Saturday, November 16, 2013

Commander 2013: a set review, part 4.

Another day, another deck


This is the Grixis (blue-black-red) deck. It wins of the back of its spells. Creatures have the greatest opportunity for long term value, but instants and sorceries are so much harder to interact with. The deck has the most card draw, a lot of it symmetrical, yes; but it also has the most removal, so its going to be drawing into all the kill spells it needs to keep people on the table honest.

Beyond all of its numerous spells, it also has the most ways of interacting with them. There are cards in here like Arcane Melee, Nivix Guildmage, Uyo, and Mnemonic Wall that give you that much more mileage. And of note, a lot of the spells in the deck are modal, that is to say they can be used in different ways. Crosis' Charm, Grixis Charm, Incendiary Command, and Soul Manipulation all do a lot of different things, so no matter what is happening, you'll have an answer to them.

Secondly, it's a sort of a group hug deck. There are a lot of cards in here that make everyone draw cards; Vision Skeins, Skyscribing, Prosperity and Nekusar all fill everyone's hands. The idea being that firstly, because you have more killspells and modal spells, you'll be able to choose which threats stick; and second, opponents are less likely to take you out if you're helping them. Lots of political plays involved here.

I didn't get as much experience with this deck as I did the other ones, but when I played against it, players frequently left it alone for two reasons. 1. The afformentioned group hug angle, 2. because it relies more on spells than permanents, it was often perceived as being less threatening. If you're interested in playing EDH in a way that is a little more atypical, this deck might be for you.

Also, it has True-Name Nemesis and Baleful Strix, both legacy playable cards, in it and therefore goes for something like double MSRP in some places. Even if you don't like the deck, it is worth the investment.


I had high hopes for Jeleva. I had been wanting to build a Grixis-spell centric deck, and they gave me a leading lady perfectly suited towards that. And she has sweet art, win-win. In practice in games between the precons, and even against a few customized decks, I found that she wiffed quite a bit unless you were casting her for 8 or more mana. The biggest problem is that while, indeed, Commander is the format of big splashy spells, it is more typically dominated by big scary creatures. Jeleva benefits best not as a dedicated strategy, but as a meta call in an environment that is more suited towards things on the stack than things on the battlefield.

She also has the unfortunate side effect of being very physically underwhelming, especially when she's run out of spells to cast. 1 power, 3 toughness means nothing in Commander; and if you manage to run out of spells and your opponents have some way of ignoring her, such as by pacifying her, then you're especially screwed. I would definitely recommend running enough Lightning Greaves effects to protect her from removal, and better yet give her haste.


Now this guy here; this guy is something special. He combines something tempting, a howling mine, with something devious, something that can accidentally kill the table out of nowhere. The relatively small size and the helpfulness of the effect can put a lot of players off, thinking that they'll be able to benefit from the effect, or it's not a big deal, they can kill him before the effect gets out of hand. And then you do something horrifying like overload Cyclonic Rift and activate Jace's Archivist, hitting everyone else at the table for 20 damage. Whoops.

All of those 'everyone draws' effects I listed above? Those are terrifying when they come with a Blaze attached. Better yet are Windfall effects; Dragon Mage, Reforge the Soul, Whispering Madness. Terrifying. My only real problem with Nekusar is that I don't seem to be alone in realizing how nuts Nekusar can be, and I'm not particularly interested in playing something everyone else is. But I don't want to stop you from playing something you enjoy, so by all means, jam a deck full of permission, removal and windfalls. You'll have something scary.

Also, you can give him infect.

Collectors, the following cards have new art in the set:
Crosis' Charm

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