I think about the Paradox of Choice a lot when I’m building Commander decks. Not the book, because I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of the idea that a person can own an idea that’s entered into the public lexicon, but the underlying conceit: that choices create anxiety. More choice is not always better, since there are more factors to agonize over when you’re not constrained by relatively straightforward boundaries. I agonize a lot when I’m building Commander decks. It can be draining.


Take [casthaven]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/casthaven]. Not only was this dude the subject of what I consider to be my least effective Dear Azami column, but last week’s Command of Etiquette column also felt like it was coming in short. It’s odd, because I think Tasigur is a strong commander, but his ability is so anodyne as to make him frustrating to build.


His ability is basically “draw a good card for four mana.” That’s powerful, but not spicy.

It’s a shame, since it seems like he’s going to be a blast to play. The build I settled on had an incredibly diversified set of 20 pieces of interaction, ranging from [casthaven]Garruk, Apex Predator[/casthaven] to [casthaven]Simic Charm[/casthaven]. I can bubble with [casthaven]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/casthaven], wipe the board with [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven], or leave my ‘walkers standing by using [casthaven]Pernicious Deed[/casthaven] instead.

I can’t be the only one psyched for this Duel Deck!


Yet I find the balance to be difficult to eyeball. Initially I was including [casthaven]Logic Knot[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sibsig Muckdraggers[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Dead Drop[/casthaven] because I wanted more ways to sculpt the graveyard, but they all eventually got cut as expensive cards that could never exile themselves. I don’t know if I’ll have enough cards in my graveyard for them to be anything other than a card my opponents can give back to me that will be functionally useless, and I really can’t know this until the deck plays itself out. It seems likely I will, since I have 13 cards that self-mill in addition to all the spells and cheap creatures that will make it in, but several of those cards are slow, or one shot.


Which is not even to mention the manabase, which is proving shockingly difficult to get right. See, on the one hand I want a ton of basic lands. It seems likely that my opponents will return my ramp cards regularly, since in a vacuum that’s what I’d do, and I don’t want to run out of basics. But the Sultai wedge has some great utility lands, let alone the large number of duals available to any three-color combination these days. If I want to be able to play without being super careful with my mana, I’m going to need to take advantage of at least some of those lands.


I would include this card in every multicolor deck I own, had it not jumped up to $5 at some point. As is, I have like 10.

Again, it’s a choice of how to balance these factors, and I’ve been completely stressed out with my dithering. When you write a column about Magic, there’s the expectation you know what you’re talking about, but with this commander I seem lost. There aren’t the same easy second-order decisions I use when I’m building other decks, or at least they apply more rarely. Sure, I’m not making Tasigur into some combo engine, I’m not that far gone, but that only goes so far. Even now, I’m trying to figure out if I should dig up an [casthaven]Academy Ruins[/casthaven] and a [casthaven]Chromatic Lantern[/casthaven] to help with the mana situation. I want to say no, but my heart is screaming yes. Of course, if I listen to my heart that means I need to find another cut. And that seems like a miserable burden to accept willingly.


Shockingly useless in this deck, though.

So no. At least for now, [casthaven]Chromatic Lantern[/casthaven] is off the plate. That still leaves me with a deck with eight planeswalkers, only three of whom are Garruk. Normally I’d be more hesitant, but this seems like the one wrinkle in Tasigur that makes sense to me: there aren’t a lot of commanders who can recur planeswalkers, so let that do a little bit of work, at least.


Anyway, here’s the list:


Commander: [casthaven]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/casthaven]


Creatures (17): [casthaven]Deathrite Shaman[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Veteran Explorer[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Scavenging Ooze[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Baleful Strix[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Loaming Shaman[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nyx Weaver[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Courser of Kruphix[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Eternal Witness[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Yavimaya Elder[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Solemn Simulacrum[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Clever Impersonator[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sidisi, Brood Tyrant[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Torrent Elemental[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Pharika’s Mender[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Prophet of Kruphix[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sultai Soothsayer[/casthaven]; [casthaven]The Mimeoplasm[/casthaven]

Sorceries (17): [casthaven]Life from the Loam[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Restore[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Toxic Deluge[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Maelstrom Pulse[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Deep Analysis[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Bitter Revelation[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Explosive Vegetation[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Tempt with Discovery[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nissa’s Expedition[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Urban Evolution[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Primal Command[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Worm Harvest[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Spitting Image[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Treasure Cruise[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Profane Command[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Gaze of Granite[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Villainous Wealth[/casthaven]

Instants (13): [casthaven]Thought Scour[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Golgari Charm[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Grisly Salvage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Simic Charm[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Malicious Affliction[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Forbidden Alchemy[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Putrefy[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sultai Charm[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Fact or Fiction[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sudden Reclamation[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Murderous Cut[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Moonlight Bargain[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Dig Through Time[/casthaven]

Planeswalkers (8): [casthaven]Garruk Relentless[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Garruk Wildspeaker[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Vraska the Unseen[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Tamiyo, the Moon Sage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Teferi, Temporal Archmage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Garruk, Apex Predator[/casthaven]

Enchantments (6): [casthaven]Monastery Siege[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Pernicious Deed[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Bow of Nylea[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Sultai Ascendancy[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Dictate of Karametra[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Deadbridge Chant[/casthaven]

Lands (38): [casthaven]Alchemist’s Refuge[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Arcane Lighthouse[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Command Tower[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Crypt of Agadeem[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Dakmor Salvage[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Encroaching Wastes[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Evolving Wilds[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Grim Backwoods[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nephalia Drownyard[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Opal Palace[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Opulent Palace[/casthaven]; [casthaven]Terramorphic Expanse[/casthaven]; 9 [casthaven]Swamp[/casthaven]; 9 [casthaven]Forest[/casthaven]; 7 [casthaven]Island[/casthaven]


Even now, I’m missing a ton of things that should probably be in here. There just aren’t enough slots for some decks! What I am proud of, though, are cards like [casthaven]Explosive Vegetation[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Nissa’s Expedition[/casthaven] that get me ahead two lands at a time. I’m psyched to finally get to play with [casthaven]Garruk, Apex Predator[/casthaven], a card I have literally never resolved. And both [casthaven]Worm Harvest[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Life from the Loam[/casthaven] seem like they maximize the value of all those milled lands. If, in fact, I am running enough land; there has been some debate as to whether or not Tasigur is a “more than 40% land” type of commander. I’m voting no, but I might be wrong.

For example, it’s more than possible that this card is wrong, but I like how it works with Teferi and Garruk 1.0, so…


We’ll see how this plays. I plan to meet up with some friends this week to knock this deck around. It’s going to be tough, since I also want some time with [casthaven]Alesha, Who Smiles at Death[/casthaven], aka my new favorite card, but hopefully I’ll start to get a sense of the thing as time goes on. Some decks get built from scratch, and others take a lot of tuning.


[casthaven]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/casthaven] is most certainly in the latter camp.


Jess Stirba is anyone paying attention to these things?

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