Some people are accountants by nature. You know who I mean. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being this way, but if you’re not one who loves a constant stream of numbers, well, then Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is not the general for you.


I’ll be honest, I was hoping that Oloro would play better than it did for me. I’ve played Soul Sisters and Martyr of Sands in Modern, and generally am a fan of incidental lifegain in Commander. Heck, I think Survival Cache is super underrate in the format, and that’s in the precon. What could go wrong?!


It’s the accountant thing. That’s what went wrong. Before you draw your first card you have to remember to gain two life, and that continues on for the entire game. You’re gaining life at least once a turn, and when you throw in Soul’s Attendant and that whole gang, it’s even more timing-specific changes on your life sheet. And it NEVER STOPS. It drove me to distraction. And it was worse when I was trying to keep life for one of my friends’ Oloro deck, because at least with mine I was getting ancillary benefits from the whole ordeal.


This is not to say that Oloro is a weak general, because he most certainly is not. That constant stream of life is a huge buffer against two thirds of the decks out there. Unfortunately, that final third of the decks kill you with commander damage, so against those decks you’re often out of luck. Now, if you build your Oloro into a control shell, you can probably keep those dangerous generals from swinging in, but, as you will see, my deck is more all in on the lifegain plan:


Oloro, Ageless Ascetic


Lifegain Theme: Ajani’s Pridemate; Augury Adept; Auriok Champion; Batterskull; Cradle of Vitality; Death Grasp; Daxos of Meletis; Darien, King of Kjeldor; Debt to the Deathless; Divinity of Pride; Drogskol Reaver; Elixir of Immortality; Elspeth Tirel; Exquisite Blood; Exsanguinate; Greed; Overrule; Pontiff of Blight; Rhox Faithmender; Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant // Rune-Tail’s Essence; Sangromancer; Sanguine Bond; Soul Warden; Soul’s Attendant; Souls of the Faultless; Sphinx of the Steel Wind; Sun Droplet; Survival Cache; Suture Priest; Treasury Thrull; True Conviction; Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter; Vizkopa Guildmage; Wall of Reverence; Well of Lost Dreams; Whip of Erebos

Zur Package: Zur the Enchanter; Sun Titan; Act of Authority; Blind Obedience; Bloodchief Ascension; Curse of the Forsaken; Ghostly Prison; Luminarch Ascension; Path of Bravery; Propaganda; Phyrexian Arena; Spear of Heliod; Story Circle; Underworld Connections

Utilities and Mana Rocks: Austere Command; Azorius Signet; Bloodgift Demon; Chromatic Lantern; Crawlspace; Dimir Signet; Ethersworn Adjudicator; Merciless Eviction; Orzhov Signet; Pristine Talisman; Sol Ring

Lands: Arcane Sanctum; Azorius Chancery; Azorius Guildgate; Boreal Shelf; Calciform Pools; Command Tower; Dimir Aqueduct; Dimir Guildgate; Dreadship Reef; Drowned Catacomb; Esper Panorama; Fetid Heath; Frost Marsh; Glacial Fortress; Island x3; Isolated Chapel; Jwar Island Refuge; Kor Haven; Leechridden Swamp; Orzhov Basilica; Orzhov Guildgate; Plains x5; Reliquary Tower; Sejiri Refuge; Springjack Pasture; Swamp x4; Temple of the False God; Thespian’s Stage; Vault of the Archangel


It’s a good deck. It won most of the times I brought it out to play, but the best parts of it tended to be less based on Oloro’s abilities and more based on the extra breathing room said abilities tended to bring. You can pay a lot of life to draw cards if that’s what you need to be doing. Also, I like playing a copy of Zur the Enchanter in the main, just as a utility package. Plus, I found a lot of cards I wanted to be playing fit into his restriction (Phyrexian Arena, Path of Bravery, Propaganda, etc). Seemed like a no-brainer at this point, although he didn’t draw nearly as much aggro as I thought he would.


The surprising all-star of the evening was Act of Authority. It’s easy to not have the most dangerous stuff on the board, so passing it around a bunch didn’t actually hurt me all that badly. Plus, it adds the chance for political engagement, which I enjoy. It’s one of the cards I’d definitely play in a bunch of different decks, and I hope to acquire more copies at some point to do so.


So, summary, I think Oloro is a good general, and he fills a niche that Esper really needed in that he’s a relevant but not oppressive general. He is a pain in the ass, though, when it comes to keeping track of your life total. And don’t expect to have much success farming that one out, because your life keeper will get annoyed with you.


Before I go, though, I wanted to talk  about this “Ten Commandments of Commander” that ran on the mothership the other week. I found it distasteful and wrong in many ways, but that really shows you how the social elements of the format can make the game mean different things to different people. First, and I feel like this should be obvious but what do I know, it’s a little weird on a lot of levels to cloak something like this in Judeo-Christian religious imagery. I know, I know, the Ten Commandments have totally lost any sense of relevance or mystery through the corporate Christian willingness to debase any important imagery or phrasing in the name of the dollar, but I, personally, still would rather it not be applied to a set of social rules that might be relevant to a sub-format of a collectible card game. Because who likes that? If you’re that type of religious it’s the debasement of your imagery and if you’re an atheist or a believer in a different faith tradition than it’s othering. Which, either way, is a dickish type of imagery to be using.


But whatever, that’s my thing, more generally I tend to hate these type of lists that try to codify what it means to be the “right” type of Magic player. It reminds me of when I was new to NYC, and the MtG Google group I had just joined had this brief interruption when an even newer participant posted some “Dos and Don’ts of playing Magic according to Bob” or whoever this dude was. It was… a lot of things. Blatantly misogynistic was certainly one of them. And he got a ton of push back and never posted anything again. But the underlying entitlement is what got to me. Who are you to demand these things of other people playing the game?


That article had the same vibe. Like, the whole thing about white-bordered lands pissed me off. I play with those lands in some of my decks. Part of it is nostalgia, because I was playing back in Revised and those lands remind me of the good old days. Part of it has to do with scarcity issues, because I have a ton of them, and they only had a couple of different pictures on them, so it’s really easy for me to get a bunch of lands with the same image from that one box. And part of it is practical, because when your deck does a lot of searching for basic lands, it’s nice to be able to cut down on search time by scanning the borders. Those are three good reasons to be playing with white bordered lands, and some jerk on the mothership is trying to make it less socially acceptable for me to do so because of his personal aesthetic taste? That’s a gross level of entitlement.


But let’s go through it.

10) “Thou shall not play Consecrated Sphinx” – You can play Consecrated Sphinx. When it was new, it showed up in everything and was super annoying, but people learned to kill it on sight and now it’s a question of whether or not you want to draw a ton of aggro. It’s a choice, not a command.

9) “Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s win con” – It’s a little awkward to copy whole decks, but I don’t think it’s rude to copy someone else’s kill package. But, then again, I tend to think kill packages are somewhat gross in the first place, because if you’re just drawing to a combo that ends the game why the heck are you playing EDH in the first place? It’s basically the worst format for that mindset.

8) “Thou shall not use white bordered lands.” – Covered, white-bordered lands are fine, this dude is the worst.

7) “Thou shall not Enter the Infinite.” – I’m more okay with the original tweeter’s statement than the way it gets mangled by the author. Enter the Infinite is one of those cards that puts you in a position where you have to win the game, and usually it just reads “win the game” since you get all your library at your disposal. And why would you want to play a card that says “win the game”? I mean, if you do that’s on you, is all I am saying. As for the mangled interpretation, well, sure, no one loves it when you’re just dicking around, but that’s a pacing issue more than anything. And it’s definitely not a commandment, because there’s a really subjective line between “having a ton of fun” and “taking too much time.”

6) “Thou shall roll two D6s to determine who shall take the first turn. Rolling a D20 is heresy.” – Fucking. Stupid. Determine playing order however you want. Clayton does it randomly, by which I mean he asks a ridiculous question and tells the best answer to go first. It’s absurd, and it works. If that works, and again, it does, why the hell does whatever type of die you use matter?

5) “Thou shall not freak out over the dreaded ‘tuck’. It happens, deal with it.” – Continue to freak out over your general getting tucked. Tucking hurts! And it can ruin the gameplay experience. It’s also a necessary tool in the arsenal. So whine and cry to get it out of your system, but try to build in such a way to make it annoying, not back-breaking. There’s nothing wrong about having emotions!

4) “Thou shall not blow up all the lands just because you can. Have a plan in place b4 you start getting cut throat.” – This implies that there is a time when it’s cool to blow up all the lands. This is inaccurate. I am not familiar with anyone who likes playing against the Armageddon player. It’s possible such a person exists, but in the meantime, don’t play Armageddon and its many variants.

3) “Thou shall not steal thy neighbour’s dice.” – Are you kidding me? Presumably you’re playing with people who are your friends, why the hell wouldn’t you lend a friend some dice to make their board state seem more readily apparent. People forget things all the damn time, are you going to punish a person because they came over from work?

2) “Thou shall be a good sport in victory & defeat. It’s a casual format people. Enjoy the game.” – Yes, be a good sport. Why does this even need a “commandment,” it’s a basic part of being a decent person, and also a constant struggle. All this “don’t be a whiner” crap is just typical macho bullshit and should be treated as such.

1) “Thou shall respect all opponents, regardless of skill, experience or ‘pimpness’ of deck. Battle vets, aid noobs.” – Yes, help those with less experience (or even more experience) come to the right line of play! And don’t manipulate people based on any experience differential that might exist. But that’s the entire political side of the game, and it mostly follows the Wil Wheaton rule, i.e., DON’T BE A DICK!


I don’t have a graceful ending to this, or a Winger speech to tie it all in a bow. Don’t be a dick when you’re playing or writing about EDH! And… scene.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.