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March 15, 2016

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Musings of the Madman: Solving the 4-Colour Commander Dilemma

Welcome back all! Four-colour commanders have been a wishlist item for a long time, but the game’s developers have brushed them aside as being too clunky or even undesirable. Why make a four-colour Legendary Creature when you could simply make another wedge general or a five-colour one? Does the four-colour commander serve any purpose outside of pure novelty? (And in that vein, why is novelty a negative when it adds enjoyment to the players?)

Let’s break down some of the common arguments and refute them:

A five-colour commander is fine, if not better.

Except you might not want to play one of the colours. Maybe Red just doesn’t offer enough, or you don’t want the super-ramp that Green offers. Maybe you lack the manabase for one of the colours. For whatever reason, you don’t want to construct another Sliver Queen or Progenitus deck and just want to do something different.

Wedge commanders are better and more focused.

Agreed, to a point. Commanders always push you in a certain direction and the wedge (UGW, RWB for example) all have a central theme, often tied to creature combat, that essentially constructs your deck for you. Not a bad thing if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to formulating your own deck Rafiq of the Many is more than fine in its functionality. Get him out, add some infect critters and win. But we don’t want that, we want an additional option that gives us a little more flexibility.

What are our options ?

A double-faced card.

This would be the clunkier option. Imagine a take on Gaddock Teeg where he would flip if a condition were met. Since Teeg aims for a creature heavy environment, let’s make him flip if you control four other creatures. For seems reasonable as it avoids playing a few mana dorks early then just insta-flipping on turn three or four.

What would the reverse be? How about…

Gaddock, Teeged Off.

(Black/Red)

Legendary Creature – Kithkin Horror 3/1 Haste

Whenever a player plays a non-creature spell, Gaddock, Teeged Off deals three damage to that player. A player may discard a card to prevent this damage.

Probably too good? It keeps Teeg’s theme of punishing spell decks while turning him into an aggressive beater with some finishing power. They can “plow” him but at the cost of a card in hand or a bolt to the face. Certainly the power level can be discussed but the general idea is there: use double-faced cards to create a flavorful flip legendary.

Use a spell or permanent to create it.

We’ve already seen this with Dark Depths or the Kaldra pieces such as Sword of Kaldra et al., so bringing in a legendary would be doable. Would it immediately spring into play as a four-colour permanent or would you need to work for it? It could be something as clunky as bringing in Genju of the Realm for free if you control one of each Genju, or a little easier to accomplish like assembling Maze’s End (and thanks to Robert McEachern for posting a sweet five-color list in a previous article) but at this point it feels like you’re just forcing it. Maybe you could do this with a “pseudo-Allies” approach where certain creatures could sacrifice themselves to become a greater whole. Sacrifice is a black and green ability (mostly) so there are two colours, and white is all about the team so there’s a third. Find some flavour to add either red or blue to complete your legend!

Just make a four-colour legend, already.

At some point the stubbornness within R&D’s confines has to end. Maybe the card doesn’t fit within the confines of their current storyline (it wouldn’t make sense in Innistrad or Zendikar, for example) but there are other outlets for product. There could be one in the yearly Commander products, and if they used the “two-brid mana” you might be able to finangle away one of the colours to make a few different decks. Using the new colorless mana symbol might be useful too. Either way, at this point it seems like something that’s long overdue. This isn’t something mechanically bound like the “Contraptions” of Future Sight fame. You can creatively work your way into it by the legendary permanent either having a dislike for a colour or just using mechanical means to wedge it into a product. Either way, let’s make it happen. People have been using the nephilim as replacements for too long for this to continue.

Until next week, may you play Magic with four on the floor.