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The Commander Box: Introduction


In stunning turn of events that surprises absolutely no one, I’m returning to Commander as the topic du jour. This time, it’s going to stick for a few weeks. I have a pretty neat idea that I want to push through, but it’s going to take some time to work through.

I’ve been playing Commander for over three years now. It’s a scary thought that the “cool, neat” format I was introduced to is now both a product release with new cards and a ubiquitous side event at every major tournament I’ve been to in the past year. The thought is so scary I’ve spent numerous articles addresses these concerns, and opening up discussion around what Commander is or isn’t.

Today, and the rest of this article series, isn’t about such heady topics and heavy thoughts. We’re going to cover the construction of having a diversity of Commander decks, but all in one box.

The Convenience of Consolidation

I have three complete Commander decks on hand, and five more partially deconstructed decks tossed about as well. Each of these decks has a Sol Ring, most of the appropriate dual lands, and assorted other goodies in common. That is, I not only have multiple copies of Commander staples, but I’m not even using them all (or even entirely aware of which ones, exactly, I have).

I don’t play competitively, and when I do, it’s with a cool deck that I find more fun and powerful (such as the Illusions decks that have been running around). Playsets of powerful staples are nice if I always build sixty-card multiplayer decks. But I build funky decks for that as well. In fact, I usually end up trading my sets apart to help those going to PTQs and making their own Commander decks.

A practice I’ve been taking note of is that of a “Legacy Box” where all of the essential components of the best decks in Legacy are kept together. Week after week, a player can construct any deck he needs, maintaining adaptability against the metagame while never losing track of what decks cards end up in—he only has one deck. It’s not dissimilar to having a Cube and building a deck from it (something Eric Klug used to do with his common/uncommon Cube).

Since I want to downsize and move the extra pieces of my collection into hands of those who want to play with them, and building new Commander decks is a challenge I find interesting, creating a “Commander Box” is an idea I want to see through. I have way too many copies of cards that are way too valuable to just keep to myself, and way too many cards that are wacky good fun that sit languishing, hidden away in a binder on my shelf.

To restate clearly, the Commander Box will:

  • Contain Commander staples as well as fun cards that play well for casual multiplayer
  • Support very different colors of Commanders, with very different play strategies
  • Promote a more dynamic Commander experience, allowing retooling and adjustment of my current deck on the fly

This is fun made efficient yet flexible, and you’re invited along for the ride.

Commander staples are a pretty broad categorization, and it comes with a little contention. There are cards that some would say are essential that others say are overblown; Rhystic Study, Sol Ring, and Strip Mine have their supporters and detractors. I’m not interesting in answering these very debatable questions because there’s already an answer: Choose what’s fun.

What’s fun for me is a variety of things. I like Sol Ring and Strip Mine, but also Oath of Druids and Gate to the AEther. I also like the pricy and pedestrian pieces of good mana bases. I like equipment, multicolored spells, and spicy foils. I’m a Commander fanatic, and I want it all.

Hard-Hitting Analysis

Unlike the Community Cube, where you took the reins and voted on almost everything, I’m not looking for others to steer me where they think I should go. I know what I’m after; I can visualize the end goal clearly. What I do need is some direction on how to slice the content up.

Here are a few polls that will shape how the next few weeks will fall out.

[poll id="92"]

The order in which the results bear out is the order in which I’ll handle them! (Pro tip: Lands and artifacts provide a nice base of classic Commander staples to build from when considering individual colors.)

[poll id="93"]

I’m interested if you’re interested in a breakout of the diversity of Legendary creatures I’m planning to work with. I have some usual and unusual ideas to work with, and if you know what I have in mind, you’ll certainly be able to influence some of my inclusion/exclusion decisions!

[poll id="94"]

It sounds simple, but this is really a lot of additional work. In addition to sleeving and organizing hundreds of cards into a box, this would require every card to be meticulously catalogued and shared publicly online. It’s probably a good idea for me to do so for my own tracking purposes, but if you aren’t interested in it, I can save myself the headache and effort.

[poll id="95"]

* Themed modules are featured in this article.

Some of you really like full deck lists, even for Commander. Some of you want the gist and food for thought without the full rigmarole of sixty or more cards listed. I’ve begun to really prefer modules and, as a fair warning, I may override this vote and run with modules anyway. If the feeling for full deck lists is strong, I’ll certainly see what I can do!

That’s it for this week!

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