The Notorious M.R.B.

Discussion in 'Casual Decks/Variants/Etc' started by Oversoul, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    My recent revisions to Gitrog County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal, Hulking the deck out, have left me thinking that it's time to focus on another Commander deck. I'm not taking GCMLDA apart yet (especially now that I've just made up an abbreviation for it), but I think I've reached a kind of inflection point with it. The goal was always to have a Dredge-based Commander deck, and Karador was the most flexible option to serve as the commander as far as I could tell. Since then, two more obvious dredge-synergizing candidates have been printed...
    [IMG][IMG]
    But my deck was already in Abzan colors and built to exploit Karador's ability, so I stuck with it. I also had some secondary goals that alluded to at some point. When I set out to build a dredge-based Commander deck, I figured that Bazaar of Baghdad had to go in. And being that it was a very old, very rare card that most players didn't own or have access to, I thought of this as an ostentatious deck. I sought to "bling" the deck in other ways, like using my Beta copy of Sol Ring and buying a promotional Marit Lage token for Dark Depths. But I also endeavored to make the commander a meaningful aspect of the deck. I didn't want to turn this into "shoot for an infinite combo and Karador is the commander because he's in the right colors." Hence the stuff like Wurmcoil Engine and Ghoultree. But bit by bit as new cards came out and I made revisions, I let the deck slide more into being a combo deck. Dredging into midrange good stuff just seemed wasteful and too slow. Boonweaver Giant was printed and gave graveyard-fueled combo decks an easier path to setting up infinite loops, better in some ways than the banned Protean Hulk and worse in other ways. But it was the same general idea of getting a sac outlet and exploiting things like Karmic Guide and Reveillark for infinite combos. It became a hit in 1v1 Commander. Karador was simply the most suitable commander for these fast combo decks, being in all the right colors and offering backup routes to victory if key cards were countered.

    The way GCMLDA has evolved, it's at a kind of crossroads. I can push it to be more like the all-in combo decks associated with 1v1 Commander. It's already gotten to be pretty similar as, bit by bit, I refine my list. Similar, but not quite the same. The trouble is, if I want to make further changes to my deck, I'm either going to have to rethink the Dredge package and make this like the more competitive decks or I'm going to have to scale back and make the deck more the way it was in the past. But I have no problem with it the way it stands now! I like the deck and intend to keep it around, but this dilemma leaves it frozen as a kind of "final incarnation" that could only stand minor revisions before I'd be forced to take the deck in a new direction.

    So if my focus isn't on Gitrog County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal, it looks like it's time for a second Commander deck. Er, thirty-first Commander deck? I buy all of the official Commander precons that come out every year. Do those count? Regardless, I want to build something of my own. Something different.

    One temptation has long been Oloro, Ageless Ascetic from one of the Commander 2013 precons. I'd like an oppressive control deck in those colors, one that prevents opponents from doing what they'd like to do, takes their stuff, and uses it against them. But Oloro is so infamous as a commander. This is a format that's about style and expression. Using Oloro as a commander is sending a message to the table, "I have a broken deck and I'm using all the best cards." Not what I'm going for, really.

    No, I want my opponents to know that I'm here to steal their stuff, kill their stuff, dig their stuff out of the graveyard and take it for myself, and generally do all the most obnoxious Esper things. It's still early. I don't have a decklist yet. But I think I've settled on a Commander...
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  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Looking at some potential inclusions...

    Arcane Lighthouse
    Force of Will
    Arcane Denial
    Treachery
    Control Magic
    Threads of Disloyalty
    Bribery
    Mana Drain
    Rhystic Study
    Mystic Remora
    Demonic Tutor
    Diabolic Intent
    Brago, King Eternal
    Swan Song
    Animate Dead
    It That Betrays
    Sidisi, Undead Vizier
    Mindslaver
    Meddling Mage
    Mind Twist
    Zur's Weirding
    Nevinyrral's Disk
    Clever Impersonator
    Spinal Embrace
    Notion Thief
    Vindicate
    Cryptic Command
    Coffin Queen
    Drain Power
    Hostage Taker
    Necromancy
    Memory Plunder
    False Demise
  3. Psarketos Member

    Merieke is one of only two Commanders I have ever used to build a deck. Hers contained a lot of combo components focused on mill combinations: Archive Trap + Twincast + Ravenous Trap, Enduring Renewal + Ornithopter + Memnite + Grinding Station + Heartless Summoning + Myr Retriever + Krark-Clan Ironworks + Junk Diver + Bitter Ordeal. Light of Day effectively won the game by taking one of my two opponents out of the match once they had already begun to team up due to my board position, and that player could hardly believe that Wizards would print such a dastardly hate card, let alone that someone would play it. Of all your suggested cards, the one that I would most definitely play is It That Betrays.
  4. Terentius The Instigator

    Do all-in combo decks not fare well in multiplayer Commander? I haven't gotten to try out the two I have (Ghave/Sedris). Maybe it depends on the ingredients of the combo?
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I think that in terms of technical viability, all-in combo is not worse for Commander than it is for any other multiplayer format. Multiplayer is inherently more difficult because more players means more hands that might have cards to disrupt your combo, and once you're outed as attempting to combo out, then the whole table will gang up on you, and rightfully so. Unless, that is, Spiderman is involved. In that case, after one player attempts an infinite combo and another player counters one of the cards, saving him from certain doom, he will proceed to attack the player that stopped the infinite combo from happening. :p

    R.I.P. My Library, Spiderman's Library, and DarthFerret's Library: February 12th, 2007–March 22nd, 2007. Gone but never, ever forgotten! :p:p:p

    Anyway, I should have been more clear. Karador decks aiming to generate infinite combos with sacrifice loops are one of the more well-known archetypes in the French competitive "Duel Commander" format. Or to be more precise, it was a popular archetype there from 2015 to 2016 but has fallen out of favor because newer combo decks with the four-color commanders or the "partner" commanders are more flexible. That is a format in its own right, which has different rules from the relatively new official MTGO 1v1 Commander format and also different rules from more popular casual multiplayer Commander, which is curated by the Commander Rules Committee. They're all "Commander" formats, but with some important distinctions.

    My deck was built with the popular casual multiplayer Commander format in mind, as that's the format I see people playing at local gamestores and stuff. I didn't have 1v1 in mind. I didn't model my deck after a deck meant for dueling. In fact, when I first built this as "Helcomb County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal" in 2014, the competitive Karador decks in the French format weren't yet a thing. Protean Hulk was banned in that format and this sort of combo deck didn't take off until well after the advent of Boonweaver Giant, which enabled Academy Rector into Pattern of Rebirth to do an impression of Protean Hulk in setting up infinite combos. But that wasn't my goal. From the outset, my interest was in making a dredge-based Commander deck with Bazaar of Baghdad. If you look at my original decklist from 2014, there were some infinite combos possible from the beginning, but they weren't the entire basis for the deck. People asked if I was just using a dedicated infinite combo deck, but I was able to show them that I was not. I often relied on things like Marit Lage, Bridge from Below, Ashen Ghoul, etc. It was very unfocused except for the graveyard theme and the use of Dredge to fuel that, making it explosive. But, if left to its own devices for long enough and if opponents built up defenses that the attackers couldn't punch through, it could go infinite.

    Over time, as the deck adapted to deal with both graveyard hate and with opponents doing powerful and broken things of their own, the deck streamlined more toward "just kill them all right away with a combo." The Boonweaver-based Karador decks from the French Duel Commander format weren't even on my radar, but over time, my deck started to look more and more like those decks through a kind of convergent evolution. The last straw was when Protean Hulk was unbanned by the Rules Committee for the casual multiplayer Commander and I couldn't help but bring in such a powerful tool. Now I look back at Karador decklists from Duel Commander tournaments in 2016 and I'm seeing that my deck resembles them a lot.

    This is a familiar experience for me! Way back in 1999 I started experimenting with Necropotence + Zur's Weirding + Ivory Tower in casual games to lock opponents out of ever drawing anything that could stop me. I loved that interaction and I've had a soft spot for prison decks ever since, even though it's not what I usually play these days. When I was in high school, my favorite deck used those cards, but also had Illusions of Grandeur + Donate so that I could go into multiplayer games and pick off a couple of opponents with Donate before locking the game down. I don't remember what all of the cards in the deck were and it evolved over time, but I remember often using Avatar of Woe. But I started using my other decks more for multiplayer games and began streamlining my Necro deck for one-on-one. Because the Donate + Illusions combo was so strong, I bumped up my usage to include four copies of each, and I began using more countermagic and discard spells to protect that combo, which led to cutting the old Zur's Weirding stuff. And so at some point, while browsing the Star City Games website, I learned that a defunct Extended deck called "Dance, Dance, Donate Illusions" was virtually identical to my casual "Here, Hold This" deck. A couple of slots were different, but the decks were very, very close to each other and I actually adjusted my list because some of their cards made more sense to me than the ones I'd been using.

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. Part of me is saying, "You turned your casual deck into a deck that's just like decks people used in tournaments and that's dumb." Another part of me is fascinated by the convergent evolution. I didn't just netdeck a Boonweaver combo list from a Duel Commander Top 8. I started my deck before those ones existed and the transformation into something resembling what those tournament players made occurred through years of testing and adjustment. And to be fair, my deck is still unique because of the focused Dredge package. But that's why I'm at a crossroads. I have pushed the infinite combo options so far that in order to go any further I'd have to cut the Dredge package and move more toward directly employing tutors, mana ramp, and utility spells for an all-in combo deck truly resembling the French tournament lists. And in order to start getting more out of the Dredge package than I already am, I'd have to scale back on this being a deck that aims to go for stuff like "Academy Rector, sac it to Carrion Feeder, put Pattern of Rebirth on Birds of Paradise, sac it to Carrion Feeder, put Pattern of Rebirth on Boonweaver Giant, sac it to Carrion Feeder, have Karmic Guide bring back Boonweaver Giant and Pattern of Rebirth..."

    But right now, Gitrog County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal isn't going anywhere. I just want to build this new deck. In the future, I might either scrap GCMLDA entirely or, if possible find a way to emphasize Dredge more, perhaps with The Gitrog Monster as Commander of the deck.

    You should! I find that testing can reveal things one didn't expect.
  6. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Oops. :rolleyes:

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