Hello everyone and welcome to another week of Shattered Perceptions, the weekly article series where I build skeletons for off-the-beaten-path Commander decks. Normally I would spotlight the general of the week and breakdown the desired deck I would build towards. 1500 words, in-out and onto The Magic Minute! But this week we’re breaking the format some, seeing as this week was the spoiler season for Commander 2017. I would love to give you up-to-date analysis of every general you will likely have seen by Thursday morning, but it’s just not within my abilities as a father of a nine week old.

So, today I’m going to kill two birds with one stone: covering Monday’s previewed Cat generals and capping off the week with my “report” from last weekend’s Grand Prix Minneapolis by talking about the side event no one else will tell you about, Ironman 1DH.


Meow or Never

In my limited time writing weekly I have found preview season to be a huge mess for myself in terms of Commander. I want to be timely, but the recent crop of legendary creatures have proven to be either too hard to spin into an article, or broken about 15 minutes after hitting Twitter. Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign is interesting, but very much the former;The Locust God is a good example of the latter—I’m a little worried he might become a red flag with the preview of Kindred Discovery. All that said, I understand that not all of my audience are plugged into Twitter or even visit the mothership daily, so I am going to break down my short write-up about what I would do with each of the new legends we’re getting from each deck. Cats today, followed by Dragons, Vampires and Wizards next week.

First up is the marquee card for the deck, displaying the eminence ability word: Arahbo, Roar of the World. We’ve seen an effect like this before with Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, who both interact from the command zone in cool ways. So far I haven’t seen anything that feels as cancerous as Oloro, which I am happy about. Overall Arahbo is a pretty cool legendary creature to lead a Cat tribal deck, and it’s clear that they were engineered that way. I would want cards like Heartbeat of Spring, cats, and pump spells to make the most of second ability and fire it off with as many of my attacking cats as possible. There is probably some nuance to be had, but at the moment, I would be content with this just opening up Cat tribal.

Balan, Wandering Knight is really the kind of card that gets me excited from a deck building perspective. Though being limited to just monowhite forces me to compare Balan with Sram, Senior Edificer as both look alike on the surface, Balan gets extra points for sharing more DNA with Puresteel Paladin and being maybe the best Voltron general other than Uril, the Miststalker because of the mix of their two abilities. Additionally, this feels like a pretty good candidate for a Knight tribal general—that may or may not have already crossed my mind as a topic of a future article—though I would want to figure out how to protect Balan before I would be ready to commit to that.

Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith. Ugh. This feels like it should have been Red. I think that would have been pretty cool for Boros. Okay, besides that gut reaction, I think this pretty cool. Green/White probably needs diversity of playable strategies as much as Red/White does and this is a direction I don’t believe was available before. Like Balan, this is an equipment deck, but more in the style of how Godo, Bandit Warlord or an unofficial Stoneforge Mystic might play in “Wish It Were Legendary.” I like the tap ability, because it offers some control that Green doesn’t normally see and with cards like Sunblast Angel and Vengeance existing, this could be a very cool midrange deck. I may want to build with Balan, Wandering Knight, but I think this could be the most popular new general of the deck.

Finally, we have Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist who I view as the most exciting of the bunch, though for story and precedent reasons. Since we’ve seen Mirri before, twice even, the fact that we are seeing another version of a character who has long been dead in the lore means that we can probably expect to see other returns to the earlier days of Magic’s mythology. But what would I do with this deck? The simple answer would be to leverage the warped Dueling Grounds effect to push through a wave of tokens and sit pretty on defense with some protection backup. I don’t see myself putting this into the other 99, she’s just too raw of power to be anywhere other than in the driver’s seat. To me this isn’t a Cat tribal card, it’s a build around card and the linchpin to a strategy.

I am Ironman

Minnesota seemingly has just about every kind of Magic: the Gathering content creator you could ask for: podcasters, custom cube creators, art critics and owners, writers, and foodies. Whatever we might be missing, we can attract because of our central location in the country making driving or flying here less of a chore than other locales. So, it should be no surprise that we also throw a hell of a weekend for Grand Prix visitors—Mana Deprived and Vegas being the notable toppers—by providing everything from Commander to Cube to Vintage Artist Constructed and we’ll even bring you out to a stellar restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Okay, so I’ve buried the headline a little. Last weekend I showed up to the Minneapolis Convention Center where Grand Prix Minneapolis was being held on Friday night and got a few games of Commander in—both the classic and 1DH variety—before taking part in the main event that this column has been attempting to build hype for all of July: Ironman 1DH! Due to some gruesome travel issues, the number of players dropped down to five players: Erik Linden, Mike Linnemann, Nick Davis, Nathan Weber and myself. Each equipped with a Dollar General deck and zero cares to give about bringing any of the main 99 home with us for a game of Star. What resulted was one of the most memorable games of Magic I have had since a draft of Conspiracy three years ago and possibly my first 3-1 of a FNM Modern tournament that same year.

In Pieces

Going around the table in the, Erik was packing Yasova Dragonclaw—ironic as I written about her last week as well—which I noticed went under the radar of the table for at least the first turn or two she was in play. The memorable play being when he stole Mike’s Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker and chopped a half dozen cards off the top of my deck. Fairly or not, he would be the first player ejected from the table.

I came in “fourth” with my Patron of the Nezumi deck that I had outlined a few weeks back, and understandably so. I kept the game very creature- and permanent-light by being the Pox deck. There was really no reason to want to keep me in the game, especially once Erik, one of my enemies, was dead and the other, Mike, was on the ropes. I remember Boompile sweeping the board early, removing mana rocks, Gorgon’s Head, and Swiftfoot Boots. But the most notable card of my game was Gibbering Madness, which stripped the table of hands and probably caused the most ripped up cards of the game. I was happy nonetheless with the deck’s performance.

Mike was the next player to fall. From my perspective he had the greatest mountain to climb since he was on the Szadek, Lord of Secrets deck and mill is a scary deck in the format. As I said earlier, Erik stole Mirko about halfway through the game and besides Szadek making a brief appearance, I felt a tinge of guilt that he never really got to execute on his game plan. The most memorable play I can remember was his use of Talent of the Telepath on Nathan to strip away seven cards, including his Butcher Orgg, and use up his Faithless Looting. Ultimately, he’d fall to Nathan Weber’s Sulfuric Vortex and direct damage.

Speaking of Weber, this man had the greatest disregard for his deck of anyone at the table, reveling in tearing cards into tiny pieces and tossing them all over the edge of the table considered his graveyard. He was running Kumano, Master Yamabushi and I got the feeling his mind was set on burning the entire table to the ground. Figuratively. I think. As would be assumed, he was the source of the greatest amount of actual damage, passing several creatures equipped to Assault Suit around the table each turn. This was a personal thorn in my side, since my sacrifice effects did nothing to disarm this bomb. Overall I was happy for the inclusion of this, as I am a huge supporter of games having incentives for action to keep the game moving. While I was at the table the whole time, besides being the end for Mike, I don’t actually know how Nathan lost to Nick, but the Assault Suit was torn up by game’s end.

Finally, Nick was packing Tajic, Blade of the Legion. To my best recollection, beyond doing a very good job of keeping under the radar while also happening to be the Monarch, Nick waited out the death of his opponents. The most eventful part of his game was probably use of Sudden Disappearance and leveraging the haste on the equipped Boar token in combination with Odric, Lunarch Marshal to always have live draws in the face of creature kill. It’s hard to disagree with methods—he won!

The games lasted about 45 minutes to an hour and as I said before, I loved it. Once you rip up your first card in the game, it really frees you up. Afterward, Alex Szeto pointed us in the direction of a great place to eat—his article last week is relevant even if you’re not in Minneapolis for a GP—and I had the best burger I have had in a long time at The Beer Garden.

Overall, I had a great night playing Magic. I understand that the idea of tearing up Magic cards probably raises the collective blood pressure of the community—Trick from Wizards mysteriously disappeared just before we started—but in a format where the cards are so cheap, I think there is little to get so worked up about. But, that is my time for the week, if you would like to yell at me or any of the other members of the Ironman game, come find me on Twitter and we can chat. As always, thanks and have a great week!

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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