I am not a fan of multiplayer Magic.

I find it a logistical mess. Games often take way longer than I’d like, and while the political aspect of it is incredibly fun, it often veers into tension points I just don’t care for. Finding three other players is a chore, and more importantly, finding three players I like is even more of an issue.

I just don’t bother.

Because of this, I’ve steered away from building a Commander deck for years. Well, it wasn’t the only reason, since a lot of my time playing competitively involved being surrounded by players that basically made a mockery of Commander. There was this weird implication that doing anything but playing competitive was detrimental to your growth as a competitive player.

Which, in hindsight, is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard.

Nowadays, I still hate multiplayer Magic, but the way I’ve thought about and approached it has changed dramatically. I spent a lot of time looking at newer cards (there’s so many of them!) and was interested in quite a few commanders. My issue was still having to interact with multiple players in a game.

But…what if I just didn’t?

What if I just split the table in two, forcing an isolation and just focusing on one player at a time? This would be pretty tough, as keeping players from ganging up on me is difficult. But I can at least attempt to slow them down. This compels me to lean towards stax-type effects, which would put me into white. I didn’t really care for cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, because I wanted a commander which was more of a centerpiece than a support. I had two options from here: lean into a bunch of aggressive combo pieces, or slow the game down to a point of inevitability. I chose the latter, but now my problem was finding what my “inevitability” actually was.

Having a bunch of tutors is kind of boring. But the other, less talked about problem with a lot of tutors is how much less effective they are in a multiplayer game when you start falling behind, especially in a midrange, reactive, or otherwise slower deck. There’s too much strain on them, as you’re constantly spending a resource to deal with more than one threat. Doing this constantly doesn’t really put you ahead if you can’t follow up. I’d much rather have more actual cards which do things, than always looking for a single thing and not progressing my game.

Blue felt like a natural conclusion to this line of thought, as cards like Commandeer, Forbid, and Teferi, Time Raveler are exactly the tools I want for a plan like this. This also gives me the best possible artifact synergy, and if my plan is to stax people, then having said synergy will be paramount. Academy Ruins, Trinket Mage for a bit of redundancy and resiliency, and something like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV to put it all together. I could play the latter as my commander, but I still don’t think it’s quite enough in the inevitability department. 

So what exactly do I want, then?

I don’t know. I’m just saying stuff.

I guess a cheap-ish commander that can double as a big threat on the backend? 

Well, Urza, Lord Commander fits that bill almost perfectly

My only hangup with Urza is how unreliable finding The Mightstone and Weakstone can be. It’s not that it’s hard to solve, but it falls back into the tutor problem mentioned earlier. I can either suck it up and run a million tutors anyways, or fill out with more varied threats after establishing my gameplan. The former is less of a nuisance because of Urza’s first ability. Costing one less may not seem like much, but especially early on, you can push yourself way ahead if you’re also trying to set your opponents back. I want to avoid pieces which make artifacts cost more, as I’ll probably lean more heavily into artifacts in my own deck. But, I can alternatively have non-artifact stax effects as well. Deafening Silence, Ethersworn Canonist, and shenanigans with Karn, the Great Creator seem like excellent starts. Mana rocks are pretty easy for me, but I also don’t want to have too many of those, as I want to keep my curve relatively low but my resources moderately high. This may change depending on what finishers or X spells I run, but I don’t see myself running too many of the latter or having a finisher higher than six or seven. 

Speaking of finishers. Something like Consecrated Sphinx is a finisher in disguise. It will likely end the game on the spot if it makes it through two players. Urza, Lord High Artificer does everything I want in this deck, and will probably be a main engine which lets me churn through my tools. I have a plethora of combo tools involving Future Sight and similar effects, but I’m interested in built-in toolbox finishers like Kuldotha Forgemaster and Stoneforge Mystic. The nice thing about putting this all together is that I don’t have to do anything if I have the board in control, and can just take people out with Urza, Planeswalker emphatically. It’s a delicate balance which will involve every single piece of my 99 cards, but I think I can pull it off. 

I’m excited to put all of this together, and will return with my findings real soon!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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