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The Nine Finger Discount

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Readers!

Last week I steered heavily into a build that let me play a lot of Instants and Sorceries, and it felt great. Committing to playing more Instants and Sorceries rather than cutting them for pet cards and relying on other players at the table to have timely removal has made me feel like a more complete player. Picking out the spells that could potentially keep me alive, prevent someone from winning the game or just cause some havoc at the table has made me a better player overall and remembering to include interaction and spend time before I play any games thinking about how I want to use it and what my odds are of drawing something in a pinch before I finalize how much card draw I run is time very well spent. After a productive 2022, there's absolutely no way I'm back on my BS, right?

Well...

Nine-Fingers Keene

If you have enough gates, it seems like this card says you draw 9 cards. I can't possibly be reading that right, can I? Well, not so fast. Controlling 9 gate cards is... fraught. You see, Nine-Fingers Keene over here has a color identity that doesn't include Red or White. Right off the bat, of the 20 cards with type "gate," we can't play a whopping 11 of them because they have a Red or White mana symbol on the card. That's substantial considering Baldur's Gate added a bunch of new Gates. Since we have access to barely the number of gates we'll need to trigger 50% of the text on this card, focusing on ever drawing 9 seems silly. So, if we're not going to be a card-drawing machine and we'll mostly be chewing through our deck, what good is this commander? Put simply, this is going to draw us an extra land most of the time and I like that. Can we win with Maze's End in a deck with 11 Gates? Watch. Me. Try.

This is going to be a landfall deck that hits landfall triggers consistently because every time you drill them with your commander, you spin the wheel and have a shot at drawing another land. We'll make sure we play cards that make those lands, usually guildgates or other ETB tapped lands, come into play untapped so we can use the mana. We're going to do what we always do - Crucible of Worlds and Sunstone, Urza's Saga and Amulet of Vigor, Cosima, God of the Voyage // The Omenkeel and Roil Elemental. The thing is, we are playing a bit of a sub-game where we hit them with our commander, which allows us to make sure getting hit with Keene wraps things up quickly. ETYB lands are less punishing when your commander is holding a Sword of Feast and Famine when it makes contact, and if you can get your commander up to 11 power, one hit puts the player you hit in lethal range, meaning you pose an existential to them and can use that power over them to your political advantage. In essence, I'm building a much more aggressive version of the Landfall deck.

I'm mostly eschewing gates-matters cards because I think that most of them are fairly bad. Gatebreaker Ram is worse than Managorger Hydra in this deck and you'd never play Managorger Hydra. I wouldn't play Arbor Elf in a deck like this, preferring Sakura-Tribe Scout, so why would I play Greenside Watcher? You didn't even know what Greenside Watcher was, you had to hover and look it up because you haven't played that card since 2013 Limited. We have room for our pet cards, and if Keene and Maze's End are the only Gates-matters cards, good, because they both require like 90% of the gates in the whole deck to be in play and that seems tough unless we draw Reshape the Earth, a card we're not even going to be tutoring for. I seriously just want a regular landfall deck with an aggro commander that can sometimes end a really long game with Maze's End. Trust me, this will be fun.

Avoid Fate, Embrace Gate | Commander | Jason Alt


This looks like a lot of fun. One problem I ran into is that I wanted to add a few more "cute" cards in a cycle, like adding in a Soratami Cloudchaser on top of Meloku and the Mirror-Mage or maybe adding a few more landfall cards like Ghost Town and Zendikar's Roil, but I got to do a few cute tricks I like such as Urza's Saga for Amulet of Vigor, so I'm pretty happy. This deck will likely never trigger Keene's "If you control 9 gates" clause, even with help from Vesuva and Astral Dragon, but if it does, you're a gate away from winning with Maze's End so, bully for you? Maybe you'll draw all the way into a gate you had to put on the bottom of your library because you revealed two with Keene's attack trigger.

This deck is a lot more aggressive with the commander than how I normally play and I included the defensive cards like Sunstone and Constant Mists as a way to keep you from getting focused and killed when they start to see your value loops as a problem. I'd rather load up Keene with a big Blackblade Reforged the turn I swing rather than building a big commander that people want to squash. You might actually want to add Avoid Fate, or maybe Arcane Denial or something, if you start to notice Keene getting focused. You can even add Swiftfoot Boots, a card I LOVE to cut from decklists.

What do we think? Too similar to the stock list? Too similar to the landfall deck I always build? Better than it looks? Leave it for me in the comment section. That does it for me - until next time!


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