Monday, July 20, 2020

Magic: The Gathering - Commander Night Playback - Achieving the Moral Victory

Statistically speaking, if a 4-player pod are building and playing decks are similar power levels, any one player should win roughly 25% of the time. This means that players should expect to lose the vast majority of their matches.

While this week's matches fall into that other 75%, I still managed to get in my licks and make an impact on the board.

Almost on accident, our first match went in a tribal direction. One of my friends ran Goblin-tribal with Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Another ran Morophon, the Boundless as a God-tribal deck, and the third player ran a Gishath, Sun's Avatar deck with dinosaurs.

So what tribe did I go with: Human Advisor, of course! And thanks to Bruvac, the Grandiloquent, I have the perfect commander for my Advisor-tribal deck. (wink wink)

The match wasn't long, but it was a killer. I feel a little bad for Morophon, since they never really got the chance to go anything, but it was still a pretty good meme match.

I managed to get a nice early start by playing a Mana Crypt to get Bruvac out on Turn 1. And by Turn 3 I had enough Persistent Petitioners on board to start dumping 24 cards from one of opponents' decks into the graveyard every turn. For reasons that'll become clear in a second, my original plan was to eat away at Muxus's deck first. However, since Gishath was the first player to aggressively come after me with a Marauding Raptor I couldn't comfortably block, they became the new target.

The first card Muxus placed on the board was Quest for the Goblin Lord, which set the tone for the rest of their strategy. Goblins are creatures that don't usually have much power on their own, so they'd be easy for me to block, but once that +2/+0 boost came online, that would no longer be the case. While they didn't have any token generators, cards like Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Lackey allowed them to quickly amass an army, despite not having enough lands to play their commander.

The coup-de-grace was Shared Animosity, which nobody could defend against because I had pretty much milled Gishath to extinction, and Morophon had only one blocker to defend themselves against the onslaught.


After that last match, one of us had to bow out to head to their D&D campaign, so the rest of us settled in for a 3 player game. Gishath decided to stay on dinosaurs, but the rest of us switched to new builds. The other player's build was helmed by Lurrus of the Dream Den.

My deck was lead by Vela the Night-Clad. Inspired by this old article on EDHREC, I decided to build around the theme of colorless/artifact creatures.

I managed to get an early lead thanks to Mishra's Workshop, which allowed me to get a 4/4 Stonecoil Serpent on Turn 2. And from there, I managed to maintain a strong position for the majority of the match, despite not getting any of my card draw spells online.

What helped me was an amazing synergy between Steel Overseer, Unwinding Clock, and my other artifact creatures like Foundry Inspector. Not only does this give me a form of pseudo-Vigilance, because my creatures will untap before anyone has the opportunity to attack me, but I could also tap my Steel Overseer every turn to continually pump up my team of machines. Once Vela graced the board with her presence, my attacks were even more secure because none of the other players could block.

While I was in a strong position and probably could have won the game if I was playing just a bit more attention to my own hand, I can't help but be proud of the situation I had set up for myself. That said, I wasn't the only one taking advantage of powerful synergies. Lurrus manage to partake a 4-card combo consisting on their commander, Ravenous Chupacabra, Kaya's Ghostform, and Phyrexian Altar. They weren't make much progress building up their board, but with that synergy that could sacrifice the Chupacabra to the Phyrexian Altar for black mana, and use Lurrus to recast Ghostform from the grave on the newly revived Chupacabra, getting that ETB trigger every time they do it.

Fortunately for me, that was mostly being directed at Gishath since they were growing into a threat. Thanks to Smothering Tithe, they managed to gain enough treasure before I could raise my defenses and block, getting a few powerful dinos in the process. This wouldn't have been threatening on it's own, but then they played Rishkar's Expertise on the following turn getting an explosive refresh. By the time I realized I could counter with Pact of Negation, it was far too late.

Two of the cards draw in that combo were Apex Altisaur and Flawless Maneuver. Sadly, I had used my Pact to counter a Sun Titan from Lurrus at that point, which you could argue was the second mistake on my part. Aided by indestructibility, the Altisaur fought can killed every creature on the board, leaving both of us open to a resounding defeat.

I may not have won, but I can't complain about the results of either match. In both of them, but especially the second one, I became a big enough threat that I both couldn't be ignored and couldn't be touched. And more importantly, I can see where I went wrong and learn from it, which is really what this article series is all about.

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