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Vroom Vroom: Commander Vehicles

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This week, as in most weeks, there's a lot being discussed in the Magic world. Having had approximately 73 seconds to enjoy Commander Legends, Wizards of the Coast is recruiting metal bands to stoke the fires of hype for Kaldheim, which won't be out for more than a month. We'll talk about Kaldheim plenty as release day draws near. I'm not ready to ride that hype train just yet.

Instead, let's just be Magic players for a few moments and do one of the things we love most - build a silly Commander deck that may or may not work.

Shut Up and Drive

Last week, I framed Commander deck-building as puzzle-solving, which it absolutely is, regardless of who the commander is or what you're trying to accomplish with the deck. Even if you're tackling a linear, very popular commander, you still have to assemble all the pieces and decide exactly how you want them to fit together. Puzzles come in many forms and shapes - I, personally, always prefer more of a challenge.

So, as promised, let's see how I solve the puzzle of a commander that's been in my peripheral vision for almost four years now.

Depala, Pilot Exemplar

There's a lot going on with Depala, Pilot Exemplar. She provides anthem effects not just to vehicles, but also to her fellow dwarves - a tribe that isn't necessarily at the top of many players' list of favorites, but which certainly contains some intriguing possibilities. Depala was part of Kaladesh, the block that introduced vehicles to Magic, and in addition to Depala a handful of dwarves from that block are heavily vehicle-oriented.

Renegade Wheelsmith
Gearshift Ace
Veteran Motorist

So, our strategy here is use vehicles as our main fighting force. As a Power Rangers kid who's no longer a kid but still loves Power Rangers, we have our very own fleet of Zords.

As luck would have it, there are quite a few other dwarves who play perfectly into our hand here.

Sram, Senior Edificer
Restoration Specialist
Aethershield Artificer
Aethergeode Miner

Sram, Senior Edificer is a known quantity in Commander by now - it's a White creature that draws us cards, and us Mono-White players know how precious that is. Specifically, he draws us cards for casting the kinds of spells we want to cast in this deck. Restoration Specialist, meanwhile, lets us get back those vehicles once they hit the graveyard. Aethershield Artificer provides a nice bonus anthem effect on top of the one stapled to Depala, but the hidden gem in this batch for me is Aethergeode Miner. A 3/1 body for 1w already pretty decent, but its energy ability is fantastic. We get two energy counters when it enters the battlefield, and because of the way the crew mechanic works on vehicles, we can tap it to crew a vehicle right away. Then after combat, we can activate its ability, blink it back onto the battlefield, and have a blocker up for our opponents' turns. Neat!

I Dig the Cars

What would a vehicle deck be without the vehicles themselves?

Heart of Kiran
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Smuggler's Copter

Kaladesh block gave us some really cool vehicles. I'd argue these three - Heart of Kiran, Smuggler's Copter, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship - are the best of the block. Each has previously found a home in one or more other decks of mine. Let me tell you about Skysovereign in a Brago, King Eternal deck (long story short, your friends will hate you and maybe poison your food).

As fun as these three are, we need more.

Aethersphere Harvester
Mobile Garrison
Untethered Express

Here's energy counters again with Aethersphere Harvester. We're going to get at least two chances to give it lifelink, probably more. Mobile Garrison allows us to untap stuff when it attacks - like, say, a creature we tapped to pay a crew cost - and Untethered Express gets bigger the longer it stays around. Value!

Let's be honest, though. Vehicles can be clunky. They have to be crewed, which requires resources in the form of other creatures, and we'd really love them to have haste so they can attack right out of the gate.

Oh? What's that?

Peacewalker Colossus
Fleetwheel Cruiser
Ovalchase Dragster

Well, would you look at that.

Peacewalker Colossus is a card that could do a lot of work for us. If we're able to build a solid board filled with both creatures and vehicles, we can dump mana into Peacewalker Colossus's ability to turn on our vehicles and attack with our creatures to close out a game or, at the very least, eliminate an opponent or two. Don't sleep on Fleetwheel Cruiser, either. For four mana, it's a 5/3 with trample and haste that doesn't need to be crewed its first turn. That's quite good! We'll take that. Ovalchase Dragster also has haste and is bigger, but does need to be crewed.

Unless...

Aerial Modification
Siege Modification
Start Your Engines

Oh yes. Oh. Yes.

I have such wonderfully silly visions of having a battlefield packed with vehicles, no creatures to crew them and three bemused opponents whose eyes get REAL wide when I cast Start Your Engines. But for a more permanent effect, we have Aerial Modification and Siege Modification, each of which keeps the engine running on a vehicle and gives it a solid buff. We'll also want to remember to include Aeronaut Admiral to make all of our vehicles fly.

The December to Remember Sales Event

We never want to pay full sticker price for a vehicle, do we? Nah.

Foundry Inspector
Cloud Key

Jhoira's Familiar
Mycosynth Golem
Semblance Anvil

I'm a sucker for a good deal, and getting a few of these out together can start flooding the battlefield with our vehicles in a hurry - especially since Depala can keep searching them up and putting them into our hand. Notably, Mycosynth Golem is decidedly not a budget card in what could otherwise easily be a budget build, but if you have one in your collection or you're willing to splurge, I can't imagine it wouldn't pay off. (I could get really silly and say to include Mycosynth Lattice so that everything is an artifact, but that's a bit more on the spiky side than I'd prefer - plus, it means an overloaded Vandalblast essentially kills us.)

Make Us Go

We've got the heart of the deck in place. Now we fill it out and get to VROOM VROOMING.

Vroom Vroom | Commander | Dave Kosin


You'll notice some other helpful support cards. Parhelion II, a meme of a card if ever there was one, is actually quite perfect in this deck because it makes creatures we can use to crew it and other vehicles. We've also included a few cards that make Servo and Thopter tokens for the same reason. See what other useful synergies you can spot in my list! (Hint: Seven.)

So, there we have it. I've solved the Depala, Pilot Exemplar puzzle in my own way, and I'm quite happy with it. You may solve it a different way - in fact, I hope you do!

That's what I love most about deck-building in Commander. Any number of us can start at the same place - a commander, a theme, a tribe, a wincon - and then tell a unique story based on the things each of us likes, dislikes and values. There's absolutely nothing wrong, ever ever ever, with building a deck 100% from someone else's list. But there's also absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "I think I can do it better" or "but what if I did it this way instead".

That's Commander right there. The choices are ours and ours alone. Let's rock.

Dave is a Commander player currently residing in Reno, NV. When he's not badly misplaying his decks, he works as a personal trainer. You can bother him on Twitter and check out his Twitch channel.

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