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Potatoes Are Back on the Menu


There is no deck that I own that I have assembled, scrapped, tinkered with, re-assembled, re-disaessmbled and abandoned more times than my "Mindslaver Tribal" deck. The impetus of the idea came from seeing Xantcha, Sleeper Agent and remembering a terrible deck from my childhood that, while awful, was the first time I felt the rush of a deck assembling itself. The pieces coming together made me excited to come up with my own ideas rather than constantly net-decking and while I eventually had the brewer bug beaten out of me during my days as a competitive player, I retained the love of watching a plan come together. Imagining I was using Mindslaver to force and opponent to sac all of their creatures to the Jinxed Idol I gave them made me think of my idea decades ago to give them a Jinxed Idol so my Bouncing Beebles would be unblockable.

Mindslaver tribal never quite got there. I tried it with Chainer, Nightmare Adept and while adding a ton of Goblins made it easier to find and recur Mindslaver, the deck just sort of had trouble getting going. You had cards from three different classifications that all needed to come together - bad cards to give them, ways to give them to them and ways to benefit from doing so. It was clunky and I never found myself drawing what I needed. The theory was sound, but the problem seemed to stem from the fact that the Commander was never helpful. It was good being in Red and Black and Xantcha drew me a lot of cards but was mana-hungry and never quite helped me do anything other than draw more of what I didn't need.

Luckily, a mischievous flying monster came into my life and made me completely flip my color palette. Inniaz, the Gale Force married my two favorite things to do in Commander - make them make bad decisions and steal their stuff. Making cards shift around the table was diabolical and benefitting from taking cards from them and replacing them with garbage from someone else is still one of my favorite things to do. Inniaz, however, for all of its advantages in that I can do two different things I like, has some drawbacks, too. Namely, it's very difficult to trigger Inniaz and I have to play a lot of cards I'd rather not. If my opponents don't want me to trigger Inniaz, it's fairly easy to make sure I do. The only times I ever really trigger Inniaz are when I play a bunch of flying stuff with flash right before my turn, play Inniaz from the command zone, and attack. I don't like having to play so many flying creatures just to get my commander to do something. I love Inniaz and being in Blue and White means I have ways to donate nasty permanents and I have nasty permanents like Transcendence, Thought Lash, and Nine Lives to donate.

In the same way that Inniaz married my love of handing hot potatoes to my opponents and my love of stealing permanents from other players, a new card has come along to marry the things I liked about Xantcha and the things I liked about Inniaz. His name is Blim and he's an impish little troublemaker and he attacked me for 4 and stole my heart.

Blim, Comedic Genius

If Inniaz hands people hot potatoes, Blim is handing them cooked grenades. Black has no end of nasty, pernicious Enchantments that offer power beyond your wildest dreams at a heavy cost that you must be prepared to pay. Handing cards like that to opponents who are not prepared to pay those costs wins games and makes me cackle like a madman. Blim is the funniest Magic card ever printed, and it's my goal to make him the funniest he can possibly be. Are we taking improv classes? Grinding open mics? Hanging out in comedy clubs? No, we're going to take our cues from Carrot Top and get into prop comedy. The more dangerous the prop, the funnier it is when it goes off in your opponent's hands. Make no mistake - it's very funny to lose a game to Lich's Mastery or Oath of Lim-Dul and most Magic players take it in stride. It's not a way people are sick of losing, it makes the table laugh, it can happen out of nowhere and if they have ways to try and stop you from giving them a permanent that will lead to their demise, the struggle can be quite funny as well. Best of all, this won't require you to use Mindslaver (unless you want to) because that can make some people pretty salty. Xantcha without the salt and Inniaz without having to play a bunch of cards like Pride of the Clouds and Midnight Haunting? Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

There are plenty of Enchantments to donate and a lot of them have not gotten much use in Commander so far because it's been a chore to Donate them. Sure, you could have paired Blue with Black and literally used the card Donate on some of these enchantments, but a deck like that didn't have a ton of ways to make the swap and the commander of the deck likely didn't help. Before Inniaz there was Zedruu the Greathearted which was great and fun and very useful for giving them cards, but which didn't have access to Black. Red had repeatable ways to donate cards like Bazaar Trader, but likely because people would try to pawn off Lich or Blood Funnel, Bazaar Trader couldn't trade Enchantments. Red and Black have technically had a few tools like Harmless Offering but if there had been a truly useful commander for a deck like that, I would have built it already. With Blim able to throw permanents around the board in a way Bazaar Trader and Inniaz could only dream of, a whole new world of truly nasty, Black Enchantments was available to us.

Blim has to connect, which means you have to dedicate a non-zero amount of space in the deck to giving Blim haste, protecting Blim and making sure Blim can get through unblocked. That said, this is nothing compared to having to play a bunch of dorky flying creatures or having to find and use a Mindslaver. You make Blim work better by playing good cards that are useful in a Magic deck like Swiftfoot Boots and Whispersilk Cloak. Once Blim is able to connect, the real fun begins.

It's not a very 75% deck if we don't have plans to steal some stuff, too. After all, if we give all of our permanents away, what are we left with? No, I think it's important that we get some stuff in the bargain. Luckily, we are in pretty decent colors for it.

Aladdin is one of the first cards that came to mind since the deck is pretty mana-hungry, like it always is when I try to build this sort of thing. Treasure Nabber can help us fuel our spells as well. If you think we're just going to take rocks, though, think again because I am very excited to play one of my favorite cards for a deck like this - Herald of Leshrac. Herald will scoop up a ton of lands and hamper their ability to fight back in the process. Captivating Crew is the crew I want to bring along on this mission and pumping some of that pilfered mana through the crew is sure to put a smile on your face and when you're laughing, the whole world will laugh with you. I think Gauntlets of Chaos work in this deck, as mana-hungry as they are, also. Taking a big beater and leaving them with a troublesome hot potato is very funny and doesn't require you to be able to connect with Blim, something that might not always be an option. A few ways to steal dead creatures such as Animate Dead and Necromancy and you're ready to do battle. What would such a pile of physical gags look like?

There is a bit of a discard subtheme you can steer into if you'd like. Plague Reaver is a card that's going to cause them to discard some cards, but I wanted to pump the gas so I added Painful Quandary, Raiders' Wake, and Waste Not to get some more mileage. Geth's Grimoire suddenly made sense, the new card Court of Ambition added itself and suddenly we had a real stew going. If you want to add some more discard effects to squeeze them some more, you can aim for a bit more of a chip damage build and take out some of the very risky cards that can bite you hard if you can't Blim them away. The deck contains cards like Despotic Scepter (I knew someone would break that card someday) and Telim'Tor's Edict to keep you from losing on your end step to an exploding cigar you couldn't get out of your own mouth in time. If you shave some of those effects because they're dead in a game where you can't stick Blim and get him through, you can win with Megrims. I run a lot more Enchantments than most people, but why not run some more? Making them discard is a good way to keep them from winning the game their way, and since players tend to discard cards they were not going to play for a while, you can make them pitch some juicy reanimator targets. Add some more Animate Dead effects in that case.

If you want to get even wackier, you can add more Mindslaver effects and more cards that allow them to make bad decisions. I caution you that I am glad Blim freed me from having to use Mindslaver to get anything done, but since my deck lends itself to being built back into that direction, feel free to add more cards like Word of Command and Cruel Entertainment and more payoffs like Zuran Orb.

Finally, on a personal note, Null Profusion is 100% in the deck because the card lost me and a friend a PTQ Top 4 match in 2-Headed Giant because we didn't realize it made both players not draw but only one player draw when they played a spell and we never recovered. Giving someone Null Profusion won't lose them the game right away, but they will feel the dread I felt and that's the funniest thing I can think of.

All in all, Blim is going to be a lot of fun to build. I'm not a fan of physical comedy or prop acts but I'm willing to give this plucky little demon a shot because Blim helps me finally crack a deck I've been trying to build for years and does it because he wants me to laugh. Kill people with Forbidden Crypt, make them die to Blim chip damage or just beat something in the face with Herald of Leshrac - there's no wrong way to remind the other players that you can't spell "Slaughter" without L-A-U-G-H-T-E-R. That does it for me, leave me something in the comments section or on Twitter @jasonealt. Until next time!

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