Its been an entire month and a half since the release of Kaladesh Planeswalkers, and while the set has been a grand success, offering enough unique strategies and combinations to influence a huge variety of decks, even the best of us are starting to get burnt out. Unfortunately, we’ve got a whole other month and a half to go before the continuation of this block in Aether Revolt in January, but Wizards has decided to fill the void with Commander 2016! That’s right, one of the most popular Magic formats of all time is getting an entire release devoted to it, and we’ve got all the tips, tricks and advice to get you started on your own personal army! Let’s dive right in.
Command and Conquer:
For anybody not familiar with the Commander format, or don’t even know what it is, you might be asking yourself what all the excitement is about. Well, Commander is a special free-for-all, multiplayer variant for Magic the Gathering that adds a unique twist not found in most formats. At Commander tournaments or special events, you’ll often see the format referred to as EDH or Elder Dragon Highlander. Why the crazy name? Because each player must build a 100-card deck, but you can only have 1 copy of every card. You remember the famous Highlander movie franchise and its tag line: “There can only be one?” Of course you do. It is, after all, the franchise Sean Connery is most recognized for and where he got his start in acting:
On top of the 1 copy of each card per deck, each player starts with 40 life instead of 20 and you single out one legendary creature in your deck to be the, “Commander.” You can think of the Commander as sort of the general of your army. Every creature must share the color, or colors, of your Commander and you can cast your Commander at any time. Luckily, the Commander can never die or leave the game. If he’s killed by another creature or damage or exiled in some way, it just returns to its little Commander Zone, ready to cast again. The catch is that each time you have to cast it, its cost becomes more expensive. Coincidentally, the Commander aspect of the game is where the, “Elder Dragon,” part of EDH comes from. The first ever Commanders used the elder dragon cards from the Legends set:
So, where did this strange and crazy format come from? You can thank Alaska. That’s right, a bunch of Magic fans from Alaska made up the format for fun and as a way to pass time during long waits at tournaments when waiting for the next round. Eventually, the side game became so popular and was played by so many people that Wizards decided to make it an official format and put out products for it. That history is a testament to just how much fun it is to play Commander and the crazy amount of variety in Commander decks. It’s literally all up to your imagination. Any legendary creature of any color can serve as your Commander and there are thousands of combinations of creatures to go along with that. Plus the 100 card deck and single copies of cards ensures a random and different game every time you play.
This brings us to the beautiful Commander 2016 Edition. These pre-built 100 card decks come ready to play out of the box with the Commander included. If this is the first time you’re hearing of Commander and really want to get into it, this is an excellent jumping off point. The unique thing this time around is that each Commander is four colors giving you more options than ever before to modify each deck to your personal playstyle. Check out the full deck lists to see which appeals most to you, or check out all the individual cards from this set on the card image gallery.
For those brave enough to start from scratch, however, or you veteran players who have dabbled in Commander before, we’ve still got plenty of advice for you. First, here’s an official introduction on what Commander is and how to play. For the experienced, here’s an even more detailed guide on how to start building your deck.
Of course, the most important part of every Commander deck is, shock, the Commander. If you’re having trouble figuring out which legendary you want to use as the centerpiece of your masterpiece, check out this guide for how to pick and build around your Commander. And our final guide is for you story nuts. Commander format can be a really cool way to make an original story for you. Your own personal Planeswalker. Each creature represents alliances and people you’ve met and monsters you’ve tamed while each spell represents the sum of the knowledge you’ve gained traveling the Multiverse. If you want to learn how to tell a story with your Commander deck, check out this guide.
Well, whether its through your own intuition or modifying one of the 2016 edition decks, I hope I’ve influenced you enough to get out there for some multiplayer action. EDH may be one of the best formats for playing casually with friends, but there are plenty of official leagues out there for more competitive play. In fact, starting this month, Oogie Games at Niagara Falls will be hosting its own EDH League every Thursday night from 6:30 PM-9 PM. The night is free and every type of player from newcomer to veteran is welcome to play, watch or learn. Commander 2016 hits stores today, Planeswalkers, so go ahead and build your army!
Movin’ On Up
The introduction of the EDH League isn’t the only unique event the Oogie Games at Niagara Falls has going for it. This weekend, November 13th, is our very own PPTQ or Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier!
Now, this is more for you competitive players looking to break into the world of professional Magic. This is, quite literally, your first opportunity to step into that world as the winner here will get an invite to the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour Amonkhet! The tournament starts at 12:30 PM with a $20 entry fee and will run all day. Space is limited, however, so it’s encouraged that you call now and reserve a spot if you plan on going. For more information on the event, check out the official Facebook page.
I figured I’d leave you all this week with a light-hearted little story. It always amuses me to see celebrities and athletes who love to play Magic the Gathering, especially when it’s one you wouldn’t normally consider, like a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Yeah, you read that right, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cassius Marsh put out this tweet Wednesday afternoon:
Listen, I know that the Buffalo Bills just got beaten by this man last week, but nobody deserves this, least of all a Magic fan. Luckily, this news story has a happy ending. Wizards of the Coast decided to give Mr. Marsh a care package of Magic product while simultaneously delivering a donation of equal retail value to a children’s charity. You can read about the whole wild and crazy story here or read a summary from the Magic Facebook page. If you’re a Seahawks fan, I would suggest just following Cassius in general on Twitter. He’s been playing Magic since he was 11 and occasionally puts out hilarious Tweets such as this:
That’s all for this week Planeswalkers. Whether you’re enjoying a casual battle with friends or heading out to any FNM events or tournaments, remember to have fun! Thanks for reading!