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New Player Commander Decks: Selesnya & Rakdos


I get the chance to present the Selesnya All for One deck and the Rakdos Relentless Assault deck out of the slate of New Player Commander Decks from CoolStuffInc.com! We get the glorious Rakdos beatdown and Selesnya token fun! I chose the two guilds that I think are amongst the most instinctive to play for new players. Selesnya encourages you to play out your creatures and try to overwhelm your opponents. I'm also a big fan of tokens and pumping them up into huge terrors. This is good times! Rakdos encourages you to swing for the fences and attack whenever possible. This can be an issue in multiplayer games since it is easy to run out of steam or leave yourself vulnerable to three players swinging back, but this deck offers a recursion theme that should help with that.

While I could easily point to several pricey cards as options to improve each deck, that really doesn't make any sense. If you are looking at buying these decks, you probably aren't looking for me to jack the price of the deck through the roof, so any suggestions I make to improve the deck are going to be made with price in mind. I'm also going to focus on cards that make each deck better, no matter which commander you choose to put at the helm. So given that, let's get started!

New Player Commander Deck - All for One

*Note: This is version 1.0 of the deck. Some cards in later batches of this deck may vary*

I want to go through and point you to a bunch of cards that will really make this deck hum, but starting with that is like polishing a ten-year old car that has never had a tune-up. It just means your car is going to look real nice sitting on the side of the Interstate while you wait for a tow truck to pick you up. Let's start by making sure the deck can do what it is trying to do!

Lands. Math time here. Thirty-six lands in your deck means that roughly 50% of the time you'll have four lands on turn four. That means in half of your games, you are NOT going to have four lands by turn four. I don't like those odds. I don't want to rely on my ramp package to keep me at one land per turn; I want my ramp to get me ahead of one land per turn. We are adding four lands to this deck to improve our odds. Khalni Garden would be a good addition. Selesnya Sanctuary is solid, especially if you have ways to untap any of your lands. Rogue's Passage, particularly in this deck that can get you some really big creatures that need evasion, is a solid addition as well. To this I would add another Forest or Plains, depending on which your deck needs.

Ramp. There is a handful of ramp in the deck, but when your deck is White and Green and you are trying to amass creatures to go wide, you really want a ton of mana! Not including Cultivate and Kodama's Reach is a mistake. I understand wanting to stay original but virtually every Green deck runs these cards for a reason. Rampant Growth is another inexpensive card that gets the job done. Skyshroud Claim is another option. You can also look at mana rocks, but we have the luxury of running Green, so you might as well get the Plains and Forests onto the battlefield!

Card Draw. Card draw is tough for White and Green. The deck is relying a lot on cycling to get through the cards in the deck and that is a great start. Camaraderie and Dryad Woodseeker are two great cards in the deck for card draw. I would add a Harmonize to the list. Drawing three cards is not going to get you any negative attention. Infiltration Lens is some cheap equipment that can be put on one of your bigger threats that doesn't have evasion. It is amazing how many players will chump block a 6/6 creature, even if it means you get to draw two cards. If you can find the opponent who has an indestructible 1/1 creature, the odds of you drawing those two cards goes way up!

Enchantment/Artifact removal. White and Green are the gold standards for artifact and enchantment removal. The deck is already running a handful of removal so we are pretty good. I would recommend Seed Spark as another option. It is a little mana heavy, but it adds a couple of token creatures so it fits the theme.

Removal. The deck relies a lot on the fight mechanic as creature removal. That is handy, but mass removal is important in a deck like this that churns out tokens quickly. Fumigate is currently a reasonably priced option, although I don't know why. Five mana to destroy all creatures is pretty standard, and gaining a life for each creature destroyed is a nice bonus. Akroma's Vengeance cleans out a lot more than just creatures. End Hostilities is another fun option that picks off equipment that gives hexproof and the occasional Sword of X and Y. My personal favorite for this deck would be Martial Coup. It does cost seven mana to act as removal, but getting a whole bunch of Soldier tokens to restart your board presence first is excellent. For a deck like this I would want three or four pieces of mass removal, but your meta may demand more or less.

The Fun! So we have the engine under the hood running smoothly, now we can really make this deck go! This is a fun deck that gives you token creatures in addition to something else, and that makes for some great board states. There are two spots that I'd like to see pumped up a little: evasion and more mass token generation. Decks that try to go wide with tokens often need a way to give them evasion. Craterhoof Behemoth is the gold standard for this, but comes with a golden price tag as well. Every 1/1 token gets pumped up, and gets trample, so the team can't just be chump blocked by someone else's 1/1 army. Baru, Fist of Krosa is a great way to improve your odds. Unlike a lot of the spells that give you one shot to make it count, Baru does it every time you play a Forest, so that is nice. It only works on your Green creatures so that can be a problem.

Two rarely used alternatives are Dragon Throne of Tarkir, and Stampede Driver. Both involve tapping a creature, but they give you the effect repeatedly, so your opponents will always be wondering when the big swing is going to happen.

Mass token generation is also important. Getting one or two additional token creatures is great, but most of your opponents will be able to handle that. Getting an entire army's worth of tokens from one card completely changes the strategy! I've already mentioned Martial Coup, but there are a few others to consider adding to the deck. Conqueror's Pledge is rather narrow, but you get six 1/1 creatures, or a dozen if you have threshold. Mercy Killing is a card I think deserves more play. It can be creature removal for those cards you just can't deal with, or you can use it on your own creature during combat when it is obvious the creature is going to die. Sylvan Offering is another fun card, in that it can give your friends some bonus creatures. Even if you have to give the token creatures to someone you don't want, your Dragon Throne of Tarkir is going to make your creatures more impressive than the tokens you have given away.

Finally, add White Sun's Zenith to the deck. It gives you creatures at instant speed, so you can play it at the end of an opponent's turn and swing immediately, or surprise someone with a whole lot of blockers. Even after you have cast it, White Sun's Zenith gets shuffled into your library where you can draw it again!

New Player Commander Deck - Relentless Assault

*Note: This is version 1.0 of the deck. Some cards in later batches of this deck may vary*

Everyone loves a good party, and the Rakdos love a party more than anyone! However, every truly great party comes with some significant planning. That means that we'll be looking at the basics first, then adding a few fun cards to round things out.

Lands. No matter what you are hoping to do, you must have mana and this deck is very light on that. With only 35 land and the lightest amount of ramp, you are going to have a rough time. If you intend to Dash Kolaghan out, you will want plenty of mana. Both of the commanders cost five, so getting to seven mana will be very important. Using the same theory we did with Selesnya, we'll want to see five lands by turn five. This means that five of every twelve cards should be land jus to give us a 50% chance of getting five mana on turn five! We are going to add lands to add consistency to the deck. Forty lands is probably a little light, but let's start there. Temple of the False God, Rakdoes Carnarium, Ebon Stronghold, Spinerock Knoll and Rogue's Passage offer better odds of hitting your land drops, and also an occasional opportunity to swing one of your creatures in unmolested. Even just adding more basic lands works. Going with 35 lands just isn't enough.

Ramp. This isn't the Selesnya deck where we can just dig through a plethora of great ways to search for lands. Given the cost of the commanders, and how mana-hungry this deck can be, you will want another five ways to ramp up. Black and Red really don't do that kind of ramp. Here you are going to want to lean heavily on artifacts that tap for mana (aka "mana rocks") or artifacts that make your spells cheaper. Rakdos Signet is a little pricey, but it needs to go in. Hazoret's Monument doesn't tap for mana, but it does make your Red creature spells cheaper and that counts too. Kolaghan Monument and Rakdos Keyrune can give you short term creatures and Rakdos Cluestone can draw you a card when you have enough mana.

Card draw. If the deck is going to be a truly Relentless Assault, it will need to draw a lot of cards. You want to play out your threats and dominate, but Commander games demand that you can reload since there will be plenty of situations where the board is wiped clean or bounced. When that happens you need to be able to reload quickly and that often means drawing cards. There are three cards I'd like to add to the deck that can really up the card volume for the deck.

Read the Bones is a great draw spell, letting you get four cards into your library for only 3 mana. Outpost Siege, set to Khans, gives you the opportunity to use an extra card on each of your turns. In a deck where you want to push hard immediately, Outpost Siege can be a great card! Finally, Arguel's Blood Fast offers a lot of card draw. I like to have ways that allow repeated card draw and Arguel's Blood Fast does that. I also like that when you reach the point in the game where you can't afford to pay the two life any longer it transforms and offers a way to gain life!

The Fun! Since the deck already has plenty of removal, I wanted to suggest a couple of interesting additions for the deck. Each of these has an enter the battlefield trigger, so they'll work nicely with Garna, the Bloodflame, and offer up bodies you don't mind losing so they'll swing in when Kolaghan wants them too.

Pia Nalaar brings a thopter with her when she joins the fray. The thopter can bring more flying damage or be sacrificed so another creature can't block that turn. Murderous Redcap brings damage that can be repeated due to Persist or due to Garna bringing the Goblin back to your hand to be recast. Anathemancer can do some real damage against opponents with tricked out mana bases. With Garna, you'll be able to do this a couple of times. Anathemancer works just as well when your opponents know it is coming!

Finally, try out Josu Vess, Lich Knight. For four mana you are getting a 4/5 creature with menace. That gets even bigger when Kolaghan flies over and gives +1/+0. In the late game, the eight 2/2 Zombie Knights with menace will finish off opponents with Kolaghan flying overhead!

Both of these decks offer a nice way to get into Commander for a great price. If you find yourself playing against opponents with fully loaded decks, there is a pretty basic and effective technique to stay in the game: lay low. Play out a few threats so you aren't being attacked because there is no downside, but you want to have a full hand of cards at all times. Many of your cards are far more frightening in your hand than on the table. Don't stop anything unless it directly affects you. Your removal and other forms of interaction are precious so don't waste them taking out a creature that wasn't going to attack you.

As you upgrade your deck, you'll see more chances to jump into the fray when you know you can protect yourself. When I started I knew I had to save my cards for the end game when others were weaker and I could pounce. Revel in stealing wins with your guerilla-style assaults!

Bruce Richard


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