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Against My Better Judgment


I hope you didn't come here expecting some sort of pun with the title, as though I would only include cards from Judgment or something wacky like that. No dice. I am here to talk about something that goes against my actual better judgment. I think it's time for me to stop shying away from something that seems more controversial to me than it does, I'm sure, to my readers. It's time to bend one of my guidelines without breaking it.

It probably won't be as difficult as I am making it out to be, so this week, I decided, "To hell with it, let's tear off this Band-Aid." One of the first guidelines I came up with was inspired by an Erebos deck sent to me by a reader, and I think it may be the most important one when trying to distinguish a deck built to 75% specifications from a merely "toned-down" deck (which is way easier to build), and that tenet is, "It's better to punish everyone equally for doing something than it is to prevent them from doing it." This simultaneously encourages the use of punisher cards like Painful Quandary and discourages the use of cards such as Forbid and Armageddon. You can do what you want, dear readers, but one thing I want to encourage among 75% devotees is this: You don't mess with someone's mana.

Or do you? For a long time, I was squeamish about mass land destruction because a resolved Armageddon makes the game . . . boring. Either someone had Avacyn, Angel of Hope out and he or she is laughing at everyone or everyone is drawing and discarding, hoping their mana rocks are enough to get there or that they draw out of the mana screw. That Burnished Hart into Cultivate play isn't so hot now that all you have to show for it is a pile of blown-up lands in the graveyard. Armageddon is such a feel-bad spell that, while it wins games, I don't advocate it in 75% decks just because I am not out to make people feel bad (with all of my decks, Riku of Two Reflections has been known to incite a few rage quits, but I don't bring that out unless my opponents are asking for it!)—I am out to make new friends, demonstrate the power level of new cards to potential future trade partners, kill some time at the shop, and make Magic more accessible to my wife, who just wants to play big, green creatures and turn them sideways. You have your own reasons for playing Commander, but if they're like mine, the 75% project probably appeals to you (he said, to his readers).

Did I overreact, though, and throw the baby out with the bathwater? In this case, I guess the bathwater is mass land destruction, and the baby is pinpoint land destruction. I don't know that pinpoint land destruction is the boogeyman I made it out to be in my mind, and although I'm not sure how it's going to turn out, a recent printing made me think twice about my self-imposed LD moratorium. After all, I like challenging myself, so let's try a real challenge and bend one of my own rules to see whether I can't use my brain to come up with something both I and my future opponents can live with. Which card is it that has me thinking about the role of LD in Commander?

You got it: Titania, Protector of Argoth.

Titania, Protector of Argoth
I had already decided today was the day I finally was to write about this topic, and a curious thing happened while I was out driving. Someone in my town has the custom license plate Titania, and that person was next to me at a red light. I couldn't snap a picture in time, but the entire experience seemed like pure synchronicity and made me feel even more that today was the day. I doubt the owner of that license plate was a fan of the protector of Argoth; more likely is that he or she is either a fan of the bard or it's related to the fact that I live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, home to Bell's Brewery, which is the maker of the popular wheat ale called Oberon. Either way, I'm smart enough to recognize when it's time to write about a particular topic.

Right off the bat, let me say I would give a kidney to have Titania have white in her casting cost, even if the only white card I played was Knight of the Reliquary. I really, really want to play Knight in a deck with Titania as the commander, but alas and alack, I cannot. That's not so bad when you look at the list of cards I can play. I want to be land-heavy, I want to focus on bringing lands out of the ’yard and back into play, and I want to be able to blow up a few lands of my opponents' if they pull too far ahead—or if I hate their faces or whatever. If I am going to get over my reluctance to blow some lands up, let's include more than one or two cards that do it.

Here is my Titania deck in all of its 75% glory.

This looks pretty potent. At first, I balked at having so many tutors until I realized that I wasn't doing anything particularly ridiculous with them and that I wasn’t I always going to win the same way. Green Sun's Zenith is more often going to fish out a tucked Titania for us than it is going to tutor up something like Craterhoof Behemoth, so I decided I don't really have a problem.

Dark Depths
Similarly, even though we run the combo of Dark Depths with Thespian's Stage, it's not particularly nasty. There are ways to deal with the Marit Lage, and it isn't one-shotting anyone the way it does in Legacy. Running those lands with Realms Uncharted will probably be fine, but if we're ruining too many lives or always doing the same thing, we can cut any part of that and still have a potent deck.

I like all of the ways to make creatures, whether we're blowing up opponents’ lands, using Ambush Commander and Nature's Revolt, or just going to Squirrel Wrangler Town. Having a finisher like Craterhoof Behemoth makes those tokens lethal, and Beastmaster Ascension should help, too. If you want to find room for Overrun, go nuts. I thought about Muraganda Petroglyphs but decided against it because most of the creatures you make will be lands, and they whiff with the glyph (whyph?). Ambush Commander is a ballsy card because it can be as much a liability as a boon, so be careful. If you notice that Nature's Revolt is letting other people turn their copies of Wrath of God or Blasphemous Act into a Jokulhaups, you may want to not run it. I would say jam a few games to tune up, as always. 75% is hard to dial in on paper, but this is a good start.

As far as pinpoint LD goes, I would keep opponents off unfair stuff. Pull the person ahead back in line—don't pants someone who stumbles on land drops. Gaea's Cradle, Reliquary Tower, and the like are all solid LD targets. You can even blow up your own land.

I couldn't find enough ways to bounce Titania for value, so you're going to rely heavily on Crucible of Worlds, Life from the Loam, and Restore if you want to rebuy lands. I guess avoiding an easy Strip Mine loop is pretty 75%—it's fine to assemble such a potent combo, but it's also good for you to not have it every game.

I take back what I said earlier—I want Planar Birth also. White would be bonkers, but the urge to play Armageddon would be too great for most.

So, what do we think? Have I managed to judiciously run LD? Is it too much? Too little? Would you go another route with it? Leave it in the comments or send me your Titania list so we can compare notes. As always, I'd like to personally thank the people who leave me love in the comments and the readers on the EDH subreddit. You guys rock. Tune in next week, and let's get into even more trouble!

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