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Daretti, Scrap Savant
I make it no secret that I’m a big fan of The Command Zone.

That was an odd way to open an article, I’m realizing. What kind of person would keep that a secret? Not to mention the fact that it’s self-evident that I’m a fan of a podcast I’ve been a guest of and featured in previous articles, all of my readers are probably also fans of the Command Zone. It’s a fantastic brand. I bring them up today because I was toying with a few ideas about a deck I wanted to build for today’s article and I eventually got to a point where I was stuck because I really wanted to build exactly two colors and be artifact-based. Arcum Dagsson doesn’t give me the access to Red I want, Daretti, Scrap Savant doesn’t give me access to Blue and Breya, Etherium Shaper doesn’t give me the not access to not Red and not Blue that I want. There’s too much going on with a Breya deck and besides, Commander 2016 is so last year. I’m all about this Aether Revolt, now. I felt stuck. Despite being very, very aware that we want a Blue and Red commander that deals with artifacts, Wizards wasted an entire artifact-themed block without giving us one. I was a little frustrated because I really want to build these two colors. “What would Josh Lee Kwai do?” I literally thought to myself.

For those who don’t know exactly what Josh Lee Kwai would do and are wondering why I asked myself that, the conclusion I came to is that Josh Lee Kwai would just build the deck he wanted to build and if that meant putting something in the command zone (like the name of the podcast! I just got that) that had nothing to do with the deck at all. Sure, you’re hampered by ignoring Commander’s greatest strength, the fact that you can always have access to the card around which your deck is built, but that’s the price you pay for having access to the colors you want access to. I have built a lot of decks where I attenuate the power level or consistency by narrowing what I have access to in the deck, but can we build a 75% deck with any cards we want in the maindeck because we have restricted ourselves by not having access to a relevant commander? That will certainly affect our consistency. We may end up summoning our commander, we may not. If jamming a placeholder commander in the deck is good enough for Josh, it’s good enough for me. Besides, this is hardly a new concept and hardly unique to Josh - he’s the person I thought of because he builds a lot of decks every week for his podcast, I’ve seen his decks in action and I just saw him tweet about a new series he’s working on with the Professor of Tolarian Community College fame. It makes me wonder how many people were running Progenitus decks just because we didn’t have four-color commanders until a few weeks ago.

Keranos, God of Storms
Choosing a placeholder commander was trickier than I thought. That isn’t to say it took more than 60 seconds, but I didn’t expect it to take any time at all. I expected to pick one arbitrarily and be done with it, but when I did a gatherer search for U/R legendary creatures, I was greeted with a bigger list than I had anticipated, and a few wrinkles in my plan. Arjun, the Shifting Flame seemed like it would annoy me if I ever summoned it. Jhoira of the Ghitu is the poster child for The Rafiq Problem (actually, Rafiq is but give me a break). Jori En, Ruin Diver seemed like a possibility, as did Keranos, God of Storms. It didn’t make sense to pick Kraum, Ludevic's Opus or Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, and not pick the other, and if I’m playing those, would I have to change the name of the article? I’d probably be summoning and using them both a lot, and what’s the point of having 2 placeholder commanders and only 98 cards in the main deck? Some people like the idea of having a 1%ish better chance of drawing a card or whatever, but I always have a hard time cutting down to 99 cards and cutting to 98 seemed almost Draconian. Melek, Izzet Paragon and Mizzix of the Izmagnus don’t deal with the deck at all, and it might be fun counter-signaling to include one of them, but I don’t like Melek spoiling what I’m going to do next. Tibor and Lumia might accidentally wipe my board of Myr and Servos and I’m not looking for my placeholder commander to pull my own pants down. I suppose I could always just not summon them, but I don’t want to be forced to never summon them. The Niv Mizzets would be pretty tempting to waste mana on. I finally settled on Nin, the Pain Artist. Nin is pretty much worthless when you’re not built around her and her ability could be used to draw you cards, but not very efficiently, or to draw another player some cards for political purposes. Most likely, though, she’ll be relegated to the command zone which is just fine with me. We wanted a commander who would ride the pine for most of the game, after all. I even thought about counter-signaling even harder and running something like Gwendlyn Di Corci and making them wonder when I was going start playing Black spells, but the 60 seconds I expected to spend thinking about this had elapsed so I decided to run Nin.

Trinket Mage
Trophy Mage
Treasure Mage

I wanted to run Trinket Mage, Trophy Mage, and Treasure Mage in the deck and also maximize the value I got from them. I decided ways to bounce them like Cloudstone Curio and Temporal Adept would help me clutter the board with piles of value. I want to run a lot of mana dorks to power out big, expensive cards like Possessed Portal and Darksteel Forge and if I’m doing that, why not run Paradox Engine? In fact, I’m going to try and jam as much Kaladesh block goodness as I can. I want Thopters, Myr, and Servos everywhere. I want so many tokens that I’m going to be a little upset that Paradoxical Outcome mentions non-tokens. I’m still running Paradoxical Outcome, though, because I want to get the most of my tinker mages and cards like Pia and Kiran Nalaar. What’s this crazy deck going to look like?

Nin, the Placeholder ? Commander | Jason Alt


Paradox Engine
This looks like a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, that I’m a little disappointed that we never got a Blue and Red artifact commander in Kaladesh block. That feeling of disappointment lasts a few seconds until I remember what happened the last time people got what they wanted and ended up with Ulrich of the Krallenhorde. I’d rather wait and give them a chance to fix their mistake in Commander 2017 (although I’m predicting Commander 2017 will be ally-color pairs) or another future set than insist they rush us another Ulrich.

This deck is loaded with synergy and I think it’s a great way to showcase what good cards we got in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt. I wanted to maximize Paradox Engine and Intruder Alarm and I think I did that. You’re going to generate a ton of tokens with this deck and they can be your primary source of damage on top of a great way to get mana with Krark-Clan Ironworks and Ashnod's Altar. You should have no trouble ramping quickly to big creatures and then smashing the board with them. You may end up having to summon Nin and use her on your own creatures (luckily there’s Stuffy Doll) to keep your hand full because you’re going to be dumping your whole hand pretty easily if you manage to get a few artifacts to stick. Cards like Metalworker are great with Intruder Alarm and Paradox Engine. Make sure and get as much mileage as you can out of your tutor mages — I included Walking Ballista so Trinket Mage won’t be a dead draw after you have a Sol RIng. Maybe jam Elixir of Immortality if you can find room. That will give you another target and reward you for saccing artifacts greedily early on, as will Scrap Mastery.

What do we think? Is having a commander we hardly ever want to summon a good way to make our deck feel a little less consistent? Is that more than offset by the inclusion of so many cards that can find our artifacts? Did I not go far enough and you’d include Whir of Invention and Fabricate? Tell me what you think in the comment section. Will we ever get our artifact commander in these colors? Maybe, maybe not. The important thing is that until then, we can ask ourselves “What would Josh and Jimmy from the Command Zone do?” and build something just as good. Until next week!


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