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Real Life Commander: Commander '95 Chromium Steal N' Sac


Hello happy fans of older cards and Commander! A while ago I created a format called Commander '95. What is this format? You can play any card that was printed up through and including the end of 1995 which includes everything from Alpha to Homelands as well as the promo cards like Nalathni Dragon and Sewers of Estark. You can read more about the format here - The Kitchen Table: Commander '95 - SCG Articles (starcitygames.com). One of the key differences between Commander '95 and Old School is that not only are more cards legal for Commander, but you are encouraged to run cheaper cards! Run that Commander series Control Magic that's just $0.75 for a new copy. Run that Sol'Kanar the Swamp King from Time Spiral or Chronicles rather than the pricey version from Legends.

In my first article, I built a sample Chromium deck that led me to build a real-life version of that deck which is a little different. I used that deck as a launching pad for players new to the format. I gave it a theme! What's the theme? Steal and sac!

Let's do a few things! We'll take some pictures of the deck, give you a deck list, and then deep dive a few cards to talk about in detail. Let's enjoy it!

Merieke Ri Berit
Old Man of the Sea

There are four creatures that were printed that can tap and steal something. The first was from the first expansion set, Arabian Nights, the Old Man of the Sea that can steal something with 2 or fewer power, as long as you do not boost its power with something like Unstable Mutation. As long as the Old Man is tapped, you control the creature, and you don't have to untap it on your turn. This created a template that the others followed. Preacher was next, and it could tap to steal a creature of your opponent's choice, so they would give their worst dork and you can untap it to give it away and steal something else. Seasinger was printed the next set and is destroyed if you don't control an Island. If your foe controls an Island, you can tap the Merfolk to steal any creature you can target, making it better than Preacher or Old Man of the Sea if your foe has an Island. Then in the next set, the legendary one was printed, and she could tap to steal something, but she would never untap. If she managed to? Destroy the creature!

Now the main issue with the Chromium deck relying on this foursome is that they are, in fact, creatures! Why is this an issue? Well, you see creatures were just as easy to kill in the early days as they are today. Every color has tons of answers - Lightning Bolt, Incinerate, Fireball, Pyrotechnics, Terror, Dark Banishing, Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God, Control Magic back, Desert Twister, and so forth. Normally a Blue deck would run counter magic to answer this removal to keep their guys alive, but we don't have a deep counter pool. We have two (sorta) hard counters - Counterspell and Mana Drain. Spell Blast can counter for one more mana than the spell if you have the mana untapped. And... that's it. You have Power Sink which can counter in the right circumstances. You can counter a dork with Remove Soul and an instant with Flash Counter and an aura or instant targeting your stuff with Avoid Fate, or an artifact with Artifact Blast, and all four Red Elemental Blast and Hydroblasts are in print. So, you are hard pressed to answer removal in this build other than losing a key counter if you even have one in your hand. This makes Blue less powerful than in today's game, but it's still the most diverse color in the game with counters, steals, bounce, and creature removal in Psionic Blast and Psychic Purge.

Diamond Valley

Check out my primary sac engine! It's Diamond Valley! You can tap it to sacrifice something that you stole with your two enchantments or by tapping your four dorks. It really works well with the latter since you can tap something not named Merieke and then grab a dork. Then sac the creature stolen to Diamond Valley and then untap and steal again and again until they have nothing. You'll often cast search for a Diamond Valley. I don't have an extra Gate to Phyrexia for this build. You also have Ray of Command to steal a creature at instant speed to block or swing and then sac before you give it back, or Seraph that can steal something it kills in combat.

City of Shadows

I have another land in the Diamond Valley way. Check out this bad boy. You tap and exile a dork you control to put a counter on the City of Shadows, and then you can tap the City for that much colorless mana. It's nasty in here and you won't care about the self-exile since you aren't likely to be using your dork. I prefer the Valley's life gain, but this gives us a land-based backup to sac a stolen card. Note that lands have a lot of commonly played removal, like Armageddon, Desert Twister, Fissure, Strip Mine, and Stone Rain effects like Ice Storm, Sinkhole, Icequake, and Thermokarst. Red can steal your key card with Conquer. Every color has an answer to lands, except Blue, who will have to resort to bouncing it with Time Elemental or Boomerang. Having a backup land that is key to your deck's success works well.

Fallen Angel

I also have the flying ace from Legends, Fallen Angel, the first creature to feature sacrifice for a temporary pump ever made that later cards, like Nantuko Husk, would make famous! Sacrifice away my friends! Again, creatures are fragile here, but you have a third sacrifice engine here in the brew.

This Chromium deck acts as a backup control brew as well with counters, stealing, Clones, flyers, game winners like Dakkon Blackblade, most legal removal in the colors from Swords to Plowshares to Drain Life to Psionic Blast. It has all three sweepers in Hellfire, Wrath of God and Nevinyrral's Disk, so if your combo isn't happening you can lean on control and win.

Here's my build!

And there you go! So, what did you think of my build? Or of the format itself? Excited to brew? Just let me know in the comments below!

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