Launch Into Commander

Story Circle

As you all should know, WotC’s new Commander decks hit store shelves last Friday. As far as I can tell, they’re a rousing success. It’s a safe bet that more Commander support will be coming down the pike, maybe sooner than you’d think. No doubt you all have good stories to tell of your experiences with the Commander launch parties. Here’s mine.

Journey to Nowhere

My Magic day started about midmorning Saturday. I was frantically trying to make some last minute changes to my Dralnu, Lich Lord deck, the deck I was planning on running in the launch party. In between deck decisions I was doing chores for my mother, handing over 50 bucks to fill the tank of my Trailblazer to the oh-so-polite Casey’s people, and trying to get my cousin Ben to answer his phone.

MTG Commander Dralnu, Lich Lord

Around 1:30 the time for my adventure had come. I left my house with my brother Sean in tow and we picked up our friend Zach, who lives just a few blocks from us. We left Williamsburg, and the open road beckoned us to the hallowed streets of Iowa City. The dulcet tones of Metroid Metal fueled our spirits.

Scavenged Weaponry

After dropping my brother off at his girlfriend’s residence, Zach’s and my first priority was to find one of the new decks. This task would prove even harder than we had anticipated, however. Each store we visited either didn’t have them yet or were sold out.

Wal-mart: negative.

Target: coming soon!

Video Games Etc.: only at premium stores.

The new Gamesip next to Barnes & Noble: negative.

We didn’t even think about Hobby Corner in Sycamore mall or Linden Cards downtown.

We already knew Critical Hit Games had sold out on preorders weeks ahead of time, so our only resort was IC Games, a small hole-in-the-wall shop nestled into a minimall in the deepest reaches of the city. The thing about IC Games is they’re hard core into Magic and they have a large, loyal community (who I suspect are converts from CHG).

We had to use Google Maps to find the place as I had only been there a couple times before and have no sense of direction in that part of Iowa City. We pulled into the driveway, hopeful but not expecting much.

As luck would have it, though, there were some MTG Commander decks left; two Political Puppets boxes. It was the deck I had been most excited for, so I was happy as a blue player with a Counterspell in hand and two blue up. We eagerly shelled out $30 each and Zach promptly sold his Chaos Warp, Flusterstorm, and Lightning Greaves to get back a cool 25 bucks. I couldn’t bear to part with the cards I didn’t already have, though, so I only let go of the greased boots and the Chromeshell Crab. I decided to pick up a Temple of the False God, the blue and black vivid lands, and a Bojuka Bog as well, for my Dralnu deck.

MTG Commader Spoiler Deck - Political Puppets

All in all, Zach and I were extremely happy with our purchases. The fun was just beginning, though. After missing my calls all morning, Ben finally called me back, so we had to drive across town to pick him up. It was 4:00, the party started at 5, and we didn’t know if we would be able to make it. We called CHG, though, and they assuaged our worries; the party would likely start at 5:30.

We did a drive-by pick up of Ben, turned around, and got back on track. We arrived at CHG with plenty of time to spare and quickly found out it was packed. This was going to be a fun tournament.

First Commander Game of the Day – Battle of Wits

After everyone signed up and paid the $5 entry fee, we were split into pods of five. Zach, Ben, and I were separated, so we wouldn’t be able to rely on knowledge of each other’s decks Though I had bought the Zedruu the Greathearted deck, I didn’t feel like running it without a chance to make some modifications, so I chose to play Dralnu. Going clockwise from me, my opponents were playing Rakdos the Defiler, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, and Teneb, the Harvester. I was a little worried.

Commander Deck - Dralnu, Lich Lord

The game went well for the lich lord, though. He did what he does best; control the board. After an early black spell from the Scion player exiled my Memnarch from my hand I chose to focus on him and played Isochron Scepter imprinting Shadow of Doubt, meaning if he managed to get his dragon into play he wouldn’t be transforming it any time soon. The other main threat in my mind was Jhoira, and it seemed that was the consensus of the table as well, as Jhoira’s casting cost quickly became seven before long. Her owner only got to suspend one card the whole game, a red spell that emptied our hands and let us draw seven cards.

Unfortunately for the Ur-Dragon player, my three other opponents were happy to get rid of every creature he played the turn he played it. Needless to say, he was the first to go, no one survives Rakdos in the face for very long. Thanks to a Praetor’s Grasp, though, I had a souvenir from his deck in the form of Keiga, the Tide Star.

MTG Card Praetors Grasp

After the Jhoira player snagged away the Teneb player’s Seedborn Muse, however, the victor was becoming clear. Not that I didn’t put up a good fight. I turned my Phyrexian Metamorph into a Seedborn Muse, and suddenly I could flashback a spell on every one of opponent’s turns with my greased up Dralnu. I chose to Trade Secrets with the Rakdos player and was able to cast a 20/20 demon with Promise of Power after Hindering a Hinder.

My doom came in the form of Inkwell Leviathan. After my Lightning Greaves were destroyed and Dralnu was dealt ten burn damage, forcing me to sacrifice everything but the demon token, I had no hope at all. To add insult to injury, the demon was Mind Controlled and it personally chewed off my face with no permanents between us.

The Teneb and Rakdos players managed to last a little longer but, in the end, a cycled Decree of Annihilation behind a still very mean Inkwell Leviathan won the Jhoira player the match. I had a great time with the game, though, and was eager for more.

Ben and Zach hadn’t fared much better. Zach’s Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind infinite combo was snuffed out and Ben’s Shauku, Endbringer deck had the bad luck of facing a Damia, Sage of Stone/Necrotic Ooze deck which I would experience all too soon.


For the second game, I sat down with Ben, the Damia player, and a fourth player who borrowed a black vampire deck from the Damia player. All of us were heavy into black, so I thought Ben’s swampwalking deck might have an advantage. Little did I know what dangers lurked in Damia’s army. The game started slowly; Ben destroyed whatever we put on the board with Planeswalker’s Scorn and made us discard most of the rest. I was able to get a Chancellor of the Spires into play and cast the other mono-black player’s Promise of Power to draw five cards, but Ben shot it down with a combination of his enchantment and Drain Life.

MTG Card - Chancellor of the Spires

After the Damia player got the amazing gorgon wizard babe into play and destroyed Planeswalker’s Scorn, it was pretty much game over, though we didn’t know it yet. One turn to draw seven cards was all he needed. I had read about all the infinite combos you can make with Necrotic Ooze before, but I had never seen it in action. We weren’t prepared for it. He eventually found his Thornling and then we were all dead. I was happy the game was over though, my brain was hurting from the complicated shenanigans being pulled.

Reward the Faithful

As a consolation prize, everyone got to take home a foil oversized card from those that were left. I chose Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter as he’s one of my favorites and the only other choices were Basandra, Battle Seraph and Nin, the Pain Artist. I had a smaller version of Nin already and Basandra does not interest me at all.

We left with our heads held high and regailed each other with stories of our awesome plays and plans for next time on the way home. Overall, we each had a great night I can’t wait for my next Commander event with my modded Zedruu the Greathearted deck. I think it’ll be one to remember.