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Card of the Week – Beseech the Queen

Approaching slowly with your head bowed to avoid looking her directly in the eye you sink to your knees, imploring her for just a sliver of her power.

One appreciates your grovelling

Magic is a game of variance and nowhere is this more true than in the 100 card singleton format Commander, and tutors are one of the best ways to make your deck more consistent. Beseech the Queen is a tutor that allows you to search your library for any card and put it into your hand. The only downside is that the card you tutor for has to have a mana value of less than or equal to the number of lands you control.

The hybrid mana cost makes this card easier to cast as it removes the need for triple black mana, but the main advantage of Beseech the Queen is that the card going to hand also allows you to use the card immediately and prevents it from being milled away.

Beseech the Queen is a highly flexible card that could go in the majority of decks that run black, especially Queen Marchesa.

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Card of the Week – Strixhaven Commander Decks

This week’s card of the week is bumper edition, with a card of the week for each of the pre-con commander decks from Strixhaven.

Lorehold Legacies – Osgir, the Reconstructor

Attack at your own peril

Stuffy Doll is one of the best blockers in the game as it is not only indestructible but a powerful political tool. In Osgir you can use Stuffy Doll to target the biggest threat at the table and let your other opponents to use Stuffy Doll to deal damage to them. Afterwards you can use Osgir’s abilities to create two copies of Stuffy Doll allowing you to simply outlast your opponents.

Prismari Performance – Zaffai, Thunder Conductor

Who doesn’t like playing spells for free?

Zaffai wants to cast instants and sorceries and the higher the MV the better, so why not cast them for free? When Wildfire Eternal attacks and isn’t blocked you can play an instant or sorcery from your hand for free. The Afflict cost is less effective in commander than it would be in standard or modern but you can combine with with an unblockable effect such as Aqueous Form to get some incredible value.

Quantum Quandrix – Adrix and Nev, Twincasters

Capable of creating an army itself

Adrix and Nev want to flood the board with tokens and go wide, Biowaste Blob is a creature that if left alone for a few turns can create an army of tokens all by itself at an increasing rate. It synergies greatly with Adrix as instead of getting 1 token you will get 2, and the more copies of Biowaste Blob you have on the field the power powerful they get.

Siverquill Statement – Breena, the Demagogue

Why let your opponents play on their terms?

Oracle en-Vec forces an opponent to declare what creatures they will be attacking with during your turn, this gives both you an your other opponents an opportunity to prepare and forces the targeted opponent to almost sign post their attacks. It also means that the targeted opponent cannot attack you out of nowhere with hasty creatures. Breena wants to play a political game and this card is sure to create an interesting dynamic.

Witherbloom Witchcraft – Willowdusk, Essence Seer

Turning removal into counters

As Liam highlighted in his article Lowering the Curve low MV spells allow you to generate a lot of value in the early game and play multiple spells a turn in the mid or late game. Vendetta offers you a lot of flexibility it can be used in the early game to stop an opponent going off quickly or later in the game and offers you late game synergy. The downside of Vendetta is that you loose life equal to the toughness of the creature however, with Willowdusk on the field you can play this in your turn and turn that life loss into +1/+1 counters.

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Magic the Gathering : Commander – Lowering the Curve

I play competitive Commander (cEDH).

And I love it. It’s fast, it’s stacks on stacks (not to be confused with stax!), and it’s taught me a lot more than I expected when I started powering up decks. Prior to dipping my toes into cEDH, which was around the time Flash got banned, I gave mana curves very little thought.

There’s a lot to be gained from lowering your mana curve and lowering the curve doesn’t mean you can’t add those awesome big splashy spells, and it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifce card quality by playing lower mana value (MV) spells. With a lower curve, you can pump out creatures out onto the battlefield, build defences, and start amassing value as early as turn 1 or 2.

What is “The Curve”?

If you add your deck onto a deck building site, you can quickly and easily see the shape of your mana curve. Nice curves usually peak at 2MV or 3MV, and then tail off from there. If you don’t want to spend the time adding your deck to a deck building site, you can lay the cards out on a table and make piles of each CMC, and get a nice physical representation of the curve of your deck. You’ll usually see people doing this in sealed and draft events. This is one of my high powered casual decks:

Card Quality

When lowering your curve you really need to think hard about the quality of the cards you are putting into your deck. It’s very easy to take a Shivan Dragon out of your deck, but what do you replace a 6MV flying 5/5 with?

Shivan Dragon is a beater which offers you no other value, and while this isn’t a bad thing (I’ve died to a Shivan Dragon in 1v1 commander before), you will probably advance your game plan quicker if you can play, say, three 2MV spells rather than that one big Dragon on that turn.

On the flipside however, there are a lot of low-MV cards which add nothing to a deck. If you’re thinking of putting a vanilla 1/1 which costs 1 mana in your deck in place of Shivan Dragon, you’re not gaining anything. Ok, you can swing out on turn 2, but there’s no use dealing 1 damage to an opponent who started out on 40 life.

Dig through your collection, pull out all the cards with a mana value of 2 or less and read them. Think about how they can give you advantage in the early game. An example (which probably won’t be in your bulk pile) is Dark Confidant – the turn after you cast it you’re amassing card advantage. Card draw will win you the game; if you’re digging through your deck faster than everyone else you are far more likely to reach your win con before they do.

When looking at these cards you need to be thinking of a few key items – ramp, card draw, counter magic, and stax (I hate to play against Stax, but love to run it).

Ramp

Mana dorks are some of the best ramp in commander as they give you bodies to chump block with and get you extra mana by the next turn. You can’t go wrong with adding a Llanowar Elves to a deck with green, or even Priest of Titania if you play against a lot of green decks.

Even cards like Blood Pet go especially well in Arisocratic decks as it’s essentially a free card.

Honourable mentions:

Any 1 mana dork (Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic, Birds of Paradise)

Dockside Extortionist

Blood Pet

Card Draw

If you listen to any magic podcasts, I’m sure they will have mentioned that card draw wins you the game, if you’ve seen and drawn a bunch of cards, you will get to your win con quicker than anyone else at the table.

Thankfully, Magic has a lot of low-MV cards which are perfect inclusions in most decks.

Honourable mentions:

Oakhame Adversary (weird, I know, it’s 4MV, but most pods have a green deck, so you can get this on board turn 2 and get a-swingin’ and a-drawin’)

Sylvan Library

Ponder

Preordain

Brainstorm

Dark Confidant

Counter Magic

If you’re not drawing yourself to a win, the second best way to win is to flat out deny anyone else a win and then slowly meander your way there instead. Many decks are designed to do this, especially if they lack ramp and card draw.

I see a lot of decks running counter magic, but the spells have high mana value, and mean you need to keep 3 or 4 mana open when you pass the turn. For one, it makes it very obvious when you keep this much open, but it also limits you to the spells you can play on your turn.

Ok, finding low-MV counter magic that stops creature spells is hard, so this does limit you when looking for counter magic, but it is worth looking at the spells you’re running and seeing if you can slip in something a little more efficent.

Honourable mentions (thought I’d add at least one for each colour here):

Swan Song

Red Elemental Blast

Tibalt’s Trickery

Mana Tithe

Avoid Fate

Withering Boon

Stax

Stax, like Counter Magic, does a great job of stopping your oppents from winning, which in turn lets you take your time in finding a win. Though I cannot promise that this won’t lose you friends.

Some very strong Stax pieces can be played early game, and can force oppents to think about that one card you have out rather than focusing on everything else you’re trying to do.

Honourable mentions:

Rule of Law (or effects simliar to this like Etherswon Cannonist)

Drannith Magistrate

Authority of the Consuls

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

Collector Ouphe

Sphere of Resistance

Conclusion

To wrap this up, hopefully this article will help you when thinking about what to include in a deck and why, I am not saying to only use these cards, these just serve as an example of helping you progress (or deny others’ progression) early in the game, and they may in turn help you in casting those big splashy spells that are what makes commander so great.

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Card of the Week – Gift of Immortality

This weeks card of the week comes from my fellow librarian Coatsy.

Your opponents want to remove your commander or key combo piece just as much as you want to keep it on the field, which is why you need to be able to protect them. Gift of Immortality is an Enchantment for 2W that enchants a creature, and when that creature dies return it to the battlefield. Not only does it provide protection for a creature but it is also difficult for opponents to interact with because they would need to use multiple removal spells, or exile the creature.

The major upside of Gift of Immortality is that it returns itself to the battlefield and the beginning of the next end step attached to the same creature, this extends the amount of protection that it offers the creature. It also provides additional functionality as it can also be used to repeatedly trigger ETB or death triggers from creatures.

Gift of Immortality would be good in a wide variety of decks including: Ruhan of the Fomori; Elenda, the Dusk Rose; Roon of the Hidden Real; Zur The Enchanter; Tuvasa the Sunlit; Alela, Artful Provocateur; Brago, King Eternal

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Card of the Week – Oakhame Adversary

I chose Oakhame Adversary as my card of the week as I am increasingly including it in decks.

It synergies with itself

Oakhame Adversary fails the vanilla creature test due to its Mana Value of 4 (3G) and it’s stat line of 2/3 but it makes up for this with multiple lines of rules text. The first one is what makes Oakhame Adversary such a good card because it comes with it’s own cost reducer. If an opponent controls a green permanent it costs 2 generic mana less to cast, meaning that you can cast it for 1G. In a four player game of commander it is likely that an opponent will have a green permanent.

The next two abilities are very synergistic as it has the keyword Deathtouch and when it deals combat damage to an opponent draw a card, if you give it double strike you would draw 2 cards. Creatures with Deathtouch are always problematic as it will require your opponent to throw a creature in the way or use a piece of interaction and you can always use it a deterrent to stop attacks.

It’s creature types being Elf and Warrior are also advantageous as Elves are the representative race for Green and have many tribal commanders, and there are multiple warrior payoffs and tribal commanders.

Add in the fact that it draws you cards and can do so consistently over a number of turns and you have an absolute gem of a card.

Some of the decks Oakhame Adversary could go in include: Fynn, the Fangbearer; Najeela, the Blade-Blossom; Lathril, Blade of Elves; Ezuri, Renegade Leader; Marwyn, the Nurturer; Rhys the Redeemed; Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury; Prossh, Skyraider of Kher… Basically any deck that has Green.

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Card of the Week – Druids’ Repository

This weeks card of the week is Druid’s Repository an Enchantment that allows you to generate mana at instant speed.

Turning attacks into Mana

Druids’ Repository is an Enchantment for 1GG, whenever you attack with a creature you put a charge counter on the Enchantment. This effect triggers once for each creature you control attacks, so it is best used in go wide decks that look to overwhelm your opponents with numbers. The second ability allows you to remove a counter and add one mana of any colour to your pool, this can be done multiple times and at instant speed.

The main advantage of Druid’s Repository is that it can create mana of any colour allowing you to both ramp and fix your colours. It also offers a large degree of flexibility as you can either store up the counters on Druids’ Repository to have an explosive turn or play a large spell or you can gradually use them to play spells ahead of curve. It also combines well the keyword proliferate allowing you an alternative method of increasing the counters and of course Doubling Season.

I think that it would work really well with the following commanders; Najeela, the Blade-Blosson, Rith, the Awakener, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisions and Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice

Addendum, my fellow librarian Liam recommends Druids’ Repository for Phylath, World Sculptor.

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Card of the Week – Scout’s Warning

After having the Keeper of the Tomes play this against me multiple times to great effect, this week’s card of the week is Scout’s Warning.

A one mana cantrip with upside

Scout’s Warning is an Instant for one white mana that allows you to play a creature spell as though it has flash and draws you a card. Card draw is something that White struggles with in Commander and using cantrips can be a great way to make your deck more consistent.

Playing creatures at instant speed allows you a much greater degree of flexibility when choosing what to cast. You can cast a chump blocker to protect your life, your opponent might have attacked with a combo piece because you have no blockers, or cast your creature on the End Step before your turn giving your opponents less time to deal with them.

Because of the way that Scout’s Warning is worded you can draw the card before you cast the creature allowing you to dig for an answer.

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Card of the Week – Dragon Mask

This weeks card of the week Dragon Mask forms a combo with Sneak Attack, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded or similar effects.

Dragon Masks activated ability currently reads “Target creature you control gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Return it to its owner’s hand at the beginning of the next end step. (Return it only if it’s on the battlefield.)“.

Sneak Attack allows you to cheat a creature from your hand into play with haste for a single red mana, the downside to this is that the creature is sacrificed at the end of turn. Dragon Mask not only provides a +2/+2 buff to the creature but also returns it to hand at the beginning of the next End Step. Allowing you to play Drakuseth, Ilharg, or Dragon mage repeatedly.

As both Dragon Mask and Sneak Attack’s triggers will happen at the begging of the next end step you can stack the triggers to return the creature to hand as opposed to sacrificing it.

It also combos well with decks that steal your opponents creatures, cast Act of Treason on your opponents commander or threat, pump it up swing it back at them and then return it to their hand at the end of turn.

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PregameActions – A cEDH YouTube Channel

“Where Adventure Begins…”

The Candlekeep tagline seemed like nothing more than a clever idea at it’s conception, and yet over the past two years that the shop has now been open, I have come to realise that for many members of our community, that motto rings true.

One such member, Owen, began his adventure into Magic the Gathering at Candlekeep, Over the past 18 or so months he has gone from a draft newbie, to one of the people I turn to when I am looking for advice on my own Commander decks. His knowledge of the current competitive meta, coupled with an exceptional poker face make him both a formidable opponent at the table, and a great friend when he’s away from it, and that’s why it gives me great pleasure to present to you his latest adventure; PregameActions.

PregameActions is dedicated to powerful, competitive and proxy-friendly Commander, that shows off the insane interactions between good cards and great friends. I got to be a part of the first episode with my Ukkima/Cazur Food Chain deck, and you can check out the first chapter of this new adventure above. Don’t forget to click subscribe if you enjoy it!

And on that note, if we’re all good… Any pregame actions?