The Mana Dork
Why I Love Commander

Let me tell you about the time I dropped Hive Mind on turn 5.

We’re playing Commander—and it’s a big game this time, six players, with a good mix of aggressive decks and control-based decks at the table. Prossh, Gisa, Daghatar, Alesha, and a particularly innovative brew of Kangee, Aerie Keeper are all present.

And then there’s me, playing Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer, with my political deck that exists solely to hand out favours and be everybody’s friend. I call it “fun-stuff tribal”, and if the deck had a motto, it would be “Let me make you an offer…”

(I mean, that’s what I tell people, anyway. The deck’s actual motto is “Let’s you and him fight,” but nobody needs to know that.)

I get a really good start, with a Sol Ring and a Howling Mine out on turn 1. So everybody’s drawing lots, everybody’s getting cards they like, combos are happening, it’s a good time all around.

And then I cast Hive Mind.

In a normal two-player game of Magic, this card is… not great. You get a copy of what your opponent is casting, sure, but they also get copies of what you’re casting, which is… yeah. Probably undesirable.

But in Commander, this thing is a beast!

The next turn, I cast Telemin Performance. It’s a spell that lets me steal the creature closest to the top of somebody else’s deck, and then everything that was above the creature goes into their graveyard. Which is all well and good… but I’ve got Hive Mind out. So everybody gets a creature from somebody else’s deck!

Shortly afterward, the Ghoulcaller Gisa player sees that Hive Mind is in play and decides to cast two tutoring spells as a favour to the table. That’s right—he’s helping everybody, all on his own. It balances out, too, since everybody’s getting their own removal spells and combo pieces together.

And then, the guy playing an Alesha, Who Smiles At Death reanimator deck casts Patriarch’s Bidding, and things go crazy.

Check that text carefully—each player already gets to pick a creature type in their graveyard and recur it to their battlefield. So, that’s six creature types on a single casting of the spell… but I’ve got Hive Mind out. Everybody gets their own version of Patriarch’s Bidding. Six creature types multiplied by six different players equals every creature across 36 different types of creatures hitting the battlefield at once!

(Needless to say, I was glad no-one was playing slivers…)

There was more craziness, too—in particular, the tense negotiations that followed castings of Swords to Plowshares and Infernal Offering. I won’t recount those; suffice it to say, as a political deck, I was loving the opportunity to “inspire” fights that didn’t involve me… !

And that’s why I love Commander—you get the best memories out of it. That’s not to knock on Standard, or Limited, or Modern, which are all wonderful formats on their own. But if somebody asks me to tell them a Magic story, it’s probably going to be a Commander story. And I love having so many to tell!

A Muse N Games runs two flights of Commander every Friday night, one at 7:30 PM and one more at 9:30 PM. Entry is just $6 per flight. Come on down!

by Jesse Mackenzie, 5.19.15
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Tune in every second Tuesday for The Mana Dork, his column on getting back into Magic.