I am not a competitive player. There, I said it. For those of you that clicked this link hoping to look at a decklist to leave your playgroup in shambles with you cackling madly over the burning rubble, I just saved you several minutes of your time. You are welcome.
I am also not a casual player. Yeah, I said that too. That second group out there that was wanting a wacky, random deck to shuffle up and play with no rhyme, no reason, no sound and no fury. I just protected you from the same multiparagraphic fate. You too, are welcome.
I, like Feldon (the guy with the cane) follow a Third Path. I am a philosophical player. I believe that every deck you build is your own personal song, with each card a single note building to whatever crescendo you intend to perform for your audience; the opponent. Now, with Commander you have multiple songs all playing at once with different composers all vying for that standing ovation. That ‘ovation’ you get can come in many forms, most often it is recollecting with your friends when you or someone in your group pulled a rabbit out of their hats, stealing victory from the clutches of defeat; but more often, it is how one player did something that no one expected. Something that elicited genuine surprise from the table and left them wowed.
Those are the moments that I love about this game and that is the deck I want to share with you all today. This brew is not about winning. It is about having fun. Every card has a function and a purpose, just like a great orchestra needs all of its musical components; this deck utilizes everything to pull off a great song.
And it is absolutely not about winning.
In fact, there is no win condition at all.
I present to you: The Phelddagriff Philaharmonic.
The Phelddagriff Philaharmonic
(Note from the manager: The deck is now up to date!)
I do not believe in forcing a deck by picking a commander just so you can stay in your comfort zone. Be that picking a red commander just so you can burn a player out anymore than selecting a black one just so that two card infinite combo you love can be done. To me, that goes against the whole idea of this format. You are building an army, with your commander as the leader. Therefore, it would stand to reason that the soldiers in that army follow the basic tenets of that leader. It is supposed to enable games that are long. Journeys you can share with your friends over food and drink. Something you can talk about and reminisce over, games that make you become a better, more imaginative player. That is the idea behind this deck.
As you can see, there are no win conditions whatsoever. Unless you put your own vows on your own creatures, but really; where is the fun in that? Phelddagrif to me, is not someone that wants to fight. He is a big, fat, sometimes flying; hippo. If I were a fat purple hippo I would not want to fight either. Instead, I would rejoice in giving away things to all my friends and that is exactly what he does.
Playing the deck
A strong and diverse mana base is key to helping Phelddagrif get in the air. You really want to do your best to lay down as much land as possible early in the game while still helping your opponents develop their own land base through cards like Tempt with Discovery, Oath of Scholars and Weathered Wayfarer. Once you get a good position with your mana, then you strike.
By developing the best pillow fort you possibly can. Hiding behind wall after wall after wall. With cards like Windborn Muse, Norn’s Annex, Propaganda and the like; eventually your foes will decide you are not worth the extra effort it takes to kill you off straightaway and instead focus on opponents that do not force them to invest so much to get a few points of damage in.
Phase two is laying down cards to disrupt one player while assisting another players plans. Teferi’s Puzzle Box is fantastic at forcing control decks to reevaluate their priorities as it switches up their hand every turn while at the same time, allowing players that are not drawing the cards they are hoping for into possibly lucking into what they are. Then, using enchantments like Revelation to ensure fairness all around so no one can hide what they have up their own sleeves. Then you have Humility, effectively shutting down just about every creature most players have on the board, turning that threatening Eldrazi into a cuddly little 1/1 that couldn’t annihilate a fly.
Phase three involves you continuing to play cards that allow more and more card draw for you and your friends while still cycling through your deck for the only card Phelddagrif has that can end the game: Divine Intervention. Stall for a few more turns and end the game in a tie. No one wins. No one loses.
Much of the rest of the deck is devoted to protecting not just you and your own resources, but your opponents. Because if they drop, then that makes it a lot easier to finish you off too. So it is very important to keep as many players still standing as possible throughout the game. This is assisted through Forbidden Orchard, Congregate, Cowardice, Mnemonic Nexus and Second Sunrise. Working from several different variations, you can easily reset the game state from almost any board wipe. Plus, the look on a dejected opponents face that just had their hard-earned land wiped away by a late game Armageddon when they see Second Sunrise happen is heartwarming, to say the least of the same look of frustration on the guy that just played it.
That being said, there are some glaring weaknesses that Phelddagrif possesses; namely, staying power. You really do rely on politics and the ability to make friends. Helping every player finish the game together while enforcing fair play and even footing is incredibly important. This is not a deck for one on one commander and is semi-successful in a three player format. The other issue is the same problem any multicolored commander will encounter and that is the dreaded mana screw. In order to ensure survival, you really do want to aim for an opening hand of either some land fetch spells or an even spread of land.
I have played this deck in pods of as many as 7 players and managed to draw the game out over at least 4-5 hours while still keeping everyone alive, including myself. Now, if that is not a beautiful song; I do not know what is.
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