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Commander & Change: Numot, the Devastator

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I’m not sure this is true for everyone, but it sure is for me: Keeping my cards organized is an unending project. Every time I start to feel that I’m getting caught up, a prerelease or Fat Pack happens, and I suddenly have a bunch more cards to be sorted and filed. Never mind when I build a deck—things are pulled and not put back, stuff is shuffled around, piles are made, and it’s a big mess.

One advantage to constantly sorting through my cards, though, is it will sometimes put a single card on my mind that would have otherwise probably not have gotten there. In this case, I was putting blue rares away in a binder and came across a Kheru Spellsnatcher, a wonderful little gem of a card that makes slick use of the morph mechanic. That made me think of my editor’s favorite card, Swerve, which is hilariously funny and can be quite powerful. What do those cards have in common? They’re both cunning—and our most recent discussion of cunning had to do with the cunning of the dragon: the Jeskai.

Numot, the Devastator

Let’s get the elephant out of the room. Numot is a jerk. I would probably never play him, or at least never attack with him, and I would probably tell my opponents that and to not worry about the land destruction. I know, some people think it’s against the spirit of Commander to build a deck that only uses the general for color identity, but some people don’t, and different people are entitled to their opinions. The other commanders in these colors are way too build-around, and Numot lets us say (and mean) that we’re not going to use the ability. (Plus, we always can use it against a cutthroat set of opponents.)

Next, this deck is more experimental than most of the decks for this series. There is no clear win condition, and answers are a bit scattered. What we’re trying to do is play some head games and keep the action tilted just this side of center, without the overwhelming board-affecting cards like Pyxis of Pandemonium. We’re going to do it with Redirect effects and a lot of morph creatures. If we go into the game thinking about the experience rather than the win, we’re likely to have a ton of fun.

Aphetto Runecaster
The mana is solid. We had a large budget for it—over $25—because the rest of the pieces are cheap. We have great tap lands (including the full suite of Temples because they’re terrific), a Glacial Fortress and Clifftop Retreat, and even a new Prairie Stream. Those lands are all reasonably priced and worth acquiring because they’ll most likely hold their value and will always be playable. Some basics—mostly Islands—round out the lands. Five 3-mana rocks help even more with the mana; all of them make all three of our colors; plus, each has some reasonable upside. Chromatic Lantern makes a proud introduction into the series; it’s often too expensive to put into a $75 list, but having a copy is great, and it’s a good card in three-or-more-colored decks.

Rhystic Study is annoying (“Do you want to pay the mana?”) but excellent for keeping cards flowing. Sphinx of Magosi and Diviner's Wand let us turn extra mana—or turns in which all we did was play a land and pass—into more stuff to do. Mind Unbound goes in every deck that plays blue—I still can’t believe that card hasn’t practically taken over the world—and Blue Sun's Zenith is a bomb end-of-turn play. We also are able to play Aphetto Runecaster in this deck, which is both on-theme and fun because it can really draw us a bunch, and no one at the table will have seen it before.

We can win if we’re lucky, but it’s not with threats. One funny thing about playing with a bunch of upside-down cards is that people are going to panic and wrack their brains trying to figure out what they are, but when someone else plays Sun Titan, it’ll probably distract them. We might steal a win here or there with some lucky attacks or a random Blustersquall, or some poor fool has his Drain Life pointed back at him with a Swerve, but most often, we’re just going to be playing with the table to see what kind of havoc we can create before someone else kills us. The one exception is Aetherling, which is a now a cheap, formerly expensive, Standard-competitive finisher for control decks. With enough mana, it’s both hard to kill and impossible to stop.

Phyrexian Rebirth
We can answer most anything. Cards like Daru Sanctifier and Vandalblast take care of enchantments and artifacts. Hidden Dragonslayer kills large things, and Ride Down kills anything in truly dramatic fashion. Phyrexian Rebirth Wraths (Terminus would probably be better, but it’s more expensive, and at least the Rebirth leaves us with something), and Cyclonic Rift makes for a possible win. We have a few straight counterspells—Draining Whelk is just cool (remember the CMC of the countered spell does not include any X value)—but, mostly, we’re going to point things in other places when they target.

What we lack in power, though, we more than make up for in fun and excitement. Of our thirty-three creatures, twenty-nine of them have morph or megamorph, which means no one will have any idea what we have most of the time. We have cards that do all kinds of things, and we never know when one of their abilities will come in handy—how bummed will the Zombie player be when she swings in, only be to foiled by a Frontline Strategist? How about stealing someone’s best thing with a Jeering Instigator midcombat and orchestrating a block that leaves him with no good creatures? A Fortune Thief to stay alive one more turn? Ghostfire Blade powers up all our morph creatures on the cheap, and Dream Chisel is a weird, old card that lets us play our stuff more cheaply, representing more mana and more possible shenanigans.

We also have kind of a funny combo with two specific cards: Weaver of Lies and Master of the Veil. These cards let us turn face down all cards or one card with morph, respectively, but they can’t target themselves. They can target each other, though, so with both of them out, we’re limited only by our mana for how many times we can flip things back over and reuse them. The only devastating thing I’ve found to do with that is with Brine Elemental—with all three cards and a boatload of mana, we can keep all our opponents off their untap steps for the rest of the game—but there may be some weird hidden combos I’ve missed with those two cards.

Also, we are able to play the card Unblinking Bleb. Unblinking Bleb!

Numot, the Devastator ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Illusionary Mask
The card this deck really wants is Illusionary Mask, but unless your friends are willing to let you play with strange, gold-bordered versions, it’s going to cost you Benjamins. Considering most of the cards already can be put face down on their own, it would be there for theme more than anything, but still, it could open up some really fun possibilities. Switcheroo was among the last cards cut, and that’s sad because it’s up there with Unblinking Bleb for best name ever. Price and speed, though, made it not worth the slot—you may feel differently. Same with Perplexing Chimera, which I think is annoying to play with but others may delight in. Akroma, Angel of Fury is in-color and very strong, but the rrr makes it tough. It might be worth a try though.

Another goofy thing about playing a bunch of morph creatures is we wind up with a ton of things to do at 3 mana. That means we can reliably keep a hand with only two or three lands and will have a bunch of things to do. Until people have played against the deck a couple of times, it’s unlikely they’ll have any idea what it is capable of, so they’ll always wonder—and we can always mess with them. Every time someone does something, check under a few of the morph cards on the field, think about it a couple of seconds, and then say, “Okay.” Have fun playing politics and trying to just keep the game in a silly place—don’t worry about winning!

That said, if you were going to try to build a deck like this but actually have a winner, how would you do it? Did I miss anything obvious?

Keep working on organizing those cards. You never know what you might turn up.

Total cost: $71.26


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