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Real Life Commander: Commander '95 Skeleton Ship

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Hello happy people! Today, I want to take a look at a deck I play in real life! We'll look at my decklist, pictures of the deck on my coffee table, and take a look at some of the synergies that are in this brew.

As a reminder, Commander '95 is a format where the only cards that are legal are those printed up through and including 1995, so that's from Alpha through Homelands including the promo cards like Nalathni Dragon. Any card banned in Commander is banned here. You are welcome to use any version of these cards.

This is a very different deck than last week's Chromium Steal N' Sac deck. Although there are some basic cards that are the same (Counterspell, Dark Banishing, Diabolic Vision, Sol Ring, Sengir Vampire, Clone, etc) they have very different goals.

Skeleton Ship

Here's my leader. Check it out! Skeleton Ship is a five-mana legendary Dimir colored Skeleton that's just 0/3. I adore the art here by Amy Weber and Tom Wanerstrand. Note that you have to control an Island to keep control of it, or else it dies. My goal is to tap it to kill an X/1 like Royal Assassin or Birds of Paradise right off the bat. You can collect those counters over turns and kill bigger things.

How do I want to build around this deck?

  1. Creatures with Damage and -0/-X Effects - The first place I want to dig are creatures that can tap or use mana to help out and kill something bigger right now. There are a number of creatures in Dimir that can tap to deal damage to a target or to reduce a target's toughness for the turn, and those will work wonderfully alongside the Ship to kill in one turn. I also have a few non-creatures as well.
  2. Burn Spells - There are not many burn effects in Blue and Black, but there are a few, and we'll run them.
  3. Control Back Up - In case the combos aren't coming, or we face something that my repeatable creature kill won't answer, we will have a backup Dimir Control plan with counters, removal, and solid creatures.

Ready for my deep dive?

Prodigal Sorcerer
Pirate Ship
Zuran Spellcaster

Let's start with Prodigal Sorcerer and friends! They are called Tims because of how the art in the first Sorcerer resembles that of a Monty Python character named Tim (a call I never got, by the by). There are three Blue Tims that tap for a single damage that are legal in Commander '95, the two Wizards and the Pirate. The Wizards are just 1/1s for three mana that tap for a damage to be dealt somewhere, but the Ship is beefy 4/3 that can swing if your foe controls an Island instead of tapping for a damage. These are slow but fine win-cons.

Reveka, Wizard Savant

There is a super Tim from Homelands, Reveka, Wizard Savant. She's legendary, so she can lead a deck, and she's one of a few legendary Tims ever printed. Unlike the Tims above, she can tap to deal 2 damage to any target, which is better and can kill more quickly foes with the Skeleton Ship's -1/-1 counter and other damage effects. However, when she taps, she skips an untap step, so you'll want to use her only when you need two more damage to kill off something, and she averages 1 damage a turn just like the above Tims.

Rod of Ruin
Aladdin's Ring

Check out this duo! In the same set as the debut of Prodigal Sorcerer and Pirate Ship was the Rod, an artifact Tim. Sure, it costs four mana to play and three to tap, but it adds damage to any deck with its colorless nature. It can work well with the Ship and your Tims. Check out the Ring from the first expansion set - Arabian Nights. It was published in a core set very quickly. Now it's the most expensive damage dealer at an incredible eight mana to drop and eight more mana to tap, but it's a game winner with 4 damage each tap, and it can kill most commonly played creatures in Commander '95 in a single tap (from Sengir Vampire to Thunder Spirit to Cockatrice to Hypnotic Specter). Only dorks with five toughness or more - Dancing Scimitar, Shivan Dragon, Force of Nature, and the Elder Dragon cycle aren't dying to just a Ring, and with your leader tapping for a -1/-1 counter that's a lot of kill range. Aladdin's Ring dominated Standard when it was legal as the kill card for Mono-Black Control with Cabal Coffers, making your Black mana dreams come true.

Banshee

Take a look at the self-hurting Tim of Banshee! Tap this 0/1 for two generic mana and you'll deal one damage to any source and take one yourself. Tap it for four mana and you shoot something for two and take two. Well, you have 40 life for a reason, so feel free to shoot down a Dragon Whelp for three damage to yourself! If a foe has a lot less life than you, lean on this to kill them. I love this Reserved List card here.

Minion of Tevesh Szat
Grandmother Sengir

We also have some ways to reduce toughness repeatably in this deck to kill folks as well! Check out the Minion! It's a seven mana 4/4 that requires bb each upkeep. That's a bit pricey, but you'll love that tap ability. Tap Tevesh Szat's Minion to +3/-2 a dork for the turn. You can use this to pump a game winning swinger like your Sengir Vampire to deal 7 damage to someone's face. Pretty nice. Not why it's here though - it's here to tap and hit someone's toughness for 2 and then kill them off with Skeleton Ship. Check out Granny! She's a legendary Black creature from Homelands who can tap 2 mana and herself to -1/-1 a dork for the turn to help your Ship kill. You can swing with her on a naked board for three damage which is fine and dandy, Granny.

Serrated Arrows

This 4-drop artifact was heavily played during the era in sideboards as an answer to the commonly played 2/1 Pump Knights like Order of the Ebon Hand and Order of Stromgald. No matter your colors, you had a colorless answer. Check out this bad boy! It arrives with three counters, and you can tap it to pull a counter to put a -1/-1 counter on target creatures, just like Skeleton Ship does.

Desert

The Desert is almost a land Tim! It can tap to shoot a target attacking dork for a mana but only after combat damage is dealt. Unlike other trends during this time, like Giant Trap Door Spider or Ice Floe, this works on flyers as well. Good land!

Khabal Ghoul

Can you see why Khabal Ghoul is in my deck? At the end of any turn in which something died, this bad Ghoul...er....Zombie nets a +1/+1 counter for each one. Note that you'll get that counter whether or not the Khabal Ghoul was in play when they died. A common technique is to sweep the board with Wrath of God and then drop this after and collect the end turn trigger. In a deck with this much death it felt right!

Xenic Poltergeist

How about this Poltergeist? Nope! You don't see it. When you tap this 1/1 for 3 mana you animate a non-creature artifact into a dork with the power and toughness equal to its casting cost. This lasts until the Poltergeist's player's next upkeep. Turn an opposing Sol Ring into a 1/1 and then kill it with Skeleton Ship. Turn their Jayemdae Tome into a 4/4 and then kill it. You can also send an Aladdin's Ring at someone for an 8/8 game winner so you can use it yourself if there is nothing better to use this bad Spirit on. Enjoy it!

And there we go! Ready to check out my deck?


And there's the deck! Pictures!

Pictures

My deck is here zoomed out:

Here it is zoomed in on some stuff.

Here on some spells

Let me know what you think!

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