The Three Kings

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The letter F!orgive me readers, for I have sinned: I did not attend a Magic 2013 Prerelease event.

I heard awesome things happening. I saw the tweets flying and Facebook posts popping. Going to a Prerelease is definitely one of the experiences I look forward to, and we get to do it four times a year.

Well, three for me in 2012. (Insert frown emoticon here.)

While I have no reservations about telling you to go check in at Steve Sadin's article for that Prerelease punch—I know personally he's quite the awesome guy—we do have a problem of handling ours today. So let's go deep. And legendary. And ninety-nine cards tall.

Odric, Master Tactician | Art by Michael Komarck

For Commander fanatics, a set's Prerelease is its release. Cards are legal in Commander as of a set's Prerelease. It's a longstanding rule rooted in the idea of fun. Get something cool, get started using it.


Since I'm definitely a self-proclaimed Commander fanatic I'm a little jealous of everyone and their shiny new wares this week. I'll get my chance at Magic 2013 glory this Friday, but until then I can only scheme, plot, and brew.

Each of the new Magic 2013 Intro Packs brings a premium foil version of a legendary creature. From Talrand, Sky Summoner to Krenko, Mob Boss, one can pick up a pack and instantly have a cool version of an eligible Commander. When I previewed Talrand I had no idea each of the decks was going to be packed with such awesome. Now that I do it's time to play catch up.

I have three more Commander decks, each its own color and unique among each other. If you're curious to see what's possible with the new kids on the Commander block, here's your chance to find out.

The Brave and the Bold

Let's start with Odric, Master Tactician. He's a jolly good fellow who asks us three questions:

  • Do you like attacking?
  • Do you have some friends to go with me?
  • Are we prepared for battle?

I noted before that I like the cut of his jib, but going full ninety-nine cards on him takes a little finesse. Losing multiples means your army transforms from an organized unit with redundancy into a motley crew of specialists, each with their own agenda. It's like an action movie with every action star ever, at least in white.

Sounds sweet, right?

Attacking with Odric, when sufficiently supported, makes combat easy-mode. No fears of fatties will stop his troops from his command. No walls will hold them back. He only needs enough troops to make it happen. While he doesn't require Soldiers to build an army, having lots of helpful cross-pollination between other Soldier types is certainly helpful.

Card(s) Purpose
Benalish Commander; Cloudgoat Ranger; Conqueror's Pledge; Darien, King of Kjeldor; Decree of Justice; Elspeth, Knight-Errant; Elspeth Tirel; Entreat the Angels; Hero of Bladehold; Increasing Devotion; Kjeldoran Outpost; Knight-Captain of Eos; Militia's Pride; Mobilization; Storm Herd; Twilight Drover; White Sun's Zenith Making an army is easy these days.
Aven Brigadier; Brass Herald; Captain of the Watch; Coat of Arms; Crovax, Ascendant Hero; Daru Warchief; Divine Sacrament; Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite; Field Marshal; Mirror Entity; Oathsworn Giant; Rhox Pikemaster; Sublime Archangel; True Conviction; Veteran Swordsmith Making an army threatening is easy these days.
Basilisk Collar, Darksteel Plate, Gorgon Flail, Shield of Kaldra, Skullclamp, Sword of Kaldra, Umezawa's Jitte The Quartermaster can ensure they're properly outfitted.
Adarkar Valkyrie; Breath of Life; Emeria, the Sky Ruin; Faith's Reward; False Defeat; Mistveil Plains; Resurrection; Sun Titan Don't go to war without your medics.

We have Soldiers and their lords, as well as general instant-army cards. It shouldn't be an issue to get Odric up and running. What I wanted to make sure was that we had the full army experience. Tacticians plan out their moves carefully—no Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots—but in turn carry much better results—Basilisk Collar, Gorgon Flail, Sword of Kaldra, and Umezawa's Jitte are particularly dangerous with Odric's ability.

A good tactician can lead. A great tactician can ensure victory regardless of his presence. Layering in big boosts for most of our instant army as well as the new Sublime Archangel (for when one attacker is all that's permitted or sensible) gives us more choices than just swarming.

The final list rounds out the usual Commander suspects with a few anti-land lands, some ways to draw extra cards, and plenty of ways to hit more mana.

Odric, Master Tactician
Commander – Odric, Master Tactician

Main Deck

100 cards

Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Flagstones of Trokair
Forbidding Watchtower
Ghost Quarter
Kjeldoran Outpost
Kor Haven
Maze of Ith
Mistveil Plains
New Benalia
23  Plains
Secluded Steppe
Strip Mine
Tectonic Edge
Windbrisk Heights

38 lands

Adarkar Valkyrie
Aven Brigadier
Ballyrush Banneret
Benalish Commander
Brass Herald
Captain of the Watch
Cloudgoat Ranger
Crovax, Ascendant Hero
Darien, King of Kjeldor
Daru Warchief
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Eternal Dragon
Field Marshal
Hero of Bladehold
Knight of the White Orchid
Knight-Captain of Eos
Mentor of the Meek
Mirror Entity
Noble Templar
Oathsworn Giant
Odric, Master Tactician
Rhox Pikemaster
Sublime Archangel
Sun Titan
Taj-Nar Swordsmith
Twilight Drover
Veteran Swordsmith

27 creatures

Austere Command
Basilisk Collar
Breath of Life
Coat of Arms
Conqueror's Pledge
Darksteel Plate
Decree of Justice
Divine Sacrament
Enlightened Tutor
Entreat the Angels
Faith's Reward
False Defeat
Gift of Estates
Gorgon Flail
Hour of Reckoning
Increasing Devotion
Kirtar's Wrath
Land Tax
Martial Coup
Militia's Pride
Return to Dust
Shield of Kaldra
Solar Tide
Storm Herd
Sword of Kaldra
True Conviction
Umezawa's Jitte
White Sun's Zenith

32 other spells

Elspeth Tirel
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Gideon Jura

3 planeswalkers

Odric, Master Tactician

Controlling the battlefield is a theme through even the lands and support spells. And for the truly curious, Forbidding Watchtower is a Soldier. Enjoy surprising your opponents with that fact.

The Consuming Darkness

Odric isn't the only new hero interested in attacking. The champion of black in Magic 2013 is Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis. Grixis, for the unfamiliar, is the formerly separated shard of the plane of Alara where there was no white or green mana. Death, decay, and doom were the only absolutes.

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis | Art by Aleksi Briclot

Nefarox is certainly a Demon worthy of ruling such an inhospitable place. He's so strong alone that simply moving to attack crushes those who oppose him. His power isn't like Odric's at all, but it can do wonders to control the battlefield in a different way.

When you slaughter those in your way, and bring unholy resurrection to the most powerful slain, it's little wonder that life on Grixis gives birth to fiends like Nefarox. And when he leads he ensures only those he chooses to use remain standing.

Card(s) Purpose
Black Knight, Cairn Wanderer, Dross Harvester, Dunerider Outlaw, Enemy of the Guildpact, Hand of Cruelty, Hunted Horror, Knight of Infamy, Malakir Bloodwitch, Stromgald Crusader An army of darkness is hard to fight, and fights hard.
Altar of Shadows, Big Game Hunter, Bone Shredder, Dark Impostor, Dregs of Sorrow, Enslave, Faceless Butcher, Fleshbag Marauder, Gatekeeper of Malakir, Hex, Nekrataal, Profane Command, Shriekmaw, Sorin Markov, Tainted Æther We hope you weren't planning to stick around.
Black Sun's Zenith, Damnation, Decree of Pain, Dread Cacodemon, Killing Wave, Massacre Wurm, Mutilate, Reiver Demon It's much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality.
Animate Dead; Ashen Powder; Beacon of Unrest; Dance of the Dead; Geth, Lord of the Vault; It The Betrays; Necromancy; Necrotic Ooze; Puppeteer Clique; Reanimate; Rise from the Grave; Sheoldred, Whispering One What was once yours is now mine. (Souls not included.)

For Doctor Who fans out there, just pretend those from Grixis are Daleks. For everyone else, tough. Go watch Doctor Who until you understand what "Destroy! Destroy!" means.

If you can't kill it with these cards the odds are good the time of Grixis is at an end. Fortunately, everything you can kill is probably fair game to bring back through any of the assorted recursion spells. We're not going for highbrow or tactical here. Just kill everything that moves and looks dangerous, and pick it up as needed for your own purposes. The full list shows more details around making this work.

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
Commander – Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis

Main Deck

100 cards

Blinkmoth Nexus
Cabal Coffers
Crypt of Agadeem
Mishra's Factory
Phyrexian Tower
Polluted Mire
Shizo, Death's Storehouse
25  Swamp
Terrain Generator
Thawing Glaciers
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

37 lands

Big Game Hunter
Black Knight
Bone Shredder
Cairn Wanderer
Dark Impostor
Dread Cacodemon
Dross Harvester
Dunerider Outlaw
Enemy of the Guildpact
Faceless Butcher
Fleshbag Marauder
Gatekeeper of Malakir
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Hand of Cruelty
Hunted Horror
It That Betrays
Knight of Infamy
Liliana's Shade
Malakir Bloodwitch
Massacre Wurm
Necrotic Ooze
Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
Nirkana Revenant
Puppeteer Clique
Reiver Demon
Rune-Scarred Demon
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Stromgald Crusader

30 creatures

Altar of Shadows
Animate Dead
Ashen Powder
Beacon of Unrest
Beseech the Queen
Black Sun's Zenith
Blanket of Night
Crystal Ball
Dance of the Death
Decree of Pain
Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Revelation
Diabolic Tutor
Dregs of Sorrow
Elbrus, the Binding Blade
Increasing Ambition
Killing Wave
Loxodon Warhammer
Praetor's Grasp
Profane Command
Rise from the Grave
Sculpting Steel
Sensei's Divining Top
Tainted Æther

31 other spells

Liliana of the Dark Realms
Sorin Markov

2 planeswalkers

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis

You will find the common Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth-Cabal Coffers combo here, but don't underestimate the rest. While I don't like to use them myself, an array of cards that find exactly the other cards you want is included here. Demons don't play nice, after all.

Between the tutors and mana engine to make it work, keeping the battlefield empty of opposing forces is elementary. To help our ability to hit when the coast is clear we've included a few "man lands" to wake up when the dust settles.

And, of course, Nefarox is just fine at keeping the enemy down if they can only serve up one creature per turn. It's how Grimgrin, Corpse-Born has nailed me a few times, so I'm assuming the same trick will hold here. I'll also accept CONFIRM/DENY reports from the field for the accuracy of that assumption.

Just don't forget, you can't spell slaughter without laughter. Have fun!

Greener Pastures

The final legendary leader we'll look at is Yeva, Nature's Herald.

Yeva, Nature's Herald | Art by Eric Deschamps

Right. I mean we'll do more than just look. She's a strong Elf with plenty of power hidden behind her serene stare. While the other two options from Magic 2013 are direct, sincere, and obvious in what they want, Yeva is a bit more suggestive. It's less about satisfying some requirements she lays out than carefully choosing how you want to make the most of her ability.

Anyone who's played with blue long enough knows the power of creatures with flash. Yeva makes entire decks of fatties move with the speed of now. As her Forcemage suggests, dropping dudes whenever you choose makes for some very difficult decisions for opponents. It makes it easy to wait and see what happens. It makes it possible to cast an entire hand of things at the end of a turn, then immediately get to untap and attack.

Yeva is bringing the heat from almost two decades of green Magic.

Card(s) Purpose
Chameleon Colossus; Champion of Lambholt; Craterhoof Behemoth; Kessig Cagebreakers; Khalni Hydra; Master of the Wild Hunt; Mycoloth; Nemata, Grave Guardian; Ohran Viper; Predator Ooze; Primordial Hydra; Silklash Spider; Thornling; Thragtusk; Tornado Elemental; Vigor; Wolfbriar Elemental Some of the best "Surprise!" creatures in green.
Omnath, Locus of Mana; Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary; Sakura-Tribe Elder; Seedborn Muse; Seedguide Ash; Silverglade Elemental; Sylvan Ranger; Wood Elves; Yavimaya Dryad; Yavimaya Elder; Yavimaya Granger Creature-based ways to make the mana happen.
Chord of Calling, Fierce Empath, Green Sun's Zenith, Hibernation's End, Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, Survival of the Fittest Let's go find what we want.
Creeping Renaissance, Eternal Witness, Haunted Fengraf, Moldgraf Monstrosity, Recollect, Regrowth, Restock, Revive You can't keep a good fatty down.

Yeva will quickly become the scorn of your opponents. But since she herself can come down on a whim it stands to reason opponents won't have many chances to get rid of her before she does her thing. Whether it's suddenly speeding out a slew of lands (or getting them to untap every turn) or air-dropping absurd fatties onto the battlefield, her grace and power will let us dance through the warzone.

Without Yeva around we can rely on more tried-and-true options for get the creatures we want, and making tons of mana will turn our token makers into alternate-win armies. What's featured above is just the heart of a powerful offensive for green. There's a little more to battle with Yeva than this.

Yeva, Nature's Herald
Commander – Yeva, Nature's Herald

Main Deck

100 cards

Dryad Arbor
Dust Bowl
25  Forest
Gaea's Cradle
Haunted Fengraf
Homeward Path
Jungle Basin
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Slippery Karst
Tranquil Thicket
Treetop Village
Winding Canyons
Yavimaya Hollow

37 lands

Acidic Slime
Brooding Saurian
Brutalizer Exarch
Chameleon Colossus
Champion of Lambholt
Civic Wayfinder
Craterhoof Behemoth
Dawntreader Elk
Diligent Farmhand
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Fierce Empath
Garruk's Horde
Indrik Stomphowler
Kessig Cagebreakers
Khalni Hydra
Masked Admirers
Master of the Wild Hunt
Moldgraf Monstrosity
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
Nemata, Grave Guardian
Ohran Viper
Omnath, Locus of Mana
Predator Ooze
Primordial Hydra
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Seedborn Muse
Seedguide Ash
Silklash Spider
Silverglade Elemental
Sylvan Ranger
Tornado Elemental
Wickerbough Elder
Wolfbriar Elemental
Wood Elves
Yavimaya Dryad
Yavimaya Elder
Yavimaya Granger
Yeva, Nature's Herald

47 creatures

Brittle Effigy
Chord of Calling
Cream of the Crop
Creeping Renaissance
Erratic Portal
Green Sun's Zenith
Hibernation's End
Lurking Predators
Mind's Eye
Survival of the Fittest

15 other spells

Garruk, Primal Hunter

1 planeswalker

Yeva, Nature's Herald

When we're running forty-six creatures, Lurking Predators bares a big, toothy grin (like it's controller). Some more familiar faces of green can be found: Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler, and more all act as warm bodies and as the spells to break up others' artifacts and enchantments. Brittle Effigy and Duplicant are honorary green removal spells, even if neither are a combo with Yeva.

Speaking of combos, since Yeva lets us cast creature spells at any time, Mind's Eye actually has a suitable home! While it's always a powerful card in multiplayer, drawing a few creatures to cast off of the extra mana we'll have makes perfect sense. Winding Canyons lets us play Yeva's game even without her on the battlefield.

Cream of the Crop will let us set up, or change, our next draw based on what we see happening. And Garruk, Primal Hunter promises many cards when we can sneak our creatures in at the end of the turn before ours.

An Offer You Can't Refuse

The astute among you might have noticed something: there is no deck here for Krenko, Mob Boss. We'll come back to him in a moment. First: last week's poll results:

Which color is "the best" in Magic 2013:
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker 2173 35.0%
White 1121 18.1%
Green 940 15.1%
Black 767 12.4%
Blue 681 11.0%
Red 337 5.4%
Colorless 189 3.0%
Total 6208 100.0%

Since there is no possible way that the mighty and honorable Nicol Bolas could have fixed these results, it stands to reason that the most ancient and powerful of Planeswalkers is, indeed, more powerful than everything else in the set.

Yup. Absolutely no way our master, Lord Bolas, interfered.

This week, I have a different sort of poll. Commander isn't for all of you. Playing red in Commander isn't for all of you who play Commander. But I'm asking for both with a handy Krenko, Mob Boss challenge:

  • Build a Commander deck led by Krenko, Mob Boss.
  • Krenko must be the Commander.
  • The theme of the deck is entirely up to you: from Goblin tribal to churn and burn the board—whatever floats your boat.
  • All decks must be submitted by this Friday, July 20, at 8 a.m. Eastern. No later, but sooner is definitely great!
  • You may submit multiple decks, if desired, but each deck should be a separate submission and should be significantly different in theme and cards used.
  • Please use the "Reply via Email" link below to send your deck(s).
  • Decks should be formatted with one card per line. For example, "1 Shivan Dragon" or "20 Mountain." Please don't include card-type breakdowns (i.e., "23 Creatures").

If this challenge doesn't excite you, that's fine. For those who have been waiting to unleash fury with Mountains, I await your submission.

Join us next week when things get a little wacky. See you then!

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