Seeker of the Way,
Wight of Precinct Six,
Lead the Stampede. Today, I invite you to a tour at my "laboratory" and share some of my ideas, which I confess that I did too little testing on them since my playtesting, at least until the set does not come out in Magic Online, is somewhat limited in terms of players due to the quarantine , but these lists can offer a good start on where to look when it’s your turn to think of ideas for Commander Legends. In my experiments, I avoided relatively obvious ideas that serve only as a replacement of one card for another in some specific deck. For example, it's useless to bring a list of Heroic whose only change is the inclusion of
Benevolent Blessingin place of
Cho-Manno's Blessing. Another type of list that I avoided are those that are very dependent on the Metagame to be optimized as is the case of Tron and Boros Monarch, because trying to predict a metagame and adjust the list according to possible decks that may exist is, in my point of view, too much speculation and it is preferable to observe how the format behaves from the moment the collection is available to start adapting more reactive lists that will only need some adjustments and not some type of reformulation. The other reason for that choice is that my creative process involves having the idea, seeing if the idea works in practice and then adapting the idea according to the needs of the metagame to finally see if it is still playable or good enough for the format or not, and with a theoretically new format, there’s no point in going to the third step of my process so soon. "But Romeu, I want to know what I should be playing with when Commander Legends comes out!" Okay, your best options in a format that, in the first weeks, will have a significant amount of players testing ideas and adjusting decklists is to use decks that punish the opponent for questionable deckbuilding decisions, or for keeping bad hands while they can afford to partially ignore the cards of the new set. In this spectrum, the decks that fit are: Burn, Affinity, Heroic, Bogles and, although it is more risky in those first weeks, Stompy. However, if you are thinking of playing a Challange, for example, I would not recommend you try to change a lot of things in your deck yet because the changes in the format for this type of event with higher registrations fees tend to be a little slower, since these are events where players clearly try to guarantee the greatest possible amount of wins to compensate the registration and is not exactly the best place to test lists with no proven results. Disclaimers aside, time to start talking about decklists! A reality that Commander Legends will bring to us is that Pauper will probably be a format where Monarch becomes the main pillar of the metagame, since the inclusion of better Monarch creatures in Blue and Red and the enchantment
Fall From Favorcreates a new dimension to mechanics where practically any deck can have access to it, and my few playtests have already shown me that the new cards have a great impact on the behavior of most games as a whole because Monarch's "sub-game" becomes more present and way more relevant.
Crimson Fleet Commodoreworks pretty well as a an agressive drop that might be rewarding for some decks. The Rakdos Monarch has the possibility to take a position more similar to the classic Midrange decks with the inclusion of
Crimson Fleet Commodore. WIth the new cards, the deck would be able to focus the first turns on being disruptive to the opponent with discards like
Augur of Skulls, use the Cannonade to clear the table if necessary and then cast a Commodore that, in addition to guaranteeing the Monarch, has an extremely threatening clock for a deck that manages to keep the table constantly clean and that doesn’t care if the pirate dies because he has already done his job and
Gurmag Angleris also a threat that ends the game in a few turns. Commodore also brought me another very interesting idea:
Boarding Party. Despite considering that using 3 of the new pirate with Cascade is a lot, the deck has a very good curve of threats in the early game that survive
Fiery Cannonadeor are recursive with Escape, while having good responses for artifacts in
Abradeand removal for larger creatures in
Skred. The biggest issue with the list is that the sideboard lacks some good answers, especially against Burn or Bogles and Heroic, but the list can be a good start for other ideas. As for
Fall From Favor, as everyone expects, it will probably be used on Faeries and other blue decks:
Fall From Favorto the deck and the addition of
Fiery Cannonadeto the format potentially makes
Delver of Secretsa worse card in Mono Blue, as it does not interact well with none of the other cards, becomes less consistent to flip due to the enchantment, does not generate immediate value and dies easily for the new board wipe. I'd say betting on synergies between Ninjas + Faeries and creating a threat in the longer games with
Azure Fleet Admiralseems like a more interesting option for this new phase of the deck, where no longer you run the risk of losing your gas compared to your splash versions thanks to the new enchantment. Speaking of versions with Splash:
Augur of Bolasto give slots to
Fall From Favor, but most of the deck's interactions and its overall base remains intact. On the Dimir version, I decided to take a riskier approach:
Ninja of the Deep Hoursand it may be the biggest mistake I can make with this list. However, within the slots that the deck has that do not serve as interaction, the fact that
Spellstutter Spriteare good cards by themselves and Monarch cards are potentially better in a world where interaction with the Ninja can be threatened with a sweeper and everyone is playing Monarchs, the option to slightly raise the deck's curve and raise the number of Monarch cards to 6, varying from the one that is good when you are ahead (
Fall From Favor) and the one that is best when you're behind (
Azure Fleet Admiral), it is possible that this combination will become more rewarding for the deck than its usual build.
Fall From Favoron turn 3 to take the game, but I believe that, at least in the case of the Dimir versions, the deck rewards grindier games than games oriented on Tempo. There is another card that I obviously focused a lot on the experiments. I really believe that, at first, finding the best home for the new Monarchs and
Fiery Cannonadeis the priority, and the format will adapt next. Particularly, I believe that the best deck for
Fiery Cannonadewill be the one that can capitalize on its effect and punish the opponent twice: Both for not playing around it and also for playing too much around it. Of course, it is likely that the best option that already exists to have this kind of effect in a game is Tron, since the deck applies the pressure that it will dominate the game if you take too long to win and try to play more conservatively. Since Tron is a deck that is VERY adaptable to the metagame, I chose not to create any decklists of that archetype. Therefore, the other options we have to make the best possible use of the "False Tempo" that Cannonade can give is that your game plan can take advantage of the card in a proactive and reactive manner, according to the matchups. Within a more proactive game plan, the best options that comes to mind involve cards such as
Seeker of the Way,
Kor Skyfisher, the new Blue Monarchs,
Azure Fleet Admiraland Red,
Crimson Fleet Commodore, and creatures whose body is aggressive and survives the sweeper like
Gurmag Angler, the creatures that have Metalcraft and the creatures commonly used in the Domain Zoo. Of course, having all this in a single deck is impossible, so it is necessary to analyze each of those options and consider which way to build a good deck with the cards available in the format, and the first sketch I managed to elaborate was this:
Counterspellon that list and I might find space for it later. On the other hand, I have a feeling that the deck needs to apply more pressure in the first turns in order to play against Tron. Kinda confusing, I know. It is worth mentioning that the value of
Fiery Cannonadein the metagame tends to decrease according to how many copies of the card are being played or or how often strategies that circumvent the card are being played. Its impact on the format will most likely be felt by the players faster, but it will probably be less durable and more manageable than the one dealt by the new Monarch cards.
Makeshift Munitionsis a card with more potential than it initially looks, especially since its ability affects both creatures and players.
Makeshift Munitionsgives consistency and a good payoff to the
Myr Retrievercombo with
Ashnod's Altaras the Inspector gives the deck some redundancy in reducing costs, while the enchantment is a wincondition that is harder to interact with.
Fiery Cannonadeas a universal response to the faster decks that would normally prey easily against a non-interactive deck gives the combo a new air where it can perhaps abandon the "Eggs" base and function for its own account in another shell. It is even possible to remove the cost reducers and play with the combo using
Reckless Fireweaver, making it a 4 card combo, instead of 5. I don't think the deck can be competitive in any way yet, specially with the increase of
Abradein the maindecks to respond to
Bonder's Ornament, but it is a new shell for the famous combo that has not yet had its chance to shine in Pauper. Speaking of
Makeshift Munitions, the card has proven to be more versatile than I initially thought it could be, and can enable new strategies and means of interaction:
Fiery Cannonade, the enchantment proved in some of my tests a great way to control the table and, at the same time, serve as a wincondition and it will be very interesting to see the other interactions that the enchantment can have in the format.
Champion of the Flameis the kind of card that doesn't seem to have a right home yet, as creating a deck around it seems unfavorable and the card is not good enough on its own to justify its use in some decks. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to fit it somewhere:
Champion of the Flamein Commander Legends and acess to other cards over the years that have taken me to revisit this archetype. With the inclusion of the new card, the deck now leans more towards an Auras deck, which operates in Sorcery-Speed and has a mixup of reach and damage protection. I don't think it is enough for the deck to resurface, but it is an interesting addition to a forgotten archetype that can still make some results with good hands and against unprepared opponents. But it's not the only way to use it since
Champion of the Flameis, in fact, a card that needs very little to be good since his ability allows him to get out of control fast with any equipment or Aura that you can consider and interact well with cards like
RancorAnother great addition to the format was the creatures with Cascade. Cascade was a mechanic that was very successful when it first came out in Alara Reborn and that still has an impact in eternal formats with cards like
Shardless Agent. In Pauper, the new cards are in the highest curves, starting at curve 6 with
Boarding Partyand ending at curve 8 with
Maelstrom Colossus. These costs in particular are very well articulated if you consider that these cards would naturally need to be played in the late game, where a number of your spells would no longer be as relevant if played for free, or force you to ramp, which means that the Cascade effect can reveal cards that are already useless when you play these creatures because you no longer need to speed up your mana.
Utopia Sprawlis the best combination to accelerate mana the format has to offer that involves few slots and little synergy if compared to Elves or Walls, and the use of LD to delay the opponent's game in the first few turns serves well to boost the value of creatures with Cascade when they come into play, possibly destroying another land in the process. The inclusion of
Abradeis due to the fact that many decks have chosen to use
Bonder's Ornament, and I wanted an early game interaction against creatures that would also serve to deny the opponent from mana if necessary. As for the existing decks, I tried to create lists that may already be adapted to deal with Cannonade and the new Monarch format.
Fiery Cannonadewith the inclusion of
Wild Mongreland an increase in the number of
River Boaon the deck, which serves both as a card that has built-in protection against removal and a threat difficult to be answered by blue decks that might take the crown from them easily. Unfortunately, this change meant making some concessions and I chose to remove cards like
Nest Invader, which makes the deck more vulnerable to effects like
Prismatic Strands, in addition to removing
Vines of Vastwoodto increase the number of
Elephant Guide(an extremely punitive play for removal decks if not answered) and increase the number of lands.
Silhana Ledgewalkerwas moved to the sideboard as a difficult-to-interact card, especially for decks with targeted removal, and the absence of
Vault Skirgeled me to increase the number of
Weather the Stormto 4. Another option for Stompy is to play All-In with
Mutagenic Growth, but I feel that losing the deck's redundancy in favor of speed ends up hurting him in more games than it could possibly improve others.
Viashino Pyromancerto mitigate the damage of a potential sweeper. In this version, there is no reason not to use the 1 mana 2/2 creatures, but
Jackal Familiarhas been replaced by
Fanatical Firebrandbecause not only does Goblin survive
Fiery Cannonadeand has an immediate impact on the table but also gives some minimal but important reach, and as the Jackal does too little by itself and forces the deck to extend and play with more creatures on the table than it would possibly like in the new metagame, it was removed from the list. Among the creatures with Haste, the only creature available in the format that is not present is
Nest Robber, as a 2/1 body swaps unfavorably against a
Augur of Balls, but it is possible to replace and test it instead of
Mogg Raider, increaing to 8 the number of effects that protect it from sweepers while the deck's strategy manages to remain fast and aggressive. The rest of the deck remains potentially the same and you can still have a highly explosive early game with combinations involving
Foundry Street Denizen,
Mogg War Marshalor
Kor Skyfisherand not having to dedicate slots from my sideboard to protect my board from sweepers. I don't know exactly how the list will behave in the new metagame, but the inclusion of
Kor Skyfisherhas always been of great help to me in many matches and its overall strategy of "not folding to sweepers" I managed with this list is as rewarding against
Fiery Cannonadethan it is to
ElectrickeryAnd this is the end of our tour at my experiment lab for the new set. My conclusion is that Commander Legends will change the way Pauper is played more impactfully than Modern Masters 2017 (which brought
Augur of Bolas,
Dinrova Horrorto the format) did. And I'm looking forward to being able to play this new format and see other players' decks and ideas as soon as possible ! What about you, reader? What ideas and experiments have you done with the launch of Commander Legends at our doorstep? Would you like to share it with us?