Another Story Circle

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The letter M!any games of Magic are mundane. Creating stories is an exception.

Story Circle | Art by Alan Pollack

Unlike formats like Standard and Draft, where three games are meant to be played in under an hour, Commander is a multiplayer format known for games that go longer. While the complicated nature of the format slows things a step, it's also a function of playing with more than one opponent: there are now two, three, or more other turns to wait through until yours is up again.

But the format was designed with multiplayer in mind.

Legendary creatures. Big spells. Wacky cards and effects. The focus of Commander is creating stories, trying to ensure every game plays out in a way that's fun, engaging, and surprising. The different experience Commander provides is one of the reasons so many of us enjoy the format so much.

The other week, I asked you for your best stories, the moments and experiences that stand above all the games of Commander you've played. As usual, you didn't disappoint.

Of Legends and Lore

Stories come in all styles, and why a story will stand out to one player may not make it resonate with another. With the flavorful nature of game, it's no wonder flavor hits make sense, as Alex shared:

My best Commander deck story comes from my Prossh, Skyraider of Kher deck. It has plenty of good stories behind it. Sometimes, it's a ramp deck that powers into big creatures; other times, it's a Rock deck that grinds out opponents with value. But one game held a particularly serendipitous moment that I consider its defining play.

Over time, the deck has become something of a Jund superfriends fiasco, and so Xenagos, the Reveler found his way in. In some manner I can't recall (and this was before the deck had Doubling Season), he survived to six loyalty counters—enough to use his ultimate ability. In that vulgar display of power, Xenagos ascended, revealing Xenagos, God of Revels. I won that game off the back of narrative serendipity.

With savage regards,

Alex's Prossh
Commander - Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Main Deck

99 cards

Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bojuka Bog
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Fire-Lit Thicket
Golgari Guildgate
Grim Backwoods
Gruul Guildgate
Kazandu Refuge
Khalni Garden
Kher Keep
Lavaclaw Reaches
Opal Palace
Overgrown Tomb
Raging Ravine
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Temple of Malice
Terramorphic Expanse
Woodland Cemetery

36 lands

Acidic Slime
Blood Artist
Bloodgift Demon
Borderland Ranger
Butcher of Malakir
Champion of Lambholt
Courser of Kruphix
Creakwood Liege
Deathbringer Thoctar
Deathrite Shaman
Disciple of Bolas
Dragon Broodmother
Eternal Witness
Farhaven Elf
Harvester of Souls
Inner-Flame Acolyte
Jade Mage
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
Ogre Battledriver
Orcish Lumberjack
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Scavenging Ooze
Viscera Seer
Vithian Renegades
Wrecking Ogre
Xenagos, God of Revels
Yavimaya Elder

33 creatures

Awakening Zone
Beast Within
Blasphemous Act
Doubling Season
Dragon Appeasement
Fires of Yavimaya
Food Chain
Goblin Bombardment
Grave Pact
Increasing Ambition
Maelstrom Pulse
Parallel Lives
Rakdos Charm
Sever the Bloodline
Sol Ring
Wayfarer's Bauble
Whip of Erebos

21 other spells

Domri Rade
Garruk Wildspeaker
Garruk, Caller of Beasts
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Liliana Vess
Sarkhan Vol
Sorin Markov
Vraska the Unseen
Xenagos, the Reveler

9 planeswalkers

Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Sometimes, though, it's anti-flavor that takes the cake, as Matthew shared:

Commander is actually why I got back into Magic! I was living in Washington and flying to California to see my girlfriend frequently, and one day she introduced me to Commander when she and her friends regaled me with tales of having Commander "tea parties" involving Olivia Voldaren, Teysa, and Yeva.

The conversation led me to build a deck based on my favorite tribe: Kithkin! Here it is below:

Matthew's Karametra
Commander - Karametra, God of Harvests

Main Deck

99 cards

Gavony Township
Graypelt Refuge
Grove of the Guardian
Homeward Path
14  Plains
Rogue's Passage
Rustic Clachan
Secluded Steppe
Selesnya Sanctuary
Slippery Karst
Springjack Pasture
Temple of Plenty

34 lands

Amrou Seekers
Ballynock Cohort
Ballynock Trapper
Ballyrush Banneret
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Burrenton Bombardier
Burrenton Shield-Bearers
Cenn's Heir
Cenn's Tactician
Champion of Lambholt
Changeling Titan
Cloudgoat Ranger
Elder of Laurels
Gaddock Teeg
Galepowder Mage
Goldmeadow Dodger
Goldmeadow Harrier
Goldmeadow Lookout
Guardian of Cloverdell
Kinsbaile Borderguard
Kinsbaile Skirmisher
Kithkin Daggerdare
Kithkin Harbinger
Kithkin Mourncaller
Kithkin Rabble
Kithkin Shielddare
Kithkin Spellduster
Kithkin Zephyrnaut
Knight of Meadowgrain
Mirror Entity
Mistmeadow Skulk
Mosquito Guard
Order of the Golden Cricket
Order of Whiteclay
Patrol Signaler
Plover Knights
Preeminent Captain
Resplendent Mentor
Springjack Shepherd
Thoughtweft Trio
Wizened Cenn

41 creatures

Artisan's Sorrow
Bathe in Light
Behemoth Sledge
Canopy Cover
Cenn's Enlistment
Crib Swap
Crown of Convergence
Curse of Predation
Dense Canopy
Door of Destinies
Druidic Satchel
Evolution Charm
Growing Ranks
Intangible Virtue
Marshal's Anthem
Militia's Pride
Natural End
Parallel Lives
Seer's Sundial
Steeling Stance
Sundering Growth
Surge of Thoughtweft
Tower of Fortunes

24 other spells

Karametra, God of Harvests

It's gone through some revisions since its inception, and it's not a super powerful deck, but I like its flavor—a few human heroes aiding the kithkin in defense of their town. And in general, that's how it goes. I sit quietly while everyone else assembles their massive armies, and then we meet with their army and my thirty or so Kithkin tokens.

However, my most memorable bout wound up being the most ludicrous. We were trading blows here and there, and a few of my friends at the table had decided that they'd simply wreck all the Kithkin that came into play. But they were leaving my enchantments alone, and I had a few Kithkin that escaped notice. So I played Springjack Shepherd with seven chroma and Parallel Lives in play. The shepherd was killed chump-blocking after that, but the fourteen Goat tokens became my last, best hope to stall.

...until I played Marshaling Anthem and I brought that stupid Shepherd back again.

That was the day that the Kithkin stayed home, but their Goats marshaled to war and won the day.

Ever since then, I make a huge deal every time I summon even a single Goat token. "WATCH OUT GUYS, I'VE GOT A GOAT!" And in general, people tend to react appropriately afraid.

Goats are serious business.


It's not just flavor wins that steal the spotlight. How decks play out can factor into making average stories turn out great, as Dan explained with a deck designed to not kill:

I play a Jhoira of the Ghitu deck that everyone both loves and despises because of my love for Scrambleverse, Warp World, and other crazy effects, along with a lot of card drawing and letting players play spells. The deck really has no win condition (the closest I think is Sphinx of Uthuun), yet I almost killed someone on turn 6.

I was playing a five-man game with my local playgroup, and the beginning wasn't very exciting. I then cast Wild Evocation to let everyone play some spells. The guy next to me, Rob, who plays a very serious and good deck, gave a small groan. On his turn I found out why: he Wild Evocationed into Enter the Infinite. He proceeded to draw his deck as we all freaked out because he could die soon! This wasn't supposed to happen! Luckily, he had an Elixir of Immortality to save himself, but I still can't believe killing someone with this decklist!


Dan's Jhoira
Commander - Jhoira of the Ghitu

A deck like Dan's is what I would consider the archetypical "story-maker" deck: It keeps players with full hands, plays effects that get things into play for everyone, then applies a little randomization to ensure even the best-laid plans are transformed into something spontaneous. This style of deck is at odds with the approach many of us bring to the format—"Here's my plan. Can you stop it?"—but how often is our core plan as interesting as a more scattershot situation?

Bobby's Nin, the Pain Artist deck has a plan to help someone else win, but even that can be shifted with the right situation:

My Nin deck has one goal: lose. Don't try to win, help someone else do it. Blast their guys for just less than lethal and draw them cards, counter the other players' scary spells.

The first game of the first night the deck existed I sat down to a five-player game and set to work. I decided who I was going to help, tried my best to hide this decision, and subtly drew him cards and countered things that were aimed his way. However, my inexperience with the deck and dumb luck got the best of me, the player got too scary, and a collation of players took him down. So there I was, with no idea what this deck was supposed to do, staring down three players. I stayed alive for as many turns as possible until it hit me. It got round to my turn and I asked someone "Cards in deck?" then turned Nin and my mana sideways at his library for thirty-five. The other two players realized what was going to happen and tried their best to stop it. But a grip full of counter spells let me keep twentying libraries away. I went from directionless to winner in four turns.

The first time I play the deck and it doesn't even do what it's supposed to do.


Some of the stories that we remember are those that are just for us, victories and come-from-behind moments that aren't a shared experience. Taylor's story is one I think all of us have had in some form or another:

My crazy story involves absurd lifegain. My favorite deck is Ghost Council of Orzhova, mainly for the lifegain. I was down to 3 life points. My opponent had Nekusar on the field, so using my Underworld Connections put me down to 1. But it was so worth the draw. It was Rhox Faithmender. With thirteen 2/2 Zombies (From Army of the Damned) ready to swing, I swung. My opponent set up blocks, apparently unaware of my Vault of the Archangel untapped with mana. After that combat phase, my opponent had a much smaller field and I had 53 life (1 + ((13 × 2) × 2)). A few turns later, a flashed back Army of the Damned and some other creatures and swung to gain more than 100 life with the Rhox Faithmender/Vault of the Archangel combo.

With the decklist here, I think you can see other ridiculous lifegain scenarios.


Taylor's Ghost Council
Commander - Ghost Council of Orzhova

Main Deck

99 cards

Ancient Den
Command Tower
Ebon Stronghold
Godless Shrine
Inkmoth Nexus
Isolated Chapel
New Benalia
Orzhov Basilica
Orzhov Guildgate
12  Plains
Reliquary Tower
11  Swamp
Vault of the Archangel
Vivid Marsh
Windbrisk Heights

36 lands

Angel of Serenity
Baleful Force
Bloodline Keeper
Butcher of Malakir
Children of Korlis
Divinity of Pride
Fiend Hunter
Intrepid Hero
Karmic Guide
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Orzhov Guildmage
Palisade Giant
Pontiff of Blight
Requiem Angel
Rhox Faithmender
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Sepulchral Primordial
Sun Titan
Thraben Doomsayer
Tidehollow Sculler
Tithe Drinker
Twilight Drover
Vizkopa Confessor

25 creatures

Altar of Shadows
Ancient Craving
Archangel's Light
Army of the Damned
Black Sun's Zenith
Blind Obedience
Cathars' Crusade
Darksteel Mutation
Death Denied
Death Grasp
Debt to the Deathless
Decree of Pain
Divine Deflection
Doom Blade
Exquisite Blood
Faith's Reward
Field of Souls
Go for the Throat
Increasing Ambition
Innocent Blood
Kirtar's Wrath
Lingering Souls
Oblivion Ring
Obzedat's Aid
Orzhov Cluestone
Phyrexian Rebirth
Price of Knowledge
Recumbent Bliss
Sever the Bloodline
Sudden Spoiling
Sword of Light and Shadow
Traveler's Amulet
Unburial Rites
Underworld Connections
Unexpectedly Absent

37 other spells

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

1 planeswalker

The Swords in the Stones

One of the common threads throughout all of the standout stories shared is how otherwise plain cards worked together in an unexpected situation. Using three or more "random" pieces to complete a puzzle is part of the appeal of Commander: Having just one copy of any given cards means the interactions can vary wildly game over game.

The last time we looked at combos it was those involving two cards. I want to revisit the subject, but go a little bigger this time: What four-or-more-card combo do you really enjoy in your Commander deck?

  • Feedback via email
  • 300-word limit to explain your approach
  • Must explain an interaction set up that requires at least four different cards
  • Sample decklist is requested (does not count against word limit)
  • Decklists should be formatted with one card per line with just a leading number, such as "3 Mountain"—just a space (no "x" or "-") between the number and the card name, without subtotals by card type
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)

The wild and wacky world of combos is full of overpowered shenanigans. I'm looking forward to what machinations you've already come up with.

Join us next week when we put Commander onto the speedy throughway. See you then!

Adam Styborski
Adam Styborski
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Command Tower

Adam "Stybs" Styborski joined in 2009 to take over Serious Fun, before switching over to begin Command Tower in 2013. With his passion for Commander and community inclusion, you'll find plenty of opportunity each week to share your thoughts about everyone's favorite casual format.

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