side Events, and basement card tables everywhere. The decks were new, they were fresh, and unlike their predecessors, would be available for many years to come. Wizards had announced that Commander 2013 would not be a limited print run. Yet again, this had an immediate effect on the community, new decks and strategies popped up everywhere, community sites were flooded with deck lists and articles concerning how to build around these new amazing legendary creatures, and the prices of cards fluctuated accordingly. Popular cards such as Blue Sun’s ZenithNevinyrral’s Disk, and Wrath of God saw drops in price, allowing players to grab these cards for a mere dollar at times.

With all of the support the Commander Format had received, myself, as well as many other players I know, began to wonder: Can you build a decent, functional Commander deck only using cards from the sets released specifically for Commander? Not considering the pre-constructed deck lists of course, as we all know they were built as a casual starting point, not the finish line. Well, after looking them over, I think the answer is yes. I’ve come up with two different decks, both perfectly functional and tested, built entirely off of cards printed in the supplementary Commander sets. And today, I’m going to discuss them.

Riku of Two Reflections

(100)
Riku of Two Reflections
Avenger of Zendikar
Crater Hellion
Deadwood Treefolk
Krosan Tusker
Mold Shambler
Naya Soulbeast
Rampaging Baloths
Spitebellows
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Echo Mage
True-Name Nemesis
Acidic Slime
Dungeon Geists
Farhaven Elf
Murkfiend Liege
Pilgrim’s Eye
Wonder
Anger
Artisan of Kozilek
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Fierce Empath
Simic Sky Swallower
Fertilid
Scavenging Ooze
Yavimaya Elder
 Solemn Simulacrum
Flametongue Kavu
Izzet Chronarch
Brawn
Eternal Witness
Garruk Wildspeaker
Savage Twister
Lightning Greaves
Sol Ring
Hull Breach
Warstorm Surge
Tempt with Discovery
Cultivate
Fires of Yavimaya
Harmonize
Armillary Sphere
Primal Vigor
Mass Mutiny
Wild Ricochet
Opportunity
Dismiss
Arcane Denial
Simic Signet
Restore
Krosan Grip
Darksteel Ingot
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Basalt Monolith
Comet Storm
Stranglehold
Izzet Signet
Brainstorm
Explosive Vegetation
Gruul Signet
Spell Crumple
Chaos Warp
Reins of Power
Temple of the False God
Izzet Boilerworks
Gruul Turf
Simic Growth Chamber
Command Tower
Opal Palace
Gruul Guildgate
Mosswort Bridge
Vivid Crag
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Izzet Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
11 Forest
Island
Mountain

This deck is your typical Riku deck. The addition of valuable creatures like Avenger of Zendikar, Dungeon Geists, and Rampaging Baloths in Commander 2013 took this deck’s from strictly casual to competitive. Functioning as a Riku-centered strategy, the deck tries it’s best to capitalize on the strong enter the battlefield affects of it’s creatures, and Primal Vigor works as a functional Doubling Season in this strategy, allowing you to copy creature spells not just once, but twice. The inclusion of multiple ramp spells such as Cultivate and Explosive Vegetation allow you to not only fix your lands, but also to thin out your deck, increasing your likelihood of hitting relevant cards with each draw, while a handful of counterspells allow you a mild level of control. With Savage Twister, Crater Hellion, and Comet Storm in the deck, you have functional board wipes in colors that otherwise would go without. The inclusion of cards like Opportunity and Blue Sun’s Zenith allow you to utilize the instant and sorcery side of Riku’s ability, paying only an additional two mana to draw double the cards and creatures like Mulldrifter serve the same purpose. Overall the decklist has tested nicely. The primary problem is the lack of good lands. The lack of rare, two-colored lands such as Shock Lands and even buddy lands tends to make the deck feel a little clunky due to the multitude of spells needing two of one color to cast. Because of this, you’ll rely on your basic land fetching spells and artifact ramp to get you rolling, but there’s no shortage of those cards in this deck. The best part about this deck is that it won’t break the bank. The fact that all of these cards were printed in the commander sets lowers the price tag significantly from where they were. The only money cards you have to worry about are True-Name Nemesis and Scavenging Ooze for the most part, but overall the investment isn’t going to dry up your funds.

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

 

(100)
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Acidic Slime
Karmic Guide
Dungeon Geists
Mirror Entity
Mistmeadow Witch
Pilgrim’s Eye
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Skyward Eye Prophets
Stonecloaker
Winged Coatl
Wonder
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Augury Adept
Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”
Sharding Sphinx
Wall of Reverence
Angelic Arbiter
Shattered Angel
Voice of All
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Simic Sky Swallower
Yavimaya Elder
Azorius Guildmage
Wall of Denial
Wall of Omens
Windborn Muse
Eternal Witness
Mulldrifter
Solemn Simulacrum
Jace’s Archivist
Darksteel Mutation
Pristine Talisman
Sol Ring
Lightning Greaves
Behemoth Sledge
Cultivate
Explosive Vegetation
Harmonize
Tempt with Discovery
Sprouting Vines
Tower of Fortunes
Wrath of God
Restore
Arcane Denial
Dismiss
Spell Crumple
Armillary Sphere
Propaganda
Ghostly Prison
Temple Bell
Azorius Keyrune
Azorius Signet
Simic Signet
Selesnya Signet
Selesnya Charm
Tempt With Glory
Sword of the Paruns
Krosan Grip
Kirtar’s Wrath
Control Magic
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Basalt Monolith
Simic Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Azorius Guildgate
Azorius Chancery
Simic Growth Chamber
Selesnya Sanctuary
Bant Panorama
Command Tower
Opal Palace
Seaside Citadel
Temple of the False God
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Vivid Grove
Vivid Creek
Vivid Meadow
Plains
Forest
Island

If anything has become known over the last year about the newest Commander decks, it’s that Derevi is undeniably busted. The inital idea behind most Derevi decks was to better utilize creatures with Tap abilities, and while that was a fun strategy at first, people soon tossed it aside when they figured out that Derevi’s ability could untap LANDS. Suddenly, a fun, quirky general became one of the best ramp strategies in the format. Who cares about untapping your creatures when you can untap all of your lands and just play more creatures? Suddenly the idea turned into a strategy of quick, efficient creatures with evasion triggering Derevi’s ability to untap lands and play more spells. As such, I felt it simply necessary to include Derevi as a general for this article. Taking into consideration that using Derevi and evasive creatures as ramp is probably the best way to go, that’s exactly what this deck is designed to do. Rife with flyers and other evasive creatures, the deck attempts to push damage through in order to burst out of control. However, a deck that ramps is nothing without cards to play. As such, this deck utilizes similar draw engines as the Riku deck mentioned above. Blue Sun’s Zenith works particularly well, being instant speed, as you can swing, get some damage in, and untap your lands to be able to cast Blue Sun’s Zenith whenever you want, refilling your hand in clutch situations. The inclusion of pillow fort effects like Ghostly Prison and Propaganda, counter spells, and Derevi’s ability to give creatures pseudo-vigilance gives this deck a solid line of defense, while cards like Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” and Mirror Entity give you a solid means of aggression. Much like the other list in this article, however, this deck still has mana issues, not having access to valuable lands. To counter this, I included, yet again, a simple package of land fetching abilities to keep your colors spot on and your draws as efficient as possible.

As always, thank you for reading. Feel free to leave comments, feedback, and ideas in the comment section below. Your input is a valuable and cherished resource to us here at CMDTower. Look forward to more articles from our writers on a weekly basis, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

 


Evan Erickson

 

Author: Evan Erickson

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