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YOU SHALL NOT PASS... On Reading This



You were persuaded by me telling you not to pass by the article, clearly. I am glad you're here. I want to talk about a fandom of mine that is getting Magic cards in the very near future and I am sort of torn about how to feel. On the one hand, The Lord of the Rings is something I have liked reading and watching (do either, it takes the same amount of time to read the 4 books as it does to watch the 6 movies), on the other hand, I wasn't ready to see Gandalf given a color identity based on flavor rather than the color words that were in his name. I don't know why I expected an Orzhov Wizard. You remember that gag on Arrested Development where Michael finds the bag labeled "Dead Dove, Do Not Eat" and looks inside, a second later saying "I don't know what I expected"? I don't know what I expected when they revealed Gandalf the Gray aka Gandalf the White aka Tom Bongadill (Spring Break 5011 BFA, you had to be there). I don't know what I did expect, but I didn't expect this.

Gandalf the Grey

My goodness what a fun card. He is a bit on the expensive side, but this is spell-slinging as Dr. Richard Garfield, Ph.D. intended. He can hop on top of your deck like a spry little hobbit or blast them in the face like Smaug. The best part is, he can copy spells. What spells are people having him copy?

Jeska's Will
Mana Geyser
Beacon of Tomorrows
Brass's Bounty

Not bad, not bad. The thing is, Gandalf shouldn't waste his talents this way. As a deck-builder, we can think outside taking the same road as everyone else to Value Town. We can get even more value than extra turns and treasure galore. We can ignore the rules and substitute our own. If we were Aladdin (this deck should run Aladdin, I love that card) and the Genie tells us that a rule is we can't wish for more wishes, we are the kind of deck-builder who says "I wish I could wish for more wishes." Would that work? Maybe, maybe not, but the important thing is that this kind of thinking led us to think about how to build Gandalf better and have way more fun playing. We're going to wish for more wishes.

I am not a super genius for figuring out that an easy way to get around Gandalf's "choose one that hasn't been chosen" clause is to blink him. You can do quite a bit of blinking if you want, he can copy the Essence Flux and blink another value creature like Mulldrifter and playing a noncreature spell triggers Displacer Kitten. You can get a ton of value with a deck like that. The trouble is, I don't want to have to play a bunch of value creatures in the deck. I want value from my Instants and Sorceries but 1 Gandalf dealing 3 damage at a time isn't really a clock. Sure, we could play a bunch of spells to blink Gandalf and keep the 3 damage train rolling. To me, though, the best way to maximize the number of Gandalf triggers is to maximize the number of Gandalfs. We're going to clone our boy.

With a lot of Gandalfs entering play, they will all be at varying degrees in their "hasn't been chosen" journey. Some Gandalfs will have exhausted all of their modes but new ones will join the fray, the old ones using their ability to copy an instant or sorcery going. One by one they will blast everyone for 3 damage until there is naught left but smoke and the screams of the injured, or the sounds of your friends shuffling for the next game, depending on how deep your immersion gets.

What will such a silly deck look like? We are going to cut down on the number of creatures we run because Gandalf should be filling the board with more Gandalfs. Besides, creature versions of Clones are fine enough, and we need the ones that will strip Gandalf of his Legendary status and give us something to clone. Gandalf can't copy a Phyrexian Metamorph or Vesuvan Doppelganger but he can copy the heck out of Irenicus' Vile Duplication and that is very, very funny. Let's make a bunch of Gandalfs, what do you say?

You Shall Not Pass | Commander | Jason Alt

Card Display

This deck looks like a hoot, actually. Getting some mana from Sorcerer Class and Birgi to keep you going, you may be able to freeroll a win by getting enough mana to kick a Rite of Replication, which likely gets copied, then you can ponder to kill the table. Here are some other ways you could go.

I cut a lot of token producers late. They are good with all the Instants and Sorceries. If you want to cut some of the cuter cards, look at Talrand, Young Pyromancer, and Murmuring Mystic. It turns out it's kind of scary to slap a Helm of the Host on Talrand in a deck with more counters or to kick a Rite of Replication targeting Guttersnipe. The more creatures you have, the better Sorcerer Class is, especially if you can give your tokens haste.

I didn't play Extra turn spells, and, more importantly, I didn't play a ton of spells I personally would like to copy. Blatant Thievery should probably be in here, maybe Mind's Dilation and maybe Bribery or Acquire. I will likely find one or two spots I can free up to jam a pet card or three, and I encourage you to, also.

What do we think? Is the clonin' becoming a bit of a crutch? Do you wish you could clone even more? Get at me on Twitter and tell me I'm a monster for forgetting your favorite card or how the rules work. Thanks for reading, everyone! Until next time!

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