Berserkers are a type of “shaman-warrior” found in Old Norse writings. Known best for their battle frenzy, berserkers were believed to be granted supernatural strength through a connection to their totem animal, the bear. A warrior connected to a wolf instead would be known as an úlfheðnar. Their connection came from wearing the pelt of a bear (or wolf). It is debated whether they were to only take on the essence of their totem animal or if they were believed to physically shift into the animal, but most lean towards the idea of having only the essence and not the physical form. In their battle rage, berserkers could not tell friend from foe and attack any who come into their range.
In Magic, berserkers are found most often Red due to the highly volatile and emotional nature of their frenzy. There are also few in green, which emphasizes the aspect of berserking that requires a commune with nature.
Despite my international incident one week ago, I’m back
on my feet with technology and ready to force content down your throats whether
you like it or not (I hope you like it though.)
While I’m still polishing off the remnants of disaster, I
thought it would be a good time to regroup. Today’s Commander article won’t be
anything fancy, just a rundown of my eighteen Commander decks. While I’ve
devoted entire articles to a deck in the past, I’ve never had a place where I
could link people to my updated lists. I’ve finally gotten around to putting
all my decks on tappedout.net, so consider this article the official updated
catalogue of my Commander arsenal post-Oath
of the Gatewatch. Links are in the headers.
So Oath of the
Gatewatch fundamentally changed the way we think about colorless Commander
decks. Wastes gives these decks support that has never existed, and thankfully
that support flavorfully fits into an Eldrazi deck. This deck is all-in on
Eldrazi, featuring only a few non-Eldrazi creatures and no artifact-matters
The only Eldrazi not present are the few Processors that
exist in true colorless, as fueling their hunger is difficult to do without
additional support. The Great Distortion takes over for the Butcher of Truth as
Karn’s deck split off from my old Kozilek deck, shifting
the artifacts-matter theme to a new home. I want to keep this deck more
classically colorless, so I’m eschewing Wastes and focusing on a suite of cool
Otherwise, there’s nothing fancy here. Good artifact
cards abound, I’m still looking to acquire a few to complete the deck.
Scarecrone, Mycosynth Golem, and Oblivion Stone will go in as soon as I can get
my hands on them.
Aside: I can’t wait for Shadows over Innistrad so we can lay the Nahiri = Avacyn crap to
There really isn’t much to say about this deck. It’s a
mono-White Equipment deck built from the remains of my Kemba, Kha Regent deck. Didn’t like
how every game was just loading Kemba up with Equipment. Nahiri keeps each game
more unique, as I now have to rely on a variety of creatures to slap Equipment
As a lover of sea monsters, this deck’s take on mono-Blue
is far different than the control-oriented lists you may be familiar with.
Beasties, bounce, and beatdown are the name of this game. This deck has some of
my favorite flavorful inclusions, as cards like Mysteries of the Deep and Sea
God’s Revenge slot in over more powerful alternatives. Every update takes this
deck in a more flavorful direction, cutting the “good stuff” chaff away.
Another flavorful deck, Chandra leads a 99 filled to the
brimstone with burn spells and pyromancer-themed cards. Every card in the deck
either related to Chandra directly or is a spell that a seasoned pyromancer
would cast. It’s not a deck that I try to win the game with, just toss around a
bunch of burn spells and see what happens.
Red’s not big on rules, but this deck has one: Always
flip three coins for Fiery Gambit.
Ulasht’s deck is a Red/Green token deck built around the
Hate Seed itself. It used to be a devour-themed deck, and many of those cards
remain. I’m not sure what updates I want to make to this deck. I have to make
some decisions about how much harder I want to lean on the token theme. We’ll
see where those thoughts take me.
I’ve always wanted to do something with Mirari’s Wake. I’ve
always wanted to build an enchantment deck. Karametra solves both these
problems with flavorful aplomb. These colors allow me to load up on the Theros block’s enchantment creatures and
the best enchantments-matter cards from Magic’s
history. While most of those creatures look lackluster, the many anthem effects
this deck runs beef them up to tremendous sizes.
I’m not really a Vampire fan, but I think Vish Kal is a
really interesting design. This deck arose from a life gain + sacrifice theme,
but many of the cards that supported these themes also happened to be Vampires.
Eventually I gave in to my tribal urges and converted most of the creature base
to Vampires and Vampire tribal support. The resulting mess is a deck with three
incidental subthemes that end up working fine together. Woo.
This is my instants/sorceries deck, and it’s in need of
some major overhauls. I have barely edited it this entire block, and one of my
goals is to bring the average CMC’s down a bit. I’ll also be looking to get a
little more library manipulation in, as those kinds of effects play very well
with Melek. A bunch of the Izzet cards from Commander
2015 Edition will also be fighting for space, meaning even more thought and
work to be done. An epic experiment is never complete.
I’ve built many Black/Green Commander decks over the
years, but Glissa’s is the one that has survived the longest. I love artifacts,
and Glissa blends that theme into the grindy style of play that these colors
are known for. There isn’t a lot of raw power in this deck. Games are won by
accruing value over an extended period of time, recycling support cards to
overwhelm with resources.
Spoiler alert: I love artifact decks. Jor Kadeen is a
much more aggressive deck than the others, aiming to boost the team with Jor
Kadeen’s metalcraft ability. Even though the Mirrans lost the war, this Auriok
brings the pain. Red’s relationship with artifacts has made the color much more
resilient in recent years, giving this deck more substance in the late game
than other aggressive strategies. Overall, this is probably my least favorite
of my decks and the first candidate for deconstruction.
Evolve was one of my favorite mechanics to ever play with
in limited. This deck builds on my love of +1/+1 counters, huge creatures, and
interesting Green/Blue cards. For example, this deck includes my favorite
counterspells of all time (the four Green/Blue ones). It also includes a
buttload of Hydras. And Experiment Kraj. And two foil Kioras. When this deck gets rolling, it just runs over
I generally don’t like doubling up on colors, but Commander 2015 Edition presented me with
two awesome new Simic commanders.
Ezuri commands a flavorful New Phyrexia deck built around
infect and proliferate. Every nonland card in the deck comes from the New Phyrexian
arsenal. The only non-Phyrexian lands included are ones that could feasibly
exist on New Phyrexia. Remote Isle is my favorite of those cards, which could
be the Dome of Synthesis, Jin-Gitaxias’s private meditation chamber.
The other new Simic deck is a Snake tribal deck built
around Kaseto. I had a 60-card casual GU Snakes deck for a long time, and this
deck is the reincarnated version of that gem. On top of the many Snakes are
some sweet Kamigawa-themed cards. Tamiyo has a cameo, being a planeswalker from
Kaseto’s home plane. This is also a deck I still need to acquire a few cards
for, so it’s yet to see any action.
I used to have a Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, but I got
bored of playing every game around the commander. Karrthus allows this deck to
be what I want it to be: a deck that just wants to play as many Dragons as
possible. They are everywhere, looking to beat through the air while a legion
of support spells clear the way.
My Temur deck embraces creatures, the best card type in
the game. It’s more than 50% creatures, filling ramp and removal roles with
creature cards. The few noncreature, nonland cards are high-impact cards that
support the creature theme.
The creature texture of this deck is always changing.
There are simply more awesome creatures than slots for them to fill. That’s
right, there aren’t enough creatures in this deck. Three colors means almost
every set brings sweet new options to play with. The struggle of the fittest is
The Mimeoplasm is a hungry monster, and incidental
milling helps feed its cytoplasm. This is another creature-heavy deck, as I don’t
like to totally rely on my opponents for good things to eat. As such, there are
a number of creatures that only make the cut because they have spell-like
Of all my decks, this is one of the most interesting to
play. Because of the nature of The Mimeoplasm, every game plays wildly
different. This isn’t just because of the variety of a single deck, but
different opponents shift the game in weird ways as I recombine creatures in my
Finally, the tribal deck of tribal decks. Slivers brought
me into Magic, and this deck
represents everything I love about the tribe. The singleton nature of Commander
makes Slivers very fun, as every game is a new mixture of abilities that keep
the deck fresh.
This is the deck that changes the least. If no new
Slivers are printed in a set, no creature changes will be made. There’s a
collection of WUBRG “good stuff” in this deck, and those cards are only printed
once every few years. As such, this deck sees very little change.
No End in Sight
I’m also preparing to build a Titania, Protector of
Argoth deck. Wizards keeps printing new legendary creatures, so I keep building
more Commander decks. I don’t have a problem; you have a problem! I can quit
whenever I want! Get off my lawn!
Until next time, planeswalkers, don’t forget about Oath of the Gatewatch Game Day tomorrow!
Lightning Bolt is THE iconic burn spell. Nothing comes close in terms of power for one single mana, and it’s defined magic for it’s entire lifetime. Part of the ‘cycle of threes’ Lightning Bolt is a cycle with Ancestral Recall, Giant Growth, Healing Salve, and Dark Ritual(Some were a little more powerful than others).. If you’re running a red deck, it’s probabily in there, either for removal of creatures, or killing your opponent ‘Bolting’ is a verb in magic meaning to deal three damage to something, similar to how ‘shocking’ something is two damage. It’s hard to understate how much of a staple this card is in the magic psyche, it’s a piece of magic history, and I imagine this card to define Magic for years to come. Rest in peace, Christopher Rush.
You know what would be cool? Some sort of people/race/plane that could sort of planeswalk through artificial means. I guess kind of like the Tau in Warhammer 40k lore. They are physically incapable of space travel through the Warp, but their level of technology is so high that they can emulate it in a limited way. Just a random thought I had when reading this flavour text.
This not That is a weekly series aimed at introducing EDH staples and their inexpensive, accessible alternatives!
Phyrexian Arena provides excellent incremental card advantage at a low cost to the player. It’s been printed in multiple sets and is an EDH staple that will never lose its place in the format.
AVG Price: C15 - $7.75
AVG Price: C15 - $0.33
Underworld Connections is a true parallel to Phyrexian Arena. The costs paid to use Underworld Connections instead are to risk losing it when the enchanted land is destroyed or using that land for drawing a card instead of as a valuable mana resource every turn.