December 16, 2015

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I Am the Very Model of a Modern Meta-General

With many splinter EDH formats forming over the past few years, it’s worth taking a look at what a Modern only deck might look like. Others have attempted this and kept the Commander banned list while supplementing it with cards from only Modern-legal sets, but it seems pointless to simply cram Skullclamp or Umezawa’s Jitte into any of your decks and moving on. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons and then turn a cheeky gaze at what cards played might look like. For the purpose of this article, we are not going to exclude the commanders granted in the yearly Commander supplemental products, as they serve as an entry into the format.

The Pros of Modern Commander
With a smaller card pool comes less worry about a janky commander doing crazy things in your meta. The elimination of extremely fast mana like Sol Ring, Mana Vault and Mana Crypt sets your turns up a little more slowly, and the overreliance on Skullclamp is now a thing of the past. The narrower field of commanders means you’ll likely be facing some of the Theros block gods or something hot off the presses of Oath of the Gatewatch, which may lead to its own form of degeneracy.

Additionally, the Modern format is already quite strong, so you’ll have most of the cards you need from your former playing of Standard or your current Modern card pool. The lower cost of entry cannot be overstated, though it’s perhaps slightly disingenuous to overstate it as you will have spent several hundred (if not thousands) of dollars to get into Modern in the first place.

The Cons of Modern Commander:
With a more limited cardpool comes a centralizing of strategy and, as with any format, the best commanders will surge to the forefront and take their place. The lack of hyper-efficient early accelerants will take away some of the epic, bomby plays that make the format into a degenerate, but super fun mess. Blue gets considerably weaker with the absence of Counterspell, Mana Drain and Forbid being absent from the metagame.

Another issue is that you lose genuinely fun cards like Hazezon Tamar, Fact or Fiction or Survival of the Fittest, among others. The sheer amount of broken cards in regular Commander decks serves as a kind of self-policing construction, but it’s possible the Modern Commander format would have some very quick, aggressive plays not easily countered by premier spot removal like Swords to Plowshares or Moat.

Instead of simply foisting a mediocre deck list onto my readers, I’ve decided instead to humiliate myself by creating a parody of a Gilbert & Sullivan production, extracted from the Pirates of Penzance, here is “I am the Very Model of a Modern Meta-General!” (With apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan, of course.) Seriously, they must be rolling in their graves right now, and will have Recurring Nightmares about this.

I am the Very Model of a Modern Meta-General

I am the very model of a Modern Meta-General,
I’ve magics unspeakable, animar, and collateral,
I know the gods of Theros, and I swing with Lorescale Coatl,
From Lily saying “Boo!”, which makes me feel quite heretical,
I’m very well acquainted too with lanterns proving quite insightful,
I understand contraptions, both the riggers and the buildable,
About pirate ships in which I’m leading their swabby crews—
With many repeat castings of Whispers of the Muse.

I’m very good at eating donairs and copious amounts of fresh hummus,
My Splinter Twin is cast so quickly it’s ridiculous;
In short, in matters unspeakable, Animar, and collateral,
I am the very model of a Modern Meta-General.

I know our mythic history, King Macar’s and Mr. Teeg, Gaddock’s,
I Journey Into Nyx and really hate playing against Smallpox,
I quote on TwitchTV all the crimes of Mike Long,
In two-headed giant I emerge and do no wrong.
I can well before the third turn overwhelm you with Eldrazis,
I once stole the last muffin from under a gent named Dave Humphreys,
Then I can crack some eggs while my opponent considers me a bore,
Before I wink at you as if by an Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore..

If my eyes are getting watery I can adopt a Hydroform,
Send us both to a Watery Grave as would the lovelorn,
In short, in matters unspeakable, Animar and collateral,
I am the very model of a Modern Meta-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by “Icatian” and “Javelin” ,
When I can tell at sight a Lhurgoyf from a Kirin,
When I become too wary of that tricky Ambassador Laquat’,
As I dispose my playing riches on a custom playmat,
When I have learnt what deals have been made through my Bribery,
When I know more of tactics rebuffed by Electrickery, :
In short, when I’ve a smattering of Elemental Mastery,
You’ll say a better Meta-General has won the week

For my metagame knowledge, though I’m Gruuly and adventury,
Has only been pushed by a Flight of Fancy;
But still in matters unspeakable, Animar, and collateral,
I am the very model of a Modern Meta-General.

Join me next week as I take a look at the Grixis Exchange that occurs yearly on the official Commander forums!