Commander 2013: Eternal Bargain Product Review – A new lease of life
Any time an experience starts as positively as this one, it’s a good sign.
When the good folks at Wizards ask you to give their new toy a spin, it’s tough to refuse… but I’ll be honest, when I signed up to try out the Eternal Bargain deck, I had no idea about the contents of the box beyond the big, shiny, Esper-coloured creature emblazoned on the front.
What to do?
There are two ways to approach one of these new decks.
The first, tempting option is to open it, lay out all the cards in a curve and think about what it’s trying to do – the same thing I’d do to any other stack of cards I’m about to shuffle up and take into battle.
As I reached for the packaging, I checked myself. What’s going to happen here, Dave?
Hmmm. That doesn’t seem terribly useful, does it?
I turned to the second, daring option.
When hatching a plan of this kind, it is permissible to allow oneself a half-demented smile and a chuckle which quickly escalates into a storm of super-villain laughter. I embraced the indulgence.
Following a Standard event last Sunday, I decided my moment had arrived.
A quick poll of the players at a loose end in my local shop revealed that one, a young gent named Matt, had come equipped with his stack of 100. I dived up to the counter, secured a consignment of Dragon Sleeves, popped open the Eternal Bargain box which had been waiting patiently in my bag – and we were off to the races.
Here’s the first thing I saw:
Most of these cards were familiar to me from previous formats, with the exception of Kongming, Sleeping Dragon – but since he played very nicely with Sharding Sphinx, I wasn’t going to make things awkward for him. Come on in, Kongming; joing the party.
Kongming (or K-Mizzy, as he introduced himself – kids these days) brought another new friend in Tidal Force.
Here was a card that I certainly hadn’t seen before, since it was created specifically for this release… but to my eyes, it looked great. Twiddle, every upkeep, seems pretty solid in a format full of interesting tap abilities – and even when he’s just holding off attacks or tapping blockers, he seems a useful man to have around.
My opponent was playing a Jhoira of the Ghitu deck, so I could reasonably expect degenerate things to start happening very early in the game. With no idea of whether or not I had any counterspells in my deck, or how likely I was to draw them, I got my head down and started racing.
A solid start
Frankly, I’ve seen worse turn 4 board states.
Of course, my board isn’t the whole story. There are other things one needs to be aware of when playing this deck – and by the time I had played my first land, I had already made a play mistake.
Let’s take a look at my commander, so you can understand what I mean:
This is a pretty strong upside. My traditional deck for this format is a Garza Zol, Plague Queen brew, full of general Grixis goodies, so I’m used to my head honcho doing very little until later in the game.
Oloro, on the other hand, will reward players (who are actually paying attention) with a delicious cushion of life points every turn of the game. If he’s in play, he’ll even reward his owner with cards and a little bit of reach, too.
As I started to tick up my life total, I felt myself relax. It was going to take something pretty serious to get through the fortress of health I was building.
Yep. That will certainly do it. Well played, sir.
The clock of all clocks
There’s nothing like a hasty, poisonous, indestructible robot approaching at speed to focus the mind.
I decided it was time to start swinging for the hills. K-Mizzy made his way onto the battlefield and Sharding Sphinx went into overdrive.
Meanwhile, my opponent was busy drawing cards in search of some answers to my expanding army. Seeing him tapped out, I snuck Oloro onto the field.
The damage was mounting up and Matt began to deploy his own creatures as roadblocks. Smelling blood, I slapped Tidal Force onto the stack!
While that plan didn’t work out brilliantly, it did force Matt to tap down a good chunk of mana on his next upkeep, as that huge, filthy robot ticked down to a single suspend counter. Thus hamstrung, he wasn’t able to find a castable answer to my swarm… which meant that the very next turn, Oloro, K-Mizzy and the gang would deliver a lethal blow.
Matt duly scooped, like the gentleman he is, to this board:
A good sign for games 2 and 3?
Oh, hell no.
In the subsequent games, Matt polymorphed some enormous Eldrazi into play in the early turns, or established a Future Sight-powered lock on the game as I wept onto my lands. Still, that’s not a giant surprise when playing a pre-constructed deck against another player’s carefully crafted pride and joy.
What was important was that I liked some of what the deck was doing – and I could see where I wanted to take it.
Direction of travel
If I were to develop this deck for future play, I reckon I’d initially be adding some of my favourite controlling elements:
In this case, I love Martial Coup most of all – because it makes tokens, another element of the deck I want to play up.
I want to go all out on tokens; these are just a few of the many excellent token cards I might consider for inclusion.
The reason I love this idea is that K-Mizzy and I reached a bit of an understanding during our games together. I want to give him – and his method of operating – a little bit of time in the spotlight.
Good times for all
Commander is all about good times -and I’d like both to thanks Wizards for delivering me this enjoyable experience, and to recommend the new Commander decks to any new players thinking of getting into the format.
When you don’t have the luxury of a decades-old collection, finding the right 99 cards for you can be challenging. While these decks aren’t the finished article, they’ll give you a serious leg up on the construction ladder for a reasonable price.
Remember guys, you can find Commander 2013 singles and packs, and all your Magic: The Gathering needs at Manaleak.com