This article underlines some of the strengths and weaknesses you’ll come to find when using the three color combinations known as Shards (Friendly) and Wedges (Enemy) in commander.
Associated Commanders - Jenara, Asura of War, Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, Rafiq of the Many, Roon of the Hidden Realm. Rubinia Soulsinger. etc.
Bant is potentially one of the strongest color combinations, the availability of green allows for ramp and enchantment removal as well as some hard hitting creatures. The white makes for easy creature protection, Board wipes and permanent removal from the game. The blue is for it’s usual stuff; Flyers, Counter spells and bouncing things.
I find that the commanders for Bant are very general, I find that some players will want a deck that does something specific, but then never use the commander, because it doesn’t support what they are doing. I find that players who use bant will just build a good stuff deck around Derevi or Rafiq and then use a combo to win.
Associated Commanders - Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, Zur the Enchanter, Sharuum, the Hegemon, Sydri Galvanic Genius, Sen Triplets etc.
Esper is another very strong shard, and a popular one. It has many of the strengths of bant allowing for great removal across all three colors, the black combined with the white also allows for rapid life drain. Esper has at least two artifact commanders so artifact decks are very popular in this shard.
Like Bant, Esper has the good stuff reputation, if you see an Oloro on the other side of the board, you can be almost certain he isn’t leaving the command zone. Commanders like Zur, Sharuum and Sydri are quite notorious for being combo heavy too, which draw a massive target on you.
Associated Commanders - Marchesa, the Black Rose, Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge, Thraximundar, Sedris, the Traitor King, Nekusar, the Mindrazer etc.
The grixis shard has some of my favorite commanders in it and they are all really strong. Have you ever had to deal with a Marchesa deck? It ain’t easy.
Grixis is notoriously bad at dealing with enchantments, which makes Privileged Position, Asceticism, Sphere of Safety (insert other enchantment I like to use) and any other protection a problem.
Associated Commanders - Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, Shattergang Brothers, Kresh, the Bloodbraided, Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.
Jund hits hard, it’s abundance of Devour, Dragons and Tokens means it can recover from board wipes quickly and hit twice as hard next time. Also, it has good removal such as Terminate, Beast Within and Maelstrom Pulse.
Jund has trouble permanently removing things, as without white or blue it can’t really exile them. Sorry Jund but it’s likely that you will never be rid of that Sun Titan, oh well.
Associated Commanders - Mayael, the Anima, Uril, the Miststalker, Marath, Will of the Wild, Gahiji, Honored One etc.
A great shard for Tokens, Voltron or Cheating out big creatures. Naya also has plently of ways to protect itself from a lot of threats with some of the enchantments mentioned above and creatures like Sigarda, Host of Herons, Tajuru Preserver, Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Iroas, God of Victory, which prevent your commander from being sacrificed or your tokens from being wiped out.
Since Naya is a very popular token and Enchantress commander it is weak to cards such as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Virulent Plague, Black Sun’s Zenith and Ratchet Bomb as well as Bane of Progress, Back to Nature and End Hostilities
For some of these it was really difficult to come up with weaknesses, Grixis is the only one with a real weakness for most their only weakness is their reputation.
Excerpt from a TESV: Skyrim design document, with slight changes for wording. Art by Adam Adamowicz.
The gods are cyclical, just like the world is. There are the Dead Gods, who fought and died to bring about the new cycle; the Hearth Gods, who watch over the present cycle; the Testing Gods, who threaten the Hearth and thus are watched; and the Twilight Gods, who usher in the next cycle. The end of a cycle is said to be preceded by the Dragonborn God, a god that did not exist in the previous cycle but whose presence means that the current one is almost over.
The Dead Gods
Dead Gods don’t need temples. They have the biggest one of all, Svongarde. Nord heroes and clever men visit the Underworld all the time. They bear a symbol to show that they have, which garners much respect.
The Fox - Shor
The Bear - Tsun
The Hearth Gods
The Hearth Gods have temples appropriate to their nature: Kyne’s are built on peaks, Mara’s are the halls of important Witches, Dibella’s are the halls of important Wives– the temples aren’t like those of the Imperials; as Hearth Gods, they are always homes to someone, and the highest-ranking female of that home is their de facto high priestess.
The Hawk, Kyne
The Wolf, Mara
The Moth, Dibella
The Testing Gods
The Testing Gods don’t really have temples – they are propitiated at battlegrounds or other sites where they caused some notable trouble. Nords understand that the Daedric Temples are something else entirely and think them as much of a waste of time as the formalized religion of the Nine Divines of Cyrodiil.
The Snake, Orkey
The Woodland Man, Herma Mora
The Twilight Gods
The Twilight Gods need no temples– when they show up, there won’t be any reason to build them, much less use them – another waste of time. That said, Nords do venerate them, as they always venerate the cycles of things, and especially the Last War where they will show their final, best worth.
The Dragon, Alduin
Alduin is venerated on the winter solstice by ceremonies at ancient Dragon Cult temples, where offerings are made to keep him asleep for one more year. Alduin is also the source of many common superstitious practices before any event of significance.
The Dragonborn God, Talos
Talos’ totem is the newest, but is everywhere – he is the Dragonborn Conquering Son, the first new god of this cycle, whose power is consequently unknown, so the Nords bless nearly everything with his totem, since he might very well be the god of it now, too. Yes, as first of the Twilight Gods, this practice might seem contradictory, but that’s only because, of all the gods, he will be the one that survives in whole into the next cycle.
Nord view of Imperial Religion
The Eight Divines are viewed by the Nords as a “Southern” import. They retain some of the taint of the Alessian Order, and are basically viewed as a religion for foreigners. Their gods are fine for them, but Nords need Nord gods.
Some of the gods are the same (or similar) – significantly these are the three female gods, which are far more important to the Nords than they are in the Imperial Cult. (Kyne is in fact the de facto head of the Nord pantheon.) The Nords are perplexed and disturbed by the Imperial Cult’s focus on the Dragon God – they regard this as a fundamental misunderstanding of the universe, and one likely to cause disaster in the end. (Which fits perfectly with the pessimistic Nord view of the world in general – things are likely to turn out badly, and it will probably be caused by some foreigner.) Lucky for the world that the Nords are so diligent about keeping Alduin asleep, while the southerners are busy trying to get his attention! Any mention of Akatosh in a Nord’s presence is likely to bring a muttered invocation to Alduin to stay asleep in response.
The Nords believe that, During the Oblivion Crisis, it was Talos (Dragonborn, Martin’s forefather) lending his aid, not Alduin.
One of the most overpowered and overused generals. She makes an amazing commander because she can be used to cheat in some of the most expensive creatures with the most powerful abilities on the fifth turn. She is one of the most notorious legendary creatures though so it should be destroyed at the soonest possible opportunity.
2. Rafiq of the Many
Bant is one of the best combination of colours in EDH because it provides counter with blue removal and protection with white and the pump abilities of green. The best auras are also in these colours. Rafiq is used mainly as a finisher because giving a single creature Double Strike and multiple of triggers of exalted is potentially lethal.
3. Ezuri, Renegade Leader or Rhys the Redeemed Elves
Elves are one of the most common tribals in commander mainly because of their low costs, mana ramp and overpowered lord abilities. But which elf commander to use. I have seen a lot of swarming Elf decks with Ezuri and a fair few token decks around Rhys. Their secondary abilities become horrifying pretty quick as well so try and keep these two off the board.
4. Marath, Will of the Wild
I think all of the 2013 commander precons were extremely good, but this one of the most popular among them. I think mainly due to his versatility. He has a wide range of abilities and has cards like Dictate of the Twin Gods, Doubling Season and Parallel Lives to make his abilities even more powerful. Also, he’s quite difficult to keep off the board, because his ability improves each time he is cast from the command zone.
5. The Mimeoplasm
I have seen a few mimeoplasm decks of late. Thanks to the graveborn and commander sets a lot of reanimate abilities have resurfaced, which has made such decks viable. This creature can also be used with Unblockable and Infect to finish off your opponents quickly, and it doesn’t discriminate between graveyards, which is always a bonus.
6. Jelava, Nephalia’s Scourge
Out of all the grixis decks I have seen recently, this commander is the most prevalent. Another of the 2013 precons and the most expensive because of the True-Name Nemesis. Her Exile/Steal Ability makes for a great control deck and since her ability improves with each cast it’s possible to run such a deck with no other creatures.
7. Sliver Overlord
Some EDH players don’t like the challenge of being limited to two or three colours so they use a five colour commander such as this one, which gives them access to pretty much any card and one of the most powerful tribals. There are three possible sliver commanders, but I think this one is the most common because of its ability to tutor for slivers and its potential to steal other people’s creatures. Sliver Players don’t usually last long.
8. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
This is my type of commander. Oloro can just sit on his lazy arse and do nothing if that’s what floats your boat. Oloro mixed with cards like Sphere of Safety and Glacial Chasm to pretty much shut down all damage coming your way make a hilariously fun commander deck. I think this one will be showing up on commander of the week soon enough.
9. Animar Soul of Elements
I freaking hate this guy. I don’t see him as much as I used to. But Temur is my least favourite combination of colours because I find it lacks protection and board wipes. I can never make this deck work, but I find that no one else has trouble doing so. He’s a solid enough commander and his protection ability makes him difficult to deal with and the fact that he can help bring out any creature for peanuts is nothing to shake at.
10. Horde of Notions
I’ve been seeing this one a lot recently too. He is very good, especially since you can make any creature an elemental with cards like Xenograft and Amoeboid Changeling. Elementals can make for a horrible tribal especially with creatures like Lord of Extinction and Maelstrom Wanderer. He can get pretty expensive though if he keeps getting killed off so this deck is going to be filled with lots of protection.
Grown adults take children’s card games very seriously. Commander is meant to be the playground for casual players that want to have a good time with their friends. One question that often comes up in the Commander community that leads to much argumentation is: Are combo decks “unhealthy” for EDH?
Combo decks are not unhealthy for EDH.
The Doctor’s Notes
Combo decks force all players to be attentive.
Combo decks rarely ever actually “win” the game. They just make sure that opponents do not win, creating a win by default.
Scenario: Player A had their entire deck in their hand and infinite mana. Player D watched Player A mill out their opponents with Blue Sun’s Zenith and acknowledged the potential of counter-magic. He completely circumvented the issue altogether by casting Silence.
Player D is a tool.
Up until the point of the win, combo decks require that all players participate in the game. They have a volatile nature that can lead to an accidental “Oops, I win” situation at any moment. The person munching on Cheetos and playing on their phone deserves to lose.
Combo decks open the meta.
Without combo decks, there would only be control decks in Commander.
There is already very little reason not to play blue in the format. Blue has counter-magic. Blue has staples such as Consecrated Sphinx and Force of Will. It also allows for the miserable utility of Riptide Laboratory combined with Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, and Venser, Shaper Savant.
There has to be something discouraging playing blue. Choke only goes so far. Without discouraging control to some degree, deck-building would consist of dumping as many counter-spells as possible into ninety-nine cards.
Decks like Prossh and Marath are surprisingly resilient to control and neither of them are controlling, grindy decks themselves. They’re going to have a hard time because of cards like Cyclonic Rift, Wrath of God, and Toxic Deluge, but they don’t need the commander to win and don’t have only one method of winning. (I’m sure Maralen has something to say about that, though…)
Just think: if combos were banned, Oloro would be the Hitler of commanders.
Combo decks encourage creativity.
There are plenty of silly “Magical Christmas Land” combos that probably shouldn’t exist but do. There are strange, unpopular cards that together produce a phenomenal end result. Additionally there are cards that “combo with everything” so-to-speak.
Exploring those possibilities is an intrinsic part of the Magic: the Gathering experience. It is in flavor to feel as though one is participating in a “Wizard’s Duel”. The idea that one can simply end a battle in a few turns makes them feel strong. It makes them feel, well, magical.
Combo removes the majority of the “luck” aspect from Magic in their execution. Between the ability to tutor for necessities at a moment’s notice and draw your entire deck in a single never-ending turn, the combo player is in complete control.
Not every control deck is a combo deck, but every combo deck is a control deck. #sodeep.
Combo decks make their players better.
My first competitive Magic deck was Modern 4C Kiki-Jiki Birthing Pod.
The hours I spent practicing Pod chains and grinding match-ups turned me from a filthy casual into a rules-nut with understanding of the stack, turn phases, proper sequencing, card interaction, and abilities.
I knew from Kiki Pod that combo and I were going to have a special relationship.
From Kiki Pod I moved to Splinter Twin. In March I attended Grand Prix: Richmond carrying UWR Twin happily, though it took me a lot longer to realize it was just a bad UWR Control deck that could never beat GBx in a million years.
That is when “meta” started to make sense.
It doesn’t matter if I have the “best” deck in the format; it will never truly be unbeatable. There is not a deck that wins 100% of the time. There are favorable matchups and unfavorable matchups for every single deck. So you need to know, man, that meta means…
Combo decks are not unbeatable.
Like every deck in Magic: the Gathering ever built, combo decks can be defeated. There are some incredibly unfavorable matchups out there.
Let me provide some examples:
Purphoros (direct damage) sucks against heavy Lifegain.
Karador (reanimation) seems reeeaaaally bad against graveyard hate.
Zur (combat trigger) isn’t scary when he’s tucked by Chaos Warp.
Control (lands please) can’t handle a turn four Terastadon destroying three lands.
Tokens.dek (Marath pls) is not favored to defeat the deck with a bunch of wrath effects.
Flash-Rector: The Deck (kiss your friends goodbye) is not a fan of failing their Doomsday pile.
There is no reason to be afraid of the combo player at your kitchen table. You don’t even have to be fully prepared to play against combo. You just have to be more prepared than everybody else.
It’s not invincible.
It allows for creativity.
It allows for competition.
It keeps people on their toes.
Without it, things would be worse.
Prescription written for [ 1 ] Combo deck per four-player EDH free-for-all. Call the doctor when you see it her way.
Sometimes I’m a dork who loves posing with her generals. :D
From top to bottom, left to right:
Marath, Will of the Wild
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Genju of the Realm
Balthor the Defiled
Animar, Soul of Elements
Xenagos, God of Revels
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy (shhh!)
1 Sword Of Fire And Ice 1 Sword Of Feast And Famine
1 Forest 1 Plains 1 Arid Mesa 1 Wooded Foothills 1 Windswept Heath 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Stomping Ground 1 Temple Garden 1 Plateau 1 Taiga 1 Savannah 1 Grove Of The Burnwillows 1 Horizon Canopy 1 Pendelhaven 1 Command Tower 1 Reflecting Pool 1 City Of Brass 1 Gavony Township 1 Wasteland
Scavenging Ooze Wear/Tear Krosan Grip Choke Goblin Sharpshooter Kitchen Finks Back To Nature Bonfire Of The Damned Pyroblast Red Elemental Blast
SECOND PLACE DECK LIST
Yasova Beatdown by François Longtin
Commander: Yasova Dragonclaw
Birds of Paradise Scavenging Ooze Snapcaster Mage Goblin Rabblemaster Vendilion Clique Savage Knuckleblade True-Name Nemesis Flamewake Phoenix Troll Ascetic
Ponder Brainstorm Lightning Bolt Chain Lightning Flame Slash Rancor Goblin Bombardment Fire // Ice Punishing Fire Counterspell Hull Breach Roast Mizzium Mortars Izzet Charm Mana Leak Jace Beleren Monastery Siege Electrolyze Sword of Feast and Famine Engineered Explosives Bonfire of the Damned Repeal
Maze of Ith Forest Mountain Island Wasteland Treetop Village Flooded Grove Grove of the Burnwillows Misty Rainforest Wooded Foothills Scalding Tarn Breeding Pool Steam Vents Stomping Ground Tropical Island Volcanic Island Taiga Command Tower
Relic of Progenitus Forked Bolt Krosan Grip Dack Fayden Mental Misstep Gut Shot Crucible of Worlds Pyroclasm Blue Elemental Blast Slagstorm
Finished 19 miles on a day where the first mile felt like winter and the last mile felt like spring. While I like running with friends, long runs alone like this are good mental training for race day. I could have fueled a little better and was out of gas by mile 19, but overall it was a good run and better than my 17 miler a couple of weeks ago.
Below are 10 Enchantments that should definitely be used in the deck of that color. I will try to describe why they are useful and how best to use them.
1. Phyrexian Arena
Drawing cards is one of the best tactics in any MTG format as it allows you to have card advantage over an opponent. It also ensures that you are several steps closer to the card or cards that can win you the game. So for the small draw back of 3 mana and 1 life each turn you can draw an extra card on each of your upkeeps. It is great in any black deck, but would work well with Commanders such as Nekusar the Mindrazer and Marchesa, the Black Rose. Not to mention just normal cards like Psychosis Crawler, Horizon Chimera and Chasm Skulker
2. Blind Obedience
Blind Obedience is one of my favorite cards of all time, mainly because of the Extort ability, But the fact that it completely shuts down your opponent’s aggro and activated abilities for only 2 mana makes this card insanely good. When this card was released I immediately bought four because they have a place in pretty much any format. I love using Blind Obedience in my shut down or Turbofog commander decks with Hokori Dust Drinker, Gaddock Teeg or Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. If you are daring enough to go for an Extort EDH deck it could also be useful for that I suppose.
3. Doubling Season
Although it is crippling in terms of both Converted Mana Cost and Money it is clear why it is a must have in any green deck, token deck or Super-friends (Planeswalker) Deck. It can send your creature’s Counter based Power and Toughness through the roof, Substantially increase your board presence or token output and make your planeswalkers potentially able to ultimate on the turn they enter. It is especially good if you are using a lot of Hydras or Commanders like Ulasht the Hate Seed, Thromok, the Insatiable or Marath, Will of the Wild.
4. Warstorm Surge
Warstorm Surge should go in any red deck or decks with creature tokens or huge creatures as it can deal an insane amount of damage either all at once or just scratches over time. It’s a bit expensive mana cost wise but it is easy to obtain. I used one in my Thromok the Insatiable EDH deck with Feed the Pack. I brought in Thromok Sacrificing 4 Creatures to make him a 16/16 which dealt 16 damage to my opponent. I then sacrificed it to Feed the Pack to deal a further 32 damage with the 16 2/2 wolves that entered. Definitely worth considering.
I love shutting my opponents down, unfortunately there are just too many ways to do it. Propaganda is not the best card that has this ability (Sphere of Safety is) But I have chosen it merely because it is a blue card with a White ability so it can be used in decks that do not have this available. If I could win for the number of times my opponent has miscalculated the amount of mana they have when this card is in play and then tried to attack me all out with no mana I would be up there with the Champions. You will find your opponent will always forget these cards and use all of their mana.
6. Animate Dead
Animate Dead is a very versatile card and for the slight draw back of losing some of its power you can have any creature in any graveyard for just two mana. I think that this enchantment should go in any deck with Black in it just to have that extra edge of grave-robbing your opponents.
Omniscience is just one of those cards that needs to go in every EDH deck if you can successfully have this in play for a couple of turns you have pretty much won. I have seen people scoop when this enters play even if the controller has nothing good in his hand. It is especially good in spell-casting decks such as Melek, Izzet Paragon and Jhoira of the Ghitu.
8. True Conviction
True Conviction does not require many words. Just Smash hell out of your opponent and gain lots of life. It belongs mainly in voltron commander decks such as Kemba Kha Regent, Zurgo Helmsmasher and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight.
9. Vicious Shadows
Vicious Shadows is a bit expensive but definitely useful in token decks or decks that force your opponents to draw a lot of cards like Nekusar, the Mindrazer. It can also be used with cards that deal damage when creatures leave the battlefield like Vela, the Night Clad, Stalking Vengeance or Hissing Iguana to deal large amounts of damage.
Asceticism is another enchantment that is inconvenienced by color. This is an enchantment that is needed in every EDH deck to avoid spot removal and some board wipes which is common in EDH. I prefer Privileged Position to Asceticism but Privileged Position is Even more Inconvenienced by being white as well as green.
These are 10 of my favourite enchantments in EDH as they have a place in decks of those colours if the decks are mulitple colours i have tried to describe useful Alternatives. I will Recommend more cards next time. Happy Deck Building.