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Joshua’s Commander Corner: An Introduction

Written by Joshua Claytor on . Posted in Casual Magic, Commander

Joshua’s Commander Corner:   An Introduction

Joshua Claytor

Joshua is the current content manager of Legitmtg.com and Puremtgo.com.

I’ve been building Commander decks since Animar, Soul of Elements was a thing.  Granted, I wasn’t around when the format first took off, and was playing Magic to seriously to actually try to care about the format then, but since 2011, I’ve shifted, I still like to play competitively, but it’s on my terms. 

If Standard isn’t any fun, I don’t play it.  The same for Modern, Pauper, and eventually, (because they hadn’t existed at the time) Historic and Pioneer.  Commander is a nice fall back for me. 

When I first got sick, I waited a full two years before selling my collection, I couldn’t have people in the house, I couldn’t go visit, and there was no point in me having cards anymore, so I had Nate (the owner of this here website) swing by and pick up everything I had for a couple of thousand dollars.  Gone were all the Standard decks I had built, if I recall the correctly the play set of everything from Dragon’s Maze back to the beginning of that Standard was gone. 

It hurt to get rid of my first two Commander decks. I had memories tied to those decks of picking them up from Owensboro, learning the format, buying new stuff for them, and driving back home to share them with the person I was with.  

I don’t know why, but every time I feel like building a collection again, I start off with Commander.  The next time I bought back in, Daretti, Scrap Savant was where I started.  I picked up a Teferi, Temporal Archmage deck and kinda just spun my wheels.  I still couldn’t play, and I still couldn’t have people over, so those eventually got broken up and sold. 

2015 was for sure going to change it.  I’ve been working here for a long time, and the credit had started to mount, so I ordered one of each deck, but remembered about two months later that I had no one to play with.  I would keep buying these precons, making changes, get sadder that I had done this for nothing, and then sell them.  I eventually stopped getting excited by the precons and the new cards and stopped buying them.

That has recently changed with the Commander 2020 release.  Five theme decks came out and became shells of what I wanted, and then two more theme decks came out with Zendikar Rising, and another two more decks with Commander Legends. 

The year of the Commander has been good. 

I am currently rebuilding my collection.  I am working on Pioneer, Modern, Commander and Pauper decks.  I am sticking with non rotating formats because I get the most play out of them, the costs of keeping up with rotating formats is lower, and while I am still not able to leave the house to play, with the help of therapy, I am finally able to have visitors over. 

I have goals, I want to play in local events again, I may never go further than Louisville or Owensboro, and chasing the professional scene is a thing I am not willing to spend a weekend on anymore, but building these decks helps me progress to these.  Ten Pioneer decks, seven Modern decks, 10 Pauper decks and 16 Commander decks are what I am currently working on now, and these things may not be the best decks (I mean really, I am going to make Enduring Ideal work in Modern), but they are the types of decks I like to play.  Competitive, but weird enough to get some serious side-eye whenever I cast something. 

With Commander Legends and CommandFest coming up, I have also embraced MTGO again for Commander play.  It’s not perfect, but it allows me to cheaply figure out what I want to put together in paper.  Most of the decks I have now are just super casual for fun decks, really, just no different than upgraded precons.  Hell, I am building 5 different Mutate decks, just because I love the mechanic so much, and because the comic book art for these cards are things I had multiples of.  I wanted to show them off, and because I had them on hand, building themes made it much easier.  I’ll talk about those later. 

Right now, as it stands, I have three decks complete, and they are just upgraded precons of the Zendikar Rising decks and of the Sultai Commander 2019 deck.  That should give me plenty of stuff to work with for CommandFest, and I am excited about that, but I want to get these decks completed and use Commander as the introduction to Magic for my son. 

He has been resistant to Magic so far, and I don’t blame him.  Video Games are lot more fun, more action packed, and a lot easier to get in to. 

This is what I have completed.  The links to these decks just go to the precon decks.  I am planning on writing about them and recording some video of them in action on MTGO as well. 

Upgraded Sneak Attack
Upgraded Land’s Wrath.
Upgraded Faceless Menace.

Those of course are the two Zendikar Rising decks and the 2019 deck that I randomly picked up two copies of last week from LegitMTG.com. 

Up next are upgraded copies of the Commander Legends decks, Armed for Combat and Reap the Tides.  Long term decks are being planned now for Rick, Steadfast Leader, Glenn, the Voice of Calm, Daryl, Hunter of Walkers and Michonne, Ruthless Survivor

I’m not building a deck for Negan, despite him having what was probably the coolest card.  If I am going to call out sex pests in the Magic community, I’m certainly not going to play with a card depicting a rapist.  This, I feel was a huge misstep from Wizards of the Coast in regards to the Secret Lair. 

I know a lot of Commander players hate The Walking Dead Secret Lair, I’ve embraced it.  The property was created by a Kentuckian, it’s something I have enjoyed with my family, and while the comic has ended and the show is getting there, despite no longer watching it, I was excited to buy the Secret Lair. 

I have the following decks in various states of built, they are not quite there yet, but are missing a small amount of cards. Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt is a sweet Infect build and used a lot of the stuff from the Mardu 2020 deck.  Illuna, Apex of Wishes, is a neat mutate beatdown deck, almost in the style of an Animar, in which we are aiming for high end Eldrazi threats.  Nethroi, Apex of Death is my reanimator deck.  Vadrok, Apex of Thunder is my free spell deck, taking full advantage of the Time Spiral suspend spells.  Brokkos, Apex of Forever is almost a redundant deck, playing very close to Illuna.  All of these decks took a lot from the 2020 decks, mainly the mana bases!  About the only thing I am truly missing from these decks is a Land Destruction deck.  Maybe Mina and Denn, Wildborn will fill that void, but I am not sure I want to build a seventeenth deck (I’m going to build it, but I am not going to be happy about it, I am running out of storage space in my little Magic area). 

I fell in love however with Gavi, Nest Warden.  Cycling was the mechanic that got me on to the Pro Tour, and anything that can support me playing a copy of Fluctuator is bound to be a good time for me. 

Maybe not my opponents, but for sure for me. 

My Gavi deck is of course a cycling deck, but it wins with Mass Polymorph

The 2020 decks of course, gave us alternate Commanders, much like the other products have.  They gave us partners in these and Shabraz, the Skyshark and Brallin, Skyshark Rider gave me a third Jeskai deck to work on.  I didn’t want it be free spells or to be cycling, so I went with a Wheel (well, discard and draw, I’m not spending that kind of money on a Wheel of Fortune.). 

What I plan on doing here is presenting the decks, the changes I made for the upgraded Commander decks and will briefly go over them and the card choices I made.  Some of them are budget, some of them are lower power, some of them are higher power and expensive.  These sixteen decks are going to be worked on for a while, and have been added to MTGO, as a way for me to present gameplay of them as well. 

I am excited to share these with you, and excited to finally get to take part in a CommandFest, even if it took a global pandemic for me to do so.

The next time I am here, I am going to go over one of my CommandFest decks, so hopefully we’re going to have a blast with that! 

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