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2017(5%) Year in Review


Paradox Engine
It's been another year, readers. I mean, you know it's been another year, I don't need to tell you that. I only meant it's been a year since we did the 2016 retrospective and that means it's time to do another one. We had a lot of wacky things happen this year and a lot of pretty mundane ones and we continue to watch individual groups define for themselves what 75% deck-building means to them which can be a good thing. We also got thrown a few curveballs with Un-cards being allowed temporarily and Paradox Engine not being banned like lots of people insisted was necessary. We even got a kind of a Gaea's Cradle thing. And, of course, we got dinosaurs and pirates all driving around in vehicles because why not? 2017 was a weird year in lots of ways so why not that?

We also evolved a bit as a deck-building ethos here at the 75% project and it's worth taking a look back at what we learned and reminding ourselves how we're growing. It was fun going back through the articles from the last year and I think we'll get a lot out of a little summation. Let's do it up!

I started off the new year by building a Kydele and Thrasios deck I ended up not liking. Paradox Engine is a very powerful card when built around but is probably fair. It also tended to make this deck pretty boring and linear. Pair it with a spell with Buyback and some mana rocks and go to town. I was generating infinite mana very easily and drawing my whole deck with Thrasios and that bored me. I began 2017 by realizing the enemy of the 75% build wasn't power so much as it was linearity and that helped inform every other deck I built this year.

I got sick of waiting around for them to give us the ur commander that we have been wanting and decided to just do what Josh Lee Kwai of The Command Zone would do and just build the deck with a placeholder commander. I was hoping we'd get our Izzet artificer in Commander 2017 but with Rivals of Ixalan giving us Storm the Vault, there's hope.

Aetherflux Reservoir
We got so many good Legendary creatures this year it's easy to overlook good ones like Sram, but it was worth the look back. With all of the excitement, I forgot that they gave us a White commander who can draw us a ton of cards. This seems like a fun deck and a pretty cheap one to boot. I may go back and build this on the cheap now that I've reminded myself it's a thing.

We got a nice blast from the past where I remembered the "give a creature infinite toughness and sac it to gain that much life" deck from Extended circa 2005 and it was fun to try and re-imagine an old deck in a new context. Infinite life is boring when you're just playing to not lose, but it's great when you can blast them for a trillion with Aetherflux Reservoir or get Ayli shenanigans going. You can even just dome them with Sanguine Bond. This was fun.

Druid tribal? Druid tribal. Stealing all of their lands is hilarious and since 2017 was the year of the Paradox Engine, we are going to steal all of everyone's lands. 2017 was also the year of the tribal deck and we got a lot of goodies later in the year that would make this deck really pop. If you built a tribal deck early in 2017, go back and take another look -- chances are it got even better.

2017 was the year of purple mana with energy cards being printed and eyes being rolled hard. I explored one way to build an energy deck, but I have seen a lot of people building decks like Riku with Temur energy and I'm a fan of that, too. Even something like Attune with Aether is amazing when doubled. I didn't write about Riku so read the article I wrote -- I like this build a lot, too.

This article had the best pun deck name I came up with in 2017 and reminded a lot of people that Elemental Mastery is a card and it's hilarious.

I did another Commander Heat Index article and I hope people remind me to do at least one a year. I'm sure silver-bordered cards figure heavily in there.

As long as we were on a kick where we ported decks from 2005 into Commander, remember Astral Slide? Well its back! In Pog form!

Remember EDHREC's April Fool's Day prank? Well I actually kind ofโ€‰.โ€‰.โ€‰.โ€‰ really like the idea of a Chandler deck the more I think about it. Paradox Engine really does make any old junk playable. This also lets me play cards I have wanted to play for years like Viashino Heretic and Starke of Rath. This was a great prank and I even wrote an MTG Price article corroborating the price spike as a companion piece and it's going to be hard to top it for next year. 2017 was also the year I started working at EDHREC and it's been gratifying to see the responses to the articles there. We'll prank you nerds just as good next year.

Sometimes I make a deck that is total nonsense based on a total nonsense deck someone else made. A huge number of Parallel Lives making copies of each other? I forgot I even did this.

Sometimes a new card can make you want to dust off an old mechanic. We built a cycling deck because of new cycling cards but we also built a landfall deck absent new landfall cards being printed just because Kefnet called for it. This deck was a great reminder to find any excuse to look at old mechanics.

This one was very important for the understanding of 75% deck-building as a whole because we re-explored the concept of Land Destruction and found a 75% way to make sure they can't do as much as fast without blowing up all of everyone's land. This is one of the most important articles I wrote this year.

It didn't take me long to figure out I didn't like my Kydele and Thrasios deck and taking a second stab at the things I liked and not the things I didn't was gratifying.

Razaketh, the Foulblooded
I got to spoil another card this year. That's just a cool thing that happened. The deck we made was a nice attempt at a 75% around a card that's frankly pretty powerful once it gets going and I think I succeeded, so that was a nice bonus. Plus GP Las Vegas was that week. Good times.

With Commander 2017 being all about tribes, it was worth it to look at a few tribal cards that might help us build. With more tribal creatures likely in Rivals of Ixalan, we'll likely have new decks to build in a few weeks so this was a good refresher.

I was all about porting decks over this year and the success of Palace Jailer in Legacy made me look at porting other Legacy decks over to Commander. Some nerd claims he's been doing something similar in a series on EDHREC but everyone knows EDHREC fired him. I mean, everyone doesn't know that but they should. They should know Matt Morgan was fired a long time ago.

2017 was a year full of revisiting old decks with new information and new cards. I recommend giving all of your old decks a new look and maybe rebuilding decks you've taken apart. If we learned anything in 2017 it's that a 75% deck never has to be finished. Even though it's trickier than people think to build this way, it's still worth revisiting.

What would an actual pirate do? Ixalan got me excited for pirates but it wasn't building around Admiral Beckett Brass or Ramirez DiPietro -- I wanted to build a real pirate deck and that made me realize how much I love to play with their cards to scale to their power level. I mean, I knew that, but this year I learned exactly how much.

I called this article "The most 75% deck of all" and it was a good example of getting creative when you felt like something was missing. This is the second time we've tried to build around the missing UR artifact commander.

Finally, we ended the year by talking about silver-bordered cards which was a nice capper. I think contraptions can be fun outside of Limited although I'm not sure if they'd work in most cubes. Your playgroup may very well not allow silver-bordered cards after 1/15 and maybe didn't even allow them when the RC said we could use them, but I hope a few groups discovered a few fun cards that didn't ruin everything and they keep using them.

Summing up what I think we learned that was important this year about building 75% decks:

  • Paradox Engine is good but fair, but watch out for building boring decks
  • Linearity is the real enemy. It makes play experience homogeneous and boring. This is why we don't like Laboratory Maniac -- we always try to win the exact same way.
  • Revisit older decks when new cards come out to keep decks fresh and exciting and consider rebuilding decks you took apart -- new cards may make them work in new and exciting ways.
  • We've been pirates all along

Thanks for reading. 2017 was a great year for the 75% project and here's hoping 2018 is just as good. Who knows what awaits us? Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, Masters 25 - there's a lot on the horizon. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season and you'll all join me in 2018 for more 75% shenanigans. Until next year!

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