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Thunder Junction's Uncommon Commanders: Jem Lightfoote, Sky Explorer


I have a bit of history with making Draw-Go decks in Commander. That one goes into the history of the archetype, while the next one is kind of a lateral move, not so much better as a bit different with more modern cards. My most recent foray was a five-color monstrosity running 50 Lands, and I hope to play that deck someday with my playgroup.

Draw-Go is simple: draw a card, play a Land, pass the turn. Almost everything you do is done on your opponent's turn: lots of counterspells, lots of kill spells, and lots of Instant-speed draw spells to move through your Library. Eventually they run out of resources and you can win however you want. In the old days, it was stuff like Serra Angel.

This is tougher in Commander. We have more opponents, and they have more resources. Point removal, while still strong, isn't as great, and Wrath of God-style effects tend to not be Instant speed, plus they kill our Commander, too.

But as I went through the Uncommon Legends from Outlaws of Thunder Junction, one in particular stood out as a potential Draw-Go Commander.

Jem Lightfoote, Sky Explorer

We get a 3/3 Vigilant Flier for four mana, which is fine. We're in Blue and White, and I'd argue the only required color for Draw-Go is Blue, because that's where a lot of the card draw is. But more importantly, Jem rewards us for not doing stuff on our own turns. Let's see if we can make this work.

In previous iterations, the Land count crept up because the decks ran no ramp of any kind. We wanted to hit a Land drop every turn, and we really couldn't have enough. In addition, we were almost always building to some huge finisher which required a LOT of mana, so making sure we got to that high mana count was clutch. This one is a bit different. We still have no ramp, but our Commander is only four, and rather than try to counter everything everyone is doing (or even kill it all), we're instead going to create a board presence and slowly gain an advantage through draw and careful choices. Therefore, we don't need more than our traditional 40 Lands; we'll almost always have enough to get Jem out on turn four (an important milestone, since she's a big part of our draw package), and we'll draw so much we shouldn't have any trouble hitting most of our drops. We get a lot out of our Lands, including destruction (Field of Ruin), draw (War Room), Scry (Rivendell), and even other effects (Otawara, Soaring City, Castle Ardenvale, Celestial Colonnade). The most important Land drop you'll make is that fourth one - because so many of our Lands come into play tapped, you want to save the one that doesn't for that fourth drop so we can hit Jem on time.

Quick Study and Brainstorm remain the clear cards to beat in terms of Instant-speed card draw in a deck like this. We don't really want to mess around: we want to pay as little as possible for as many cards as possible at Instant speed. That means sometimes paying a bit more (Behold the Multiverse) and sometimes dealing with a downside (Frantic Search). Three Steps Ahead is wonderful here, since it can draw but also counter something and even provide a copy of something we might want more of. Sphinx's Revelation was a key player in Standard for a reason, and does excellent work here, refilling our Hand fully at the end of a turn.

We've also got some answers. Simple spells like Disenchant and Path to Exile are solid role-players and we probably don't want to be without them. But we also have some clever stuff like one of my dad's favorite cards, Aven Mindcensor, which nerfs someone's tutor. Deep Gnome Terramancer is a nifty way to get an extra Land out of our deck. Aven Interrupter at least buys us some time and leaves us with a flier. Werefox Bodyguard (with one of the wildest Creature Type lines out there) serves as point removal. We've also got several Pacifism-like effects with Flash, like Eaten by Piranhas (great flavor on that one) and Cast Out. Rout can actually blow up the board at Instant speed, while Doomskar lets us Foretell the spell and cast it later on - we'll lose our extra card from Jem when we play it, but we would have anyway because she'd be dead and if we recast her we'll have cast a spell, but we can Foretell without casting anything because Foretell is a Special Action and doesn't count as casting. (In fact, aside from Rout, every Sorcery we have has Foretell, Plot, or Suspend. We end up casting the spell eventually and losing our card, but we can set those all up without casting anything!)

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Aside from resolving the spells we set up, everything in the deck can be cast at Instant speed. We have a bunch of Creatures with Flash, all of which have an effect when they enter. Hullbreaker Horror is a decent Creature with just Flash, but the fact it does other stuff makes it way more valuable. We can counter, remove stuff, draw cards, copy Creatures, all kinds of things with our Creatures. Don't just play them out. Wait until you get as much value as possible out of them, then play them. We're not in a hurry.

We even have a Planeswalker with Flash, The Wandering Emperor. She's great. She can help Jem or another of our Creatures be more of a threat or a better blocker, she can create more blockers for us, and even kill off problematic Creatures in a pinch.

Jem Lightfoote, Sky Explorer | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

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The one thing we haven't talked about is winning, and that's because this deck has no built-in win condition. The other Draw-Go decks I've built have a way to finish the game in some dramatic fashion once you've sewn up the game, but this one? Nope. We have some Creatures, and we should probably attack with them. A number of them fly, so even better. We can copy some serious threats from our opponents; that's probably worth doing if they have something really great. Inevitable Betrayal seems like it could get us something to win the game. I suppose if Wrangler of the Damned hangs around for enough turns we could wind up with quite the flying army. You'll have to figure it out. Think through your turns, what resources you have, and what opponent has a weakness. Exploit everything you can and enjoy your opponents' confusion.

But the most important thing is to draw a card, play a Land, and say "go". Keep your turns short and your mind agile as the game changes around you.

Thanks for reading.

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