Whispers from the World

Posted in NEWS on June 19, 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.

In multiplayer games, honesty is not always the best policy.

Wind Dancer | Art by Cynthia Sheppard

While Magic isn't necessarily known for its cutthroat ways with words and promises, drafting Conspiracy several times has left me with a strong reminder of how deception and intrigue—one way of playing multiplayer politics—can shape a victory.

On Fiora, those atop the social standing are the new legendary creatures shared with us. Unique, colorful, and full of potential, they play against each other—and it is much more than that. For us, though, it is just a game, and Commander is one format where we can play it out between them.

At least, that's what we've planned to do.

Each one is different from the others in ways that are hard to quantity: Different abilities useful in different ways for different reasons, all encouraging different decks of different colors. It's a strange mix, but an oddly reassuring one. And you've taken to all of them in their own ways.

The Darkness Beneath

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden is an interesting commander, and I'm not the first to feel that. With the right mana and rigging of the deck, Grenzo can be an efficient way to cheat amazing creatures onto the battlefield. John took this well-traveled road:

After the five new legendary creatures from Conspiracy were revealed, I was immediately drawn to Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. Grenzo does what few cards do: care about the bottom of the library. In my build, I utilize a card that doesn't really see the light of day, Soldevi Digger. This one card allows me to put creatures into my graveyard and recycle them for later Grenzo's use. Plus, with the amount of sacrifice outlets in the deck, I should have plenty of ways to bring back fun creatures like Nekrataal or Solemn Simulacrum.

—John

John's Grenzo

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Marchesa, the Black Rose is more typical of what you might expect in a commander for Commander. Her ability to retain—and grow—minions with +1/+1 counters through death is exactly the type of bargain you want in a world of Supreme Verdict and Planar Cleansing.

Returning from beyond is a tough feat, and Marchesa pulls it off with ease, since it seems as though the creatures never really perished. Opponents should beware if you wield her power.

Zane knows this well:

The legendary that I am now planning on building a deck around, but completed the decklist before Conspiracy was even fully previewed, is Marchesa, the Black Rose. She is literally the first creature that I saw and immediately wanted to make my commander. The only other card that came close was Kresh the Bloodbraided, but I had known of him before I knew of the Commander format. She does so much and even protects your entire board through her final ability.

I built Marchesa to encompass all of her skill. The most notable cards for the deck are Necropolis Regent, Oona's Blackguard, Taurean Mauler, and Unspeakable Symbol. I brought in Elixir of Immortality and Exquisite Blood as safeguards, mainly against killing myself. Overall, it is a very fast deck, a bit too fast for Commander, but still very fun.

—Zane

Zane's Marchesa

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Marchesa, the Black Rose
Planeswalker (1)
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
99 Cards

The work I've seen her put in Conspiracy Draft makes me wonder just how good she will be in Commander. I'm looking forward to finding out when I fight her first.

No King Rules Forever

Brago, King Eternal isn't a man of mischief, but his ability on the battlefield encourages it. Bouncing things out of and back onto the battlefield is a popular approach, and we've seen Roon of the Hidden Realm decks before.

Brago is a little different than the legendary sigiled Rhino that can stay back to make the magic work. Hitting someone with Brago unleashes a torrent of power—a flicker of might—and it should put fear in your opponents.

Mike took quite a liking to the immortal ruler and his method of madness:

I've really enjoyed Conspiracy, and while I would normally lean toward commanders in Marchesa's or Grenzo's colors, Brago, King Eternal just opens up so many possibilities. In the following deck, he plays all kinds of flickering tricks. He bounces Illusions of Grandeur with Rhox Faithmender out to provide a steady flow of life. He moves Control Magic and its variants wherever desired to ensure that I always control the best creature on the board. Master of Waves just keeps making more Elementals if Dictate of Heliod or another mass buff is out. And most interesting, in my mind, is Brago's ability to reset cumulative upkeep costs. Welcome back, Mystic Remora and Sustaining Spirit.

—Mike

Mike's Brago

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Brago, King Eternal
Planeswalker (1)
1 Venser, the Sojourner
100 Cards

With Vintage Masters in full swing, Brago is proving his worth in surprising ways.

Empowering him in Commander is something that should terrify anyone who relies on blockers and Wrath of God to keep enemies at bay. Brago is much more cunning than what those basic deterrents provide.

Polished Brilliance

The choice of Conspiracy commander I'm most interested in is Muzzio, Visionary Architect. A less-threatening artifact-focused commander that can still slip incredible things onto the battlefield is an exciting prospect, and Muzzio deliver opportunity in spades.

Alex, too, found the allure of mechanical power too great to ignore, but for different reasons:

After my first-ever Conspiracy Draft I ended up with some awesome cards for existing Commander decks. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden went into my Lyzolda, the Blood Witch "Things Explode From the Graveyard" deck, while Realm Seekers found a home in Vorel of the Hull Clade's "Explosive Growth." I also ended up with a Muzzio, Visionary Architect.

So of course I had to build a Muzzio deck.

I had remembered reading a Command Tower regarding monocolor decks being antithetical to the spirit of the format. While I don't agree, I decided that rather than build a mono-blue deck (what with copy effects, Mind Control spells, and other stereotypically blue shenanigans), I wanted to build a mono-Muzzio deck. I limited my thievery and copy effects to those that involve artifacts. I also wanted to play into the "top of the deck" theme and added multiple cards that helped to set up Muzzio to hit. I wanted to play with a copy of Bident of Thassa, so I added a small token subtheme. I've always enjoyed how Barrin, Master Wizard works with Ichor Wellspring and Mycosynth Wellspring, so this brought me to a small sacrifice suite, which in turn brought in Arcbound creatures. Since this is an artifact deck, I fetched out a small Trinket Mage package as well.

However, this is a Muzzio deck, so I found the cards I had lying about to let me activate Muzzio multiple times a turn. Aphetto Alchemist, Tideforce Elemental, Galvanic Alchemist, and Umbral Mantle all let me power out multiple machines a turn. I was so excited about the first few play-throughs that I went ahead and ordered quite a few more cards to soup up this deck.

—Alex

Alex's Muzzio

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Muzzio, Visionary Architect

I'm excited to see all the Muzio options emerging, and I'll be building my own take throughout the next months. I want a blue deck built to last that doesn't leave me terrified of what my own deck can do. When you're working on a master plan like that, Muzzio is just the start.

Where All Roads Lead

Of course, there's one last legendary creature in Conspiracy: Selvala, Explorer Returned. She's a character for sure, giving other players cards and possibly you some mana and life for your troubles. A sure inclusion for those of you who love Group Hug effects, Selvala will prove herself well alongside Phelddagrif and friends.

Or, as Bobby puts it, behind a wall of Fog:

I'm sure everyone loves doing silly things in Commander, and upon seeing Selvala do amazing things in a Conspiracy draft and subsequently talking about the card with a buddy, I came to the conclusion that I was going to use Selvala as a piece in a (at least to me) very silly deck. And what is silly? Turbo-Fog.

Howling Mine and friends work toward pushing the game forward, and here is where Selvala comes into play. Her activated ability is Temple Bell + Healing Salve + Dark Ritual (or some variation on the number for the lifegain and mana), which seems like a useful commander for a Turbo-Fog deck. A pile of Fog effects in hand help keep the life total high. This being a singleton format, I have to make some questionable Fog choices, but that only adds to the fun.

I do not have a list yet because this is still a concept (the prompt was what deck are we planning to make, after all), but I have some ideas on card choices. I am not too sure if this will be a good deck, but a deck running Sands of Delirium, Felidar Sovereign, and Haze Frog can't be bad, can it?

—Bobby

I'll admit that Selvala isn't as exciting to me as other choices, but I doubt the quiet reception she's earned will last long. Those underrated are often in the best position to strike unexpectedly, and I'm sure we'll see her at work soon.

However, our time for conspiring on such matters is at an end. This week, I have a question that I'm sure will take flight on its own: What are the best Angels in Commander, and why?

  • Feedback via email
  • 300-word limit to explain which Angels, and why
  • 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)

A heavenly host comes in all forms—legendary and otherwise—and it's all of them that I'd like to know your thoughts about. Join us next week when we find an old friend in an angelic flutter.

See you then!