Brilliant!

Posted in Top Decks on May 15, 2014

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.

Some of us have a go-to color in every situation—a color that's always the story we want to tell.


Art by Ryan Pancoast

I'm a bit more mercenary in playing favorites. Depending on the context, I'll play any colors that suit my needs: You can't be too choosey when you're drafting, after all. Even in Commander, I strive to move across the rainbow, constantly trying new commanders in colors I've played the least recently.

For example, I built a deck using every color that's wacky and off-the-wall just for playing with some friends I was catching up with at Grand Prix Minneapolis last week:

Stybs's Atogatog

Planeswalker (1)
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
99 Cards

A streak of vague "mess around with things opponents do and have" backed up by a little land acceleration, Equipment, and removal. It's loose, wildly different every game, and absolutely a blast for me. Mission accomplished.

But hidden in even this colorful deck are clues toward a greater loyalty. There's one color that gets a little extra attention over the others, and finds its way into more Commander decks than I can keep track of.

The section of my Commander Box with the most cards? Green, by a narrow margin over lands.

There's just something appealing to me about the primal power of playing green in Commander. Green gets some of the best ways to accelerate mana, has some of the biggest and baddest creatures in the game, and finds overlaps with themes as disparate as graveyard recursion, token generation, and using tons of enchantments for fun and profit. What can't green do?

I mean, it can even do this:


Bigger, Badder, Bolder

Eureka is the original fatty maker. While Magic's formative years were where spells—instants, sorceries, and artifacts—ruled the battlefield, Eureka was a not-so-subtle nod to what green was supposed to be doing: putting gigantic creatures into play. Force of Nature and Craw Wurm were, generally, larger than anything an opponent could cast.

Force of Nature
Craw Wurm

Today, there are much more powerful, and expensive, permanents to put into play.

Eureka is a card that can do some incredible things in a sixty-card deck, and I'm sure cheating an oversized or off-color monstrosity will happen in Vintage Masters draft. Where I believe Eureka will see the most play is in the multiplayer world of Commander on Magic Online.

Fortunately, there was no shortage sneaky permanent-dumping you're already up to, starting with Joe.

When it comes to getting things into play, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Primal Surge. I challenged myself when Dragon's Maze came out and built a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck as a Primal Surge build. It does exactly what Ruric Thar should do: plays big creatures and beats face just like any good Gruul lord would. It also includes some ways of sneaking guys into play with Garruk, Caller of Beasts; lands into play with Burgeoning; and, of course... Primal Surge. Casting this in this deck will spill every permanent in the deck into play, but there is no instant-kill unless I hit things in the right order (hitting Ogre Battledriver early in the Surge for example).

Primal Surge

Anyways, here's the deck. I hope you enjoy it. It's proven to be quite fun to play. RURIC THAR SMASH!

—Joe

Joe's Ruric Thar

Planeswalker (1)
1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
Sorcery (1)
1 Primal Surge
Enchantment (2)
1 Burgeoning 1 Gruul War Chant
99 Cards

Joe's deck has no shortage of things to put into play with Eureka, although the "best" Primal Surge decks don't include any nonpermanents other than Primal Surge. Alex has a different process using a similar card: Genesis Wave.

My Kamahl, Fist of Krosa deck tends to make excellent use of Genesis Wave frequently. My personal favorite card to G-Wave into is Craterhoof Behemoth. Craterhoof tends to hit with plenty of Forests, which allows me to further amp up my board. If I'm particularly lucky I have an overwhelming stampede in my hand, which tends to let me swing for lethal. If I don't get the Forests, or don't have overwhelming stampede, I can usually swing for a ton of damage regardless. If Kamahl's on the field, I can animate my army and further pump up my guys. It's a fun way to surprise-kill opponents.

Genesis Wave

—Alex

Alex's Kamahl


Sneaking around with Overrun-on-a-stick is one way to get some value going, and Genesis Wave is something that always terrifies me when it's cast in a game. Other cards that tip me off that are shenanigans afoot are Aluren, Hibernation's End, and Wild Pair. As this unnamed reader shared, no good comes from such powerful ways to cheat things onto the battlefield:

Regarding your request for favorite permanents to sneak on the battlefield:

The mad scientist here. When I'm not building Rube Goldberg death machines around Sliver Queen, I'll make an actual Sliver deck that's green-dominant and likes to accelerate things onto the battlefield. I have four pieces of green tech for this: Aluren, Hibernation's End, Lurking Predators, and Wild Pair.

Wild Pair is the preferred thing to fetch with tutors, and its favorite target sneaks onto the battlefield when Sliver Queen comes onto the battlefield: Sliver Legion. Thassa and Pharika also pair off nicely, as do Purphoros and Kruphix, if the Gods happen to be active as creatures when they enter the battlefield.

Wild Pair
Sliver Legion

Aluren's preferred Slivers to drop on the battlefield at instant speed (and for free) are Crystalline Sliver, Necrotic Sliver, and Harmonic Sliver. But a surprise Mirror Entity or Pharika, God of Affliction is also fun.

Hibernation's End is very useful in this deck. Among options not already mentioned for it are: Virulent Sliver at one; Amoeboid Changeling at two (Gods like to be Slivers, too!); Athreos, God of Passage at three; Purphoros, God of the Forge at four; Kruphix, God of Horizons at five; and Megantic Sliver at six.

Aluren
Hibernation's End

Sliver Queen

Planeswalker (2)
1 Domri Rade 1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
99 Cards

Ultimately, Eureka is just one of many ways playing green means getting mean with permanents. What sets Eureka apart from so many other cheaty ways to get around mana costs is that it lets everyone in on the action. (Insert Phelddagrif and some Group Hug mention here.)

But for decks planning on a party for permanents, sharing isn't something you should be caring about.

And Now For Something Completely the Same

While I'm an unabashed fan of Forests in Commander decks, Islands often make me uncomfortable. There're only so many times I can see Snow-Covered Islands help Arcum Dagsson do really powerful things with a few artifacts before the reflex to check out of the game kicks in.

But since we spent a week looking at my favorite archetype—"cheaty" green decks—it's only fair to flip things on its head: What is your favorite blue commander for Commander, and what artifacts do you use with it? (And why?)

  • Feedback via email
  • 300 word limit to explain why you set aside an entire deck
  • Sample decklist is requested (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)

While I can't promise to ever try a busted blue deck myself, sharing how Commander aficionados who love them handle such decks is a bridge we'd have to cross sooner or later.

Join us next week when we unlock the power of a new machine. See you then!

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