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Thunder Junction's Uncommon Commanders: Miriam, Herd Whisperer

Reddit

This week, I came across a Reddit post which really struck me. You can read the entire thing, if you'd like (keep in mind it's Reddit and the language isn't always safe for every eye), but the gist of it is this:

A very casual player, who only plays precons and is reliably outmatched but doesn't mind, had a really crummy day. There was life stuff, then he had to wait 40 minutes for his friends to finish playing on Spelltable, then 10 minutes into the game he got killed by a player who came out of nowhere and for some reason chose him.

As he puts it, for the first time in 10+ years he just rage quit and turned off his computer.

But the reason this stood out to me is because of the first comment, by a Redditor named MariachiArchery.

The guy comes out saying he's sorry the OP had a crummy day, assures him it's okay that that happens and he should find some grace for himself. Then he goes on and asks if the OP actually talked to his friends. Did he speak up and say "I'm having a rough time and I really need to just chill with my buds and relax. I've been looking forward to this and could use the help."

MariachiArchery goes on to say if one of his friends said something like that to him, they'd forget about life totals and just battle cruise. Make big plays, have fun, and enjoy being together as friends.

I'm very lucky that for a long time - almost 10 years now - I've had a group of people I play with who are like that. They are open, honest, encouraging, friendly, supporting, and kind. We've all forgiven each other for stupid things and supported each other in a ton of different ways. And it's that sort of thing that keeps me in this game. For every annoying story you read about a troll who listens to headphones while playing, picks on new players, or anything else, there are players out there who are simply cool. I encourage each of you to both a) find a group of players who are your friends, and b) be this kind of friend. Support your pals. It makes the game and simply being a human being so much better.

One of the ways we can do that is have decks which work lots of different ways, so in that spirit (and because I had so much fun doing Ertha Jo, Frontier Mentor last week), I'd like to do a few more decks based around Uncommon Legendary Creatures from Outlaws of Thunder Junction.

Uncommon Legends tend to be a bit more focused and powered down. It's not that they aren't fun and can't do powerful things, you just you have to work for it a bit more and your path to victory is a little narrower. This can be a great choice for a game with some players you don't know (so you don't just stomp the table), players who don't have the same size card pool or resources as you (again, so you don't just stomp the table), or for a more fun-oriented game where people are more interested in hanging out than chalking up wins.

Today's Commander has a bit of power, is cheap, and should provide a fun, interactive game. Also, it lets us charge into battle with trains right next to cats with bridals.

Miriam, Herd Whisperer

A 3/2 for two is already a decent price, but we also get Hexproof for our Vehicles and Mounts when it's our turn and an auto-buff for each one of them when they attack. Let's see what we can do with this.

Miriam, Herd Whisperer | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

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The goal here is pretty simple: play Vehicles and Mounts, then attack with them. As far as I can tell, the only difference between Vehicles and Mounts are Mounts can attack without being Saddled; Vehicles can't. (A side effect of that is Vehicles become Creatures when they're Crewed; Mounts are Creatures all the time.)

The problem is we need Creatures to Crew and Saddle our big guys. That means finding the right mix of Creatures to do the riding/driving and Mounts and Vehicles to attack with. Of course, along the way we'll need to make mana, draw cards, and we'll probably have some opponents who won't be terribly interested in letting us build up a fleet (or stable - whatever) at our own pace.

40 Lands sets us up nicely to play Miriam on turn two, followed by our first other Creature on turn three. And because we're in Green, we can use that spot to ramp our mana nicely. I'm normally a fan of Cultivate and its ilk in this slot, but we need Creatures, so instead we're running Farhaven Elf. The Creatures which get us a Land and leave a body behind are perfect for Crewing Vehicles and whatnot.

And to make sure we keep up with the rest of the table, we have a few ways of drawing a card at a time (with spells like Sram, Senior Edificer) and get big swathes of cards with spells like Soul's Majesty and Rishkar's Expertise. We'll wind up with some rather large Creatures as long as the deck works, so we should be able to draw plenty of cards using those abilities. Garruk, Primal Hunter is here for just this purpose, too.

The selection of Vehicles and Mounts is entirely up to you. I like mine - it's a reasonable mix of both types (I'm actually running all the Mounts available in our colors, I think), and it mostly leans cheap so we can play out plenty of them. That said, our two most important guys are probably Bounding Felidar (which buffs up all the rest of our Creatures) and Thunderhawk Gunship (which puts our entire team into the air, and can probably often lead to a swift victory). I'd include those in any build of this I did, but otherwise, the grouping is up to you.

We have a variety of Pacifism-style effects to deal with opposing problems. Oblivion Ring is probably the best one of these because it Exiles, but there are a bunch which are more on theme so I went with those. Frankly, the removal suite is also up to you. I confess I also liked the idea of keeping this deck on the cheaper side financially, and leaving out spells like Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares does a good job of keeping the price down without wildly changing the ability of the deck. Is Swords to Plowshares better than Bound in Gold? Certainly. It could even cost you the win. But we're not trying to beat every table we play every time, and if we are, this is probably not the deck to be playing. Bound in Gold gives people hope they'll get their thing back some day, which is way more fun.

There are several fun little things in the deck too. Wylie Duke, Atiin Hero is a great one to use to Crew or Saddle. Abzan Falconer will put our entire attacking fleet into the air. Rambling Possum can bounce a Farhaven Elf every turn so we can keep ramping. Lita, Mechanical Engineer can pump out 5/5 Flying Vehicles for us (she works fast!). And any chance to play with Mechtitan Core is a winner in my book.

Another direction would be to add some spells like Hardened Scales and similar effects. It could certainly buff up the Vehicles and Mounts even more. Pridemalkin or other Trample-granters might be good too.

This deck should be a blast to play, fun to play against, doesn't cost too much, and a lot of it can probably be gotten for free after a draft. It'd be a good one to build if you only started playing recently, because most of the cards come from recent sets; there are only a few you'll have to dig around for.

Thanks for reading.


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