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In celebration of Kross‘ birthday on Monday, we here at The Escapist office gathered up six players for a game of Commander and sat down to hours of beer, cake, and, of course, Commander. If you’re not familiar with the EDH format, I posted a brief primer in January here. In preparation for the event, I assembled a new deck over the weekend featuring Mayael the Anima and plenty of creatures with power 5 or greater. By ‘plenty’ of course, I mean ‘not quite enough to make her ability work consistently’ and I was knocked out second in the first game and first in the second game. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s have a quick look at who played what and how they fared at the table. We played two games, but the first game was quickly ended after some Worldslayer shenanigans, so we’ll just be looking at the second game.

I was playing first with my new and exciting, though dreadfully underperforming Mayael the Anima deck. Slycne was to my left, running Rafiq of the Many. To his left was Kross playing with Omnath, Locus of Mana and the requisite mono-Green ramp deck with Elf sub-themes. Then came Trujkin and the ever-growing Kresh the Bloodbraided Jund flavored deck chock full of removal and Devour creatures like Predator Dragon to help Kresh get angry. Mayan played the pre-made Ghave, Guru of Spores deck called Counterpunch, wielding an intricate balance of +1/+1 counters and token creatures. Finally, s0osleepie sat to my right with her own Sliver brew, featuring Sliver Overlord and a Myr subtheme.

We all showed ramp out of the gates, with Rampant Growth-esque creatures and plenty of Signets coming down early. Kross quickly out-ramped everybody, of course, and Omnath was the first commander to hit the field. I held him at bay with a Forced Worship long enough for Trujkin to take him out with Eyeblight’s Ending with some 8 mana stored on him, woefully missing the days of Mana Burn. Mayael came out next, followed by Rafiq. Omnath took a break, but Kross happily replaced him with Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, earning the ire of the table at large. Ghave took this opportunity to join the party as well, and some Sliver-y shenanigans from S0osleepie managed to remove Vorinclex before he had a chance to mana-screw everybody, thanks to Psionic Sliver. I tragically drew my Godsire, which I didn’t ever actually cast, and subsequently whiffed with Mayael’s ability, churning five cards and getting nothing. Guardian of the Guildpact came down on Slycne’s board, threatening Kross and his mono-colored deck a lot of damage over the next few turns. Omnath returned to the scene followed immediately by Kresh, and with that, excepting S0osleepie’s Sliver Overlord, every commander was on the board.

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Slivers saw a Birthing Pod, making them even more dangerous than before, sacrificing Acidic Sliver to bring out the dreaded Necrotic Sliver. With Psionic Sliver in play, this now means that any time a Sliver is going to die, it can be tapped for 2 damage, and then sacrificed to destroy any permanent. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the table, but given their lack of aggression thus far, the Sliver army remains largely unmolested. At this point only Slycne and Kross were taking the offensive with Slycne’s Guardian of the Guildpact swinging at anybody without adequate multi-colored protection, and Kross’ Imperious Perfect having churned out a small army of Elf tokens, plus the heavy-duty creatures he had on the table. I connected with Mayael’s ability at last, bringing a Vengeful Archon onto the field as my sole defender. With only two mana untapped, though, its ability was less than impressive.

Thanks to Rafiq’s Doublestrike and a pair of other Exalted creatures, Slycne’s Guardian of the Guildpact was now swinging for 10 damage per turn, bringing Kross down to the low 20s while Slycne sat comfortably in the mid-30s. Kross spread his attack around, showing more tolerance for being assaulted than anybody had expected, dealing just a few damage each to Trujkin and Slycne. At this point Trujkin was pretty clearly mana-starved, having only four lands and a Signet in play, just enough to cover the cost of Kresh’s first casting, but being unable to recast, should it come to that. With my Pacifism enchanting Kresh, however, this didn’t end up being a problem. He topdecked Rakka Mar giving himself a steady supply of chump blockers, if nothing else. Mayan got back into the action with Hornet Queen with Deathtouch tokens dissuading attacks against her. S0osleepie kept her Slivers on the defensive, each getting a +2/+4 passive buff providing a nearly impenetrable wall of blockers with a plethora of nasty abilities.

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On my final turn, I missed again with Mayael’s ability, shifting three ramp spells and a couple of lands to the bottom of my deck. I strongly considered swinging at Kross with Vengeful Archon, but even with the 10 potential damage from Slycne on the next turn, this wasn’t quite enough to take him out, so I opted to stay on defense for the time being. Giving Kross some respite, Slycne decided to swing at me with the Guardian for 10. Given my only defender was mono-colored, I chose to prevent 2 of that damage with Vengeful Archon’s ability, leaving me at 23 life. In celebration of Kross’ birthday, I chose to deal the 2 damage to him instead of my aggressor. This was my last mistake of the game. Kross was up next, and did not take his birthday damage gracefully. He swung big with several buffed Elf tokens and a variety of others for more than 40 damage overall. S0osleepie stepped in, taking out the Imperious Perfect and an Elf token, but even with the assist, I was taking lethal damage. With my departure went the Pacifism that was keeping Trujkin’s Kresh in check, but with nothing in hand to give him Trample, the 28/28 monster was held at bay by chump blockers. Mayan took a swing at Kross with her fliers, bringing him to the teens and passed the turn over to S0osleepie. At last, Slivers saw their opportunity to strike. Dropping Two-Headed Sliver from her hand, S0osleepie took out one of Kross’ two remaining blockers with a Psionic Sliver ping leaving him completely defenseless to the Sliver onslaught. Using Birthing Pod again, she fetched up a Brood Sliver and swung at Kross for lethal damage between four creatures, netting four more Slivers for the cause. Given the current board state, it seemed pretty clear that Slivers were in charge here, but nobody was ready to give up.

Lacking a flying defense, and having drawn some aggro for being an early aggressor, Slycne was next to get knocked out. Between Hornet Queen from Mayan, and the now-flying Sliver horde, thanks to Winged Sliver from S0osleepie, Slycne didn’t have any way to weather the storm. At this point Kresh was well into the 30s, more than enough for lethal Commander damage, but Trujkin had still not drawn into any Trample effects, and he was soon undone by the ladies at the table. With enough Slivers in play now to represent lethal damage from Psionic Sliver’s granted ability, Mayan and S0osleepie took the high road and called it a collaborative win. It was a hard-fought battle around the table, and the winners deserved every bit of glory for the victory!

This was a particularly exciting game for me because four of the six decks being played were of my own design. S0osleepie created her Sliver concoction, and Mayan was playing the pre-made Counterpunch deck, but all of the gentlemen at the table were wielding weapons of my forging, and it was thrilling to see them all play out as well as they did. I’ve decided to make a few tweaks here and there in some of the decks, but overall I was really pleased with how they played and I can’t wait for another opportunity to see them all in action again. Specifically, I need to up the big creature count in Mayael’s brew, since I missed on all but one of her activations. Kresh needs more Trample, specifically I need more ways to search for Kessig Wolf Run. Finally, Rafiq needs some extra flying and general defense for larger games, since Exalted creatures are generally weak when it comes to blocking, and Rafiq thrives in smaller, faster games.

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Q&A

Q: My opponent controls Coffin Queen and Bone Dancer. I control two Spirit tokens from Midnight Haunting. My opponent activates Coffin Queen, targeting Fleshbag Marauder in his Graveyard. In response, I Vapor Snag Coffin Queen. What happens in this case, and what is the correct play to clear my opponent’s board?

A: Because of the wording of Coffin Queen, this case works much like the Fiend Hunter trick. By triggering her Exile ability before the creature was put onto the Battlefield, you have actually made the Fleshbag Marauder stay in play indefinitely. This is most likely not what you’re trying to do. In order to clear the opponent’s board, the correct play is to allow Coffin Queen’s ability to resolve, bringing Fleshbag Marauder into play. When Marauder’s Enters the Battlefield ability triggers and is put onto the Stack, it is time to Vapor Snag Coffin Queen. Now her ability triggers and resolves, exiling the Marauder. Finally, the Marauder’s ability resolves, forcing the opponent to sacrifice Bone Dancer, and forcing you to sacrifice a Spirit token. This leaves them with no creatures in play, and you with a single Spirit token.

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