Personalizing Commander 2019: Merciless Rage

Posted in How to Build on August 20, 2019

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.

Persistence pays off, both in life and when you're playing Magic. The latest new cards and decks with Commander (2019 Edition) open up new ways to play Commander, and starting with a complete 100-card stack makes it easy to get started.

After getting a sense of what you do and don't like about a new deck comes the hard part: making the changes to craft something more your own. Upgrading your shiny new Commander 2019 deck puts the power in our hands now.

Blood and Thunder

Merciless Rage

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Anje Falkenrath
Planeswalker (1)
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
100 Cards

"Merciless Rage" is a deck with one obvious goal: attack opponents and push through to keep the damage flowing. There are three black-red commanders to choose from in the deck, and you'll want to choose which one you're going all-in on.

Anje Falkenrath

As this deck is built with the madness mechanic in mind, Anje Falkenrath draws a ton of potential from having plenty of those cards to use. The biggest roadblock is that there just aren't as many madness cards as you may want, but there are ways around that.

  • Muck Drubb
  • Death Denied
  • Empty the Catacombs
  • Garna, the Bloodflame
  • Macabre Waltz
  • Azra Oddsmaker
  • Stromkirk Captain

Reusing your creatures with madness by getting them back into your hand later can fuel your Anje engine. Death Denied and Empty the Catacombs can both refill your hand, while Garna, the Bloodflame is excellent when you have her ready for a less-than-favorable combat step (or battlefield sweeper like Damnation).

Macabre Waltz is a nice gem, as you can get back two creatures and immediately cast one for its madness cost, keeping you moving if Anje isn't around. And Muck Drubb is one of the few excellent madness creatures not already bundled in the deck.

And you don't have to focus solely on making Anje the best commander possible. Azra Oddsmaker is another madness enabler that can fuel your hand if you have a clear attack available, and Stromkirk Captain plays well with all the Vampires (including Anje) already in the deck.

Chainer, Nightmare Adept

Chainer, Nightmare Adept is a fun throwback to the original Chainer, Dementia Master from Torment. I had the opportunity to say a lot more about the new Chainer previewing it, but the main thrust of what you can do is playing creatures from your graveyard for fun and profit. Even better, if you discard a creature card to Chainer, you can use that ability to cast it from the graveyard instead and add haste to almost anything in your arsenal.

  • Buried Alive
  • Animate Dead
  • Archfiend of Ifnir
  • Last One Standing
  • Final Parting
  • Reanimate
  • Warstorm Surge

Chainer plays well with setting up your graveyard, like with Buried Alive and Final Parting, but that also means opponents see it coming. Standalone reanimation effects, such as Animate Dead and Reanimate, ensure you can get back not only the best in your graveyard but also other players' (which they may not realize, given Chainer's limitation to your own).

Archfiend of Ifnir is a solid value-add to Chainer, being both easy to cast at five mana and piling up -1/-1 counters every time you use Chainer's ability. And if you keep other discard sources in the deck, it gets even better. Warstorm Surge is the flip side, benefiting Chainer's "replay a creature from your graveyard" ability but also supercharging standalone reanimation if you add them.

And the underrated battlefield sweeper, Last One Standing, is easier for you to recover from than others with all the reanimation you can play.

Greven, Predator Captain

Greven, Predator Captain is a divergent commander from the other two in the deck. Instead of bringing creatures back or enabling madness, Greven wants to cash in a creature for cards and pumping itself up. While he can certain become an impressive attacker, it's the ability to draw a pile of cards that makes him appealing to play with.

  • Lightning Skelemental
  • Ball Lightning
  • Ichorid
  • Combat Celebrant
  • Act of Treason
  • Filth
  • Rotting Regisaur

High-power, low-toughness creatures turn into a massive amount of cards with Greven. Lightning Skelemental and Ball Lightning can deal some damage, but they may better serve you by drawing seven cards. Ichorid is a smaller bump for your hand but easier to get back every turn if you want it, while Act of Treason (or any other similar card) can not only take away a great creature from an opponent but cash it in with Greven if you play it before combat.

Of course, if you want to hit hard with Greven, you can do that too. Rotting Regisaur can become seven cards for you or just a giant attacker early in the game. Filth isn't going to be a big hitter, but swampwalk is excellent for helping make your creatures unlockable (especially alongside Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth).

Combat Celebrant is an excellent balance between the two paths for Greven we've looked at, both providing a solid number of cards for little life loss and playing nice with combat—as you can attack with both the Celebrant and Greven to get two combat steps while sacrificing the Celebrant too!

Battle Planning

Choosing the final commander for your deck is just the first step to identifying the best ways to update your deck. The second is shoring up general weaknesses the deck has.

  • Talisman of Indulgence
  • Rakdos Signet
  • Wayfarer's Bauble
  • Lightning Greaves
  • Swiftfoot Boots
  • Vedalken Orrery
  • Bolas's Citadel

Popular artifacts for mana, Equipment, and value are an easy way to smooth out playing the deck:

And it's worth looking at the lands in the deck as well. Any aggressive strategy doesn't want to wait for lands to untap on a later turn, so there's plenty of opportunity to upgrade to lands that won't slow us down.

Checking out what content creators in the community are doing with the latest decks, like The Command Zone on YouTube and aggregation sites like EDHREC, will provide an overwhelming number of cards to consider swapping in. It's often much harder to choose what to take out.

Looking from the top down and asking a few questions about the card in the deck can make that winnowing process easier for you:

  • Does this card help my commander shine? Playing up the theme and advantage your commander provides can be more valuable than something generic, like Bedevil. Remember, you can play your commander repeatedly each game!
  • Is this the same effect as something that costs more mana already in the deck? It can be tempting to play the most powerful cards you can, but those often have higher mana costs than similar but weaker versions of the effect. Vilis, Broker of Blood is powerful, but Greed is more durable and can come down many turns sooner to go to work for you.
  • Is this a stronger version of a similar card already in the deck? Rakdos Guildgate has obvious drawbacks, but so does Scaretiller. If I'm considering Blood Crypt and Burnished Hart, I have easier choices of what to take out for them.
  • Do I like this card way more than another one? Commander is tailored to giving players room to express themselves in their decks. If you really like one card and have a least favorite in the deck, it's the easiest switch you'll ever make!

Any process to change up a deck will depend on what you want to accomplish with it, and ensuring you focus on what matters most to you will keep you on target for changing things up.

Iterate Again

Once you make a few (or many!) changes, you'll find news ideas and thoughts by playing it again. Thankfully, there are always new Magic cards on the horizon, like Throne of Eldraine this fall to give you more to consider when you're ready to update again.

Commander 2019 releases August 23. Are you ready to make a deck your own?

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