focus on decks

ileuadd-deactivated20151007  asked:

Hi! I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about your 'getting to know you' spread for a new deck? It probably sounds silly but my new deck feels a bit 'reluctant' compared to my previous one, if that makes sense, and I was wondering if you had any pointers 😊

Hello! First off, you don’t sound silly at all. Some decks, just like some people, are a little shy or reticent when they meet someone and need a prompt to open up. Which is where Deck Interviews, like my Getting to Know You spread, come in. 

The standard deck interview, which I first came across quite a few years ago, is a six card draw. However, as I’ve worked I’ve expanded on that and my current spread is a nine draw. Yes, this is because I’m quite attached to the magical significance of 3x3 but also because I’m one of those people who can’t resist tinkering to make things personal. 

Caveat at this point to say everyone should please feel free to change this in anyway that feels right to you.

So, the spread itself:

The five cards in the bottom row focus solely on the deck:

1. What is your nature? Basically tell me about yourself, give me an idea of your character.

2. What are your strengths? Tell me what type of readings you’re going to excel at.

3. What do you like doing best? Which may at first glance look like a repeat of question 2, but it isn’t. I have observed that, again like people, some decks may not always enjoy doing the thing they are best at - I’m brilliant at maths but I get much more joy out of reading tarot and writing (which I’m good at but not as good as I am at maths).

4. What are your weaknesses? Tell me what type of readings you’re going to struggle with.

5. What do you not like doing? Again, like people, the thing your deck might like least may not correspond to what it is weakest at.

The three cards in the middle row focus on the immediate relationship between you and the deck:

6. How do you feel about me? (no explanation needed)

7. What do you think I need to learn? Tell me what you’ve come into my life to teach me/help me understand.

8. How can I work to achieve that? Tell me what you want us to focus on first.

The final card on the top row is looking ahead at the relationship between you and the deck:

9. Where do you see us going together? Tell me which path we’re on, in this journey we’re about to take together!

I hope that helps. If you do use it, or create your own deck interview spread from this, please do share the results!

Cryptic Commander #7: The Talrand Principle

The very first Cryptic Commander talked about Insidious Will; and, at the time, I mentioned that I was interested in doing a piece focused entirely on using counterspells in Commander. Well, the time has come. Let’s talk about Counterspells.

Counterspells can be a bit of a sore subject in Commander. There are a good number of people who think they’re boring, that they’re against the spirit of the format (a bit of a non-argument in my opinion since Commander isn’t just one thing), or, the age old argument, they’re just plain not fun to play against. I could get into the merits of these individual arguments, but I feel like that wouldn’t get to the heart of the issue people seem to have with counterspells: Counterspells keep people from doing what they want to do. It’s true, that’s how they’re designed. It’s a part of the game, and I think that’s fine in moderation. Having answers available in a color that doesn’t have certain removal options (ie. artifacts, enchantments…basically anything that isn’t a creature) is valuable for the game…but there is a bit of a problem. What happens when people take things too far?

A good number of you have probably played against the deck I’m about to describe. The commander is Talrand, Sky Summoner. Your opponent resolves their general and then passes the turn with mana up for the rest of the game. You attempt to cast a spell on your turn and they counter it, making a drake. They untap, draw, attack for two air, and pass the turn with all of their mana untapped. Rinse and repeat until you can finally resolve something to help you win the game or you die to a swarm of flying drakes. Alternate scenario in which you’re playing with multiple people. The Talrand player sits back and strategically counters the things that will disrupt their game plan of building up a flying army and picking players to death. You try to bide your time and resolve something to turn the tides in your favor, only to be surprised by a Pact of Negation or Force of Will that puts them over the edge and firmly in control of the game. This won’t always happen, but even when the Talrand player doesn’t end up winning, the structure of their deck is capable of shaping the flow of the game. People tend to shy away from casting their spells if they think it’ll just be countered, and if your deck contains a lot of Counterspells, then that fear is usually pretty legitimate. So, how do we play counterspells without ruining other people’s fun?

I don’t think the answer is to just never play counterspells and let people do whatever they want. A healthy amount of fear is good for keeping other players off your back long enough to put your game plan together. Similarly, the other players at the table may look to you as the Blue player to keep someone who has gotten too far ahead from dominating the table. Counterspells have their uses and it is worth including some number of them if you are playing Blue. But, normal old counterspells run the risk of being straight up boring, not to mention they can end up stuck in your hand as another player goes off on the board. So, what types of counterspells do we include. When I wrote the piece on Insidious Will, @sarpadianempiresvol-viii pointed out that flexibility is key. Cards like Cryptic Command, Insidious Will, Izzet Charm, and Ojutai’s Command (by no means an exhaustive list but a good enough start) are usually not dead in your hand because they do more than just counter a spell. Building a deck with counters like these allows you to take their other modes into account and use them for more than just protecting a combo or ensuring your victory. They give you options, and that is one of my favorite things to have in Commander. Yes, they do counter spells, but they are capable of doing so much more than that. Ojutai’s Command gives you the option of focusing your build on smaller value creatures while still giving you an Essence Scatter should you need to counter that pesky Craterhoof Behemoth. Izzet Charm can always be a double loot if the other modes aren’t useful. Cryptic Command kind of speaks for itself, really. You get the idea. There are Counterspells that give you options outside of countering spells.

Like a lot of issues in Commander, the problem with Counterspells often rests squarely on the shoulders of the players who abuse them. On average, I include about 3-5 counterspells in my Blue decks. That varies based on the focus of the deck. For instance, I think Gisa  and Geralf only has 2 (Insidious Will and Soul Manipulation) while Melek, Izzet Paragon has 7 (Most of them being more conventional Counterspells, but Melek kind of needs them to function). Sometimes the counters fit the theme of the deck, like Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk in Roon of the Hidden Realms. And, it is perfectly fine to play no counterspells whatsoever. I’m not going to make you put counterspells in your Blue deck, but hopefully introducing some more interesting options will get you to rethink your stance a bit. That’s all I ask.

And there we have it. A very abridged conversation on playing Counterspells in Commander. I’m pretty pro-Counterspell in moderation, so I can appreciate that mileage may vary for the rest of you. So, where do you fall on the ongoing Counterspell debate? Are they an abomination that has no place in Commander? Are they an essential part of a healthy metagame? Are they fine in moderation? Talk about it, and let me know!

Robert Burrows


My copy of the Slow Holler Tarot arrived today! They wrapped it well for shipping, and the deck and Little White Book were wrapped in a square black cloth imprinted with symbols of the four suits and stars. Because the cards are the result of work by 32 artists there really isn’t a cohesive style to the deck. What ties it together is that its creators “all either have southern ties, identify as queer, or both.” (p. 184 of the Little White Book). Even though the art may not speak to me as much as I like, it was important to me to support queer artists in the development of a Tarot deck. 

Their objective:

We also wanted to move away from the white, patriarchal, old European focus of traditional decks, and to create a deck that queer folks, people of color, and folks with varied gender identities can more readily feel at home with and can more easily see themselves in. Characters are re-imagined, sometimes in new human forms but also as plants, creatures, and natural elements. Many cards int he Slow Holler deck bear new titles that move beyond a gender binary and make room for different experiences of gender. The deck carries the care with which it was created so it can rest in quiet hands, pass from person to person at potlucks, be tucked into altars or held by healers, shared with friends or whatever purpose the deck is called to fulfill. (pp. 184-85) 

I get this, I really do, but this deck arrived in the middle of an unexpected, larger, difficult conversation about gender (and more) that I’m having with several friends and acquaintances. For instance, for a variety of reasons I absolutely despise being labeled “cisgender” although I fit the definition. On the other hand, I fully understand the need for such terminology as we work toward a more inclusive community, so I live with it until the time that…

I probably will not use the Slow Holler Tarot to read for clients for a long time. Instead it will be a deck that I use for myself. My hope is that, over time, it will become an instrument of deeper reflection, healing, and growth.

Slow Holler Tarot © Slow Holler, 2016

Once per turn, during your Main Phase, you can look at 1 face-down card your opponent controls, then return it to its original position.
Can Be Found In: Cybernetic Revolution (CRV-EN006), Starter Deck: Syrus Truesdale (YSDS-EN013), Dark Revelation Volume 4 (DR04-EN006)

The most used effects are pretty much reduced to three categories: Summoning monsters from anywhere the Deck allows it, obtaining or retrieving cards to expand our options, or remove and counter any targets from the opponent. This can be seen in nearly every Deck nowadays, with just some key differences depending of the theme is working along with. Other effects while still present in many builds they usually aren’t the main focus of the Deck, with some exceptions such as dealing damage by effects or excavating cards. The game might have narrowed their options to very fundamental mechanics to setup the field with and confront the opponent, but there are various abilities that can diversify Duels and provide assistance on unusual objectives.

“Patroid” belongs to the Vehicroid archetype, a group of monsters that far before focusing on Fusion Summons provided a diverse list of effects to assist the user in all kinds of roles. “Patroid” might be one of the most harmless in comparison to others, as each of our turns allow us to check a face-down card on the opposite field. This might not be a powerful ability in a time where removal effects and Special Summons are the norm, but “Patroid” might give us some vital information to handle possible threats no matter if are Set monsters or suspicious cards in the opponent’s backrow.

Vehicroids had some decent support, but with the recent improvement of the archetype we can obtain a member like “Patroid” under all sorts of circumstances. Cards like “Mixeroid” and “Megaroid City” allow us to trade a card on the field to look for “Patroid” in return, while others like “Geargiauger” and “Gear Gigant X” will also look for the Vehicroid with their respective abilities. In mid or late game, “Expressroid” and its copies will allow us to retrieve “Patroid” and other Vehicroids by just being summoned, as well “Iron Call” reviving it effectless to work as material for bigger monsters.

Don’t underestimate “Patroid” effect, as although harmless can completely turn arround how we handle entire turns depending of the information we obtain with its assistance. Checking a Set monster allow us to confirm if either has a dangerous effect when flipped or taken down, or simply confirm its DEF is low enough for our monsters to take down without any assistance. Set Spells and Traps are assured to be dangerous, and unless the opponent chains them against the arrival of “Patroid” we can confirm if there’s a devastating effect awaiting for us to play our best cards to counter them. With the expansion of the Extra Deck as well the support arround Fusion Summon Vehicroids has obtained “Patroid” is far from useless when its effect isn’t needed, as can work arround effects like “Iron Call” and “Summoner Monk” to achieve Link and Xyz Summons, or focus on the arrival of “Super Vehicroid - Mobile Base” with the assistance of cards like “Mixeroid” and “Vehicroid Connection Zone”.

Vehicroids are in a very odd position when compared to other archetypes, as besides their focus on expensive but powerful Fusion Summons their members barely shares a main theme in their effects. “Patroid” is no exception, with an effect that might not obtain outstanding outcomes and might be easily replaced by one of many powerful alternatives inside and outside the archetype. However, knowing if a face-down card is a threat for our goals can become vital to save our field out of danger, and with various cards making “Patroid” and easily available material will rarely become a dead card even in the worst situations. “Patroid” might not be one of the strongest Vehicroids available, but has the potential to save entire boards by just revealing a face-down card.

Personal Rating: B-

+ Allow us to check a face-down card on the opposite field
+ Well supported
+ The information we obtain by its effect can potentially save our setups

- Below average stats
- Underwhelming effect compared to many other cards and Vehicroids available

Request: Can I have a Shay x reader where the reader is also an artist? And maybe she doesn’t have a sketchbook and just draws on whatever parchment she can find,so Shay feels like this is his chance to admit his feelings for her?

Your name: submit What is this?

Y/N huffed in annoyance, unable to focus on the deck of the Morrigan, listening to the crew around her sing and laugh while she started making her way to the captain’s cabin. She knocked on the door quickly then opened it, stepping inside of the cluttered almost office area.

Shay looked up after hearing the door open then close, smiling at the girl. “Is my crew driving you mad?” “You know they are, Captain Cormac.” Y/N replied, Shay laughing and motioning for her to come to him. "Tell me about it.” “I’m not telling you anything, you’re the one who scrapped this crew together.” Y/N replied, walking to Shay’s desk, running her hands over the old map that lay on top of it- covering the surface completely. Shay smiled softly and watched the girl, nodding. "Aye. They’re a fine crew, though.” He then said, keeping his eyes on the girl in front of him, her eyes drifting to the map underneath her hands.

“Do you still need this map?” Y/N sheepishly asked, looking at Shay with an old map in her hand. The man only smiled at her, shaking his head. “No. We were finished with it long ago- I don’t know why I kept it. You can use it.” Shay then replied, standing up from the chair at the desk in his captain’s quarters, motioning for Y/N to take his place.

A small ceremony for the two, in a way.

“You know… Normally, I wouldn’t give up my chair so willingly, but… There’s something different about you. It may be because I get to see your pretty face change so fast- like when you mess up a line and your eyebrows furrow together before you huff out a sigh of frustration.” Shay started, grabbing Y/N’s attention as the girl smiled, looking up at him. “You notice all those things, Shay?” She then asked, keeping her smile as her eyes met his. Shay smiled, nodding. "I do, lass. They’re just a few of my favorite things I notice about you when you’re working on a picture. The others are when you get excited about finishing one, then when you realize your hands are covered in ink and you’re just… Frustrated. And now that I have your attention… I think I’ve fallen for you.” Shay then said, watching Y/N for a reaction.

Y/N’s eyes widened in surprise, then she smiled, Shay’s face relaxing.

“Took you long enough to say something, Captain.”

anonymous asked:

so i just bought a tarot deck, but i know i read somewhere that you should try to connect with your deck (by sleeping with it and other stuff). what are some ways one could connect with a new deck?

Hello! Congrats on your new tarot deck! It’s always an awesome feeling. My gods you’re making me want to buy a new deck myself… xD

Firstly, I suggest cleansing it just to make sure any external energies are out of it, like those of people who packaged it or distributed it. You can do this by leaving it out in moonlight, smoke cleansing it, leaving it in a ring of salt with a white candle lit by it… You can use your own energies to expel and push out any other energies that may be in it, and that is a great way to imbue more of your own personal energies into the cards too, which can also be a good way to bond with it!

Shuffle it. Honestly. Just, like, watch a movie or something and shuffle it the whole time you do so. Just having it in your hands and doing something with it will help get your energies into the cards and solidify a bond.

If you can, carrying it with you and keeping it as close to you as possible is good as well. The close proximity can help strengthen the energetic and emotional connections you make with it. I guess this is where the “sleep with it” thing comes in to play too, though I don’t recall hearing that particular piece of advice myself.

Meditating with the deck in your hands can prove beneficial as well, if you are apt at doing so. Hold onto the deck, relax yourself, focus on the deck, and see what you get from it - any images, ideas, “intrusive thoughts” that don’t feel your own, etc.

Doing practice readings with it are a great way to connect to it too. You can do these for yourself - I did a lot of practice readings online for Tumblr people, and let them know I was new and to take what I read with a grain of salt.

Something you can do is try this [Deck Interview Spread] - this can help determine what kind of deck that you have, what it can help you with, what you can learn from working with it, etc. Alternatively, there is this [Getting to Know You Spread]. This can help you figure out how well you will work together, as well, if you’re compatible. Also, just taking the time to get to know it will show that you actually care about the deck itself, and why would it not appreciate that?

Drawing a card a day to see if your deck will have any advice or insight about your own state and how your day may be like is a good option. It will get you used to reading on a regular basis, too, and make you more comfortable doing so.

Along the same line as drawing a card a day is keeping a tarot journal. I see this recommended a lot. Every day, draw a card, and study it. Spend some time looking at it, meditating over it, feeling its energies, etc., and write down what you get. How does the card make you feel? What do you see when you look at the card, and does this draw any questions? Write down the meanings of the card, and explain how they relate to the imagery of the card, and if you completely agree with them or not.

Something to try would be a sigil like “my bonds with my tarot cards are strong” and charge it with your own energies and put the sigil with your tarot deck, in its box, or wherever else you may keep it.

You can’t get to know a new person without some conversation, so, if you don’t feel too weird doing so, try talking to it as you do readings. You can do this mentally, it doesn’t have to be vocally, but I do all my talking to my decks out loud. I talk to my decks all the time - I even kiss Gansey hello and good-bye - and I feel so close with my decks. I thank them after every single reading, and ask the people I read for to do so as well, to show the decks I care about them as more than just objects - they’re my friends and partners. I know that isn’t for everyone though. Christ my sister thought I was crazy for doing it. xD

Honestly, the best way I bonded with my decks was not treating them like just an object, not just a deck of cards, but like a being, a friend, something that had its own personality.

I hope that helps you, and good luck with your new deck! :D

This spread I created for my channeled runic deck, the Kalemun, a series of 72 symbols I received over the past decade in my mystical pursuits, but the spread can easily be used with a Tarot or Lénormand deck… my guides asked me to share. :3

How It Works— You start by cleansing the space in front of you.. you smile at your recipient, or to yourself, and focus on the cosmos… as you will be invoking the presence of ancient, millions of years old entities and wise beings. Focus on benign intention, removing any stress or blockage of the day– deep breaths.

Then, you will shuffle the deck, letting your recipient, or yourself, hold the deck in attentive meditation for a brief moment– they will be praying to the deck for peace, guidance, predictions, information, answers, whatever. Then, you will fan the deck in your hand or on the table, and they will pick one card. This will represent their higher mind, what they’re all about– it’s the 1st card. Then, you will shuffle, focus, and then place the deck on the table, and cut the deck, revealing the card on the bottom of the now halved deck in your hand, that representing their more egotistical nature and darker drives.

These are the first two cards, then you will shuffle again, focus, and cut, arranging the cards in order, reading as the spread intends, minding extrapolations, elementals, and so on. ♥

  1. Higher Self: The Bright Soul Mind.
  2. Sub-Psyche: The Darker Ego Mind.
  3. Fire: The Psyche’s Disposition.
  4. Water: The Method of Response.
  5. Earth: The Responded Action(s).
  6. Air: The Direct Result(s) of the Action(s) Taken By Whom.
  7. Spirit: The Long-term Result(s) of the Action(s) Taken By Whom.
  8. The Confirmation: What Lies Ahead as an Obstacle to Whom.
  9. The Affirmation: What Keeps the Sojourner Ever Focused.
  10. The Big Picture: Who or What will Benefit the Decision.

Other spreads.

Kill Bill Explains the Five Deck Archetypes of Magic

Are you a relatively new deck builder? Do you feel like when you step into an FNM that your deck ideas are just, well, not working out like they should? Do you feel like the decks of other players are just way beyond yours?

It’s probably because your deck is lacking focus and identity. Every deck, no matter what format it is in, can basically be boiled down to one of five major archetypes. Identifying what you want your deck to do, and what cards you need to do it is an important part of becoming a better deck builder. Let’s look at the breakdown, shall we?


Aggro wins by sending wave after wave of threats at the opponent immediately into the game. The individual threats are small, but together they create a pressure that soon exhausts not only the opponent, but the opponent’s ability to answer your threats, as well.

In order for this approach to work, your threats need to be cheap but of good quality: Goblin Guide; Wild Nacatl; Squadron Hawk. Even still, there will be times an opponent will have more answers than you have bodies. That’s when you bring out the big guns.

But not too big! You still want to be fast! The point is to keep moving, keep pushing! It’s called aggro for a reason! BE AGGRESSIVE!


Tempo is a bit like aggro in that it also seeks to apply continual, unrelenting pressure. However, where aggro does this through sheer numbers, tempo uses one or two potent but efficient threats, and then keeps them alive and untouched through a combination of deflection, evasion, and disruption.

Tempo threats are an elite bunch: Geist of Saint Traft, Delver of Secrets, Truename Nemesis. The spells utiltized by tempo decks primarily exist to keep their threats stable, rather than halt the opponent’s charges. But be careful! If you don’t play tight and lose footing, well…

And that’s bad, because you lack the force to overwhelm if you aren’t one step ahead.


Rather than spending their early game attacking, midrange decks focus early turns on accruing additional resources or destabilizing the board plans of their opponents. Doing so ensures that they either accelerate into their mid-game options early or reach them when the opponent has yet to do so— hence the name “midrange”.

This is all just a fancy way of saying one thing: when the actual fight begins, you will be bigger, you will be stronger, you will be tougher.

If you choose, you can rip your opponent’s arm off, and they’ll be more or less powerless to stop you. Midrange enjoys a wide range of threats, like Thundermaw Hellkite, Spiritmonger, and Thrun, the Last Troll. Midrange affords such luxuries either by employing mana acceleration or by strafing the early board with potent removal. However, it has to be careful: dirty tricks and overwhelming early pressure both can make their efforts moot.


Combo decks do not play by the rules. They forsake getting their hands dirty in lieu of killing the opponent in one swift (often complex) blow. Even in small formats like Standard, there are thousands of possible card interactions, and combo players look to exploit the most degenerate.

Combo decks require (at least) a bit of system mastery, and a LOT of ways to ensure consistent execution. Your entire deck is a threat; your success will often come down to the pieces that allow you to dig up the right pieces, like tutors and card draw, and cards that prevent your opponent from stopping you. And be prepared to explain, in detail, how your deck works— and to feel like a rock star when everything goes right.

But don’t be like Elle and lose sight (badumching) of your priorities, and be prepared for things to backfire! A B plan is your best friend, so sideboard accordingly!


Control decks are the paragon of defense and forethought. It may look like not much is happening in a game against control, but these games are among the most intense and interactive. Control entirely forgoes early and midgame aggression, and seeks to answer each threat until the opponent has no more.

This is made possible by gaining lots of card advantage— a technical term that basically means you are getting the most mileage out of each card in your deck— while simultaneously halting the opponent in his rude endeavor to kill you. Control all-stars are rarely creatures, but instead are efficient utility pieces like Wrath of God, Cryptic Command, and Vindicate. Eventually, control wins by dropping an inevitable threat that the opponent just cannot answer, like Baneslayer Angel, a planeswalker, or just Celestial Colonnade.

Control players should be advised, though:

Their methods aren’t particularly beloved. Also, their matches can go to the clock a lot, so it is worth their while to work at sharpening their critical thinking so they don’t wind up with a lot of useless draws on their record.

And there it is! Identifying what you want your deck to do, and how you should do it is a vital part of deckbuilding. Control doesn’t want or need small, fast creatures, and aggro doesn’t want 6 mana angels and dragons! Each archetype is huge, and each color and combination of colors has countless ways to support all five; so experiment and see what works! Just remember to stay focused, and kick lots and lots of ass!

1dream-ech0  asked:

Yay! Aca-awesome to know! Ok AU Prompt of badass Chloe and preppy smart (maybe even a cheerleader?) Beca. They've known of each other but never crossed paths before. Until one day, a guy was harassing Beca and Chloe steps in and decks him in the face. And then from then on, Chloe is like Beca's guardian angel...who will punch anyone in the face who messes with Beca. (Kinda like that insta pic of Brittany and Anna during their Back To School party). And again, your writings--- looooove!! :)

She’s seen her before. Red hair hidden under hoods and smoking on the bike-rack outside of school, she had a way of slipping into the background of Beca’s everyday. Like when you lose something even though you feel like you’ve seen it in the same spot a hundred times before losing it. She was red and black and hints of grey, and it was just enough for Beca to know that, in some capacity, she’d seen her everyday. 

But now, with blood on her knuckles, she is red and black in an entirely new way, and Beca thinks that she’s never really seen her before at all. 

Keep reading

The Grand Opening of Word of Commander

Hello, I am a long time magic player who  started off in Urza’s Saga and used to play competitive Legacy. Since the format had died down I have found myself playing Commander as my go to format. All the years of playing in Legacy have shown me a variety of interesting interactions that I now employ in my EDH decks. In this blog I hope to explore the commander format and help others with deck construction. While the main focus of this blog is Commander feel free to ask questions about other formats as well. I have played everything from Vintage and Freeform to Momir Basic and Prismatic Staircase.

With that I leave off with the first peice of wisdom I would like to share;

The key to building a great deck is to find focus and synnergy. If the deck itself does not know what it wants to do then how is a player expected to pilot it? Don’t think this means decks are meant to be narrow. One of the best forms of synnergy is cards that cover each other’s weaknesses. 

You need to find the goal of your deck, whether it be control the board, assemble some sort of combo, generate overwhelming card advantage, or simply reduce your opponents to 0 life in the fastest way possible. Then, once you do that, find cards that both help you acomplish your goal and prevent others from stopping your goal. Make the deck adaptable but do not lose your original purpose in doing so. 

Look at current constructed decks and you will see this philosophy put into practice; the Hurkly’s Recall in Vintage storm that can either reset Moxen for storm count or get rid of a Sphere of resistance that prevents them from going off, the Reclamation Sages in Modern Chord decks that can both remove problematic permanents but still attack and provide a body for more convoking, or even in Standard where running Nantuko Husk has found its way into the Black Blue Sacrifice deck as both a sac outlet and a combo kill with Whirler Rogue. These cards are flexible and while not always obvious inclusions in a deck they work towards the goal of the deck from a different angle at times.

Now those are all 60 card decks. In commander you have 100 cards, and very wide cardpool that is not restriced by playability like in vintage or time of printing like in standard. Almost every card is viable and every strategy is viable as well. This wide variety not only makes deck construction more interesting but requires even greater flexibility than those 60 card decks because you will never know what you can run into. Despite all these differences the philosophy of deck construction still remains. Figure out what you want to do, then find out how you can do it.

I will go into more detail about this when we start discussing commanders and you start bringing me decks to look at. For now, good luck and have fun!

Removal Over Innistrad

Shadows Over Innistrad has a ton of cool themes and archetypes available in it: Five different tribes, Investigate, Madness, Delirium, Mill, and multiple combinations within those archetypes. However, Shadows Over Innistrad Limited is still Limited, which means for all of the fancy bells and whistles, it can’t avoid the one constant across all Limited formats: removal is the key to winning. It doesn’t matter how nice your curve is if your opponent has all of the answers. It doesn’t matter how crazy your synergy deck is if your opponent kills your engine pieces. To understand a Limited format, the first step is to understand the removal.

In my mind, there are about five different levels of Limited removal. Each one corresponds to how highly I pick the cards in Limited, and how much the cards influence my decision to play their color (or colors) in Limited. Here are the five “tiers” I use:

  • Tier 0 – The best removal spells available. Usually reserved for board wipes and cheap, unconditional removal. See: Planar Outburst, Hero’s Downfall.
  • Tier 1 – Solid removal spells. Either expensive and unconditional or close-to unconditional. Commons in this category are judged against most Rares for first-pickability. See: Oblivion Strike.
  • Tier 2 – Fine removal spells. Usually good to have one, may avoid a second. Expensive removal. See: Stonefury, Flatten.
  • Tier 3 – Fairly poor removal spells that should generally avoid being played. Very conditional or too expensive. See: Seering Light.
  • Sideboard – Hyper-conditional removal spells that only hit a subset of creatures. See: Plummet.

Of course, each category is flexible, and is relative to the rest of the removal spells in the format. Sometimes Flatten is fantastic, but if, say, Hero’s Downfall is available in the same format, Flatten is going to be in a lower tier. Shadows Over Innistrad is loaded with removal spells, so let’s dive into what spells I believe fit in each category.

Tier 0

Descend upon the Sinful, Anguished Unmaking, Nahiri, the Harbinger, Sorin, Grim Nemesis

All of these are fantastic cards that you should absolutely play when you can, and should absolutely first-pick them when you have the option. You’ll notice most of these are “more” than removal spells: Descend upon the Sinful can make a creature and Nahiri and Sorin are planeswalkers. Anguished Unmaking makes it because it answers anything.

Tier 1

Kindly Stranger, Murderous Compulsion, Sinister Concoction, To the Slaughter, Moonlight Hunt, Rapid Bite, Avacyn’s Judgment, Fiery Temper, Inner Struggle, Lightning Axe, Sleep Paralysis, Arlinn Kord, Avacynian Missionaries, Angel of Deliverence, Angelic Purge, Bound by Moonsilver, Declaration in Stone, Silverstrike, Archangel Avacyn

This may look like a lot of cards, but there are a lot of removal spells in this format. Some of these, like Kindly Stranger, Avacynian Missionaries, Angel of Deliverence, Arlinn Kord, and Archangel Avacyn, are creatures (or a Planeswalker) that double as removal spells with a bit of setup. These should definitely be prioritized as “more than removal spells.” Some would be Tier 0 as removal spells, but they do take some setup, keeping them from such a high rank. Murderous Compulsion, Fiery Temper, and Angelic Purge are super-efficient, and I expect them to be first-pick worthy cards that Rares are weighed against to determine their power. Sleep Paralysis is the best removal Blue has going for it, and Rapid Bite is the classic “fight” card (except this one is one-sided) that often appears as the best Green common.

Several of these uncommons have conditions that turn into upsides with mechanics like Delirium and Madness. Lightning Axe and Sinister Concoction both require you to discard a card, which you can use to your advantage to get out a fast Madness card or to turn on Delirium for your other creatures. Plus, Sinister Concoction is an enchantment, filling out the “four card types” with a type that can be difficult to get into the graveyard. Finally, cards like To the Slaughter, Moonlight Hunt, Avacyn’s Judgment, Inner Struggle, Bound by Moonsilver, and Silverstrike are all efficient, strong removal spells. Declaration in Stone is my one “iffy” card, though this is likely where it belongs.

Every removal spell in this list should be in the running for first-picks in every Draft pack, and they should pull the player into their colors in Sealed. Rule #1: play your removal spells.

Tier 2

Explosive Apparatus, Throttle, Tooth Collector, Dead Weight, Burn from Within, Dissension in the Ranks, Geistblast, Reduce to Ashes, Humble the Brute, Puncturing Light

These removal spells are much less powerful, but still good and should be played when they come up. Explosive Apparatus gets a big nod as not only a colorless removal spell, but also an artifact to fuel Delirium. Throttle, Reduce to Ashes, and Burn from Within are strong but expensive (although Burn from Within has the outside bonus of being a Fireball for your opponent, so it’s a little better than most Tier 2s). Dead Weight and Puncturing Light find themselves here by virtue of being early-game removal, but Dead Weight is an enchantment, meaning it can fuel Delirium, so it certainly deserves consideration.

There are a few cards in this Tier that I’m uncertain about. Humble the Brute is the Smite the Monstrous-type card, and that kind of card fluctuates between “fine” and “eh” depending on how the format plays out. Geistblast is super over-costed for two damage, but in exactly a Blue/Red deck it could be very potent when pulled out of the graveyard, so in that context it may go up in Tiers. Dissension in the Ranks looks insane on the surface, but all the setup required makes me less than enthusiastic about it. Finally, Tooth Collector is here as a creature with a pseudo-removal ability that’s so narrow, it’s more of a cripple than a kill.

Tier 3

Gone Missing

Right now, I only have one spell in Tier 3, and it’s really barely a removal spell. One thing we may notice as the format evolves, though, is that some of the lower-power Tier 2 removal spells will settle down to this level, because something has to be better than anything else, and something has to be worse. Gone Missing is just a lot of mana to blank a draw and super-bounce a creature, which slows down an opponent but doesn’t answer the threat permanently.


Clip Wings, Biting Rain, Dual Shot

These are the cards that come in for games two and three against opponents with lots of targets for them. Biting Rain should only come in against low-toughness decks when you can avoid getting too caught by it. Clip Wings is great against all of the Spirits flying around in Blue and White, and Dual Shot cleans up small creatures and tokens quite well. None of them really belong in the main deck, but should be good to have in the sideboard. Note that this Tier isn’t so much a “bottom tier” but more of a “side tier” to the other sections.

Final Thoughts

This format is extremely removal-heavy at all Rarities: expect every player to have multiple answers for your best cards. When that is the case, it’s often best to focus on have a strong deck “on average,” meaning your overall card quality is good, rather than having mediocre creatures and a few bombs. This can set up a synergy format quite well, and I’m excited to see how well the synergies work together for Shadows Over Innistrad.

In closing, here’s a quick look at my ordering of all of the common removal spells, for your viewing pleasure:

  1. Angelic Purge
  2. Murderous Compulsion
  3. Fiery Temper
  4. Rapid Bite
  5. Reduce to Ashes
  6. Throttle
  7. Puncturing Light
  8. Dead Weight
  9. Explosive Apparatus
  10. Gone Missing
  11. Clip Wings
  12. Dual Shot