Tag: commander

Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 20, 2022

A Seat at the Table – The Enchanting Bone Lord

Hello and welcome to another edition of A Seat at the Table where I bring you a fun, short look at a Commander and fun inclusions for the 99.

This time, we’re keeping the fun rolling with another legend from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate – Myrkul, Lord of Bones! This Abzan God (who I really wish were a Skeleton God, by the way) offers a very cool new effect that has bent a few engine-minded players’ brains into pretzels. With the SkellyGod out, when non-token creatures you control die, you can exile them and make a token enchantment that has their textbox. That’s crazy!

As someone whose absolute favourite card type in Magic is enchantment, the moment I read Myrkul, my eyes went wide. Whenever you see a great mechanic on a creature, my first thought is that maybe they tested it as an enchantment first and it was busted, so they made it easier to kill.

With a ton of removal in the game, sure, your enchantments can get targeted. However, board wipes? We’re looking at a time where Blasphemous Act is the sweeper of choice in a lot of metas. While there are Farewell‘s and Austere Command‘s lurking about, they’re going to have  to contend with your Cosmic Intervention‘s and Teferi’s Protection‘s.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some fun cards to include in your Myrkul, Lord of Bones decks.

Devoted Druid / Cinderhaze Wretch / Barrenton Medic  

Let’s get these out of the way because you will see them in Myrkul decks for sure. Oddly enough, the most powerful of these is the two mana one in Devoted Druid. When your creatures die, you can exile them to make them enchantments. Enchantments don’t have power and toughness, which means -1/-1 counters don’t do anything to them. Pile on the counters to untap the Druid, Wretch, and Medic as much as you want and create infinite mana, prevent damage to anything, and make your opponents discard their hands (that last one is only on your turn).

Note that the Medic has been errata’d to ANY TARGET! That’s spicy for  hose of us Myrkul builders going the Planeswalker route. Speaking of which…

Luxior, Giada’s Gift  

Myrkul is all about cards doing what they aren’t supposed to, turning one card type to another. It’s the real alchemy. Luxior turns your Planeswalkers into creatures. And what happens to your creatures when they die? They get exiled and become enchantments. Your Planeswalkers will enter as enchantments with loyalty counters AND abilities. Don’t you worry about it because they cannot be attacked and loyalty counters no longer come off unless you want them to.

Got just enough to down-tick a Planeswalker but don’t want to lose it? If it’s an enchantment, it sticks around and you can uptick it next turn. Planeswalkers with static effects like Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Liliana, Dreadhorde General are basically closest to enchantment Planeswalkers already. Why not let them fulfill that destiny?

Adarkar Valkyrie / Athreos, Shroud-Veiled / Wandering Archaic  

I am a big fan of Threaten effects and run quite a few of them in my Lyzolda, the Blood Witch aristocrats deck. We even got one of my favourite new ones in Battle for Baldur’s Gate in Firbolg Flutist.

The wording on Myrkul is, “Whenever another nontoken creature you control  dies, you may exile it.” That means that creatures you don’t own but control dying gets you those effects as enchantments. With the Valkyrie and Athreos on the battlefield, your  opponents will do their best to not let their important creatures die. They function oddly like stax pieces, removal, and clone effects all at the same time with Myrkul. Not to mention when these die and become enchantments, they’re still useful and the Valkyrie doesn’t even need Haste. I like this line of play so much, I’m going to talk about two more theft style cards. I’m lumping in Wandering Archaic into this section because it’s a tax effect that lets you copy your opponents instants and sorceries and often stops them from playing them. It’s also a really good card that you should buy now. (3KL should have some copies for you!)

Helm of Possession  

Helm of Possession does double duty in this deck – A sacrifice outlet that steals a valuable creature. Two mana is nothing when you’ve got a few ways to go infinite or go big on mana. There aren’t any restrictions on timing, so you can threaten to activate when being attacked during blockers. You can make deals with other players to take another opponent’s Commander to attack into someone else’s Deathtoucher. This card is very flexible and because it was designed so long ago, a lot of the provisions cards come with these days to keep them from being broken aren’t there. I love this card and will feel both terrified and delighted to see it played.

Treacherous Urge 

Ending the list with something fun and silly. This isn’t a great one without a little information, but it can make for some memorable plays. Treacherous Urge for 5 mana at instant speed can give you a surprise attacker or blocker that nobody expects – not even the card’s owner! Maybe a Cyclonic Rift hits the table and you’ve got Myrkul out and enough to play the Urge, you can take your pick of another player’s creatures in hand and get away with turning it into an enchantment with the baked-in sacrifice. This isn’t a spell-heavy kind of Commander. Most Abzan decks I’ve encountered basically use instant and sorcery slots for protection and ramp because permanents are the way to go in this colour combo. But sometimes, you gotta just have a little fun.

Honorable Mention – Enchantment Stuff 

Look, it’s an enchantress deck, but it doesn’t cast them, so a lot of stuff is on the chopping block. That doesn’t mean you don’t get some juicy pieces. Draw cards with Eidolon of Blossoms and Setessan Champion. Sanctum Weaver is a great dork, even better when it can tap for mana, get sacrificed, then tap for more. Doomwake Giant kills your opponents’ weenies, but when you go off some turns. This is a one-sided board wipe.

Privileged Position protects your permanents like Greater Auramancy protects your enchantments. Anointed Procession, Parallel Lives, and in Planeswalker versions of this, Doubling Season are solid inclusions, but remain enchantments with heaping load of value.

That does it for me this time. I hope you enjoyed the Sparkly BoneBoy (as I’ll be calling him because I don’t want to be a villain)!

Let me know if I’ll see you at Command Fest in July! Come say hi! Let’s play some games!

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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 15, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Tasha’s Taking Over!

Tasha, the Witch Queen is a force to be reckoned with. Gonti, Lord of Luxury players looking  for a new spin are going to have huge heart eyes for the new Planeswalker Commander  available from the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate set.

Tasha rewards you for playing cards you don’t own, making you 3/3 little Demons to protect  her or smack players on her behalf. She also draws you cards not just from your library, but  “draws” instants and sorceries from your opponents’ graveyards. Of course, the -3 ability limits  the use of spells exiled with Tasha to once a turn if you’ve got the loyalty counters.

Having Tasha, the Witch Queen in the command zone tells all of your opponents that you’re looking to play with their cards. Get ready for your opponents to expect some Bribery effects and to do their best for you to not have them.

Here comes a top five of cards I really like for this deck.

Thief of Sanity  

Finally, a home for Thief of Sanity! Not only does the thief give you something to cast that doesn’t belong to you, but it also allows you to put cards into your opponents’ graveyards. Hit your opponent with Thief of Sanity, look at their top three cards.

Well, would you look at that? It’s a bomb artifact, an instant, and a land! Tuck the artifact under the Thief, use Tasha’s +1 ability to  take the instant, and your opponent’s going to miss a land drop!

Let’s be honest – your opponents will do anything to keep this Specter off the battlefield, so be sure to pack some Lazotep Plating of suit this up with Lightning Greaves. Spectre tribal can be a really fun direction for this deck!

Siphon Insight

For two mana at instant speed with a Flashback cost of 1UB, Siphon Insight is a snap inclusion in this Tasha deck. You can snag a land and make a land drop. While that won’t make you a Demon with Tasha, it will at least allow you to play some more things you’ve got up your sleeve or it’ll allow you to flash this back sooner to snag another land or a late game bomb. Pop this under an Isochron Scepter and have a snatching time every turn.

Predators’ Hour  

Give your Demons Menace and toss them into the red zone after windmill slamming an underrated gem in Predators’ Hour. With a Blue-Black shell, you’re certain to have some ways to give your spells Flash, which makes this an even bigger blowout. Predator’s Hour is going to “draw” you an incredible amount of your opponents’ cards. Oona, Queen of the Fae can make you a ton of Faeries while eating away at your opponents’ libraries. Is there is a player whose deck you don’t care to steal from because they are irrelevant to your path to victory? Activate Oona for a ton of Faeries, then the next turn, it’s yours at the tick of the clock.  It’s Predators’ Hour, baby!

Cunning Rhetoric  

A little rattlesnake Ghostly Prison type effect to keep your Tasha safe, or to get a little extra spice from the top of your opponents’ libraries. Your opponent swings in with a creature, you get an instant from the top of their library, play it, and get a lil’ Demon blocker. This keeps them from playing into your plan. It’s a really good card that you’d need to see to believe.

Thieving Amalgam

I have loved this card since it was spoiled in the Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer deck. You get a blocker at the beginning of each of your opponents’ upkeeps and if it’s a creature, you get to flip it up and surprise them. Yes, this isn’t Primordial Mist where you can cast stuff by exiling your manifested stuff. The spiciest parts of most creatures these days are in their ETB effects… but your opponents won’t want to swing at you if it means getting drained for 2 and finding out that their win-con is what did them in.

Honorable Mentions  

I’m not going to talk about them much, but here are a few honourable mentions. Some were even featured in the latest Game Knights (like Cunning Rhetoric), so you can see them in action.

Thieving Skydiver – Steal an opponent’s Sol Ring! (Thanks Game Knights!)

Hostage Taker – Steal an opponent’s Sol Ring or Ragavan!

Gonti, Lord of Luxury – If you like this play-style, I would be shocked if you didn’t already love Gonti.

Breathstealer Dragon – This is a new card from a precon that is a bonkers finisher.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse – This ultimate can be an absolute blowout! Arvinox, the Mind Flail aka Mind Flayer, the Shadow – Watch this value train on Game Knights.


Draugr Necromancer – Incidental graveyard hate that lets you cast the creatures it exiles while mana fixing if you’ve got the snow lands to cast them.

Rogue Class – This is a permanent build-your-own Predators’ Hour with more steps but a lot of fun when it gets going.

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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 13, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Build-A-Bear!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate gave us one of the most adored uncommon Commanders in the history of the game – Wilson, Refined Grizzly. It’s also Pride month, so I figured why not have fun and tell you about my favourite ways to build Wilson at the head of your deck in every combination of colours available with the Backgrounds.

White: Folk Hero  

Some of you reading this are shocked I didn’t go with Flaming Fist, but we already have three Voltron strategies in Background choices on this list. It’s not surprising – Wilson, Refined Grizzly is absolutely BEGGING to be a Voltron Commander. Its keywords SCREAM, “it’s time for Commander damage.”

I went with Folk Hero because, while people know that Wilson is a bear – and there are 29 of those that can be in this White/Green version of the deck – people don’t remember that Big Willy is also a Warrior.

Avenging Huntbonder, Bramblewood Paragon, Cazur, Ruthless Stalker, Champion of Lambholt, Champion of Rhonas, Hamza, Guardian of Arashin, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, and many many more Warriors can cantrip now with your Background in the command zone.

Of course, Folk Hero only triggers once per turn, but Qasali Ambusher has Flash, Yeva, Nature’s Herald, Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, and Vedalken Orrery can give your creatures Flash. Spicier Flash enablers include Vernal Equinox, Aluren, and Winding Canyons. Time to brew, ya Selesnya nuts!

Blue: Dungeon Delver 

I won’t lie, I mostly picked this to shine a light on the fact that Green Dungeon decks aren’t really a thing, and many Green Dungeon cards are excited to be your new budget brew. I bet you can get a solid fun deck for under $50 to show up to your table and surprise folks with the power of not just the original Dungeons, but also The Undercity with Initiative. There are 26 cards in  Green/Blue that push you into a Dungeons.

That’s not a lot of cards: 26 + 36 = 62. That means you have 38 slots to make this your own. You can get a lot of value out of Varis, Silverymoon Ranger, Tomb of Horrors Adventurer, and Undermountain Adventurer. Yuan-Ti Malison can net you a Dungeon  advancement for sure, and with Wilson and Dungeon Delver out, you’ll stack room value constantly. What a departure from what Simic has given us over the last couple of years. No more all just Landfall good stuff. Have a little fun with a bear who loves exploring!

Black: Criminal Past 

Golgari has a healthy history of self-mill. From Hermit Druid to Crow of Dark Tidings, mechanics like Unearth and Reanimate, or  just straight up Magus of the Will, Green/Black loves breathing life in and out of the graveyard.

Giving your big Bear boy Menace on top of those other abilities means that this is still a Voltron creature, but you’ll want to slam ways to clear the way. Creatures like Fleshbag Marauder, Plaguecrafter, Demon’s Disciple, Chain Devil, or Merciless Executioner will force  your opponents to get rid of some blockers and fill your yard to pump Wilson. Tenacious Underdog can be blitzed from your graveyard to apply more pressure and draw a card on the way out.

Clear the board with your Ravenous Chupacabra and Avatar of Woe to swing the Willybilly for big Commander damage.

(Psst, Golgari heads, if you liked what I wrote about Folk Hero, you can do similar things with Haunted One, just a heads up!)  

Red: Tavern Brawler  

Another in the Voltron builds for Backgrounds, but this time taking a page out of Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald’s book. While Tavern Brawler curves poorly with Wilson, you can use your first couple of turns to ramp with Rampant Growth, Three Visits, Farseek, and Nature’s Lore.  Keeping your ramp low to the ground gives you a ton to work with while you’re exiling off the top of your library. You’ll need to cast stuff that turn, but also because… if we’re exiling off of Tavern Brawler, we’re going to want some BIG stuff.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Avatar of Fury, Avatar of Might, Primeval Protector, Khalni Hydra, The Great Henge, and so many more beefy mana value cards. Pair their casting from exile with Nalfeshnee to double up, or Kami of Celebration to make that pump a little more permanent.

Don’t forget your Haste enablers and have a great time swinging. He’s a Bear for god’s sake, he’s gonna come a-stompin’!

Green: Raised By Giants  

Last but not least, who could have seen this coming? A Timmy’s dream! Ramp early into a six mana with your classic Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate, and of course the aforementioned Rampant Growth, Three Visits, and Nature’s Lore.

Smack Wilson onto the table as a 10/10 and follow up with a Berserk to make your opponents quake in their boots. Get that Rishkar’s Expertise and Return of the Wildspeaker to fill your hand regardless of hitting your opponents, and Hunter’s Insight when you do. Greater Good gets you a brand new hand.

Sylvan Anthem and Immortal Sun pump your creatures with enough  upside that you don’t need a Fireshrieker or Grappling Hook to finish the job, but it makes the game quicker.

Sigh… I don’t want to talk about this one… but…  

Triumph of the Hordes.

How are you going to build Wilson?

See you at Three Kings Loot at the All-Wilson Pod (not a thing but… could be? Ouhhhhh!)

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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 7, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Henzie’s Big New Tools!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate has already made a splash for deck builders all over. But today, I want to shine a light on one of Streets of New Capenna’s most popular bad boys. Having only been out for two months, the face of the Riveteer Rampage, Henzie “Toolbox” Torre, is so frequently built, he’s threatening to crack the top five Jund Commanders of all time on EDHREC.com!

Looking at average decklists, it’s pretty clear folks love Blitzing out big beaters at a discount, and luckily for us Battle for Baldur’s Gate is jam packed with big beaters that are begging to be Blitzed. Let’s take a look at my top Jund additions to ol’ “Toolbox” from the latest Commander Legends.

Ancient Copper Dragon

Who doesn’t love a big Dragon? An average die roll is about 10 or 11. You hit someone with this after paying 5 mana with Henzie out for the first time, you’re more than likely to make your money back… with interest. This beefy beater is great when Blitzed or when played regular. Definitely an A+ inclusion.

Despite its inclusion in a bunch of lists online, Ancient Brass Dragon feels suboptimal for this deck. You’ve got a deck where the average CMC for creatures is 6 or 7,  you’ll probably only ever get one creature back per swing. That’s not bad, for sure, but it isn’t  what you imagine when rolling the D20 for this black majestic beast.


Balor is the card of my dreams and nightmares. As an avid Aristocrats player, I love when a card says “when… dies” on it. But as a Henzie player, I’ve fallen in love with “Whenever… attacks or dies.” Hubba hubba! You Blitz out Balor for four – four! You’re getting all this for four mana! – and you get to dome the greediest player for cards in hand, make someone discard  randomly to mess up their plans, and get rid of artifacts you need gone… TWICE! And you get a card at the end of it all? Balor’s value will go up based on Henzie decks alone and then see a premium once they’re all snatched up. Henzie players, pick yours up now!

Bhaal, Lord of Murder

Bhaal is interesting because you don’t want to Blitz Bhaal, no matter how fun it is to say. With Henzie, a healthy amount of non-token creatures you control die. Pair that with Bhaal and you have a way to keep your opponents from swinging their big stuff your way. When it comes down to one vs. one, you’ll have to do a bit of a dance with him out, but hey, he got you to the end, you can take it from here.

Durnan of the Yawning Portal

Durnan is half of the Commander from the Exit From Exile precon. There’s so much value in that deck, I would implore you to pick one up immediately, the list looks amazing. Durnan will have a home in that deck, but any stray copies are going to skyrocket. Put Durnan  nto the Henzie 99 and do your thing. You can choose to keep him around, but by Blitzing Durnan, you’ll at most pay three (or at least pay one) and you get a creature you can cast from  exile for the rest of the game that costs you one less for each opponent. Additionally, you get to draw a card when he dies. And you get to the Blitz the exiled creature! WHAT?!  

Oh, yeah. Just like with Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Henzie “Toolbox” Torre says, “Each creature spell you cast with mana value 4 or greater has Blitz.” No mention of it needing to be from your hand! As long as the exiled creature costs four or more, you’ve got a Blitzer. Also, Chainer, Nightmare Adept is hella cheap these days, you should pick your copies up.

Elturel Survivors

This is a finisher, folks. Fast mana is all over the place, but with Green being the best colour in Commander (check out MTGGoldfish’s Commander podcast about it), this is bound to punish at least one or two players for being ahead. What’s more is that if the Survivors are Blitzed and attack, Myriad will create creature token copies for each other opponent they are attacking, which means that they too will have Haste. More importantly, “When this creature dies, draw a card.” You’ll need a way to kill or sacrifice the tokens before the end of combat to benefit, but there is no shortage of ways to do that in Jund.

Honorable Mentions:

Elder Brain

No matter when you slam Elder Brain down, as long as you’re swinging at an opponent, you won’t be disappointed. Will you sometimes snag a hand full of lands? Sure, but Henzie needs those. Will you sometimes snag a bunch of interaction pieces? Fair enough, gotta protect your board and hit the rest of the table with stuff. Will you sometimes snag a bunch of creatures with mana value four or greater that may or may not be your opponents’ wincon? Bingo. Now you get it. There’s no disappointment as long as you’re attacking someone with a big grip. You can Blitz the Elder Brain early if you’re into it, but I think I’ll be hard casting this if I can. The versatility is fantastic once the “Toolbox” makes friends.

Firbolg Flutist

I think this card rips. You get to snag any creature from any opponent and give that creature Myriad. You get two ETB triggers when it attacks if you’re in a pod of four. Excellent. What I think is impressive is in Henzie decks, in the late game you’ll be dropping creatures with a three or four mana discount, which means that the Flutist for two mana can take away a Sun Titan and  get three triggers (one attack, two ETBs), bringing back your fetch lands or a Sakura-Tribe Elder.

For two mana, the Flutist can take away an opponent’s Ancient Copper Dragon or Phyrexian Delver or Wurmcoil Engine or…

And those are my big beefy picks for Henzie upgrades in a post-Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate release world!

Thanks for reading and if there are any decks you’d like me to cover, I’d be more than happy to give you my thoughts on the subject!

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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 6, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Dynaheir’s Dynamic Deck Spice

With Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate out, we are sure to see a shake up in the meta. People have been calling for more diverse and interesting Commanders, and this new set has provided many interesting new designs to plop at the head of your deck. One legend that I find quite interesting is Dynaheir, Invoker Adept.

With her text box granting Haste for activated abilities, much like Thousand-Year Elixir, Dynaheir already hints pretty strongly at what the deck wants. We are likely going to see lots of Zirda, the Dawnwaker as a Companion to the Invoker Adept, if I had to place a bet – but don’t be fooled. You need to spend four mana for Dynaheir to copy an ability with her activated ability.

Without further ado, here are a few cards that I think will be a blast to play with Dynaheir.

Treasure Vault

Leading off with a land because you gotta eat your veggies. Treasure Vault is a lot like a storage land in that you pump twice X mana into it so that you can have an explosive turn when you untap. Sometimes that comes with synergies, like if you’ve got a Reckless Fireweaver on the board and a table of opponents with 10 life left. Unfortunately, you only get half of what you put in. Enter Dynaheir.

Tap her so the next ability you activate for four or more mana is doubled. Now, you effectively have a one turn Mana Reflection. Pair this all with Anointed Procession and you’re strutting to the bank. With this move, you set yourself up for the next batch of turns.

Wand of Wonder / Chaos Wand

These are just very fun cards that add a little suspense and chaos to your games. Activating these for four mana can feel steep at times, but when you can double the ability and target someone new, you’re really digging. Commander decks these days are pretty optimized and you’ll rarely see a dud instant or sorcery. And if you’re extra lucky, you might even roll two 20s on Wand of Wonder. I know if an opponent pulls that off, I would not be able to hold back my cheers.

Immovable Rod

What’s better than turning off an opponent’s Smothering Tithe? Turning off two opponents’ Smothering Tithes!

Activating Immovable Rod after activating Dynaheir means you get to lock down two permanents, basically making them useless. They lose all abilities. You can hit someone’s Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or Cabal Coffers. Is someone’s Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth helping too many players? Shut it down.

AND SOMETHING ELSE! Rhystic Study, OFF. Underworld Breach, OFF. Big beater about to come your way – NOT ANYMORE! This card is sneaky good for this deck, especially since there will be plenty of ways to untap your stuff, too.

Tameshi, Reality Architect

Tameshi is an odd card. He’s a grindy lil beast who a lot of stax players have gravitated towards. But that activated ability is saucy. It’s adaptable with it costing XW, allows you to reset a land if  you haven’t had a land drop yet, and when paired with Dynaheir, anything where X = 3 can be doubled. Get your Manascape Refractor back, get your Grasp of Fate, get your Magewright’s Stone, or Thousand-Year Elixir. I’ve never seen a Jeskai deck that didn’t have artifacts and enchantments it wanted back from the graveyard.

Oblivion Stone

Save your stuff at half the rate and half the time. Oblivion Stone is a board wipe everybody sees coming, so that’s not always great. But when you’ve got double the counters you need to save your Commander and some other key nonland permanents, you’re quicker on the draw and ready to pull the trigger on the wipe.

That does is for my quick list of tech for another new legend from Baldur’s Gate. Let me know what you think. Are you going to build Dynaheir, Invoker Adept?

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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - June 1, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Jon Irenicus, Shattered One!

With Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate coming out, be prepared for a whole influx of new legends helming decks at your local game stores. I know when I show up to Three Kings Loot for Commander, I’ll be mixing it up with a few decks led by characters being imported into the Magic: The Gathering universe.

I am most excited for, and worried about, Jon Irenicus, Shattered One.

Let’s take a look at this text box:

“At the beginning of your end step, target opponent gains control of up to one target creature you control. Put two +1/+1 counters on it and tap it. It’s goaded for the rest of the game and it gains “This creature can’t be sacrificed.” (It attacks each combat if able and attacks a player other than you if able.) Whenever a creature you own but don’t control attacks, you draw a card.” 

Here are few cards for different circumstances.

Let’s start with the scariest things you can give your opponents or your opponents can give you with Jon Irenicus. Be sure to sequence these in the right order because these are awful.


Steel Golem

This terrible artifact creature becomes a 5/6 beater that prevents your opponents from playing further creatures. Donate this garbage to an opponent with creature-heavy strategies or while their Commander is in the command zone.

Phyrexian Negator/Dralnu, Lich Lord

Once you give these away, they both have to attack, which means either they get blocked and have to sacrifice a ton of stuff (that they didn’t get from you) or they hit your opponents for huge damage. Dralnu is trickier because they could flashback spells, but it’s worth it if you got rid of graveyards with a Bojuka Bog.

Dictate of Erebos

If your opponents Terminate your creatures before you can give them away, flashing in a Dictate of Erebos to punish them for their actions. Jon Irenicus’ ability ensures that they can’t sacrifice your lovely gifts.

Abyssal Persecutor

Give this away and your opponent has an 8/8 beater to hurt your opponents, but they can’t win them the game. When this gets dropped when it’s down to one v. one, this may as well be extending the handshake for a GG.

Plague Reaver

Because creatures you give away with the Shattered One can’t be sacrificed, Reaver’s ability cannot be activated, which means whoever you give this to is stuck with it. That means a one person board wipe at each of their end steps that leaves behind only creatures you give them.


Here are a few cards for builds that want to compete but don’t want to get targeted for playing Jon Irenicus.

Sepulchral Primordial/Diluvian Primordial

Get the value when these big bads get in to the ring, and then donate an evasive beater to your opponents so that they can take each other down quick.

Abhorrent Overlord

Get the Harpies when the Overlord drops, and then give this to a player to watch them trim their board down every upkeep.

Ebonblade Reaper

This one is a twofer. Whoever attacks and whoever gets hit loses half their life. It’s a low toughness creature which means it might get blocked, but that’s where Manifold Key and Key to the City can come in handy.

Annihilator creatures

Annihilator is a great ability for this deck especially since they can’t sacrifice your donations. Bane of Bala Ged has a pseudo Annihilator ability and it can definitely be mean, but they absolutely can exile your creatures, so stay away from that one.

Gorex, the Tombshell

Get your creatures back from your graveyard to your hand when your opponents go swinging with a 6/6 Deathtoucher that can cost you BB.


And now some ways to protect yourself against a mean Jon Irenicus deck.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty / Leyline of Sanctity / Aegis of the Gods / Witchbane Orb / Ivory Mask

By giving yourself Hexproof, you cannot be given creatures by the Jon Irenicus player. But you can still get hit by the ones they send to your other opponents.

Deflecting Swat / Bolt Bend

You can choose new targets and send a particularly nasty Jon Irenicus gifts to someone else.

Wrong Turn

Let Jon Irenicus send you a donation and then swap it for the Shattered One himself. Or you can make a deal with someone and send a Steel Golem they control to the next poor shmuck.

That rounds it out for my deck and protection recommendations with Jon Irenicus. I hope to see you at the Commander tables at Three Kings Loot soon!

Get all your Magic news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com
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Mike Carrozza Mike Carrozza - May 31, 2022

A Seat at the Table – Backgrounds for the 99!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate introduces Background, a new enchantment subtype, to the game we all love – Magic: The Gathering. With their ability to be paired with a legendary creature with “Choose a Background”, they can find great spots in the 99 of many decks.

For this entry, I’ll share my favourite Backgrounds and offer a few spicy spots to include them.

Agent of the Iron Throne  

Aristocrats strategies are full of effects like Zulaport Cutthroat that drain the table when a creature of yours dies. But when your Commander gets the ability from an enchantment and tacks on artifacts like a Disciple of the Vault, we’re looking at a whole new level. Treasure tokens are everywhere and the game hasn’t been the same since Ixalan. Agent of the Iron Throne belongs in decks like Lyzolda, the Blood Witch or Meren of Clan Nel Toth, but it also can go into decks that make good use of Daretti, Scrap Savant. The new Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter deck can dome the table for three in one turn if it uses the Treasures from his first ability alone and that’s all incidental.

Candlekeep Sage  

All my blink-happy fiends know that this is going right into every Brago, King Eternal deck out there. Two cards for every blink is beautiful. If you’ve got Partner, Commanders, and mass blink, get four? Huge value. Your Commander gets removed? Draw a  card. Deadeye Navigator is back on the table for Valuetown.

Blink isn’t the only way to abuse this – Reanimate shenanigans trigger this enchantment as well. I’ve been looking for an excuse to run Narfi, Betrayer King at the helm of a deck – maybe my budget list finally has the coup de grace.

If you run a mono-blue Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy deck, you get a draw off the boy entering, a draw  from the exile on the ability, a draw from the planeswalker side entering, and a draw when you lose the planeswalker. Hubba, hubba – now that’s fun.

Noble Heritage 

I love a political card. This is a lot like Orzhov Advokist and with its added “protection from that player until your next turn” clause, you’ll know early on who you can trust. It happens on ETB and at your upkeep when you have your Commander in play. At two mana, this curves nicely into your three or four mana Commander. This will get people talking at the table. When it’s not in the command zone, you can play this closer to the chest and consider a three-mana play with this on turn five.

Shameless Charlatan 

Got a Commander that has a great ETB but nothing else going for it? Turn your Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths, Gyruda, Doom of Depths, or Dragonlord Silumgar into the Ghalta, Primal Hunger across the table. Your Commander getting targeted? Turn it into your Invisible Stalker. Your Commander about to die? Your opponent might think twice about that move when you can turn your leader into Lord Xander, the Collector. I’ll be giving this a whirl in my Livio/Sakashima clone deck.

Tavern Brawler 

Impulse draw has been pushed recently and Tavern Brawler can turn your Commander into a real beat stick. Wilson, Refined Grizzly is going to be paired with this Background a ton. Tavern Brawler will shine in Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Laelia, the Blade Reforged, Bell Borca, Spectral Sergeant, Juri, Master of the Revue, and Syrix, Carrier of the Flame. Here is the Prosper, Tome-Bound reference you were looking for.

I’m looking forward to all this set has to offer and seeing Backgrounds making a splash. These boosts to your Commander will hopefully inspire further explorations into more designs.

I’ll see you at Commander night at Three Kings Loot.

Get all your Magic news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com
Get all your Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate needs from Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

Avatar Bruce Gray - May 25, 2022

The Epic Experiment: Squeezing the Most From Your Budget

Welcome back to another visit with the Epic Experiment! Things have gotten wild with The Streets of New Capenna and the respective Commander decks that joined the set. With only a few weeks before Commander Legends: Baldur Gate hits the shelves, your wallet may be crying. But that doesn’t mean that the budget conscious player cannot get good mileage from some slightly older sets. Today I am going to share some budget conscious options to stretch your dollar and really help you to maximize your fun when you sit to play with your friends.

Recently my attention has been caught by Strixhaven: School of Mages because many of the most powerful Commander related cards have seen their relative prices drop to the point where a budget player can really stretch their dollar. Let’s dive in and see what the set offers.

The Elder Dragons

The elder Dragons are all quite affordable if you wanted to find them in the most basic form. When Beledros Witherbloom tops the price chart for a pack non-foil at $12 USD, the argument can be made that these dragons are budget friendly options. You can also find Beledros in borderless foil right here on Three Kings Loot for $40 CAD, which is steep, but even Galazeth in the borderless version is $8 CAD, giving players lots of options. The fact that some of these can be used as viable EDH Commanders also suggests that the power level can be ramped right up from a casual build to a very competitive build, giving you versatility, flexibility, and just some excellent value for your investment.

Other Mythics from Strixhaven: School of Mages

With the lone exception of Professor Onyx, which still commands a $10 price tag, the rest of the Mythics are quite affordable and many can be found under $5. Depending on what you are building, these could be powerful inclusions to your deck. You may want to double back to this set and have a long look at what may be available to upgrade your deck.

The Rares from Strixhaven: School of Mages

The story repeats for many of the rares from the set, but you can grab Culling Ritual for $5.  To put this in context, Culling Ritual appears in over 23k decks according to EDHrec.com… and it is still under $5!  In many situations that sort of demand would drive the price of the card up higher, so go ahead and get your ridiculously efficient board wipe and power up your deck for less than an order of Chicken McNuggets.

Archmage Emeritus is another terrific inclusion that just synergizes with every instant and sorcery in your deck. It appears in over 38k decks and is also $5.  If you haven’t grabbed a copy or two for your decks, what are you waiting for?

The five Commands from this set may not be on the level of Cryptic Command or Kolaghan’s Command in terms of raw power, but each of them offer something fun and unique that would give them strong consideration for decks. The headliner is probably Prismari Command that can be found for $8, but the others all have a role to play. My personal favorite in Witherbloom Command which can be found for $1.50. These flexible, useful spells are perfect for a budget conscious brewer to get maximum impact and controlling the bottom line.

The Uncommons from Strixhaven: School of Mages

There are a few notable standouts from this set that are well known, like Expressive Iteration, Go Blank, Plumb the Forbidden, and Storm-Kiln Artist, but there are a few others that are helpful in budget decks. Fracture is a versatile removal spell available for under $1. Rip Apart is similarly flexible and can be a valuable inclusion in any list. Lastly, Witherbloom Apprentice is a combo enabler that can be acquired for under $ 1, making it a serious option for many decks.

The Mystical Archives from Strixhaven: School of Mages

One of the big selling features for Strixhaven was the inclusion of the Mystical Archives, reprinting a wide array of interesting cards that really spiced up the set. It also put extra copies of some very important cards into the market to satiate the demand players have for some of these cards.

Natural Order is a card that was last reprinted in Eternal Masters  but had not been seen previously in a very long time. It is a very powerful tutor card that, in my experience, ends games. You can grab copies of Natural Order for around $20, which is not cheap, but considering that there are copies from older printings at much higher price points, it seems like a reasonable price point to grab a copy or two. While not necessarily a fun card because tutors create redundancy, sometimes you just need to end a game and going to find your Craterhoof Behemoth is the best thing you can do for 4 mana.

Mind’s Desire was at one time a pretty prominent inclusion in plenty of decks because the Storm mechanic has proven to be broken. These days, the card has largely fallen out of favour for being being too expensive, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t see play in a budget deck to great effect. At about $1.50, it is the perfect sort of budget friendly inclusion a spell intensive deck might look for to push them over the top!

Budget options from other sets:

Nissa of Shadowed Boughs from Zendikar Rising is an automatic inclusion in Black/Green based landfall decks like Gitrog or Lord Windgrace and is powerful way to get your favourite critter back directly to the battlefield. Oh, and it’s under $4 for the borderless version! That seems like a steal for your deck.

As rares, Archon of Emeria and Yasharn, Implacable Earth are very powerful cards that help turn off problematic strategies.  Yasharn shuts off sacrifice strategies while helping you hit your land drops.  With Ziatora, Korvold, and a whole host of sacrifice strategies, not to mention that Yasharn shuts off Fetch lands and Evolving Wilds, it is a super relevant effect and available at under $1. Archon of Emeria is a Rule of Law on a creature and totally turns off a wide variety of decks by choking them to play a single spell each turn. It is getting harder and harder to track these guys down, but if you can find them, they are priced under $5.  They pack a mighty wallop in a small body and are well worth the investment.

Well, that is where I am going to leave it today. Hopefully these suggestions will help encourage you to go through some sets that are now in our rearview mirror and have another pass to spruce up your decks. It is tempting to just focus on the hot new thing, but it takes considerable discipline to go back through these sets and look for those appealing cards to really take control of your spending.

If you enjoyed my thoughts or have something you would like to see explored in more detail, please check out our decks and much more each week on our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

Check out more Epic Experiment articles at The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com
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