Vintage Mastery

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"Welcome to the Grid."

The letter H!arkening to Disney's Tron might be a bit overzealous, but jumping into the world of Magic Online really is like entering another plane of reality. In the real—paper—world I use a subset of cards to help me build Commander decks. Finding cards I don't have set aside is a combination of treasure hunting and frequent disappointment. Building someone else's Commander deck results in some loss of hair as I pull it out trying to grapple with fifty or more unique cards.

But it's different online.

With the flick of the keyboard I can find any card I own. I can simply run a mini Gatherer-esque search within everything I own in a matter of seconds. Building decks lets me save them for later without keeping any physical space or cards reserved; one copy is enough for every Commander deck I could want. Taking another's deck for a spin is as simple as importing the list; saving my own version is just as easy, too.

I don't always play Commander online, but when I do, I truly appreciate some of the benefits of digital gaming.

Digital Dice

I'm pretty simple when it comes to Commander—give me a deck and I'm set to go. When I wanted to get a few games in over the holidays a few months ago, Magic Online had all of the preconstructed Commander (2013 Edition) decks ready to go. It was my first chance to try out Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, and it's a deck packed with useful things for the format:

Evasive Maneuvers Commander (2013 Edition)
Commander - Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Main Deck

99 cards

Azorius Chancery
Azorius Guildgate
Bant Panorama
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Faerie Conclave
Opal Palace
Rupture Spire
Saltcrusted Steppe
Seaside Citadel
Secluded Steppe
Sejiri Refuge
Selesnya Guildgate
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Guildgate
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Transguild Promenade

38 lands

Acidic Slime
Aerie Mystics
Angel of Finality
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Bane of Progress
Deceiver Exarch
Diviner Spirit
Djinn of Infinite Deceits
Dungeon Geists
Farhaven Elf
Fiend Hunter
Hada Spy Patrol
Karmic Guide
Kazandu Tuskcaller
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Mirror Entity
Mistmeadow Witch
Murkfiend Liege
Phantom Nantuko
Pilgrim's Eye
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Rubinia Soulsinger
Selesnya Guildmage
Skyward Eye Prophets
Thornwind Faeries
Winged Coatl

29 creatures

Æthermage's Touch
Arcane Denial
Azorius Keyrune
Basalt Monolith
Blue Sun's Zenith
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Conjurer's Closet
Control Magic
Curse of Inertia
Curse of Predation
Curse of the Forsaken
Darksteel Ingot
Darksteel Mutation
Kirtar's Wrath
Krosan Grip
Leafdrake Roost
Leonin Bladetrap
Presence of Gond
Selesnya Charm
Selesnya Signet
Simic Signet
Sol Ring
Surveyor's Scope
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of the Paruns
Tempt with Glory
Thousand-Year Elixir
Unexpectedly Absent
Wash Out

32 other spells

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Derevi is a powerful commander we've talked about before and one I keep coming back to. This deck is like the others in the Commander (2013 Edition) series, but I found the selection of tools in this one supremely helpful for rebuilding one of the favorite decks: Rhys the Redeemed.

Rhys the Redeemed
Commander - Rhys the Redeemed

Main Deck

99 cards

Deserted Temple
Drifting Meadow
Flagstones of Trokair
13  Forest
Gaea's Cradle
Gavony Township
Krosan Verge
Slippery Karst
Stirring Wildwood
Sungrass Prairie
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Windbrisk Heights
Windswept Heath
Wooded Bastion

38 lands

Ant Queen
Avenger of Zendikar
Captain of the Watch
Cloudgoat Ranger
Deranged Hermit
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Eternal Witness
Geist-Honored Monk
Heliod, God of the Sun
Hornet Queen
Jade Mage
Knight of the Reliquary
Myr Battlesphere
Nacatl War-Pride
Nemata, Grove Guardian
Rampaging Baloths
Seedborn Muse
Wolfbriar Elemental
Worldspine Wurm
Wurmcoil Engine

20 creatures

Akroma's Memorial
Aura Mutation
Aura Shards
Caged Sun
Cathars' Crusade
Chord of Calling
Culling Dais
Darksteel Plate
Decree of Justice
Defense of the Heart
Dictate of Heliod
Doubling Season
Expedition Map
Font of Fertility
Green Sun's Zenith
Hour of Reckoning
Illusionist's Bracers
Increasing Devotion
Lightning Greaves
Luminarch Ascension
Martial Coup
Martyr's Bond
Martyr's Cause
Mind's Eye
Mirari's Wake
Natural Order
Nature's Lore
Parallel Lives
Privileged Position
Rampant Growth
Reap and Sow
Reviving Melody
Rings of Brighthearth
Shield of Kaldra
Spawning Pit
Thousand-Year Elixir
Unexpectedly Absent
White Sun's Zenith

41 other spells

Rhys the Redeemed

It's been more than three years since I picked up the white and green of Rhys the Redeemed. Filling out an updated deck with Rampant Growth-like spells and some clever tools like Thousand-Year Elixir had me worried, but fortunately I already had most of it from the last time I had the deck online.

Even better, I didn't have to worry about finding and carrying around tokens and dice. Cathars' Crusade in combination Rhys (and any number of other ways to put multiple creatures onto the battlefield at once) requires a daunting number of accessories when I play in person. While I typically have enough on hand, there isn't an easy button to push to make it all happen quickly.

I love it when everything falls into place online.

There are downsides too, so don't take me the wrong way. No way to play is perfect, and one of my new favorite ways to play Magic is drafting Conspiracy.


While I'll have to settle for playing in person when I want to get my multiplayer draft on, Vintage Masters will bring some of the awesome legendary creatures and cards from the set online. I'm already hard at work on making Muzzio, Visionary Architect as a new deck, but Archie nailed it for Marchesa, the Black Rose:

As someone who is only able to play on Magic Online, some of the reprints in Vintage Masters are going to really help fill some nagging holes in some of my decks. Where to start on this one? I want Beetleback Chief for my Purphoros deck; Norwood Priestess for my Xenagos; while Brago, King Eternal fits perfectly into my Ephara deck. However, the card I am most excited to play and build around is Marchesa, the Black Rose. Dethrone has really cool political implications, while Marchesa's other ability has amazing synergy with a number of cards and abilities.

The coolest card in the deck is Unspeakable Symbol. Symbol is amazing in this deck as it pulls the double duty of keeping your life total low enough to activate dethrone and allowing you to keep your creatures around. Another cool addition are the M13 Rings of Xathrid, Valkas, and Evos Isle, which can be used to protect Marchesa as well as give counters to my creatures.

Many members of the Vampire tribe make it into this list, with notable standouts in Mephidross Vampire and Necropolis Regent. Marchesa's ability also allows me to rebuy the monstrous abilities on Stormbreath Dragon and Hythonia the Cruel. Plus, repeatedly throwing an unleashed Hellhole Flailer at my opponents' faces seems like a good idea! Marchesa has some cool synergies with a couple of other legendary creatures as well; Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch can give my creatures haste, while Grimgrin, Corpse-Born provides a repeatable sacrifice outlet.

All in all, I am very much looking forward to getting hold of Marchesa, as she seems like a commander who can give a deck a huge amount of synergy as well as playing on the political aspect of dethrone.


Archie's Marchesa
Commander - Marchesa, the Black Rose

Main Deck

99 cards

Akoum Refuge
Blood Crypt
Bojuka Bog
Cascade Bluffs
Command Tower
Crumbling Necropolis
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Graven Cairns
High Market
Jwar Isle Refuge
Miren, the Moaning Well
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Sunken Ruins
Watery Grave

37 lands

Blood Artist
Blood Tyrant
Bloodflow Connoisseur
Butcher of Malakir
Chaos Imps
Dark Impostor
Deathbringer Thoctar
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Falkenrath Aristocrat
Falkenrath Exterminator
Falkenrath Marauders
Falkenrath Noble
Flayer of the Hatebound
Garza Zol, Plague Queen
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
Hamletback Goliath
Havengul Vampire
Hellhole Flailer
Hound of Griselbrand
Markov Blademaster
Mephidross Vampire
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Mindless Automaton
Mirri the Cursed
Necropolis Regent
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Olivia Voldaren
Rakish Heir
Rockslide Elemental
Sage of Fables
Sage of Hours
Sapphire Drake
Scavenger Drake
Simic Manipulator
Sphinx of Magosi
Stormbreath Dragon

41 creatures

Armillary Sphere
Blade of the Bloodchief
Chromatic Lantern
Coalition Relic
Culling Dais
Curse of Stalked Prey
Darksteel Ingot
Darksteel Plate
Gilded Lotus
Grave Betrayal
Grave Pact
Ion Storm
Lightning Greaves
Phyrexian Vault
Ring of Evos Isle
Ring of Valkas
Ring of Xathrid
Swiftfoot Boots
Unspeakable Symbol

21 other spells

Marchesa, the Black Rose

I had toyed with the idea of an Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch Commander deck, but Marchesa takes it to a whole new level. I didn't even know Unspeakable Symbol was a card until Archie put it on display here.

But she isn't the only legendary creature to come online with Vintage Masters: All of the new options in Conspiracy are up for grabs.

That leads me to this week's question: Which new legendary creature featured in Conspiracy or Vintage Masters are you planning to create a deck around?

  • Feedback via email
  • 300-word limit to explain which legendary creature, and why
  • 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)

New commanders are always fun to try out. Join us next week when we compare notes on Muzzio and more. See you then!

Adam Styborski
Adam Styborski
Email Adam
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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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