Rivals of Ixalan was recently released, and we’re celebrating here at 75% by realizing that Rivals is the 77th expansion and I missed the chance to do a “75% in honor of Magic’s 75th expansion” article by 6 months.
It didn’t occur to me to check until today and I found out how many expansions there were while I was researching something different. Missing the opportunity to write this in honor of the 75th expansion stings because I was so close, but the article I was going to write is going to be fun enough that we’ll get over it.
The idea was simple — Masters 25 is coming up soon and it will contain a card from “each major release in Magic’s history” which I think is a great concept. Could we make a deck with the same restriction? The deck would contain one card from each expansion in Magic’s history and would have to still be an OK deck. 30 seconds into my research, I realized there is basically no way the deck won’t suck but since we do things for flavor reasons sometimes, you’re going to have to give me a pass. If the deck isn’t good, it’s not considered 75% but we’re going to try and adhere to 75% principles anyway because otherwise anyone could have written this article.
I am going to add a card from each expansion rather than each set. If you count core sets, things like Planechase and Portal and Battle Royale, there are way more than 100 sets. I don’t want too many non-basic lands if I can avoid it and I want the deck to be an actual deck. There are 77 expansions and I am going to include a card from each of them. This is for fun, remember, so if the deck sucks, remember that I tried. I am also going to add only one card from each expansion so we’re going to count the first time the card was printed in case a card is in multiple expansions. This also means we’re not adding cards from editions, so no Sol Ring. If the exclusion of Sol Ring is giving you the vapors, better navigate away. Kyle Boggemes probably published an article today (you should read that even if I didn’t give you the vapors) and if you are already chafing at the exclusion of Sol Ring, you’re going to really get heartburn when you see the cards I end up including. Finally, I’m not going to add any bad cards or cards that don’t fit well with the theme of the deck just because they were in a given expansion. I am not adding Sorrow's Path just for the lulz, especially since I could have added Maze of Ith (let’s be honest — without having started figuring out which cards to add, I’m 90% certain I’m going to end up adding Felwar Stone because necessity).
I want the deck to be 75% and I think since my favorite way to build 75% is to steal their stuff, I will select a commander that does that. I think the best thing to do flavor-wise is to include a commander from Legends and the most 75% commander from that set is pretty obvious — Rubinia Soulsinger. Not only does Rubinia put us in the best colors imaginable, she also steals their creatures, which is my favorite way to scale the power level of my deck to the power level of their deck. We won’t be able to play Black or Red in the deck, but that’s going to have to be OK. So what would a deck that included a card from each of Magic’s 77 expansions based around Rubinia Soulsinger look like? Here’s the card I included from each expansion and why.
Arabian Nights — With only 78 cards to choose from, it was surprising that I had so many choices. If I were going to go enchantress with Rubinia, like I currently have my Rubinia deck built, Drop of Honey would have been a good choice. City of Brass is also going to be pretty helpful. Ultimately I decided to select Old Man of the Sea because of how 75% it is. Steal those creatures early and often.
Antiquities — At 85 cards, this was a simple choice. I don’t like to give creatures back if something happens to Rubinia. Accordingly, I think the choice from this set has to be Ashnod's Altar.
Legends — As we said, Rubinia Soulsinger is our choice from Legends. There are other good cards to choose from but I was always going to choose my commander from this set.
The Dark — As I said earlier, with our choices for mana rocks likely narrowed, I’m going to get mana rocks from sets that don’t have a ton of good other cards. I’d hate to have my choices from Ravnica sets be Signets. Fellwar Stone it is.
Fallen Empires — This terrible set gave us Hymn to Tourach, Goblin Grenade, Rainbow Vale and my choice from the set — Seasinger. The odds are good someone has an Island and if they have an Island, you can have their Consecrated Sphinx with a $0.10 card.
Ice Age — This was my first expansion as a player which means I have been playing Magic for most of both its life and mine. Ice Age is full of nostalgia and terrible, terrible cards. I think that since Counterspell wasn’t originally printed in Ice Age, I’m ruling it ineligible to be my pick from this set. Ultimately, since nothing is grabbing me from Ice Age, I’m going with Brushland since I think my later picks will be more Green cards and that makes this a better pick than Adarkar Wastes.
Homelands — This is such a bad set that I was surprised to have a few good choices. Merchant Scroll is a very, very good card, Aysen Abbey is terrible mana fixing but it is in my colors and Primal Order is a great hoser that punishes people for being able to have better mana bases than me. I almost went with Serra Bestiary, but Primal Order is the winner.
Alliances — This set is remembered more fondly than it should be. Alliances is full of really bad cards that seemed OK at the time since every other card was bad. Arcane Denial really lept out at me (I don’t think Force of Will would be that good in the deck) and I may later wish I had more countermagic in the deck, but I am going with Thawing Glaciers since I think mana fixing should be a priority.
Visions — Desertion and it wasn’t particularly close. My real life Rubinia Enchantress deck runs Femeref Enchantress, but I’m not likely going to be able to build that so Desertion it is. I am eschewing affordable counters but Desertion takes up two slots in the deck, essentially, and is too good not to run.
Tempest — This was basically Magic’s first good set. Legacy's Allure and Rootwater Matriarch both looked pretty tempting for the theme of the deck, and Capsize and Dismiss are great utility cards. Ultimately it came down to a toss-up between Mirri's Guile and Propaganda and I opted for Propaganda. This set was tough and I think it will only get tougher. I’m not even a 6th of the way through and all the easy sets are done.
Stronghold — Burgeoning, Constant Mists, Evacuation, Horn of Greed, Mana Leak, Mox Diamond, Reins of Power, and Volrath's Shapeshifter are all in this extremely stacked set. Ultimately, Constant Mists seemed like the pick but it could have gone any number of ways.
Exodus — Survival of the Fittest is probably the best card in the set in terms of raw power in EDH (Mind Over Matter makes a strong case for itself) but I am not sure I have enough creatures in the deck to bother so I went with Dominating Licid.
Urza’s Saga — Confiscate, Carpet of Flowers, Exploration, Gilded Drake, Greater Good, Serra's Sanctum, Sunder, Time Spiral, Turnabout, Vernal Bloom, Windfall, and Worship all got a look. Worship seemed like the pick, ultimately.
Urza’s Legacy — There are a lot of good cards here, but none of them are as good as Crawlspace in this deck. This was in part influenced by picking Constant Mists earlier. I’m building this deck from the past forward, I guess.
Urza’s Destiny — Aura Thief was a front-runner for a long time, as were Pattern of Rebirth and Opposition. As much as I thought I was going to end up picking Yavimaya Elder, Treachery is too good to pass up.
Mercadian Masques — It was hard to bring myself to check every card in a set where Bribery exists and while we’re getting heavy on creature-swiping and aren’t doing much else for our deck, I’m confident snapping Bribery here.
Nemesis — I bet you think I’m going to take Dominate, don’t you? I kind of wish I had taken Opposition earlier so I could take Jolting Merfolk now, but that weak combo was better with 4 copies of each in a 60 card deck. I’m nostalgiang hard right now and I need to get back on track and pick a card that makes this deck good, not one that makes 15-year-old Jason want to go to his first FNM. Skyshroud Claim it is.
Prophecy — This is the set with Rhystic Study, right? I’m going to be hard-pressed to not pick that. After carefully perusing the entire set, I opted not to get distracted by something like Spore Frog and just pick Rhystic Study, one of the best cards ever.
Invasion — I don’t think I have enough creatures to trigger Aura Shards leaving me to choose between Captain Sisay and Empress Galina. Galina is super on-theme, but Sisay allows later picks to be better since I can find them. I have a lot of creatures that do what Galina does from sets with no other good cards so I can afford to miss a pick and go for the card that can find anything from Paradox Engine to Jace(s). Captain Sisay is the winner.
Planeshift — How many people even know what Primal Growth does? It’s a solid card and one of Planeshift’s many hidden gems. If I thought I would have one of their creatures early enough in the game that it would be good to sac it to Primal Growth, I might have picked it, but there’s not much of a case for not playing Treva's Charm in that spot instead.
Apocalypse — This is a good set and it has some good cards (plus a lot of bad ones) but with 77 expansions and 60 maindeck slots, a lot of sets are going to have to cough up a non-basic land. As much as I want it to be Yavimaya's Embrace, Yavimaya Coast is the pick.
Odyssey — Chamber of Manipulation is a card I like to run often in decks like this and there isn’t much else in Odyssey I’d rather run.
Torment — I couldn’t find a card I wanted to run more than Far Wanderings which is fine, because you might as well get spells like this from sets without a lot of good choices so you don’t have to draft Kodama's Reach later.
Judgment — There are some pretty good cards here, but not better than Krosan Verge and with a lot of non-basics likely to end up in the deck, I might as well pick a good one.
Onslaught — There are a lot of good cards here. Akroma's Vengeance, Blatant Thievery, Callous Oppressor, Explosive Vegetation, Flooded Strand, Oblation, cycling lands, and Windswept Heath. Ultimately, I think we have to take the Blatant Thievery, though the lands are tempting and we’re probably going to end up running Guildgates if we don’t take some more lands soon.
Mirrodin — I expected this to be tougher, but it was basically Gilded Lotus or Solemn Simulacrum or Lightning Greaves. Since we are reliant on our commander a little bit and we won’t have Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves is the winner.
Darksteel — Faced with a decision between Darksteel Ingot and Memnarch, I had to ask myself whether I wanted the deck to play smoothly or be on-theme. I picked Memnarch so I guess that answers that question.
Fifth Dawn — The last pick I made helped me realize how important mana rocks are. Accordingly, I decided to go with Acquire here to make sure I get a good mana rock.
Champions of Kamigawa — This set has a ton. I narrowed it down to Ghostly Prison, Hinder, Journey's Kite, Keiga, Minamo, Top (I know, I know) and Yosei. As hot as the dragons are and as good as Top is, I think I have to go with Ghostly Prison. I have a bit of a prison theme going and Hinder ain’t what it used to be.
Betrayers of Kamigawa — Though it seemed like “Jitte plus trash” at the time, this set gave me fits. I thought about Hokori, Dust Drinker for longer than I should have. Ultimately, this paints too big a target on you and you probably can’t overcome it with a thematic deck. Threads of Disloyalty scales poorly to EDH and I wanted to come up with a spicy pick from this set and ultimately settled on Kira, Great Glass-Spinner which will help make sure the creatures we steal stay under our control.
Saviors of Kamigawa - Though it seemed like “Pithing Needle plus trash” at the time, this set also gave me fits. My real life Rubinia deck would snap Meishin, but I think I have to go with Miren, the Moaning Well on this one. I don’t like giving creatures back, and we need to pick about 17 non-basic lands before we’re done here, so why not pick a good one now?
Ravnica — I kind of expected to be spoiled for choice here, but I was underwhelmed slightly. Temple Garden is a good pick and while there are good utility cards in the set, I am confident I picked correctly.
Guildpact — Yuck. I can’t take any lands or signets from this set. Spelltithe Enforcer seems saucy and I might as well be saucy since I need to pick between Simic and Azorius in the next set.
Coldsnap — Finally, we are finishing up Ice Age block. I wanted Scrying Sheets but we’re not set up enough to take advantage and we have more non-basics than usual which means even with snow-covered basics, we’re still going to have a tough time activating sheets let alone drawing off of it. It was a nice thought, but Coldsteel Heart gets the nod. Mana rocks matter.
Future Sight — This set has some great cards but I need to be picking some lands, and a set that has Nimbus Maze and Horizon Canopy is as good a time as any to do it. Sorry, Coalition Relic, I’m going Horizon Canopy.
Lorwyn — Once you strip out the tribal stuff, the set’s a little light on playables. There are a lot of good utility cards and I stared at Gaddock Teeg for a long time before I realized what a nonbo he is with my whole deck. Ultimately, I’m going with Wanderwine Hub and that feels OK to me.
Morningtide — I am going to take Knowledge Exploitation but I don’t have to be happy about it.
Shadowmoor — Greater Auramancy is calling my name, but I am not building that deck, I don’t think. I’m taking Mystic Gate and that is starting to feel boring to me. Surely latter sets have more to contribute?
Eventide — This deck-building process is starting to feel like a Cube draft. I open a pack with Murkfiend Liege, Primalcrux, Bloom Tender, and Glen Elendra Archmage and windmill Flooded Grove because mana matters, folks.
Shards of Alara — You: “Don’t take Seaside Citadel, Jason”
Seaside Citadel it is.
Worldwake — Should this be Jace or Colonnade? Maybe. But long-time readers of this column knew it would be Thada Adel, Acquisitor as soon as I did.
Rise of the Eldrazi — I’m allowed the occasional pet card, so Bear Umbra gets the nod here. It’s functional and it keeps good creatures alive and on your side.
Mirrodin Besieged — Corrupted Conscience is perhaps the most underrated card in this set. If we’re going to steal creatures, why not make them kill a lot faster?
Innistrad — There are a lot of good cards, but no “I better take this over Hinterland Harbor cards” so that’s what I took.
Avacyn Restored — This set is chock-full of EDH goodies, but nothing that this particular deck wants. Deadeye Navigator, Craterhoof Behemoth, Champion of Lambholdt, Primal Surge, Sigarda . . . the list goes on. Ultimately, I have to pick something for my deck, so I’m going with Terminus.
Return to Ravnica — I might just flip a coin — we are really too spoiled for choice with this set. Chromatic Lantern, Azor's Elecutors, Cyclonic Rift, Detention Sphere, Martial Law; the set is so stacked that I can imagine audible gasps from my readers as I select Sphere of Safety.
Gatecrash — I should probably take fixing here, but Diluvian Primordial is too good to pass up. I am about to run out of time to get the last few lands I need, though.
Dragon’s Maze — It’s expensive, but Progenitor Mimic is outstanding and is a great 75% card to boot.
Theros — It has to be Temple of Mystery and I’m not even sad about that.
Born of the Gods — I spent a long time going back and forth between Temple of Enlightenment and Plea for Guidance. I am going with Plea for Guidance and I think it’s too good to pass up a good land. I may have to take a land in Kaladesh block, which I don’t want to do, but I need 17 non-basics (assuming I have 60 non-lands) so they have to come from somewhere.
Journey into Nyx — I didn’t end up making the Enchantress deck I normally do, but I have enough that Skybind is going to do a lot of work. Repeatable removal is going to help us and this also fuels Sphere of Safety. I’m happy to be able to include this.
Khans of Tarkir — A wedge block without Bant in it. My mana-fixing options are going to be pretty close to nonexistent but I would probably take Clever Impersonator even if they weren’t.
Oath of the Gatewatch — Gross. Isolation Zone, I guess.
Eldritch Moon — I am getting the booster draft experience with this exercise, all right. For every pack with no playables in my color like Shadows over Innistrad is the booster with 4 cards I wish I could take. Eldritch Moon has Thalia, Thalia's Lancers, Mind's Dilation and Tamiyo. Ultimately, I went with Mind's Dilation because it’s the most 75% although my mana curve is probably ridiculous.
Kaladesh — I knew I would end up having to take Botanical Sanctum, but now I’m done having to take non-basics, so that’s cool.
Aether Revolt — I don’t care what you’re building, if you’re Green, try and jam Rishkar's Expertise.
Amonkhet — This wanted to be Sandwurm Convergence, I think. Ultimately, I’m worried about my high mana curve and lack of card draw and Bounty of the Luxa addresses both of those concerns a little more than Sandwurm Convergence does. If you are still worried, Spring // Mind does well in that spot, also.
Ixalan — All of the cool piratey stuff is in Black and Red. Spell Swindle it is.
Rivals of Ixalan — Well, here we are. It’s the 77th expansion in Magic’s history. I wish we had caught this before Ixalan block so we could have done it on the 75th expansion, but with access to this last card, The Immortal Sun, it’s hard to be mad.
Here’s what the deck would look like
The First Ever 77% Deck? Commander | Jason Alt
- Commander (1)
- 1 Rubinia Soulsinger
- Creatures (13)
- 1 Captain Sisay
- 1 Clever Impersonator
- 1 Diluvian Primordial
- 1 Dominating Licid
- 1 Dragonlord Dromoka
- 1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
- 1 Memnarch
- 1 Old Man of the Sea
- 1 Progenitor Mimic
- 1 Seasinger
- 1 Spelltithe Enforcer
- 1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
- 1 Windborn Muse
- Instants (7)
- 1 Constant Mists
- 1 Desertion
- 1 Jabari's Influence
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Spell Swindle
- 1 Treva's Charm
- 1 Wing Shards
- Sorceries (10)
- 1 Acquire
- 1 Blatant Thievery
- 1 Bribery
- 1 Far Wanderings
- 1 Knowledge Exploitation
- 1 Plea for Guidance
- 1 Rishkar's Expertise
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Terminus
- 1 Wargate
- Enchantments (20)
- 1 Abduction
- 1 Bear Umbra
- 1 Bounty of the Luxa
- 1 Chamber of Manipulation
- 1 Corrupted Conscience
- 1 Curse of Echoes
- 1 Dissipation Field
- 1 Frozen Aether
- 1 Ghostly Prison
- 1 Isolation Zone
- 1 Luminarch Ascension
- 1 Mind's Dilation
- 1 Monastery Siege
- 1 Primal Order
- 1 Propaganda
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Skybind
- 1 Sphere of Safety
- 1 Treachery
- 1 Worship
- Artifacts (8)
- 1 Ashnod's Altar
- 1 Coldsteel Heart
- 1 Crawlspace
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Mirage Mirror
- 1 Norn's Annex
- 1 The Immortal Sun
- Lands (41)
- 7 Plains
- 8 Forest
- 8 Island
- 1 Botanical Sanctum
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Brushland
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Flooded Grove
- 1 Fortified Village
- 1 Hinterland Harbor
- 1 Horizon Canopy
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Mystic Gate
- 1 Prairie Stream
- 1 Seaside Citadel
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Temple of Mystery
- 1 Thawing Glaciers
- 1 Wanderwine Hub
- 1 Yavimaya Coast
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
That’s how she ended up. Part of this felt like drafting a deck since I didn’t want to go back to a previous set once I had made a selection and therefore I had to try and look ahead to anticipate my needs. I ended up with a deck that can build a wall of enchantments, steal your creatures and keep you from hitting me. If I could go back and tweak a few selections, I might, but for the most part, this is a pretty decent deck that will at least be fun to play. The mana is atrocious and the curve is probably too high, but this is packed full of fun spells from all of Magic’s history and it hangs as a 75% deck. All in all, I am very happy. Who would you have picked for your commander had you done this same thing? I expect you have a lot of strong opinions about cards I missed, so make sure to pick a fight in the comments section. Thanks for reading. Until next time!