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March 12, 2019

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Splashing a colour in a Commander deck

Have you ever wished we were allowed to splash a colour in a Commander deck? I certainly have. Well, with a little creativity on how we pick our Commander, we can accomplish just that!

The brilliance of this game is the colour pie and how each colour’s identity is so clearly defined in what it does. Each has its own strength and weaknesses, and I really want to shore up a colour pair’s weakness with a colour that can specialize.

Here’s how we’re going to do this: We’re going to start with a two-colour deck. Then we’re going to think about “splashing” for another colour. The mana base is actually pretty simple. There are plenty of dual lands that can branch into the third colour that can substitute for a basic land. Plus, since we legally must change our Commander’s identity, our Command Tower, Commander’s Sphere and any other mana rock that can produce “mana of any colour” will do just nicely.

So let’s get into it! The inspiration for this article came from yet another complaint about Boros being a weak colour pair. It’s a pro when it comes to the combat step, and I find that so fun. But it really does lack resilience due to it’s absence of ramp and draw. Hence – the splash!

Imagine a Boros deck. Let’s say, Aurelia, the Warleader. Pretty standard stuff, great attackers, extra combat steps. Now what if we splash for Blue? We get to add in a couple counterspells to protect our board from an ever-so-crippling wrath. We also get to sneak in a few draw spells to keep the threats coming. The only missing piece is what to do with our Command Zone. I feel like Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder and Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist make a nice pair of Commanders that enhance the combat step. Plus, Aurelia’s better when people aren’t constantly aware of her anyway.

Let’s look at another one. How about the Dimir mill deck? It’s a strategy that I feel all too tempted to try out, but it rarely feels good enough. I often feel like I’m too reliant on a couple of pieces to make it work, and if I don’t get them all, or can’t protect them, I’m spinning my wheels. What I’d really love to do is splash White for some more efficient Orzhov removal to handle that which threatens my plans! I’m going to miss Phenax as the lead, but I would argue that going with Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign would be a non-threatening Commander which may throw my opponents off my scent until it’s hopefully too late!

Simic has no trouble on it’s own generating +1/+1 counters, and it’s two halves are the colour that’s best at ramping out lands, and the colour that’s unparalleled when it comes to drawing cards. Those are considered the two strongest things you can be doing in a multiplayer Commander game, so they don’t theoretically need a splash. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to getting a little Red splash in there for a Banefire to get a little more reach, though. I’ve got enough mana. I certainly wouldn’t oppose swapping out my Commander for Riku of Two Reflections to get a second Forgotten Ancient, or doubling up on my multitudes of ramp and draw spells.

So why not just brew a three-colour deck in an even split? It’s about options. As I mentioned earlier, a two-colour deck will do its job in a very focused and efficient way. I’m just looking at how to add a few cards to enhance things, rather than devote a full third of my card slots to my “extra” colour. Often, I’m just upgrading a couple cards within my deck.

Let’s look at a Gruul deck that’s based around casting giant Red or Green creatures and smashing face. It’s got the ramp from green, and some extra reach and removal from Red, but wouldn’t it be more fun to just upgrade a few cards by adding Black? We can upgrade our removal to an Assassin’s Trophy or Putrefy. And on the combat front, I’d love to back up a big swing with that Destined // Lead split card. Who’s our new Jund Commander? We could go for a Thantis, the Warweaver since we expect to outclass our opponents’ combat steps.

I feel so empowered getting to add a couple of cards to already-strong strategies. I could keep going through all of the guilds, but I’ll leave a few for you to dream up.

Which guild-based deck do you enjoy running that you could think to splash a bit within? Let me know in the comments below. And who’s the new Commander? I bet you could think of a couple who do a fine job at the helm! Thanks for reading!