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Elemental, My Dear Watson


Horde of Notions
My first writing gig was for a site called Quiet Speculation (Well, my first Magic writing gig, anyway. My first writing gig was for a site called “” and they changed their name to “” after I started contributing there at age 16) and that’s a pretty clever name for a Magic finance site. There’s a card called Quiet Speculation and also, they speculate on Magic cards. I was just beginning the phase of my Magic career where I realized I wasn’t enjoying winning anymore and merely hated losing and decided to become an insufferable casual who told other people how to build their decks. I haven’t tilted over a game of Magic since . . .  OK I tilted my ass off at the Amonkhet prerelease, but in my defense, that sealed format is terrible. Still, I’ve been, you know. Better.

Learning how to speculate better has made Magic finance a lot more profitable for me even as a I transition out of the sexy realm of speculation and into the boring-but-more-lucrative realm of buying collections and selling the cards for more than I paid for them at retail. Sometimes it’s fun to bet $50 or $100 that The Gitrog Monster can make Squandered Resources hit $5 (It could) or that Conqueror's Flail was underpriced at $3 (It was). Flexing those muscles is fun every once in a while and, accordingly, I’m going to make the kind of bold prediction that can pay off if you bet money on it and you’re correct.

I think Commander 2017 will be 4, 5-color decks.

Even if I’m wrong, I’m not betting any money on the outcome and, more importantly, if we don’t get one of the decks that I’m predicting we’ll get in Commander 2017, I still made a 75% deck that you can all build and since it won’t be in a precon if I’m wrong, you can build your own way. Obviously getting the decks we want in Commander 2017 will be good because we will get new cards that go in those decks but honestly, there is a tribe that I have spent too much time ignoring anyway and it’s time to take a look at how to build it 75% and have it not be underwhelming. The tribe I’m talking about was already spoiled by the title of the article, the blurb you read about it, etc so it’s not like I’m burying the lede here. Just play along with me and we’ll pretend we’re doing a big reveal. Drumroll please. The tribe I’m building around today is . . .  You know what? No. This isn’t working. You happy? It’s Elementals. I’m making an Elementals deck. Awesome. Great reveal, everyone.

Maelstrom Wanderer
If I was feeling a little deflated just now, all of that went away when I got to brewing this deck. This has a ton of synergy, albeit a slightly lower power level, which is perfect. We don’t have to pull any punches and we don’t have to run a ton of tutors or card draw since any creature we play will fit into our scheme and any tribal enabler is going to make the whole deck better. You’re not “I win on turn three with Tooth and Nail” powerful, but if you can help the game go a little longer, you should grind out a win with a deck that does everything in its power to reward you for sticking with a creature type. And reward it does. I want to showcase some tribal enablers that I think you should pick up if they’re not reprinted in Commander 2017 because they’ll be good going forward as much as I want to showcase the various elementals in the deck, and boy are there elementals in the deck worth featuring. If you don’t pay attention to creature types of big, giant value creatures that just go in goodstuff decks, like Avenger of Zendikar, Bane of Progress or Maelstrom Wanderer, you might not know that I chose those three examples because they’re all elementals. This deck has actual good cards in it — it’s not the “try to get Soulbright Flamekin and Flamekin Brawler out and grind them down” nonsense I used to try and pull off in Limited. That ended up powerful sometimes, and by powerful, I mean “I lost to Kithkin and Merfolk because Silvergill Douser and Knight of Meadowgrain are super fair cards, guys.” This time we’re not trifling with minor synergy, we’re going to rock the synergy between Gaea's Revenge and Vigor. Even Nova Chaser and its “drawback” of championing an elemental seems juicy when you consider the myriad elementals with ETB triggers like Slithermuse and Reveillark. This is going to be fun.

Our mana base is also going to be much better than the Commander 2017 deck’s would likely be, but if Commander 2016 is any indication, they do a pretty good job of making a convincing mana base without every card being rare. I’m going to avoid making the mana base ridiculous myself and I’m going to try and remember to include a healthy amount of fixing even though that probably involves a ton of super clunky three-mana rocks. Three-mana rocks are good, unless you’re stuck at two lands and you’d give anything for even a Nature's Lore. Also, having Temple of the False God and teo lands is the same as being stuck at two lands; stop running that card in your deck.

I want to abuse the ETB triggers on my elementals as much as I can and there are two ways I plan to do that. First, good, old-fashioned bouncing them. I can bounce them with my old go-to, Cloudstone Curio and other handy artifact so I can replay them for their triggers, but even cheaper than that, I can champion a Nova Chaser or Changeling Berserker and then bounce that creature so I can save mana by playing and bouncing the 4 drop so I can get more triggers in a turn. That seems worth doing, so let’s do that. I’m going to maximize my ETB stuff and that’s the thrust of the deck. No tutors, no mass card draw (I mean, we’ll see what nastiness we get up to with Mulldrifter) just a deck where every card is good enough and we get to cast Avenger of Zendikar a lot. Let’s see where we end up, shall we?

The Surprise of Elementals ? Commander | Jason Alt

Patriarch's Bidding
This looks like it will be a ton of fun. I’m not sure how the mana base is, but I do know that once we start casting spells, it’s going to get out of hand quickly. I added as much bouncing and championing as I felt there was reasonably room for and the result should be a deck that plays a little bit differently than most Horde decks. I added significantly more creatures with ETB abilities than normal, cutting mainstays in the deck that weren’t as exciting in those situations. While it seems like I should have creatures like Lord of Extinction in the deck, we’re built around getting multiple castings of Yidris or Maelstrom Wanderer off rather than having a big dork. Can that big dork KO someone? Sure, and he was a tough cut, but I think being built around synergy is key. Feel free to cut something smaller like Wispmare if you like the idea of using Torrent Elemental to tap them down and then delete them with Lord of Extinction, but I’m happy with how I built.

The early game we want to develop our mana as much as possible and play helpful creatures like Smokebraider and Brighthearth Banneret. We’ll start casting some elementals and getting those ETB triggers for value, evoking when necessary knowing that ultimately we can use our commander to get them back again. Once we get that online, we can begin doing our Cloudstone Curio / Panharmonicon shenanigans.

One thing I didn’t find a ton of room for that I expected was tribal boosters. I wanted to run stuff like Patriarch's Bidding and ended up running stuff like Bring to Light instead. I think that speaks to the synergy present in the deck already. While we can convoke a bunch of stuff and cast a big Bidding, I think tribal will be pretty popular soon and the synergy in this build allows us to eschew more symmetrical effects. Door of Destinies made the cut but cards like Belbe's Portal and Metallic Mimic did not. We’re all about getting ETB triggers with this build and it shows.

What do you think? Did I make something much worse than the stock build? Does this look way more fun? Did I count cards wrong? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll try to respond and by that I mean “I will be at GP Vegas and I’ll look at it when I get back.” Until next time!

Hour of Devastation is now available for preorder at!