Tag Archives: EDH

Commander 2015 – Legacy Initial Thoughts

Now that all the Commander 2015 spoilers have been revealed, I can’t help but notice that this year’s set is feeling pretty underwhelming to me. In fact, all things considered I can’t think of a previous Commander product that had less desirables from a Constructed standpoint. The Confluences are the closest thing to Legacy playable – if they weren’t all four mana or greater in casting cost.

I mean, think about it – even the red Confluence (Fiery Confluence) would be INCREDIBLE in Legacy if it cost just one mana less at three mana, even if that cost were 1RR. For its effect and limited amount of formats it sees play in I don’t think it would have been much to ask. However at four mana it might not be able to get there. Out of all the Confluences, I think it has the highest chance of seeing Legacy play but the jury is still out on the Confluences until results roll in.

Other than the Confluences, I’m not seeing anything pop out to me immediately as Legacy format staples like we have in the past releases (Containment Priest, True-Name Nemesis, Flusterstorm). These cards were all built with Legacy in mind, and everyone knew it even as the cards were being spoiled. I’m sure something from this set will make its way into Legacy or Vintage, so let’s take a look and see if we can make the case for any other cards in the set. First though, I want to finish my thoughts on Fiery Confluence.

Fiery Confluence

If any card makes the cut in Legacy, I think it is going to be this one since it is the cheapest. It is extremely versatile in the format and will shine best in Burn decks alongside of Eidolon of the Great Revel, though maybe out the sideboard more than the main deck since this card has more options for handling a wider range of decks. I’ve briefly mentioned some of my other thoughts on this card (and all the Confluences in general) above so let’s move along to my next pick on power level in Constructed from this set.

Karlov of the Ghost Council

This card feels like it is going to get out of hand very fast in the right deck. Unfortunately, Legacy ‘life gain’ isn’t really thing – yet. I wonder if it might slot into something like Deadguy Ale and totally transform the deck around the incredible ability.

Not only does the card get bigger, but you can eventually use those +1/+1 counters later in the game to get rid of any creature on the battlefield! All for two mana. Definitely feels like Legacy to me.

The downside to Karlov is his Legendary status, so that limits the amount of copies you could see in a deck. Still though, Karlov interacts with cards that randomly gain you life like Umezawa’s Jitte and might slot into Death and Taxes in the right metagame. I really think you need a deck built around him to make full use of his ability. Only the future will tell!

Scourge of Nel Toth

This card seems like it takes too much work to get online, but you never know. Dredge might be able to take advantage of a card like this in the right situation.  It reminds me of a cross between Tombstalker and Delraich, though better in both cases. Not only is this card a 6/6 flyer, but you only need to sacrifice two creatures rather than three black creatures.

It does take some work to get online, so Legacy might not appreciate this card immediately. We may not see it in the format, but if more support in the future is printed we could very well see this in a deck at some point.

Centaur Vincrasher

Yes, I realize that this card isn’t Dark Depths however I still feel like it could fit into Life from the Loam strategies quite well in Legacy. Lands might even be able to make use of this card, maybe out of the sideboard if the opponent still expects the Dark Depths strategy to take over the game.

Actually, now that I think about it this card could also probably fit into other green Legacy decks as well – the centaur’s recursion triggers when any land is put into any graveyard, and fetchlands are so rampant in Legacy that it might be worth it for slower green decks to play. This guy quickly becomes huge while also having built-in recursion, which isn’t something we see very often.

I’m sure people will experiment with this card, and I really hope this breaks into Legacy because Loam decks should be able to capitalize on the card’s great recursion, along with other decks that seek to create grindy matchups where there is a ton of removal.

Mizzix’s Mastery

This card blows Past in Flames out of the water! Being able to straight-up cast all the instants and sorceries in your graveyard rather than give them flashback is so, so much more powerful. The best part is that you can also cast it for the regular cost if you need to recast an instant/sorcery in a pinch.

I definitely think that Storm now has a new tool to play around with, and I believe it will replace the single Past in Flames copy in the deck since it is so much easier to re-cast your whole graveyard once you overload this pseudo-Yawgmoth’s Will.

An Aside – Legacy’s Future

With SCG restructuring their tournament series, in both rebranding the series and cutting back on Legacy events, it is starting to feel like more and more like Legacy is slowly going away.

Not only are the events being cut back, but we also constantly have to worry about counterfeits entering the community. I feel like we’re going to see more announcements like the one that happened this weekend at GP: Seattle as the counterfeits continue to enter the market and community at large. How many people do you think were playing with counterfeits and didn’t get caught? How many people do you think weren’t even intentionally playing with counterfeits and went unnoticed, and are even unaware of it themselves until someone with a discerning eye gives them the unfortunate news? It’s definitely a wake-up that yes, your older, reserved list cards are being created as knock-offs for fractions of the price. With such easy access to these proxies and the improvement of the creation process, I feel like more and more players are going to start to become attracted to playing with proxies as the price of the reserved list staples increases.

I think this is why Star City Games is cutting back on Legacy, as players will have less incentive to purchase these proxies if they don’t need them for a tournament setting. It sucks to think about but I think it makes the most sense. Even if it decreases the market prices of cards like dual lands, the rise of Modern as the eternal format of choice (which guarantees reprints) and the continuation and improvement of Chinese (and other) proxies means that less Legacy support makes sense in order to prevent the mass purchases of these cards for tournament play.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the future, but problems always have creative solutions. I’m sure if Legacy is demanded by enough players then exceptions will be made, one way or another, to keep the format alive. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Enemy of the Fish Crabs

Are you joining this series in the middle? That’s cool, but be apprised that you’re doing that. If you want to catch all of the references I’m referring to, you can always catch up really quickly if you are so inclined: part one introduced the series and talked about Orzhov and part two discussed Golgari.

Today, I get to talk about my favorite color combination: green-blue. This is going to be a real bummer, because Simic always seems to suck. It’s usually the worst of any given cycle and the mechanics we get are always seem disappointingly slow for Standard. Have fun dicking around with graft—Dimir just stripped your hand and then transmuted for its combo pieces. Still, there are some things that Simic does well, and Kruphix and his Prophet all but made up for the degree to which it seems like Simic has been pooped on. Besides, it’s not always bad: Pygmy Hippo is way better than Mundungu. Well, in EDH, anyway.

What is Simic good at according to the Wiki article I’ve been referencing these last few weeks?

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I’m far from overwhelmed, here. Still, with a lack of probable effects to build a deck around comes increased certainty vis-a-vis the cards likely to be in the deck. The choice is literally almost just, “A +1/+1 counter deck that has card drawing, because of course it has card drawing—there’s blue in it.”

So what are we likely to see if these are the abilities that the deck is built around? Is there a Wurmcoil equivalent here?

+1/+1 Counters

A lot of these cards are pretty bad, frankly. I may end up retreading some cards I’ve already talked about, but we’re trying to judge them with respect to their likelihood to see a reprinting, so why not mention them again?

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I don’t think Hangarback Walker is at all likely.  The event deck took care of this reprinting and sent it “plummeting” to $15 down from $20. As much as this would be a solid card in a deck like we’re expecting, and as much as this might be an interesting Wurmcoil corollary, I have to imagine this is safe. Copies should be pretty stable moving forward.

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I was always as bullish on this card as a person could possibly be, but I didn’t anticipate it hitting $5 this soon. This might be a nice card to reprint into mush and it wouldn’t hurt a deck with a counters theme, either. If you have these, I think you ship them if they start to tail down a bit more—quintupling up in a week usually means the growth is gassed, at least for a while. This card is going to make a small splash in Standard, but it would need to be a staple to be worth enough money that you regret shipping these for $5. If you got these cheap, shipping to a buylist for $2.50 seems fine and no one would blame you. I’m glad I got prerelease-stamped copies for personal use by trading for them, since everyone seems to be sold out of foils, which is odd to see when a Standard card spikes. That smacks of speculation rather than organic growth.

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The Modern Masters reprinting didn’t really make much of a dent in Doubling Season‘s price, did it? I realize this isn’t all that likely, but this would be a good way to bring this price down, provided that’s even something Wizards cares about. Primal Vigor seems even less likely to me, because there is no precedent for reprinting a card originally printed in a Commander deck in a subsequent one. However, I did say it wasn’t out of the question to see a reprinting of Scavenging Ooze in the Golgari deck so maybe this isn’t out of the question. There’s not a ton of money to be lost by not selling, because I expect the Simic one to be the worst-selling of the this year’s five decks—unless it gets a very good Legacy card (which is possible given how good blue is in Legacy). Thus, Doubling Season and Primal Vigor might be safe-ish price-wish, even if reprinted. There just aren’t a ton of cards that help the strategy. The bulk of the stuff is going to be creatures rather than spells.

This article talked a bit about similar cards and I feel like I’ve talked about hydras as well. There are cards worth mentioning, since we’re very likely to see a deck that has a new commander, has Vorel of the Hull Clade in the 99 and takes enemies to hydra town if we’re trifling with +1/+1 counters.

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I have no strong feelings one way or another. This seems like a solid choice in a deck with counters, but it’s by no means the best hydra when you are trying to build a synergistic deck. I imagine Wizards will insert a few hydras, all of them around $5 now, or maybe one more expensive hydra. I’d like to see a lot of them, but that would take bulky hydras and make them true bulk, which isn’t necessarily good. Besides, there are a finite number of rare spots in the deck and they can’t all be hydras. Still, this is a fine inclusion that is very good and gets out of hand fast.

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Kalonian Hydra seems like a better choice. Around the same price as Primordial Hydra, this doesn’t have multiple printings, but it does make your creatures with counters on them get huge. If this doesn’t end up in the precon, I would expect renewed interest in the card. This is a very, very good creature, and since it can buff the rest of your team, can get out of hand quickly. I would like to see this.

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As much as a reprinting could nip this in the bud before it even got started, this would be a fine inclusion. This plays a lot like Taurean Mauler, which is an EDH staple, and also happens to benefit from having trample. While there is no real actual hydra commander for a hydra tribal deck, we could see that in this year’s Simic Commander deck—and that would make hydras more popular. I think this would be hurt by a reprinting, but I don’t think Wizards cares about that, and getting these out there in the deck would be fine. This is a solid card and seems a likely inclusion if the deck cares about counters.

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There’s no money to be made or lost here either way, but how good is this with Hardened Scales?

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Again, how likely is it that Wizards reprints a card that was originally in a Commander product? Last year’s at that? There seems like a zero-percent chance of this being in the deck, but I think this could get even more popular as people want to build decks where counters matter.

There are other cool hydras, and I am sure a few of them are decent candidates. However, hydras aren’t the only creatures that care about +1/+1 counters.

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This card with a few counters on it soon gets pretty saucy. I have this in my Vorel deck, and I’m never upset to draw it. Adding extra counters because of Hardened Scales or Doubling Season feels even better. I don’t see a reason not to put this in the precon, so I guess it’s all a matter of which rares Wizards thinks need to go in. There isn’t much money to be saved by selling these now, but the reprint kills it as a spec, so be careful. I don’t see it getting a ton cheaper, so the time to buy these may be soon if this escapes a reprint.

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If you can add counters and get rid of the persist counters, this might be a good inclusion. Will Wizards want a combo like that in its precon? Either way, this is a good card going forward, and while this would be a third printing, I don’t know that I want to 100-percent rule this out. This has room to grow if it’s not reprinted.

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Right? This seems like a shoo-in to me, which is good since uncommons shouldn’t necessarily be this expensive. The spread has increased radically since I last wrote about this card, but I am still bullish about its long-term growth potential. This is a very good inclusion in the deck but should we not see it reprinted, I like it long-term. Set-specific mechanics like untap abilities narrow reprint potential, after all, but that wouldn’t exclude it from consideration in a Commander precon, so it feels a little unsafe right now.

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I have written about a lot of these cards before, but in the context of a UG deck that almost has to deal with counters, some of these seem less safe than they did a few months ago. How would you build a UG precon deck if you had to? What would you put in it?

Card Drawing

How broad. Blue draws cards and every time green helps out it’s either based off of creatures or is a functional reprint of a blue card. The times they combined the two, we get a card like…

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Bulkomantic Mastery.

Are we going to see Shamanic Revelation or some other relatively color-specific card, or are we going to see cards that combine blue and green together to draw cards? There are some that aren’t terrible.

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There’s no money to be made or lost with Fathom Mage, but this is a solid card that combines the elements of blue and green, draws cards, plays nice with +1/+1 counters, and is really fun to use.

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Modern Masters reprinted this card into powder, and it hasn’t recovered yet, given how its inclusion in Legacy decks seems to be a thing of the past. Still, this is how blue and green draw cards and islandwalk makes this a threat, especially if you put equipment on it. Still, how much money do you lose if you don’t sell these in anticipation of the precon? None, that’s how.

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There are two ways to get Edric in foil and those may be a better bet. This card doesn’t need a reprinting but I can’t rule it out.

Should I list card drawing stuff in EDH? Rhystic Study is basically the one to watch: everyone knows it’s good, and I don’t know how likely it is to get reprinted. Instead, I want to devote the rest of my word count (and probably like 200 or 300 words beyond it) to talk about Simic cards that I think might be good in the deck but don’t necessarily deal with +1/+1 counters or card drawing. I’m going to do that in the most confusing way possible, by starting with a card that does deal with counters.

Miscellany

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This would be included just to give us something that worked well with +1/+1 counters. That said, this also works well with just about anything. This card is expensive because MTG financiers convinced themselves Tiny Leaders was a thing. When is the last time you heard anyone mention Tiny Leaders? Forever ago, right? Well, just being wrong about a format getting traction doesn’t mean there won’t be real consequences, and the consequence for this card was that it reached $15 a few years too early. It would likely have hit $15 without intervention eventually, so a reprint is not unwelcome. Rings of Brighthearth could be this deck’s Wurmcoil, although it would be tricky to justify it if it doesn’t work pretty intimately with the theme of the deck. A lot of the abilities on the creatures and enchantments are triggered. Strionic Resonator does a lot of work in my Vorel deck, although this does double planeswalker loyalty counters, Vorel himself, and some other key abilities.  I’d like to see a reprinting of this card, but only if it makes sense with the deck’s theme.

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…and Consecrated Sphinx deals with card drawing. I could easily go back and change that paragraph where I said I wasn’t going to necessarily name cards that dealt with those concepts. but I’m not going to, because it’s way funnier to me not to.

This is controversial for another reason. This card is discussed as bannable because it’s stupid. You either kill this, steal it, clone it, or lose to the player that has it. Still, this is expensive and this deck makes more sense as a reprint venue than the UR deck. Still, I think this is safe for now.

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This seems like a good candidate. The reprinting would curb its price and increase its availability for one. This isn’t exactly Wurmcoil tier, but bringing the price down forever would be okay. The good thing about EDH cards is that a lot of the people who have the cards play with them every week and likely won’t even notice the price went down. If they do, they will be happy they can afford more copies for other decks. I think this seems like a decent choice to jam in the Simic deck.

The Difficulties of Being Simic

It’s hard to identify cards in Simic that were like Wurmcoil Engine in the red precon from last year: $15 plus or minus a few bucks, played a lot, unlikely to tank largely in value even after the reprint, and cards that players need. I have mostly UG decks, and while I could rattle off cards like Black Market quickly for the Orzhov and Golgari decks, I’m at a bit of a loss here.

The problem with Simic? It has two types of cards: cards that aren’t very good and cards that are so good they’re unfun. Are we going to see Deadeye Navigator and Great Whale? Palinchron? Prophet of Kruphix? Consecrated Sphinx? There are so many cards that are controversial due to how good they are and how every player that plays those colors seems to use them, and Simic has a lot of those cards. I think it means the cards I do have somewhat of an inkling they could see printing could be more likely due to a smaller field of candidates. It also means they could skip all of those cards and the Simic deck could be total trash.

Will we see any hydras at all? Will there be a Momir Vig type theme with mutants rather than +1/+1 counters? Will Wizards not reprint anything over $5 and put all of the value in a card that is new and will be good in Legacy? Will something from a previous precon be reprinted, like Shardless Agent, Scavenging Ooze, or Lifeblood Hydra? It’s hard to say.

I almost did this color combination last since, it’s the trickiest, but I’m going in the order of that stupid wiki and that’s how I live my life. I expect a lot of disagreement on this one, and I welcome it this week. I may play too much Simic to see around my own biases, so let’s hear what you all think.

As always, it’s been a pleasure and I’ll be back next week with Izzet—and we will likely have some spoilers to discuss also. Until then!

PROTRADER: Everything I Care About for EDH in Battle for Zendikar

I’m diverging from my typical weekly boat pun format where I talk about how a card from a new set is going to cause old cards to go up. I’ll probably be back to my old tricks soon. Today, though, let’s look at the new set and see if anything is going to get pushed up.

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Bulk Rare EDH

I already know what you’re thinking. You clicked on this article because it had “EDH” in the title, and because you thought, “Finally, someone on this website who actually knows what they’re talking about when it comes to the Commander format.” You wanted a benevolent writer who’s not afraid to tell you how much I like your smile, instead of an angst-filled podcaster who’s gonna call you a nerd. I feel you. I understand you. We’re gonna steal some of Jason Alt‘s spotlight for the week, and combine something that I love (bulk rares) with his EDH fetish.

DJ, You Play Magic?

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That tweet was posted from #GPVegas, but that’s beside the point. I do actually own five EDH decks and enjoy the slow process of foiling them out through trades. It warms my cold, financier heart to find a foil piece for Savra in a binder when I’m so close to having the deck as foil as possible; it gives me something to actually be excited about when trading.

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(If anyone has a foil one of these, I’d gladly trade for it.)

However, some of my decks end up being too powerful for local and new groups that I attend. I’m pretty awful at figuring out whether or not my deck is 75%, but I still wanted to have a brew that could be on a somewhat similar power level to someone who just picked up a Commander preconstructed deck from the Walmart.

I also have thousands of bulk rares that sit on top of my display case and there are some that I’ll never run out of (I’m so glad I have a dozen copies of Sultai Ascendancy). A few months ago, I figured that maybe I could use those… Fate Reforged had just been released, and I wanted to make a Tasigur deck while still being original and having a cool “theme.”

bulkrares

The $30 Deck

I already had Jarad as my mono-dredge deck, so I didn’t want to go down that path with Tasigur. I had Savra for tokens and sacrifice themes, and Nath was all enchantments. I really didn’t want to make a “good stuff” BUG deck with all of the best Sultai staples that were just recurred over and over again, because I like all of my decks to have their own dedicated theme or niche.

While I was pawing through some of my bulk rares in my display case, I had the idea to combine the best of both worlds: what if I made the Tasigur deck, and only used rares that were under a certain price point? It would limit the power level of the deck to the point where I’d be comfortable playing in a lot more environments with casual players, the deck would cost me literally nothing to build (I resolved to only use cards in my $.25 rare box), and I might be able to start a trend in my area. If this building restriction ended up being a ton of fun and took off, then I have a ton of bulk rares to sell to my friends who might make their own bulk rare EDH decks.

These are the rules that I kept myself to during deck construction:

  1. Every card in the 99 that is not a basic land must be rare, and worth less than $.80 TCG mid (most cards above that price end up in my $1.00 box, so I don’t consider them true “bulk rares”).
  2. The general is excluded from this rule, because damn it, I want to play Tasigur.
  3. Mythic rares are not allowed, because those aren’t in my $.25 boxes.
  4. If the card jumps above the right price point, it must be removed from the deck.
  5. I didn’t care if the card had been reprinted as common or uncommon, as long as I was playing the rare version.
  6. No foils, other than Tasigur. That would make the card too expensive to play.

The “Golden” Fang

My first rough draft ended up, well, pretty rough. I learned really quickly that most decent mana fixing was printed at common or uncommon, so Farseek, Cultivate, and even guildgates were out. Any semi-quality rare dual lands are above $1, so I was unable to use stuff like Drowned Catacombs even though it has four printings. As a result, I managed to find Astral Cornucopia and the Ramos rocks as begrudgingly playable. It’s not as though anyone was clamoring to buy them out of my bulk boxes anyway. Ways to fill my graveyard were especially hard to come by, but I managed to pull out Jace’s Archivist and one of those good old Sultai Ascendancies to help cast Tasigur even easier. I even had a cute combo with Laboratory Maniac in the list for a while, but now it looks like I’ll have to remove him. He’s grown up to be a big boy and will move onto the $1 box, so I’ll have to find an additional win condition. My favorite win condition in the deck is definitely Villainous Wealththough: if I can’t cast expensive and powerful Magic cards, I’ll just try to use yours!

After a bit of tweaking a few months ago, this is what I have sleeved up today.

bulkrareEDH

While writing this article, I’m learning that more and more cards that I initially had in the list no longer fit the price requirement that I set. Though I set my number at around $.80, you can pick whatever number you like, which I think is a cool way to adjust the format to your personal playgroup’s budget. Removing commons and uncommons from the equation makes it a sort of “anti-Pauper,” where you put a lot of faith in WOTC’s inability to designate rarities early on in the game’s development. I can take advantage of Persuasion having  a gold set symbol, but I don’t get to play Control Magic.

Advantages of Battling with Bulk

I’m not going to pretend that I play as much EDH as Jason does. I’ve probably only played this deck a dozen times in the six or so months that it’s been together. However, I’ve gotten enough positive local feedback and interactions by using the deck, that I think there are tangible benefits to building one if you’re an individual looking to sell off some of your bulk rares for higher than $.15 a piece to a vendor.

When I cast Sudden Spoiling to ruin someone’s entire army of dragons and make blocks that devastate their board, one of the responses of the opposing players was, “There’s no way that’s a bulk rare. It’s way too powerful.” That conversation quickly turned into, “How many extras of those do you have that you would sell me? I need one in every black deck.” By displaying powerful bulk rares that can stand up to higher-tier decks, you can show them first-hand that building a deck that I can only accurately describe as “not that bad” can be surprisingly cheap.

I mentioned this earlier in the opening, but it’s worth going over again. If you or your playgroups find this type of idea to be fun (I mean, it’s probably cheaper and more fun than Tiny Leaders, if you’re an EDH player who tried that format out), then it’s easy to buy into, challenging to build, and allows for constant adjusting of your deck. I’ve had the deck together for less than a year, and I’ve already been forced to remove at least 7 cards from it because they slowly crept up in price. If I played enough Magic to know for sure, I’d guess that changing your deck up little by little over time manages to keep it fun, refreshing, and exciting to play. These types of decks are also fantastic to show blossoming EDH players who have just purchased their precons, or who have no idea where to start.

While we’re on the subject of comparing this to Tiny Leaders, I have to make the amusing observation that it’s impossible for this “format variation” to warp the market like TL did. I’m not suggesting that this will ever actually be as big as TL was, but if a card becomes powerful enough and demanded just because of its efficiency in bulk rare decks, then it no longer becomes a bulk rare. When that happens, we remove the card from our decks until it goes back down to where we want!

One final advantage that I want to aggressively push at you about this variant of EDH that I created, is that talking about it is actually getting me to feel and care about spoilers again.

I’m actually excited for Gilt-Leaf Winnower to drop down to a bulk rare so I can try it out in this deck. Is it going to be good enough? I have no idea, but I want to try it. I’m going to end up paying $.10 for one eventually anyway, so I might as well take it for a run. I’m even crossing my fingers hoping that Managorger Hydra becomes a bulk rare to supplement the +1/+1 counter subtheme that the deck has slowly evolved into.

End Step

Am I crazy for thinking this is an actual fun tweak on EDH/Commander? I’ve had a blast playing with my Tasigur deck against other relatively low-power decks. If you’re a fan of 60-card pauper or pauper EDH, I think this is something you’d enjoy a lot. As someone who never used to enjoy actually building decks, I enjoy keeping this one up to date, and writing about it has revived my fervor for sharing it with the world.

Let me know what you think in the comments section, on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, email, whatever. You know the drill. Thanks for reading!