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New Player Commander Decks: Simic & Golgari


By now I'm sure you're well aware that CoolStuff is continuing its New Player Series with 10 preconstructed decks for Commander. The decks aren't tailored toward enfranchised players, obviously, but if we use the decks as a starting point, could we end up with serviceable 75% decks? At $14.99 each, these decks are an affordable way to have a basis to work with and if we can upgrade the decks for a reasonable price, new players may not be the only ones benefiting from the New Player Series.

The great thing about CoolStuff's Commander writing team is that when we get together to divide up decks or new commanders by color, our favorites don't tend to overlap much. There wasn't too much competition for Simic and I even managed to snag and talk about Golgari after everyone got their first choice. Check out everyone else's takes on the decks this week - you're bound to get some real inspiration. If you wanted, you could even snag all 10 decks for about the cost of a booster box if you built up a CoolStuff Discount and have enough decks for 2 pods worth of people all playing decks that are similar in power level and balanced to play against each other.

Let's see what we're working with and see if we can't make some modifications to get a 75% deck that we're all happy with. First up, it's Golgari madness!

New Player Commander Deck: Consume the Weak

*Note: This is version 1.0 of the deck. Some cards in later batches of this deck may vary*

What we have here is a fairly aggressive, but fairly mana-hungry deck with not a ton of good mana fixing or ramp. What we DO have is the basis for a fairly good Saproling deck that would work just as well with Izoni at the helm as it would with Slimefoot. What's the secret? We're going to maximize our sacrifice effects to get the most bang for our bucks, lower the mana curve and add some cards that do double duty.

Right off the bat, we could use some cards to get some lands into the mix and since we're all about saccing creatures, two cards pop out in my mind. The first is Perilous Forays. Forays is a reusable sac outlet that can turn saprolings or insect tokens already doomed from a sweeper or chump blocking into lands to fuel our spells. The second is Primal Growth, a card like Cultivate that is quite a bit better when kicked. For 2g you can put two lands into play untapped provided you sac a creature when you play the spell, something that should be fairly trivial for this deck, even early in the game. I added a Khalni Garden to increase our odds of being able to Primal Growth for full value on turn three.

There are a few routes to go here. We could add some expensive win conditions such as Triumph of the Hordes or Craterhoof Behemoth. Since we're not necessarily doing a budget thing but we are mindful that perhaps the builder of this deck is new to Commander and not inclined to buy a $15 precon and make $300 worth of upgrades to it, I'll suggest that good alternatives to Triumph and Craterhoof are Overrun and Decimator of the Provinces.

As long as we're adding cards like Decimator, it wouldn't kill us to look at a few other bulk rares that will make a huge impact on the deck. A great example for this deck would be Regal Force. Regal Force is a bit expensive mana-wise but with us improving the mana infrastructure in the deck, we should be able to swing it, and with us bringing creatures back from the grave, you could easily get his effect two or three times in a game, keeping your hand full and letting you dump the excess into the yard to fuel future grave-based endeavors.

Phyrexian Altar is an obvious inclusion for the deck but Ashnod's Altar is much more affordable. Since our more expensive creatures have lots of colorless mana in their costs and we have a lot of cards with cycling, I think Ashnod's Altar is a fine inclusion. It will turn Saprolings into value and hopefully we can use the mana to generate even more Saprolings. We can also sac creatures like Reclamation Sage after they outlive their usefulness and cast Izoni for more value later.

I lowered the mana curve overall by focusing a bit more on adding some Saproling-specific cards because I think this functions better as a Slimefoot-focused deck with incidental Izoni value rather than vice versa. This lets me cut some of the bigger, durdlier creatures and focus a bit on synergy.

Cheap cards to consider - Winding Constrictor, Falkenrath Noble/Vindictive Vampire, Sporesower Thallid, Zulaport Cutthroat, Poison-Tip Archer

Medium Price cards to consider - Skullclamp, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, Creakwood Liege, Elvish Farmer, Revel in Riches

Expensive cards to consider - Phyrexian Altar, Attrition, Black Market, Grave Pact, Doubling Season

New Player Commander Deck: Aquatic Encounters

Moving on, we have a Simic deck and I can't wait to dive down and take a look at synergies hidden beneath the surface, and possibly a third merfolk pun.

*Note: This is version 1.0 of the deck. Some cards in later batches of this deck may vary*

I am leaving Zegana in place because the changes we would make to optimize for Tatyova would be too profound. Luckily, Merfolk synergize well with +1/+1 counters as a rule and a lot of the most effective cards can also be the cheapest, with cards like Herald of Secret Streams running around. This won't quite be Merfolk tribal, but that's fine with me.

Since we started off with Herald of Secret Streams, there are a couple of other Merfolk that synergize well with Zegana we can discuss right off the bat. Vorel of the Hull Clade happens to be a Merfolk and happens to do a lot of what we want to be doing in this deck. Cosi's Trickster gets counters by itself, which is useful in a deck like this that rewards counters but doesn't always have ways to bestow them.

However, we're not going too deeply into the Merfolk strategy because all kinds of creatures synergize with +1/+1 counters and a lot of them are fairly affordable. Loyal Guardian, for example, is very affordable and very powerful. You will want to keep having Zegana out and if running her out aggressively makes her a target, so be it - casting her again for value seems worthwhile. Elusive Krasis, a card that grows quite large and can't be blocked is great when you can't find Herald of Secret Streams or Champion of Lambholt.

We want to load up on counters and while the Guildmage and Vorel can help out, cards that can affect lots of creatures are helpful, also, and that's why I think Thrummingbird deserves a spot. Thrummy isn't a bad place to park counters and it can really help your team go wide as well as tall. Since Proliferation is so good in this deck, I decided to add Tezzeret's Gambit to the mix as well as Inexorable Tide. Finally, Fuel For the Cause is an obvious replacement for Cancel, which is such a bad card that there's no excuse to include it when better counterspells are also under $0.25.

Cheap cards to consider - Urban Evolution, Fathom Mage, Simic Manipulator (very 75%), Hungering Hydra, Coiling Oracle, Sapphire Drake

Medium-price cards to consider - Master Biomancer, Toothy, Imaginary Friend, Gyre Sage, Incubation Druid, Sol Ring, Hadana's Climb, Experiment Kraj

Expensive cards to consider - Doubling Season, Deepglow Skate, Biogenic Ooze, Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury

I think of the two decks, the Simic one is very close to a workable deck. I think the stock Zegana list from EDHREC is jammed with very inexpensive rares that can give the deck a huge boost and Simic Manipulator and its counterpart Cytoplast Manipulator give the deck a nice 75% flavor for very cheap. Thada Adel, Acquisitor and Acquire can get slotted in and before you know it, you're working with a real deck but maintaining quite a few of the stock cards from the CoolStuff list such as New Horizons, Lifecrafter's Bestiary, and Galloping Lizrog.

One suggestion I have for these decks is a challenge with your playgroup to buy these decks and either do fewer than $15 worth of modifications (the cost of the deck) and see whose deck is the best or battling with them out of the box and the winner of the pod being able to make 2 changes to the deck and the losers being able to make 1 change. You can keep battling for weeks until you all have decently tuned 75% decks but you'll also remember how you all struggled to get where you are. I realize that these lists may not seem super exciting to enfranchised players but restrictions breed creativity and having a few of these decks for a very low cost gives you a pool of decks equal to each other in power level for a fraction of the cost of an EDH precon.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know in the comments which of these decks you'd rather sleeve up and try to tune. Until next time!