When Commander was a young and much more of a niche format (and went by a different name!), one of the joys was finding the cards that were clearly overpowered in a multiplayer format Wizards' hadn't considered. Cards like Syphon Soul and Rhystic Study gave you much bigger benefits than Wizards expected since they were only considering formats with one opponent.
Now, Commander is a powerhouse and when cards are made, the effect on Commander is always considered. Wizards builds powerhouse cards for the format, but does so intentionally. It is now up to us to make them work in our decks and play groups.
However, that joy of finding the unexpected interaction is still alive and well for me! My group plays casual 60-card decks in group games. We tend to follow the Legacy banned list to determine what cards we will include, but that rule is regularly broken for Unstable and other silver-bordered cards. When we build these decks, everyone knows that this can be even more broken than Commander, so we tend to police ourselves, with everyone building decks that are fun for everyone. The decks tend to be along the same power level as a casual Commander deck. It is a great format to find a two- or three-card interaction and try to make it work. The games tend to be faster than Commander, mostly due to the 20 life starting total, which is also a benefit when you are looking at one more short game to wrap up the night!
This is a format that Wizards doesn't think about all that much when they make cards. They expect almost all multiplayer games to be Commander, so that opens up some interesting interactions when you can have four copies of a card, particularly legendary cards.
Recently, I was thinking about the "Partner with" cards in Battlebond. Being able to bring the partner from your library whenever you play the other one is a huge benefit. For all intents and purposes, it means that you have two copies of each card in your deck when you have one copy of each. This is great for cards like Ley Weaver and Lore Weaver, as it doubles the chances of getting them into play. However, in 60-card decks, there is a whole different story.
Consider Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Toothy, Imaginary Friend. Yes, they are adorable and a little disturbing that the small child chooses a friend like Toothy. What kind of childhood is Pir having to spawn this kind of friend? Anyway, for Commander decks, if they are your commanders, they are always on the battlefield or in the Command Zone, so their ability is almost useless. In Battlebond games, it means that you can put one in your partner's deck and one in yours, or both in yours, and you are going to have both in play. With 60-card though...
You play Pir and search for Toothy. Then you play Toothy... and search for another Pir! If someone takes out either card, just play the next Pir and you are searching for the next Toothy! If someone uses mass removal, you can play the Pir in your hand and search for another Toothy! You essentially have eight copies in your 60-card deck, so getting at least one of them in your hand to start the game should be easy. After that, you are simply searching for another one to always have one in hand if something should happen!
I considered what this would mean for a Pir and Toothy 60-card build. You would almost always get an extra counter on your cards, and always have a way to build a sizeable Toothy. You would be able to play fast and loose attacking with Toothy, knowing you'll likely be drawing plenty of cards and you'll always have another Toothy ready to jump in and start building up its pile of +1/+1 counters! In fact, if you play a second Toothy, the first one can be put into the graveyard, giving you card draws that will put all those +1/+1 counters on the second Toothy!
With a big creature and a way to add more counters, the first issue with the deck seemed to lie with the mana. Pir might not be too much mana to play, but Toothy at four mana might be a minor problem. I looked at Gyre Sage as an on theme solution to this problem. As creatures hit the battlefield, Gyre Sage would get a counter and Pir would add another counter to the evolve trigger, giving two Green mana when it tapped!
I noted in a couple of two-headed giant games I played with Pir and Toothy, that Toothy would get pretty big but has no real evasion. It seemed a shame to build up a big Toothy and not have a way to attack, so I added some evasion. Wonder in your graveyard is a great way to get all your creatures in the air to attack and block, but I also like Skyrider Patrol. It only helps with a particular creature, but it isn't vulnerable to graveyard removal and it is cheap to buy. Or in my case, just happen to have a couple left over from a sealed deck-build.
The deck is also going to want some removal. There are times when a creature just needs to be gone, so I went digging and opted for bounce instead of actual removal. Most of the time when this deck needs a creature gone, it is so creatures can swing in, or so you aren't taking damage. This doesn't need to be a permanent removal, so getting them out of the way for a turn is often good enough. This also works well with Toothy, since it gives you the card draw when it leaves the battlefield, not necessarily when it dies. Bouncing it back to your hand to replay can work wonders. You draw all the cards and when you replay Toothy, you can also find another Pir!
For this bounce, I opted for two classics: Man-o'-War and Tradewind Rider. Man-o'-War is only three mana and gets the job done, while Tradewind Rider asks you to tap two other creatures and bounces not only creatures, but any permanent. The Rider handles Toothy as well as planeswalkers, enchantments, and any other troublesome permanents. It is amazing how Tradewind Rider affects what your opponents will even play! If they are hoping to add tokens to a card, or play a creature that will be sitting with summoning sickness, they are likely going to wait.
Even with Tradewind Rider, I still like a little dedicated artifact and enchantment removal. Trygon Predator finds its way into almost every Blue and Green deck I run. It flies and usually can find its way in to damage someone, and is a recurring artifact/enchantment removal option. As a flying creature, it even finds itself the recipient of random +1/+1 counters on occasion! Just an all-round useful card!
With my meta currently focused on recycling the graveyard, always having a little graveyard removal is a good thing with my decks, and Scavenging Ooze fits perfectly with this deck. Pir provides extra counters while the Ooze takes care of business with the opponents' graveyards. This has often proved to be a great place to dump extra mana. I've often just used the extra mana to get rid of every card in a graveyard, whether it was a creature card or not!
With the remaining slots, I knew I wanted to focus on the deck's themes. Forgotten Ancient is great in Commander and shines here as well. Just remember that Pir only adds one more counter when adding counters, so the best way to use Forgotten Ancient is to move the counters to all your other creatures. Spreading them out will get you more free counters from Pir. Don't just put them all on Toothy, give Pir, the Gyre Sage and Trygon Predator a little love too!
I also like Zameck Guildmage for this deck. The first ability that adds a +1/+1 counter is nice, but Pir will be doing that for us, so I'm not too excited about it. I'm more excited about the second ability which lets us remove a single counter to draw a card. There are times when I'm not going to want to bounce Toothy to draw a pile of cards. The Guildmage gives the deck the option of paying a little mana to draw a card or two, rather than paying to bring Toothy back into the battlefield. The flexibility will be handy as Toothy will still be a threat to attack or block with several counters on it.
Vigor takes things down a slightly different path, but again works well with this deck. Nothing discourages opponents from attacking like knowing that they aren't going to destroy any of your creatures, and will likely be just making them bigger. Vigor is an absolute house and I love the frustrated looks my opponents get when he is around.
Finally, the deck is abusing the partner with ability for Pir and Toothy, so why stop there! I wanted to include Ley Weaver and Lore Weaver. I don't think we'll need the card draw all that much, but the ability to untap two lands is going to be amazing. Between the extra mana and the abilities some of the cards have, untapping a couple of lands is going to be very handy!
Pir and Toothy, Ad Infinitum | 60-card Casual | Bruce Richard
- Creatures (36)
- 1 Lore Weaver
- 1 Vigor
- 2 Ley Weaver
- 2 Man-o'-War
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 2 Skyrider Patrol
- 2 Wonder
- 2 Zameck Guildmage
- 3 Tradewind Rider
- 3 Trygon Predator
- 4 Forgotten Ancient
- 4 Gyre Sage
- 4 Pir, Imaginative Rascal
- 4 Toothy, Imaginary Friend
This deck is fun, but you are hardly locked to my choices! Find a card that bounces creatures that fits with the deck's theme and run that instead! I won't be offended, honest!
The 60-card format allows for all kinds of builds and fun niche decks. Enjoy the deck-building options available in a four-of format that the singleton format just doesn't allow!