Hello everyone and welcome to another week of Shattered Perspectives, the series where I work week in and week out to try to uncover hidden gems for the format of Commander, all through the lens of a Commander of the week. With Grand Prix Minneapolis coming up in August, all of July I am focusing on 1DH aka Dollar General, the building restriction where every card on the decklist must cost less than one dollar. A silly, possibly unending grind to keep track of, but fun for one weekend metagames.

For the newcomers or people not in the know, here is a great 1DH primer to catch you up to speed on the “grassroots” variant Commander format.

In an effort to cover as much ground on the format this month, I wanted to move to an entirely different area of the color pie than last week’s Simic article. This left me either covering mono colored shenanigans or building around Boros, Orzhov or Rakdos generals; obviously from the banner image I ended up with Rakdos in the form of Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch!

Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

I seem to be on a bit of theme this week and last, profiling legendary creatures coming to us out of the Return to Ravnica block. I’m going to chalk this up to the sets in general being highly opened as a fresh new player base was trying to get their hands on shocklands, but for the purposes of the larger scope of my series, the block was a boon for available generals that have been marginally underplayed. I remember picking up a playset of each of the “maze runners” from Dragon’s Maze, thinking they were going to be highly in demand creatures that would be piloting decks all over Commander. Seeing as all of them are legal in 1DH, obviously I was wrong.

With Exava, I sort of get it; while she plays very well with her guild and the Unleash mechanic from this block, she is kind of narrow. But narrow can be good, it can even be underappreciated. So while today’s article may be highlighting some tried and true +1/+1 counter cards, I don’t want to make it Rakdos Good Stuff.deck and try my best to find the gems that I don’t see get enough play in Commander to begin with. I do have a bit of challenge—as I’ve already covered Rakdos once before—but hopefully the building restricts will push me in a different direction anyway.

… Belong to Me

Mechanics involving +1/+1 counters are certainly not lacking due to its depth of design space, which means our resources are not lacking. The aforementioned Unleash, along with Modular, Fabricate and the underrated Devour all offer powerful choices that fit within our budget. I would look to cards like Thunder-Thrash Elder and Marionette Master as solid examples of Devour or Fabricate that might not be getting as much attention in Commander.

Obviously Exava makes it very clear that she wants you to be packing your other 99 with plenty of creatures with +1/+1 counters, but I think the one defining difference between her deck versus something like Marchesa, the Black Rose is that she really benefits the creatures coming into play after her. So while I would gladly include something like Arcbound Slith or Bojuka Brigand to fill out the curve and be live draws later in the game, I would be actively filling my deck with cards like Aetherborn Marauder, Spike Cannibal, and Thief of Blood to not only be hasty creatures under Exava’s tutelage, but also take full advantage of all the accounting being done on the entire board.

Adding to the list, Thought Gorger and Savage Firecat are both creatures benefiting off entering the battlefield with healthy piles of counters that will offer a massive surprise while our esteemed leader is in play.

Coming Together, Like Clockwork

As the title of the section might tip off the seasoned veterans, the entire grouping of Clockwork creatures that cropped up starting in Mirrodin block with a later splash in Time Spiral can be easy picks for our deck. That said, even though the Clockwork creatures enter play with haste while Exava is present—see Clockwork Beetle and Clockwork Condor—not all are created equal. The three that I have my sights on are Clockwork Dragon, Clockwork Hydra, and Clockwork Vorrac for their ability to regrow in size. I don’t know that I would cash in on their activated abilities on their first turns in play, but the option to disregard attacking in favor of mounting a defense doesn’t sound unappealing.

Staying on theme, I would look to keep a suite of Modular creatures in the running for a place in the deck; but it you can’t find the space, I think they are the most expendable.

Furthermore, while not officially being a Clockwork creature, I have a soft spot for Solarion. I think that even if we are not taking advantage of a Darksteel Ingot or Fellwar Stone for third or fourth colors, it is not a horrible addition to this deck, as it doubles up the turn it comes into play. Hell, maybe you play Cascading Cataracts and I’m not just saying that due to my contractual obligations with Hipsters of the Coast.

Not So Hasty?

But what do we do if we somehow don’t have our general in play? Or, maybe not all our creatures are naturally producing +1/+1 counters. We’re going to need some contingency plans and people smarter than me have already figured this deckbuilding trick out.

To address enabling haste, the typical answer is packing Hammer of Purphoros and Fervor as a back-up plan. But I would like to look to the philosophy of Neale Talbot’s 9×7 theory and go a step further to try to flush out a complete suite of seven cards that will supply our creatures with haste.

Starting out, Flameshadow Conjuring and the freshly printed God-Pharaoh’s Gift are both reasonable substitutes that while not enabling your entire team haste, do a good impression while also acting as Dollar General’s versions of Conjurer’s Closet. Additionally, God-Pharaoh’s Gift takes the cards mentioned previously and repurposes them with bodies that possess actual power and toughness. Capping off our haste-enabling suite, I would recommend trying out Ogre Battledriver and Sootstoke Kindler for their untapped potential. And finally including Generator Servant—playing double duty as ramp—to ensure that you’ll reliably be able to make surprise attacks.

Unending Torment

Finally, no great Commander deck survives off piles of creatures alone—besides probably Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Ryan, what spicy cards might you recommend that may not be in conformance with the theme, but fun nonetheless? I’m happy you asked, average bystander.

First things first, I would look to cards like Everlasting Torment or Bedlam to help escalate the game to a place where you can win the game faster, possibly at the risk of losing. Games have to end at some point and I would rather the game spiral into chaos after seven turns instead of the game becoming a stall with players behind lifegain and Wall of Omens. In the case of the Torment, we will even get to take advantage of the first strike ability on Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch and leave her very hard to handle in combat.

For some added spice, I would turn your attention to Intimidation, Atarka Pummeler, and Magistrate’s Veto as secondary versions of Bedlam—remember Neale’s words—that won’t outright end the game, but certainly will allow you to be better prepared than your opponents.

I think I’ve covered almost half of a functioning deck, minus the lands—which come down to Geier Reach Sanitarium and budget duals—so you should be reasonably prepared to build towards Exava if the feeling struck you. As I illuded to at the top of the article, Dollar General will be seeing play Friday night at Grand Prix Minneapolis, known associates have indicated that Ironman Dollar General will be seeing at least one game of play. So I will be metagaming for that.

That’s my time for the week, so now I turn the attention back to anyone who wishes to be vocal and give their own two cents. You can find me on Twitter via @RyanSainio or yelling at Hipsters directly through the email system at the bottom of the page.

Until next time, good luck and thank you!

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the story of Magic and the EDH community in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

Pet Deck – Shattergang Eldrazi

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