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November 24, 2015

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That Time of the Year

Well it’s November, Americans are getting over turkey-induced comas while us Canadians already have to deal with excessive Christmas advertising. But there’s only one thing this time of year that gets me excited, and that’s new Commander decks.

Skeptical Speculation

When Wizards of the Coast quietly confirmed that this year’s Commander decks would be the enemy coloured pairs, I know many people were quite skeptical. Enemy colours usually got the short end of the stick when it came to EDH because there are quite a few less Legendary Creatures and this lead to highly redundant or just plain bad deck building. While I still believe that four of the five colour combinations continued to only get new versions of their same strategies, I was VERY pleasantly surprised with Daxos the Returned

Daxos the Enchanting

What excites me about Daxos is that he’s a completely new way to build Orzhov as a colour combination. In my opinion the only creature that was truly viable as a Commander in these colours until now was Teysa, Orzhov Scion. I like playing enchantment based decks, but I don’t like the way Zur the Enchanter functions as a card, or how he draws a great deal of hate in a multiplayer game. I also dislike the way Hanna, Ship’s Navigator doesn’t have Black in her mana cost. So to me, Daxos is perfect.

A Solid Staring Point

As far as preconstructed Commander decks go, Daxos is ridiculously fun. Not broken by any means, but a lot of entertainment packed into the product, with very few filler cards. When I purchased the deck I didn’t have a very large budget to add further cards to it, so I mostly made do with things that I had lying around. Even so, the deck includes quite a few cards that I was dreading having to purchase extra copies of when I saw Daxos’ spoiler. These are probably the deck’s highest points.


1. Phyrexian Arena
Every black deck typically wants to play a Phyrexian Arena. Those who do not usually do so because they don’t have the money for it, or cannot find it. I play many black EDH decks, so this card’s somewhat surprising inclusion was more than welcome in my eyes.


2. Karmic Justice
Something that a deck like this absolutely wants, and is generally an absolute pain to find. Seeing this on the first day of spoiler’s taught me that Wizard’s was stepping their game up for these decks, and I was quite pleased.


3. Grasp of Fate
One of the new cards included in this deck. If this deck didn’t come with a Banishing Light I would have gone out to buy an FNM promo one (I probably still will but not as immediately), so coming with an extra, strictly better Banishing Light? Absolutely fantastic.


4. Doomwake Giant
Mostly too slow for Standard or Modern, and not having a proper home in EDH when it first came out, many people who had high hopes for this guy soon believed he’d be cursed as a mediocre dollar rare for all of eternity. But no more! Doomwake Giant is an absolute lock-down engine in this deck. Having zero reliance on your experience counters, and turning your 1/1 Spirit Tokens into devastation for your opponents.


5. Black Market
While many people (myself included) were puzzled that this card wasn’t featured in Meren of Clan Nel Toth‘s deck instead, I wasn’t disappointed by any means. I thought Black Market may be too slow at first, lacking any real engine in the deck to turn it on. But simply having it on the battlefield in a multiplayer game ensures that you have quite a bit of mana to sink into Daxos’s ability.

Notable/Confusing/Saddening Absentees

Despite how much I like this deck list, there are also a handful of cards that while not particularly expensive, may be rare enough or useful enough to have warranted a reprint in this deck.


1. Martyr’s Bond
I live in Ottawa and I try to buy locally as often as I can. When I don’t I usually purchase from other Canadian stores. I cannot remember the last time a store I buy from has had one of these cards. They are not worth much, not particularly sought after for competitive players, they are just very popular among kitchen tables. However, this card was ONLY printed in the first series of Commander decks, which had a much lower print run as they were a test product. I feel like Wizard’s had the best possible chance to reprint such a niche card, and pointlessly avoided it.


2. Thoughtrender Lamia
This one I can kind of see what the issue was. Commander is marketed as a casual, fun for everyone format. Many people may not like discarding their hands just because their opponent has one mildly annoying creature out. Even so, this was the first card I purchased to add to my sealed deck.


3. Idyllic Tutor
Similar story to Martyr’s Bond, not particularly expensive, not really a tournament staple. Just a hard to find card that many casual players want. We didn’t get a reprint in Theros or Modern Masters, so this was where everyone hoped it would be. But it seems that it was regrettably passed up once again.


4. Oblivion Ring
If the intention of the deck’s lack of instant-speed removal was to focus on the theme of the deck, that is completely fine. However, I feel like the deck draws short of removal far too often, and I don’t think anyone was going to cry about how overpowered Oblivion Ring is.


5. Greater Auramancy
I understand that Wizard’s is trying to slowly remove “Shroud” from our vocabularies, and that may have been the reason for not including this gem. But it falls under the same issues as Martyr’s Bond and Idyllic Tutor. It’s not expensive, it’s not a tournament staple, it would not really cause a repeat of the “Mind Seize” issue in which one Commander deck sold much better than others. I think many people would have applauded Wizard’s if they took the risk to reprint more niche yet chased after rares such as this one. The intention was obviously there with the inclusion of Eldrazi Monument, Dragon Mage and Bane of Progress in the other decks, I just believe that the execution could have been nicer.

Put On That Mask and Get to Work

I’m not going to post my list for Daxos in this article, mostly because I still have a lot of toying around to do before I settle on it. But I can assure you the ten cards I discussed are staying in those sleeves and never going anywhere. I hope everyone else is as happy with our little Returned friend as I am.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.