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500: Friends Along the Way


Welcome to article 500! I am excited that so many of you have read my articles; this is a big reason why I have continued to write over the last 11 years!

Rather than look back through some older articles and get all introspective, I decided I wanted to celebrate some of the people that have inspired me and my writing during this time. I reached out to each of them and asked for specific decklists that really typify who they are for me. So, you'll be seeing plenty of interesting lists!

Carlos Gutierrez

Child Lands | Commander | Carlos Gutierrez

The first time I heard Carlos was on a podcast more than ten years ago. Week after week he offered up crazy card combinations with cards I had never even heard of. Half of the time I didn't understand the interaction even after reading the cards! It was then that I knew he was someone who saw the game very differently than I did! We met for the first time at a GP in Worcester a few years later and our friendship built through meetups at various GP's, Gencon's, and other fun events. I was thrilled to be invited to his wedding and for a chance to share some time outside of a Magic event.

Carlos' deck is all about lands and recursion. The resiliency of the deck is amazing. I have seen the deck get stuffed repeatedly in games, only to see it bounce back again and again. I don't think I have ever played against the deck and come out on top.

The true power of the deck lies in the land base. Lands are easily the safest permanents on the battlefield as almost no one destroys them, and this deck revels in that. Carlos and I share a love of lands that goes beyond just tapping them for mana. When you look at the deck, skipping over the lands would be missing the showpiece of the deck.

This deck is not just about power though. In Carlos' own words:

When I first started talking and writing about Commander, it was because people were interested in this deck. Because of those endeavors, I've made friends who have completed changed my life. All these years later, I still plan my life around spending as much time with them as I can.

Sean Patchen

Zedruu, Dungeon Master | Commander | Sean Patchen

Sean and I were each fans of the others' content for a long time before we ever met. He was doing podcast work, building Cubes, and constructing wonderful Commander decks. We got a chance to work together on a project for an article I was writing for Wizards of the Coast and have been friends ever since.

A few years ago, Sean came up with this deck. The whole point of the deck is to bring D&D to your Commander game! His deck presents quests for the party to work through and awards the players when they beat them. It can be a group effort or the group can fight amongst themselves. I've been in games where the party fought the DM! In the end, it really didn't matter what the party chose to do. As long as everyone understood the premise of the deck, you were going to get a wild game experience, and that is what I love about it.

Andrew Magrini

Death by Democracy | Commander | Andrew Magrini

Andrew is one of those people who loves excitement. I'm not talking about jumping out of a plane excitement, but he gets engaged when someone it talking about something they love, or he is sharing one of his passions. If you are talking to Magrini about how excited you are to see how the paint on your wall is drying, then he is in! Andrew is a great guy to be around.

We met a couple of times briefly, then I mentioned I wanted to go to Gencon. He offered up a place to stay with him and we spent most of Gencon together checking out games, playing Magic, and having great meals. Since then we have been good friends. I never go to New York without meeting up.

Magrini and I share a love of the political aspects of Commander. We both love the idea of being able to convince others to act and use their resources instead of using our own. Some people talk about the value of a 2 for 1 trade. We laugh at the silliness of that; why use even one of your own cards?! Magrini's deck is designed to do just that. Queen Marchesa brings out The Monarch and he gives it away as quickly as possible, using it as a tool to encourage players to attack each other for card advantage, or to limit someone's board position. The deck can still wade into the fray and mix it up when it has to, but the joy is to try and puppet master the board. I try to include some of that in my decks, but I have never created an entire deck where that was the overarching theme. I love this deck!

Adam Styborski

Stybsy Slimefoot | Commander | Adam Styborski

Many of you know Stybs through his various roles in the Magic community. Stybs was the editor here back when this was GatheringMagic.com. Stybs was responsible for bringing me on board here, and recommending me to Wizards to take over his Serious Fun column. We started attending PaxEast and other events and became friends beyond just the Magic world.

Stybs was particularly important to my writing. There were times when he would send something back to me and suggest a rewrite from another perspective. I really hated the extra work that was involved in that, but he made me a better writer for it.

I asked Adam if I could share this deck, as it typifies Stybs to me: fun and value. This deck is a blast to play with and against. It always seems like you have a chance to win, so the gameplay is there. It rarely just has nothing to do as you are drawing cards or recurring cards from your graveyard.

Brandon Isleib and Daryl Bockett

Thraximundar: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle | Commander | Daryl Bockett

I first started writing, completely because of Brandon and Daryl. The three of us started our own site, The Muse Vessel. We wrote about multiplayer Magic every week for a full year. We edited each other's work and produced our own content. Each of us posted on a particular day of the week. There was no money involved, but we never missed a deadline for the full year. That labor of love was amazing and I loved all the time I spent rehashing and editing. Our discussions were memorable and each of us changed our style of play and how we built decks because of the other. No one has had a bigger impact on my writing and my desire to write than these two.

Daryl's deck is very much Daryl. Daryl was always the Black mage in the group. Daryl was all about "doing the thing." If you could crush the opponent then do it. Daryl's decks create games where players must interact and advance the game, or they will simply stop being part of the game.

Brandon's deck very much fit his role as the crazy deck-builder. He built decks with wild interactions that always left you wondering what was next! In his words:

Every amass card is in here, and that gives it a much higher creature count than it reads. It also does one of my favorite things in having play-by-my-rules-asymmetrically things (like Silent Arbiter and Caverns of Despair). Silas's deathtouch is more important than its artifact recursion, although it's theoretically nice late-game. The biggest treat is when you get Runed Stalactite or Amorphous Axe on one of your commanders, and suddenly loads of your random cards are permanently pumping your commander.

Thanks for all the Fish

As every celebration must come to an end, I bring this article to a close, and my writing to an extended hiatus. Since COVID started, my opportunities to play Magic have decreased dramatically. My weekly get togethers have stopped. We tried meeting online but that has seen a much smaller group of players and it is regularly canceled. Add to this a significantly increased workload that has limited my spare time to a point where writing has, for the first time in eleven years, begun to feel like a chore. I haven't been able to put my all into my writing for months now, and it is time to let it rest.

Thankfully, there is so much great Magic content available right now! Just here at Coolstuff there are great writers making great content every week! Add in the podcasts, YouTubers, and streamers and Commander players could spend hours each day just consuming content!

I hope all of you remember that the best games of Commander aren't the ones you win, but the ones where everyone playing has fun!

Best Wishes,



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