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X Gon' Take It From Ya

I’m continuing my “I read the comments” theme this week. Last week I got a request from a reader and I liked the idea a lot.

He makes a good point. While stealing their stuff isn’t the only way to build 75%, it’s probably my favorite. If I hadn’t developed 75% as a deck-building ethos, I still would likely be trying to steal from them and it all harkens back to one of my favorite bits of advice from Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” which is that “one bushel of the enemy’s provisions is worth 20 of our own.” I remember reading that as a teenager and budding Magic enthusiast and thinking “It makes sense that it would be worth 2 since we’re depriving him of one plus gaining one of ours, but 20?” and really absorbing that lesson led me to evaluate cards like Bribery and Control Magic better than I used to. 20 bushels to 1 seems like a good conversion rate when you think about what it means to your opponent to have a card they were riding on getting there for them suddenly being used against them. You have one more creature or artifact or spell than you used to, they have one fewer and now they have to worry about using one of their blockers to deal with it which means they aren’t dealing with your stuff. Whether or not you fully agree with the 20:1 ratio, I think we can all agree that taking a creature is more valuable than killing it or playing one of our own and that a card like Bribery is worth the five mana and more than worth a slot in our 99.

“But Jason” I can sense you all thinking “aren’t you worried about DMX being upset about the title of this article” and I just want to remind you that DMX will never find this article and we’re probably good. If he does, [insert your own joke about one of us stopping, dropping, shutting the other down and setting up shop].

“But Jason” I hear you also saying “what would an X deck look like? What are you trying to include to make the most of his unique abilities?” Well, I’m glad I pretended you asked. To me, X is a very powerful commander because even if they get rid of him in one of the ways someone might in Limited, such as discarding him, you can choose to have him go in the command zone. I wish we could use Illusionist's Bracers or Training Grounds to really cheat, but since X is too sneaky to be considered in play, we’re stuck activating him the old fashioned way. That’s OK, because the rest of our deck can be all about getting that value. What would the deck look like?

Mouth to Mouth
This is a spicy one! We’re using a few nasty un-cards and honestly we could stand to use a few more but I scoured all three sets and only found a few gems. Mouth to Mouth is a card I definitely didn’t know existed before today and I’m glad I found. Finally, band geeks have an advantage in a Magic game! Take that, jocks.

I think I loaded this with enough ways to swipe their stuff to satisfy anyone. Unlike my Rubinia Soulsinger Enchantress deck, though, we actually have ways to kill combo decks that don’t play a ton of creatures (I’m still going to play that deck forever because it’s hilarious against creature decks) so I think this is pretty solid. We could build a few subthemes to this deck by swapping a few cards around.

Graveyard Busybody and Over My Dead Bodies are a pretty good combo and you can make sure those and our existing spells like Rise of the Dark Realms are even better if we have a decking subtheme. Nemesis of Reason, Fleet Swallower, Traumatize and Mind Funeral really dump a ton in their yard and that lets us have a large selection of their stuff to hit them with. We can even just one-shot with Consuming Abberation and Rogue's Passage.

We can add more “on hit” creatures like Ophidian which means we need to add cards like Whispersilk Cloak. Spy Eye is pretty good in that role but adding a few more to join the ranks of cards like Thada Adel, Acquisitor would be good. Adding a few sneaky Rogues increases our chances of hitting the prowl cost on Knowledge Exploitation, which is super helpful. Shaving some of our non-hitters like Phoebe and Faerie Artisans can make some room.

If you like casting spells like Bribery, Acquire, and Praetor's Grasp, try adding cards like Snapcaster Mage, Archaeomancer and friends to rebuy our spells. We can add ways to bounce our creatures to continue to re-buy those spells, sacrificing their creatures when necessary to give us mana to keep replaying Bribery and Acquire. I recommend stealing mana rocks when you can to fuel your future ambitions. One tap of their Sol Ring is worth 40 mana according to Sun Tzu. It won’t actually tap for 40 but it will feel like it when you have 4 mana worth of cards that a lot of people think are too good for Commander and they have 0.

All in all I think this is a fun deck and I appreciate the opportunity to make the same tired DMX joke as everyone else. There are a lot of different ways you can customize this shell, or play it as-is for maximum creature theft. If you have any suggestions, just know that I read the comments. This was a blast. I’ll be back in a week and will most likely be doing a 2017 retrospective. We learned a lot about how to build 75% this year and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what. Until next time!

Unstable is Now Available!