A Tricky Online Deck

Posted in Command Tower on November 12, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Building a Commander deck is a constant challenge for me. I love variety and trying new experiences, which is why I have some self-imposed rules to make things interesting:

  • Pull from a pre-sorted set of cards set aside specifically for Commander. My "Commander Box" might be missing some esoteric options, but with a limited selection I can process from base idea to completed deck much faster.
  • Use only one copy of any card across all decks. This means only one deck gets Sol Ring, or Damnation, or Solemn Simulacrum. Powerful cards fit into almost any deck, but using a wider variety of options leaves room for less-used alternatives and wackier choices.
  • Kill my darlings. The more successful and powerful a deck feels, the more likely I am to take it apart to repurpose some of its pieces. Good decks are still the goal, but once a deck gets "solved," it's time for a new puzzle to sort through.

Roilmage's Trick | Art by Johann Bodin

The real challenge for me isn't in crafting something new—I cranked out an Oloro, Ageless Ascetic deck the day before traveling to Gen Con this year—but working up what I want to try out next. There are hundreds of choices for commanders and plenty of themes I haven't tried yet, so I've been apt to wait until the fancy strikes because there's significant effort in physically pulling together cards on a whim.

Fortunately, friends can provide clever solutions.

After PAX Prime this year, I was able to catch up with Trick Jarrett, Global Communications Manager for Magic and someone I'm privileged to call a friend. He had a brilliant idea: create a Commander deck together, assisted by the community, then quickly iterate on it.

Crafting a new deck with digital help wasn't just about asking online, but using one of the ways I get to play with Trick during the rest of the year when I'm thousands of miles away: Magic Online. There's plenty of benefits to building Commander online—whether you're collaborating or working alone—and it made perfect sense to mix the two.

Iterating a paper Commander deck is even more time-consuming than building. Shuffling, traveling to meet with friends, and then sorting the deck back out to adjust how things look is awesome but a clear time commitment. Magic Online meant not only could we quickly assemble the deck, we could also find players fast to give it a spin. Rapidly going from no deck at all to a relatively tuned option in just a couple hours sounded like science gone mad.

This is the result of that successful experiment.

The Electric Sidisi

The start of the process was simple: asking what commander we should build around.

Several options rolled in, but it was Sidisi, Brood Tyrant that took both our interests. I've played with and against Pro Tour Historian Brian David-Marshall's version and really enjoyed how it played around with creatures and the graveyard. I rarely build with blue in decks, so the opportunity to throw some Islands around was a rare treat.

From there, we descended into choosing cards back and forth with a few suggestions woven in from the community.

In the end, this was the bucket of fun we created:

Magic Online Sidisi, by Trick, Stybs, and the Community

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
99 Cards

The theme of the deck is exactly what Sidisi, Brood Tyrant asks for: let's mill away cards, hitting some creatures to make Zombie tokens along the way, and take advantage of the value that provides.

Our picks fueled different angles and highlighted our personal philosophies on the format.

Together our hits worked out well:

Although we found some success, we also found our pain points. We needed more blue mana, and we needed more mana in general to enter the battlefield untapped. Mana was the biggest, most obvious pain point at first, and to ease that we swapped out the Ravnica block bounce lands for options that better suited our needs: Command Tower, Reflecting Pool, and an Island.

Now, with Battle for Zendikar and Commander (2015 Edition) out (as of tomorrow!), there are even more opportunities to adjust our mana and options:

For now, this is the pile of fun I'm iterating on as soon as Commander (2015 Edition) pops up on Magic Online:

Magic Online Sidisi, Stybs Style

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
99 Cards

Try Turning It Off Then On Again

Trick will make his own changes, similarly replacing more of my picks than his own. The fun I had quickly working on the deck was outstanding. Between swapping cards in and out in an instant, getting in a game on the fly, and pinging friends for fast feedback, constructing this deck made the deck-building experience better than it had been in a long time.

Of course, I've known for a while the experience would end up successful—just like last time I did it.

You can follow along with some of the adjustments online or take a version of the deck to the digital frontier yourself. (Every decklist on DailyMTG has the super handy Magic Online button to import it!) Just be sure to make use of how connected the deck can be.

This week's question is specifically for those "Magic Online meets Sidisi, Brood Tyrant" types out there: What would you change in our Magic Online Sidisi, Brood Tyrant deck?

  • Feedback via email in English.
  • 300-word limit to explain the card(s) and reasons.
  • Sample decklist (does not count against word limit).
  • Decklists should be formatted with one card per line with just a leading number, such as "3 Mountain"—just a space (no "x" or "-") between the number and the card name, without subtotals by card type. Submissions that don't follow this rule will be ignored.
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column).

Making Zombies, casting sweet spells, and working with you to make all that even better isn't just a noble goal: Whether I travel or stick around home to help with my own little Saproling tokens, it's nice to get a quick game of Commander in either way. Magic Online has been there when I needed it, and I increasingly find myself needing it more.

I just need our decks to keep up with the neighbors, too.

Join us next week when we dive into the entirety of Commander (2015 Edition) proper. See you then!

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