A Commander for Everyone by Paul Palmer

5800
Zedruu the Greathearted wallpaper

Commander is for Everyone by Paul Palmer

Fun is relative.

For those that don’t know what I mean by that statement, it means that it is highly possible that what I find fun is not the same as what you find fun. I love the idea of casting Animate Dead on turn two to bring back Worldgorger Dragon before generating infinite mana and Comet Storming all of my friends.

I play Commander in two very different environments. The first of these is my local game store

[draft]Narset, Enlightened Master
Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/draft]

The other is the game societies at my university

[draft]Sigarda, Host of Herons
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher[/draft]

Due to the varying power of the two play groups my decks have to be somewhere inbetween if I don’t want to be changing cards around all the time, and due to the colours that I want to play it’s very hard to make a fair competitive deck.

Omnath, Locus of Mana wallpaper

[draft]Zedruu the Greathearted
Omnath, Locus of Mana[/draft]

I chose the idea of adapting decks to be fun for everyone in a range of different playgroups due to something that happened to me recently. I was playing at university with a friend of mine when he said that the number of good cards I had was so high that he couldn’t keep up anymore and this was causing him to enjoy magic less and less. This made me stop and think. I love Magic and I love my friends who play Magic for fun; I don’t want my friends to lose the love they have for the game due to my degenerate deck building.

Here are the lists I have been running recently:

Zedruu the Greathearted

Creatures

Zedruu the Greathearted (0)

Imposing Sovereign (0)

Nyx-Fleece Ram (0)

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (0)

Vedalken Plotter (0)

Sea Gate Oracle (0)

Trinket Mage (0)

Fatespinner (0)

Akroan Horse (0)

Perplexing Chimera (0)

Keranos, God of Storms (0)

Consecrated Sphinx (0)

Felidar Sovereign (0)

Avacyn, Angel of Hope (0)

Stormtide Leviathan (0)

Instants and Sorceries

Brainstorm (0)

Ponder (0)

Preordain (0)

Vision Skeins (0)

Cyclonic Rift (0)

Arcane Denial (0)

Chaos Warp (0)

Oblation (0)

Render Silent (0)

Cryptic Command (0)

Wild Ricochet (0)

Supreme Verdict (0)

Armageddon (0)

Wrath of God (0)

Dig Through Time (0)

Decree of Annihilation (0)

Artifacts

Sol Ring (0)

Sensei’s Divining Top (0)

Helm of the Gods (0)

Howling Mine (0)

Temple Bell (0)

Thran Dynamo (0)

Batterskull (0)

Alhammarret’s Archive (0)

Enchantments

Darksteel Mutation (0)

Blind Obedience (0)

Dictate of Kruphix (0)

Monastery Siege (0)

Wild Research (0)

Oblivion Ring (0)

Propaganda (0)

Detention Sphere (0)

Ghostly Prison (0)

Sphinx’s Tutelage (0)

Sacred Mesa (0)

Opalescence (0)

Aggressive Mining (0)

Statecraft (0)

Leyline of Anticipation (0)

Sigil of the Empty Throne (0)

Sphere of Safety (0)

Future Sight (0)

Well of Ideas (0)

Planeswalkers

Jace, Architect of Thought (0)

Jace, the Mind Sculptor (0)

Narset Transcendent (0)

Ajani Vengeant (0)

Karn Liberated (0)

Land

Command Tower (0)

Mana Confluence (0)

City of Brass (0)

Wooded Foothills (0)

Flooded Strand (0)

Windswept Heath (0)

Polluted Delta (0)

Bloodstained Mire (0)

Mystic Monastery (0)

Plateau (0)

Sacred Foundry (0)

Temple of Triumph (0)

Wind-Scarred Crag (0)

Battlefield Forge (0)

Prairie Stream (0)

Hallowed Fountain (0)

Temple of Enlightenment (0)

Tranquil Cove (0)

Adarkar Wastes (0)

Steam Vents (0)

Temple of Epiphany (0)

Swiftwater Cliffs (0)

Shivan Reef (0)

Homeward Path (0)

Reliquary Tower (0)

Temple of the False God (0)

Seat of the Synod (0)

Halimar Depths (0)

Ancient Den (0)

Great Furnace (7)
Island
Plains
Mountain

 

Omnath, Locus of Mana

Creatures

Omnath, Locus of Mana (0)

Elvish Mystic (0)

Birds of Paradise (0)

Llanowar Elves (0)

Sakura-Tribe Elder (0)

Scavenging Ooze (0)

Abzan Beastmaster (0)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (0)

Farhaven Elf (0)

Reclamation Sage (0)

Wood Elves (0)

Courser of Kruphix (0)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (0)

Karametra’s Acolyte (0)

Drumhunter (0)

Oracle of Mul Daya (0)

Nylea, God of the Hunt (0)

Ant Queen (0)

Acidic Slime (0)

Hydra Omnivore (0)

Wurmcoil Engine (0)

Soul of the Harvest (0)

Rampaging Baloths (0)

Soul of New Phyrexia (0)

Steel Hellkite (0)

Garruk’s Horde (0)

Hornet Queen (0)

Giant Adephage (0)

Avenger of Zendikar (0)

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger (0)

Terastodon (0)

Craterhoof Behemoth (0)

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth (0)

Genesis Hydra (0)

Instants and Sorceries

Back to Nature (0)

Rampant Growth (0)

Krosan Grip (0)

Beast Within (0)

Kodama’s Reach (0)

Cultivate (0)

Slice in Twain (0)

Explosive Vegetation (0)

Reap and Sow (0)

Harmonize (0)

See the Unwritten (0)

Nissa’s Renewal (0)

Tooth and Nail (0)

Green Sun’s Zenith (0)

Genesis Wave (0)

Animist’s Awakening (0)

Artifacts

Sol Ring (0)

Doubling Cube (0)

Swiftfoot Boots (0)

Lightning Greaves (0)

Sword of Feast and Famine (0)

Birthing Pod (0)

Gauntlet of Power (0)

Caged Sun (0)

Dreamstone Hedron (0)

Enchantments

Dictate of Karametra (0)

Planeswalkers

Nissa, Worldwaker (0)

Karn Liberated (0)

Land

(37)
37 Forest

The problem now comes in finding a balance between what I find fun and what my opponents find fun. I have found a very good way of working this out. For the most part you want to exercise “the golden rule”; you don’t want to do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. For example there are some very oppressive cards in this Zedruu list that prevent your opponent from doing anything:

[draft]Ajani Vengeant
Decree of Annihilation[/draft]

And of course you can’t talk about letting everyone have fun without talking out the following two cards. If you’re planning on making a deck that can be fun for any play group you can’t put these in.

[draft]Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sensei’s Divining Top[/draft]

What all this means is that I enjoy playing competitive decks, and this is fine until I play them in an environment with a lot less competitive players. What I’ve learn from this is that I really just want a deck that is both competitive and fair. I decided that the Omnath deck was definitely a step in the right direction, and that avoiding blue cards helped kept me away from uninteractive situations and degeneracy.

After a lot of thought I decided to go with a deck that I’d been planning on building since the spoilers for Battle for Zendikar. My Omnath deck was getting a very angry update.

[draft]Omnath, Locus of Rage[/draft]

Being green and red I knew that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for making something degenerate and oppressive instead it would be a ‘fair’ deck in that sense that I would play creatures and hit things instead of just combo’ing off in one turn.

 

Omnath, Locus of Rage

Creatures

Omnath, Locus of Rage (0)

Elvish Mystic (0)

Birds of Paradise (0)

Llanowar Elves (0)

Dragonmaster Outcast (0)

Sakura-Tribe Elder (0)

Abzan Beastmaster (0)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (0)

Farhaven Elf (0)

Burnished Hart (0)

Reclamation Sage (0)

Wood Elves (0)

Courser of Kruphix (0)

Drumhunter (0)

Oracle of Mul Daya (0)

Spellbreaker Behemoth (0)

Purphoros, God of the Forge (0)

Caterwauling Boggart (0)

Nylea, God of the Hunt (0)

Xenagos, God of Revels (0)

Acidic Slime (0)

Wurmcoil Engine (0)

Soul of the Harvest (0)

Rampaging Baloths (0)

Steel Hellkite (0)

Dragonlord Atarka (0)

Balefire Dragon (0)

Giant Adephage (0)

Avenger of Zendikar (0)

Scourge of Kher Ridges (0)

Terastodon (0)

Craterhoof Behemoth (0)

Genesis Hydra (0)

Instants and Sorceries

Hull Breach (0)

Mizzium Mortars (0)

Rampant Growth (0)

Krosan Grip (0)

Beast Within (0)

Kodama’s Reach (0)

Cultivate (0)

Slice in Twain (0)

Explosive Vegetation (0)

Reap and Sow (0)

Harmonize (0)

See the Unwritten (0)

Nissa’s Renewal (0)

Rolling Thunder (0)

Green Sun’s Zenith (0)

Genesis Wave (0)

Animist’s Awakening (0)

Artifacts

Sol Ring (0)

Wayfarer’s Bauble (0)

Journeyer’s Kite (0)

Sword of the Animist (0)

Sword of Feast and Famine (0)

Birthing Pod (0)

Enchantments

Fires of Yavimaya (0)

Warstorm Surge (0)

Planeswalkers

Domri Rade (0)

Nissa, Worldwaker (0)

Land

Windswept Heath (0)

Wooded Foothills (0)

Blighted Woodland (0)
Myriad Landscape (0)

Evolving Wilds (0)

Terramorphic Expanse (0)

Kessig Wolf Run (0)

Temple of the False God (0)

Stomping Ground (0)

Taiga (0)

Gruul Guildgate (0)

Rugged Highlands (0)

Temple of Abandon (0)

I decided that I wanted to focus a lot on ramp and landfall so I made it a running theme whilst trying to avoid the landfall cards that will get you too far ahead such as Lotus Cobra.

I made this deck as a competitive but fair deck. This means that I cut a lot of what Commander players like to call ”degenerate” cards, these are cards that 9 out of 10 times, win games as soon as they are played. A good example in these colours is Tooth and Nail, this card lets you search for and play two creatures from your library or hand. A small price to play to put Craterhoof Behemoth into play. Another example would be Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, a creature that messes with your opponents mana.

I separate what I consider to be degenerate cards into four categories:

  1. Cheap and efficient tutors
  2. Infinite combos
  3. Extra turns
  4. Board-wide land destruction

As a general rule when making a deck that you want to be fair for everyone at the table, I would try to limit myself to only one of the four above. So for example my Omnath, Locus of Mana deck has a copy of Tooth and Nail that can find and play Craterhoof Behemoth from anywhere in your deck whilst Zedruu the Greathearted has both Armageddon and Decree of Annihilation which will almost always cause the game to drag on unnecessarily and to the point where everyone just concedes (unfun!).

As you can see from the lists I decided to make my new Omnath, Locus of Rage deck whilst avoiding these as much as possible. I followed my own rule, only including one tutor in the whole deck (Green Sun’s Zenith) and none of the other categories that people I know will consider to be degenerate.

This whole article boils down to what I said at the beginning, that ”fun is relative”. What you enjoy probably won’t be the same as the person sitting next to you. Try to gauge the power level of your playgroup and change your deck to fit that level. If they’re playing Show and Tell on turn 3 to put Omniscience into play then sure, Jace, the Mind Sculptor fits in. On the other hand if your play group is playing Ramirez Depietro as their commander or they’re playing Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded then you should think about swapping that Jace out for Jace, the Living Guildpact.

At the end of the day everyone plays casual Magic formats to have fun, whether it’s with a Spikey Deveri, Empyrial Tactician deck that plays one (or multiple) long solitaire-like turns or a Timmy Surrak Dragonclaw list that plays beefy 5/5’s and tries to beat you up.

Thanks for reading,

Paul Palmer

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