Story time, readers! So before Dragon’s Maze came out and the incomplete set was on Cockatrice, my friend Drew and I were testing silly EDH decks with the generals from Dragon’s Maze – I tested Vorel and Melek, he tested Melek as well. But he brought up an interesting idea throughout that process – pauper EDH. For those of you new to the idea of Pauper EDH, allow me to explain. You choose any creature at uncommon rarity. It doesn’t have to be legendary. (That would cause more than a few problems.) From there, you craft your 99 using only common cards. The card can be uncommon so long as it was printed as a common at one point in time. (This is relevant moreso now than ever due to the recent rarity shiftings that have come from Modern Masters.) So, without further ado, allow me to welcome you, the readers, to my third segment of my ongoing Let’s Build series, featuring my take on my choice for a Pauper format deck!
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
If you’ve read my older article on the top 10 best and worst cards of Dragon’s Maze, you’ll know I did not take well to Blaze Commando not being a legendary creature. I would have really appreciated being able to build a legitimate deck around this thing, but now, having built the Pauper shell for it, I’m not that displeased with the results, and while obvious upgrades would be obvious (Oh, how I’d love to run Ignite Memories with this…), I’m excited to actually get my hands on some physical copies of the cards in this deck and actually trying it out at the CG Realm. (For those of you not in the know, we run an EDH league on Wednesday nights. $2 entry, and there’s prize if you do well.)
A BREAKDOWN OF YOUR GENERAL 3RW
5 is a bit steep, given how easy it is to remove him, but it’s not too much to ask for, and the effect doesn’t get much worse until you’re paying 11 mana for it.
Creature – Minotaur Soldier
At first, because of the existence of Didgeridoo, I thought the Minotaur creature type had a lot more support than was the case. Still, being a white Soldier creature has never hurt, given how easy it is to throw support at this creature type. 5/3 This is the big problem. 3 toughness is hard to attack with, and difficult to survive in a red mirror. If it were a 4/4 I’d like it a whole lot more, but as a 5/3 I think it’s fine.
Whenever an instant or sorcery spell you control deals damage, put two 1/1 red and white Soldier creature tokens with haste onto the battlefield.
I don’t quite understand how this is Boros, but I digress – it’s an absolutely amazing ability, especially in this format, where lategame drawing Pyromatics is absolutely amazing. Even in pauper, it’s easy to abuse. One thing to note with the ability is a spell that deals damage to multiple things will only trigger the Commando’s ability once per instance of naming the card as the source of damage. (A good example of this is Searing Blaze.) To put it in perspective, a spell that reads “Burn Spell deals 2 damage to target creature and 2 damage to target player” will only trigger Blaze Commando once, because Burn Spell’s name was only referenced once (it’s because it triggers when the spell deals damage regardless of how many things it deals damage to – Burn Spell’s aforementioned wording deals the damage to the creature and the player simultaneously, not separately, meaning you only get one Blaze Commando trigger), whereas a spell that reads “Burn Spell deals 2 damage to target creature. Burn Spell deals 2 damage to target player. Burn Spell deals 2 damage to target planeswalker.” would trigger up to three times (provided you had three legal targets for the spell upon resolution) This is because it doesn’t have the word “and” in its text, meaning the damage is dealt separately and thus triggers Blaze Commando’s effect multiple times. (A good example of this is Lash Out.)
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK? When building, you obviously need a focus – I defer to either “focus on the general”, “color enable” or “run an engine” when choosing between generals. Few engines exist at common aside from the ubiquitous Cranial Plating, and color enabling is for cards with a more independent effect on the game, such as Tower Gargoyle. Blaze Commando is very clearly nestled in the “focus on the general” category, which is where we’ll look to capitalize when making deckbuilding decisions. (I promise in future Let’s Build segments, I’ll focus on color enabling, which I haven’t yet touched on, but I very much prefer focusing on the general’s strengths when deckbuilding – force of habit.) So Blaze Commando is very obviously an incrementals kind of guy. The longer he’s in play, the more opportunities you have to make use of the powerful effect he has. You Lightning Bolt a guy, and get a free Raise the Alarm from it. Once you’ve triggered his ability three times, you’ve gotten returns on him mana-wise, which is always what you want to think about when you cast Blaze Commando. With 5 power, there is very much an ability to go for a Tron shell, but I find such a thing unnecessary when 3 toughness means that the Commando is quite vulnerable to spot removal, something I learned very quickly is prevalent in the Pauper format in lieu of the lack of efficient sweepers at common.
CARD CHOICES It’s very simple when you break it down – burn spells are the quick and easy answer to the question of what the focus of a Blaze Commando deck should be. However, there’s a lot of rather unorthodox options Blaze Commando can take to get full value out of the card. The first and foremost is repeatable burn spells – spells that can trigger Blaze Commando multiple times. We do this through various keywords that copy your spellcasts, since the number of spells that are worded such that a single spell gets multiple tokens are few and far between, and rather sub-optimal. In - Firebolt Flame Jab Grapeshot Lash Out Pyromatics Scattershot Staggershock The problem is that burn spells typically tend to come across is their lack of worth lategame for how cheap they are. I’ve as such added a few late-game powerhouses to help deal with larger threats like the ever-present Ulamog’s Crusher. In- Kaervek’s Torch Rolling Thunder Harvest Pyre Massive Raid
After narrowing it down, the burn spells we have left at our disposal are the classics, the cream of the crop, the spells we’re used to playing in Standard to get rid of cheap, efficient creatures, or to deplete the last few points of life from our opponent. And just to be sure, we have the spells that are just good enough to make the cut as well. In- Flame Slash Pillar of Flame Sunlance Arc Lightning Rift Bolt Blazing Salvo Burst Lightning Dead // Gone Electrickery Lightning Bolt Searing Blaze Thunderbolt Fire at Will Now that we’re done fiddling around with Blaze Commando himself, the next thing we do is add more spot removal. It may seem inane, but you always want to be sure you’re ready for whatever your opponent might throw at you. In- Revoke Existence Reprisal Journey to Nowhere Temporal Isolation Arrest Cage of Hands Oblivion Ring Faith’s Fetters
The next subset of cards we want to include are things that do both of the areas we’ve already covered – triggering Blaze Commando while spot removing things! In- Aftershock Smash to Smithereens Orim’s Thunder Now that we have the means to create our army, it’s time to bolster it. After all, it’s rather pointless to have an army of creatures if they can only attack for one point of damage each! In- Goblin Bushwhacker Veteran Armorer Veteran Armorsmith Veteran Swordsmith Cenn’s Enlistment Fortify Guardians’ Pledge Rootborn Defenses Whispersilk Cloak Raid Bombardment
Acceleration is important in every deck, in my opinion – though Boros is the most dismal color combination at getting ahead on mana, I figured I’d try my best to work with what I had to get Blaze Commando on board that much quicker! In- Ballyrush Banneret Armillary Sphere Boros Signet Boros Cluestone The last ingredient to the recipe of our Blaze Commando deck is the creatures; the utility dorks that help make the deck run. This was where I believe I faltered, because I don’t know whether or not I made the right card choices, but I digress, this is what I ended up running. In- Gideon’s Lawkeeper Goldmeadow Harrier Suture Priest Thundersong Trumpeter Wojek Halberdiers Attended Knight Cloudchaser Kestrel Dawnglare Invoker Kor Sancitifers Manic Vandal Soltari Visionary Wispmare Seraph at Dawn
Now that we’ve covered all of the spells in the deck, we have 37 slots in the deck left for our mana. One thing to make note of in the Pauper format is how scarce manafixing can be. This is especially evident in enemy color combinations where they don’t just throw 3 duals in a block at your face. In- Boros Garrison Boros Guildgate Evolving Wilds Naya Panorama Terramorphic Expanse Utility lands are also few and far between as far as actual value goes, so we have to work with what we’re given here. In- Drifting Meadow Forgotten Cave Secluded Steppe Smoldering Crater Teetering Peaks
With a whopping twenty-seven slots left in the deck for basics, it really just goes to show you the lack of value common nonbasics have, at least in this color combination. Again, making the most of what you have access to is key to making the deck work. In- 14 Mountains 13 Plains And with that, we’ve arrived at our final product:
Blaze Commando Pauper EDH
(This list as posted in this article will not be final. If you want to see what changes might have occurred to the list since the posting of this article, check out the decklist posting on MTG Salvation at http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=519259.)
CLOSING THOUGHTS With this segment, I want to try to keep my range of topics when it comes to deckbuilding diverse, and I hope with the different approaches to EDH I’ve taken I’ve given you all some inspiration on how to go about making an EDH deck. Again, I’m always open to feedback on my next part of this segment, so if you have an idea of what my next Let’s Build should entail, leave a comment through Facebook or Tumblr and I’ll see if I can’t get back to you on it. Until next week! -L
Check out my previous articles here: Adapting to
EDH Metagames: Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend: http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810
Hits & Misses of Dragon’s Maze: http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870 Planeswalking and You: http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184
Resource Management: http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200
Trial & Error: http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089