Before I discuss today's deck, I have to discuss the discrepancy between the paper and online lives. For many reasons, not all paper Magic cards are released to Online Magic simultaneously. Some go a long time before they are released online, usually those in Commander sets. But what happens is that MTGO is where we have the main testing grounds, as the number of games which happen there all at once is quite superior to the one which is possible through physical means.
These differences end up delaying the impact of certain cards in the meta, as only after they're thrown to the lions of the virtual game that they go through the real test of fire and end up being adopted into the physical gameplay meta. The best example of that is the Initiative mechanic: at first, only a few cards were released online, and quickly Caves of Chaos Adventurer became a crucial piece in Prison red decks. However, only a few months later, the format got the card which would cause ripples in the metagame: White Plume Adventurer. The 3-mana Adventurer released a monster into tournaments and White Initiative dominated in such a way that it resulted in its ban - and the card still sees play in Vintage!
Well, we're facing another one of such cases with the online release of Creative Technique, a Commander 2021 spell destined for Commander tables - but which has already begun demonstrating its destructive potential in Legacy, in the deck also known as Mississipi River.
Ok, before anything else, let's take a look at this wonderful pile of cards:
"Okay, Eltinho. I saw it, and I didn't understand a thing." Okay, you weren't the first nor the last to scratch their heads to try and understand what is going on. I had to go look it up what Demonstrate referred to and what is the goal of this deck.
Well, when you play Creative Technique, you have the option to "demonstrate" it. That means both you and your opponent put an extra copy of this spell in the stack. Your opponent's copy resolves first, and then you, save for a few cases in which your opponent counters your two spells, start to have fun. Each resolved Technique will result in one of the 3 following cases: another Creative Technique, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn - which is being summoned, therefore, with the triggered ability of getting an extra turn - or a Cascade card.
And here is where it gets really cool: your 6-cost Cascades can only reveal more Techniques and spin the wheel again; the ones with a higher cost have 2 instances of Cascade and reveal even more cards. At the end of all this disorder, you'll end up summoning close to a dozen monsters which get Haste through Maelstrom Wanderer, and, eventually, you get an extra turn from Emrakul in case, for some reason, this isn't enough to finish the game on the spot. For that, you only need 5 mana and the spell. Simple, isn't it?
Here, the problems with this strategy begin. 5 mana don't appear out of nowhere, so the deck uses a true arsenal of lands which create 2 mana to play Technique, considering that, due to the way the deck is built, you can't use other accelerations.
That makes this deck vulnerable to Wasteland, Blood Moon and Back to Basics. A part of this problem can be resolved through Otawara, Soaring City or Boseiju, Who Endures, but they still delay your game plan. Another problem is that the deck is focused on a single card, and doesn't have access to cantrips. Part of that can be reconciled with the fact that any of your 6-mana Cascades can be used to activate the combo, but, even then, the deck is vulnerable to effects such as The Stone Brain or Surgical Extraction.
Finally, though the ability to Demonstrate helps the deck go over many counters, the deck is still vulnerable to discards and effects which prevent the casting of spells, such as Trinisphere and Teferi, Time Raveler.
This is fundamentally a combo deck in the "Glass Cannon" style; very powerful, but shatters when attacked, such as Oops, All Spells or Goblin Charbelcher. But, contrary to those, it is naturally resistant to counterspells, which attacks the format through a different angle, through which some decks aren't ready to defend themselves. And you can believe that many players definitely aren't ready to face this monster.
Ok, I know what you will say: "this is a combo deck, mulligan after the combo!" Well, almost that. Naturally, you'll want hands which can play Creative Technique on turn 3. The catch is that you don't necessarily need the spell, as 6 mana and any of the many cards with this cost can have the same effect; therefore, it is more a question of analyzing if your many lands form the necessary combination.
To have 5 mana, basically any other two lands that come in tapped and one untapped, as long as one of them creates a red mana, are enough. But if you want to have 6 mana on turn 3, the third land that comes in needs to necessarily be either Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors or Crystal Vein.
Depending on your opponent, you can risk keeping hands that can only act on turn 4, but, most times, it is better to return it and find a hand with actions for turn 3.
This hand can play Boarding Party on turn 3, or even on 4 over a Wasteland on one of the red lands, keeping in mind that Ancient Tomb should only be played on the turn you'll summon the card. It is the type of hand you'll want. Verdict: Easy Keep.
As for this hand, it not only doesn't have the correct mana to Cascade on 3, it also drew 2 Maelstrom Wanderer, which reduces the odds of granting Haste to your team. Verdict: Insta Mulligan.
This one has Technique, besides access to 6 mana on 3. A bit vulnerable against Wasteland, but resistant against discard. Verdict: Keep.
This hand Cascades on 3, but it is risky both against discard and Wasteland. If you don't know your opponent, you can keep it, as you'll be spinning the wheel from the moment you got this deck, but you can mulligan if you know which problems come from the other side. Verdict: Risky Keep.
Building a Sideboard
If building this deck is already complicated, building a sideboard can be even more, as Cascade's restrictions make most answers hard to fit without disrupting the combo, but let's go.
The first weird combination in the sideboard is the duo Tibalt's Trickery and Throes of Chaos. This combination sacrifices consistency in exchange for speed and resistance against discard. It works like this: for 4 mana, either from hand or the graveyard through Retrace, Throes of Chaos' Cascade will always hit Tibalt's Trickery, which in turn counters the original Throes and luckily hits either Creative Technique or some other Cascade to find the blessed card. Or it doesn't hit anything useful, and you're in trouble. The use of diluting the combo with that is useful to face other combos against which you'll need to have a chance to combo on 2 or against decks with a lot of discard which can put you against the wall from very early on.
Against some graveyard decks, you won't have time to interact; therefore, it's worth it to lose consistency in favor of simply having access to Leyline of the Void.
Mirrorshell Crab is a counter which doesn't interfere with your Cascades, and can be useful in certain situations, particularly when you need interaction against some combos.
UR / Grixis Delver
Here, the biggest problems are the copies of Wasteland, which can gain time for them to simply kill you later. Technique demands 2 counters, so if you manage not to get hit by a Daze, that already helps. Post-side, Pyrokinesis helps you win time, and we remove the Cascades which are hardest to play when your mana base is being attacked.
One of the ways they can win the game is by simply discarding one of your big Cascade monsters, reanimating it next. What is really problematic are the discards, as you can usually go over things such as Griselbrand and Atraxa, Grand Unifier. As contradictory as it sounds, that's why I opt not to bring the copies of Leyline of the Void, and simply try to combo over the discards.
Stompy (Red Prison, RG, RW and W Initiative)
This is the enemy against which your Channel lands will do the heaviest lifting, as you can't combo over Archon of Emeria or Trinisphere. Blood Moon's deeds will also delay you a lot. Pyrokinesis will be useful to remove some Magus or Archons from the board, and the Crab might hit some lock piece.
Blue Control (UW, Bant, Jeskai, 4CC)
Game 1, except if they have 2 Force of Will in hand, or they stick a Teferi, Time Raveler early on - answered by Otawara, there's not much they can do against the combo. Post-side, it's more of the same, but you might need to have a land to open up the way against something they end up doing.
This is the enemy you want to face! Their combo doesn't work with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in the deck, and their counters cost mana and need a Painter’s Servant on board. Which means, the path is clear.
That's it my friends, once more we have a Commander interaction making some noise in the format. It is an inconsistent and vulnerable deck, yes, but in a different way than most of these types of deck tend to be, as it is naturally resistant to counters.
Another interesting thing is that, except for the copies of City of Traitors (which in this deck can even be swapped for Crystal Vein), it is an incredibly cheap deck for the format, so keep an eye out for it! Demonstrated salutations and until next time!