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The letter S!ome of us have a go-to color in every situation—a color that's always the story we want to tell.

Art by Ryan Pancoast

I'm a bit more mercenary in playing favorites. Depending on the context, I'll play any colors that suit my needs: You can't be too choosey when you're drafting, after all. Even in Commander, I strive to move across the rainbow, constantly trying new commanders in colors I've played the least recently.

For example, I built a deck using every color that's wacky and off-the-wall just for playing with some friends I was catching up with at Grand Prix Minneapolis last week:

Stybs's Atogatog
Commander - Atogatog

Main Deck

99 cards

Arcane Sanctum
Azorius Guildgate
Bant Panorama
Boros Guildgate
Command Tower
Crumbling Necropolis
Dimir Guildgate
Esper Panorama
Exotic Orchard
Golgari Guildgate
Grixis Panorama
Gruul Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Jund Panorama
Jungle Shrine
Maze's End
Naya Panorama
Opal Palace
Orzhov Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Temple of Abandon
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Malady
Temple of Malice
Temple of Mystery
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Silence
Temple of Triumph
Transguild Promenade
Vivid Crag
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow

45 lands

Athreos, God of Passage
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
Bringer of the Red Dawn
Broodmate Dragon
Burning-Tree Shaman
Chameleon Colossus
Child of Alara
Coiling Oracle
Consuming Aberration
Courser of Kruphix
Dragonlair Spider
Duskmantle Seer
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
Huntmaster of the Fells
Iroas, God of Victory
Kitchen Finks
Lord of Extinction
Maelstrom Archangel
Necrotic Sliver
Nekusar, the Mindrazer
Oracle of Mul Daya
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Sygg, River Cutthroat
Thassa, God of the Sea
The Mimeoplasm

31 creatures

Breaking // Entering
Chariot of Victory
Chromatic Lantern
Crime // Punishment
Expedition Map
Fellwar Stone
Guided Passage
Into the Wilds
Lightning Greaves
Maelstrom Nexus
Maelstrom Pulse
Obzedat's Aid
Pernicious Deed
Spitting Image
Swiftfoot Boots
Treasure Trove
Turn // Burn
Urban Evolution
Wear // Tear

22 other spells

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

1 planeswalker


A streak of vague "mess around with things opponents do and have" backed up by a little land acceleration, Equipment, and removal. It's loose, wildly different every game, and absolutely a blast for me. Mission accomplished.

But hidden in even this colorful deck are clues toward a greater loyalty. There's one color that gets a little extra attention over the others, and finds its way into more Commander decks than I can keep track of.

The section of my Commander Box with the most cards? Green, by a narrow margin over lands.

There's just something appealing to me about the primal power of playing green in Commander. Green gets some of the best ways to accelerate mana, has some of the biggest and baddest creatures in the game, and finds overlaps with themes as disparate as graveyard recursion, token generation, and using tons of enchantments for fun and profit. What can't green do?

I mean, it can even do this:

Bigger, Badder, Bolder

Eureka is the original fatty maker. While Magic's formative years were where spells—instants, sorceries, and artifacts—ruled the battlefield, Eureka was a not-so-subtle nod to what green was supposed to be doing: putting gigantic creatures into play. Force of Nature and Craw Wurm were, generally, larger than anything an opponent could cast.

Today, there are much more powerful, and expensive, permanents to put into play.

Eureka is a card that can do some incredible things in a sixty-card deck, and I'm sure cheating an oversized or off-color monstrosity will happen in Vintage Masters draft. Where I believe Eureka will see the most play is in the multiplayer world of Commander on Magic Online.

Fortunately, there was no shortage sneaky permanent-dumping you're already up to, starting with Joe.

When it comes to getting things into play, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Primal Surge. I challenged myself when Dragon's Maze came out and built a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck as a Primal Surge build. It does exactly what Ruric Thar should do: plays big creatures and beats face just like any good Gruul lord would. It also includes some ways of sneaking guys into play with Garruk, Caller of Beasts; lands into play with Burgeoning; and, of course... Primal Surge. Casting this in this deck will spill every permanent in the deck into play, but there is no instant-kill unless I hit things in the right order (hitting Ogre Battledriver early in the Surge for example).

Anyways, here's the deck. I hope you enjoy it. It's proven to be quite fun to play. RURIC THAR SMASH!


Joe's Ruric Thar
Commander - Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Main Deck

99 cards

Evolving Wilds
12  Forest
Ghitu Encampment
Gruul Guildgate
Hall of the Bandit Lord
High Market
14  Mountain
Naya Panorama
Rogue's Passage
Rupture Spire
Shivan Oasis
Slippery Karst
Terrain Generator
Terramorphic Expanse
Transguild Promenade
Treetop Village

40 lands

Ant Queen
Archetype of Endurance
Artisan of Kozilek
Avatar of Slaughter
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Chameleon Colossus
Craterhoof Behemoth
Dragonlair Spider
Eternal Witness
Frontier Guide
Furyborn Hellkite
Gruul Ragebeast
Gyre Sage
Hamletback Goliath
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Heroes' Bane
Indrik Stomphowler
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Liege of the Tangle
Manic Vandal
Mayor of Avabruck
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Moldgraf Monstrosity
Molten Primordial
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Ogre Battledriver
Primal Forcemage
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Pyrewild Shaman
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Seedborn Muse
Shivan Phoenix
Skarrg Goliath
Sylvok Replica
Thromok the Insatiable
Ulvenwald Tracker
Urabrask the Hidden
Utvara Hellkite
Viashino Heretic
Viridian Corrupter
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Wildfire Cerberus
Yavimaya Granger
Yeva, Nature's Herald
Zhur-Taa Ancient
Zhur-Taa Druid

53 creatures

Bow of Nylea
Gruul War Chant
Hammer of Purphoros
Primal Surge

5 other spells

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

1 planeswalker

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Joe's deck has no shortage of things to put into play with Eureka, although the "best" Primal Surge decks don't include any nonpermanents other than Primal Surge. Alex has a different process using a similar card: Genesis Wave.

My Kamahl, Fist of Krosa deck tends to make excellent use of Genesis Wave frequently. My personal favorite card to G-Wave into is Craterhoof Behemoth. Craterhoof tends to hit with plenty of Forests, which allows me to further amp up my board. If I'm particularly lucky I have an overwhelming stampede in my hand, which tends to let me swing for lethal. If I don't get the Forests, or don't have overwhelming stampede, I can usually swing for a ton of damage regardless. If Kamahl's on the field, I can animate my army and further pump up my guys. It's a fun way to surprise-kill opponents.


Alex's Kamahl
Commander - Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

Sneaking around with Overrun-on-a-stick is one way to get some value going, and Genesis Wave is something that always terrifies me when it's cast in a game. Other cards that tip me off that are shenanigans afoot are Aluren, Hibernation's End, and Wild Pair. As this unnamed reader shared, no good comes from such powerful ways to cheat things onto the battlefield:

Regarding your request for favorite permanents to sneak on the battlefield:

The mad scientist here. When I'm not building Rube Goldberg death machines around Sliver Queen, I'll make an actual Sliver deck that's green-dominant and likes to accelerate things onto the battlefield. I have four pieces of green tech for this: Aluren, Hibernation's End, Lurking Predators, and Wild Pair.

Wild Pair is the preferred thing to fetch with tutors, and its favorite target sneaks onto the battlefield when Sliver Queen comes onto the battlefield: Sliver Legion. Thassa and Pharika also pair off nicely, as do Purphoros and Kruphix, if the Gods happen to be active as creatures when they enter the battlefield.

Aluren's preferred Slivers to drop on the battlefield at instant speed (and for free) are Crystalline Sliver, Necrotic Sliver, and Harmonic Sliver. But a surprise Mirror Entity or Pharika, God of Affliction is also fun.

Hibernation's End is very useful in this deck. Among options not already mentioned for it are: Virulent Sliver at one; Amoeboid Changeling at two (Gods like to be Slivers, too!); Athreos, God of Passage at three; Purphoros, God of the Forge at four; Kruphix, God of Horizons at five; and Megantic Sliver at six.

Sliver Queen
Commander - Sliver Queen

Main Deck

99 cards

Blood Crypt
Breeding Pool
Command Tower
Ghost Quarter
Homeward Path
Horizon Canopy
Maze of Ith
Opal Palace
Overgrown Tomb
Sacred Foundry
Safe Haven
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Strip Mine
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
Watery Grave

41 lands

Amoeboid Changeling
Athreos, God of Passage
Battle Sliver
Blur Sliver
Bonescythe Sliver
Champion of Stray Souls
Crystalline Sliver
Galerider Sliver
Gemhide Sliver
Groundshaker Sliver
Harmonic Sliver
Hell's Caretaker
Horned Sliver
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Manaweft Sliver
Megantic Sliver
Might Sliver
Mirror Entity
Muscle Sliver
Necrotic Sliver
Opaline Sliver
Pharika, God of Affliction
Predatory Sliver
Progenitor Mimic
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Sedge Sliver
Sentinel Sliver
Sidewinder Sliver
Sinew Sliver
Sliver Legion
Striking Sliver
Syphon Sliver
Thassa, God of the Sea
Thorncaster Sliver
Vedalken Æthermage
Virulent Sliver

36 creatures

Braid of Fire
Bubble Matrix
City of Solitude
Demonic Tutor
Enlightened Tutor
Grimoire of the Dead
Hibernation's End
Immortal Servitude
Lurking Predators
Revoke Existence
Slaughter Pact
Summoner's Pact
Swords to Plowshares
Titania's Song
Unravel the Æther
Vampiric Tutor
Wild Pair
Worldly Tutor

20 other spells

Domri Rade
Garruk, Caller of Beasts

2 planeswalkers

Sliver Queen

Ultimately, Eureka is just one of many ways playing green means getting mean with permanents. What sets Eureka apart from so many other cheaty ways to get around mana costs is that it lets everyone in on the action. (Insert Phelddagrif and some Group Hug mention here.)

But for decks planning on a party for permanents, sharing isn't something you should be caring about.

And Now For Something Completely the Same

While I'm an unabashed fan of Forests in Commander decks, Islands often make me uncomfortable. There're only so many times I can see Snow-Covered Islands help Arcum Dagsson do really powerful things with a few artifacts before the reflex to check out of the game kicks in.

But since we spent a week looking at my favorite archetype—"cheaty" green decks—it's only fair to flip things on its head: What is your favorite blue commander for Commander, and what artifacts do you use with it? (And why?)

  • Feedback via email
  • 300 word limit to explain why you set aside an entire deck
  • 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 (Submissions that don't follow this rule will be ignored.)
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)

While I can't promise to ever try a busted blue deck myself, sharing how Commander aficionados who love them handle such decks is a bridge we'd have to cross sooner or later.

Join us next week when we unlock the power of a new machine. See you then!

Adam Styborski
Adam Styborski
Email Adam
Author Archive
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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