ello to all Johnnies! (Don’t worry, other psychological player profile types, you’re also welcome here!) I'm still riding some of the Grixis-y steam from last week, so I’ll start off today by wishing you all a happy Halloween! I hope you’ve all picked out a Magic-related costume, such as Kamahl, Pit Fighter, Psychatog, or Barbed Lightning. And no changeling shenanigans are allowed! I felt bad about potentially scaring away all my candy customers with my spooked-up laboratory after last week, so I have taken down nearly all the scary decorations (my endless closet appears to be permanent) and filled my inviting lab windows with decks galore.
For those who aren’t aware, today marks another installment in the extremely fun House of Commons series kicked off by Chris Millar. These articles usually pop up after the release of a large set such as Shards of Alara, Shadowmoor, or Lorwyn. Basically, House of Commons is a deckbuilding exercise that revolves around using four copies of every common from the new large set. This multitude of commons is spread out into many different decks. As Chris so expertly said in the last installment, "It's like a cross between doing a Sudoku puzzle and Building on a Budget."
Having never embarked on this deckbuilding exercise before, I ran into some snags almost immediately. Shards of Alara's tri-color theme meant I’d have to ration out the limited mana fixers, the Panorama land cycle and the Obelisk artifact cycle. Once that was taken care of, I found that most of the commons jumped into decks of their own shard, with only a few stragglers (Hi, Banewasp Affliction!). This was my first time doing this, so keep the faith alive! More importantly, feel free to swap commons here and there or even start with a clean slate and mess around. The fruits of my efforts lie below, so let’s get started, shall we?
Deck 1: White-blue Aggro
This deck uses just about all the common exalted creatures in combination with some hard-to-remove weenies (Deft Duelist, Sighted-Caste Sorcerer). In addition, a small pocket of life-gain is there to buffer your life total if the going gets tough. For a neat trick, exalt one of your creatures and if it survives combat, cast Soul's Grace on it for a quick refreshment of life. Yoked Plowbeast is basically your only late-game hope, but your abundance of early beaters should soften your opponent up until then. In the late stages of the whole process, I shoehorned the Cathartic Adept + Excommunicate interaction in, which results in permanent excommunication.
Troops of Akrasa
Deck 2: Esper Aggro
Amidst the cutting, shaving, and trimming of other decks in this exercise, somehow the only Esper-colored deck survived totally unscathed. Artifact beats reign supreme with this straightforward deck. Glaze Fiend in particular can grow to absurd levels with Etherium Sculptor reducing the cost of your already cheap artifacts. Courier's Capsule can keep your hand full of cards while boosting Windwright Mage. And here, casting Call to Heel on your own creatures is Plan A for once, both for the card draw and for more Glaze Fiend growth.
Deck 3: Blue-white Control
Switching gears a bit, this next deck uses all of the common counterspells in Shards (yes, even Spell Snip) in conjunction with a bit of bounce and creature lockdown. It plays like any traditional control deck, countering threats and controlling the board until one of your flyers pops up to take the game. Sanctum Gargoyles can regrow themselves if killed (provided you have another in hand) to create an unstoppable flying force.
Deck 4: Naya Aggro
This deck is all about pedal to the metal aggro, starting at turn one with Wild Nacatl and Goblin Mountaineer, and turn two with the excellent Rip-Clan Crasher and controversial (Augury Adept's got nothing on this 2/2) Cylian Elf. Lush Growth is a triple-whammy here fixing your mana, helping out Goblin Mountaineer, and pumping Wild Nacatl. An array of Giant Growth effects is around also. If your early weenies find themselves outmatched later, Thorn-Thrash Viashino can clean up the board while creating a huge threat at the same time. Soul's Fire is great anytime, but here it's great cubed.
Deck 5: Bant Aggro
Calling this "aggro" is a bit of a stretch, but there are definitely some solid weenies here, from the twig-like Jhessian Lookout to the uber efficient Steward of Valeron. Elvish Visionary shows up as an insanely undercosted Merchant of Secrets as well. Exalted makes an appearance, with the Waveskimmer Aven being the biggest threat of the lot. Sigil Blessing is a neat, although temporary, Anthem effect, and Soul's Might performs its usual exalted tricks.
Troops of Jhess
Deck 6: Grixis...Pile
I felt bad calling three decks in a row aggro, and this deck is basically lots of Grixis creatures thrown together. Viashino Skeleton and Skeletal Kathari can discard and sacrifice your numerous unearthers, while Kederekt Creeper is a beast when windmilled on turn three. Agony Warp is the lone removal spell, but it should help you survive until your undead storm in for the victory.
Deck 7: Black/Red Synergy
This deck wants to take advantage of Hissing Iguanar, which is a combo enabler if I’ve ever seen one. Quick Goblins can enter play, waiting to be sacrificed to a timely Bone Splinters or just to die in combat. Dregscape Zombie can come back for more, and Dreg Reaver provides a beefy body. Blightning and Banewasp Affliction can provide even more pain, and all the while the plucky Iguanar can plink away at your opponent.
Iguanas = Pain
Deck 8: Naya '5 Power Matters'
There were enough of the "5 power matters" cards from Naya that I decided to build two decks from them. This first one is centered on creatures that can grow to 5 power and reap the benefits of Godtoucher, which can become quite unfair. Knight of the Skyward Eye can pump itself up to god levels, and the Auras, Savage Hunger and Lightning Talons, can help out anyone else. At the high end of the mana curve are some of the actual 5-power creatures for late-game beatdown. Some fine removal rounds out this deck.
Deck 9: Naya '5 Power Matters'
The second gargantuan deck uses the other creatures that give bonuses to fellow titans. Mosstodon and Rakeclaw Gargantuan can help each other out, and Gustrider Exuberant can give all your fatties evasion for a winning swing. The rest of the cycling creatures are here as well. Since it could take a while for your monsters to go online, a full four Angelsongs should help you survive.
Deck 10: Jund...something
Save the best for last, right? While that’s true in terms of my favorite shard; this deck turned out to be the most pile-ish of them all. The creature base seems weird, which is probably because I needed somewhere to put Undead Leotau and Blister Beetle, and I had all the Jund colored spells at my disposal. I'm a little saddened by the fact that there’s only one common creature with devour, but oh well. To make up for the lacking creatures, some awesome removal can balance things out.
Among the Living
"Carry on Thrashing!"
Well, that about wraps things up. I had fun with this experiment, and I encourage you to try it sometime. Other ways you could take House of Commons could be working with a small set like Morningtide, or sticking with the large sets and only using uncommons for a challenge. Hey, just be thankful I didn’t rename the series Forming on Thrifty Limitations!
Until next time, love the black symbol!