seanblacksheep

 

“Ugh, Arcum? OK Fine. Every body kill him first.” Ever heard something like that?

In early May, in the midst of a flurry of public debate about reputations and Magic players, I received a request for an article about Commanders that have bad reputations, how those generals earned the rap, whether it is deserved, how to fight against these commanders, and ideas to play differently using them to improve their reputation.

This is a massive but interesting project, so I’m breaking it up into pieces. For starters, I’ve put together a list of what I consider the generals with a bad reputation, organized below by color/color group. Roughly every other night until it’s done or I fall to pieces, we’ll update the list below with some of answers to the questions raised above, to turn this into an indexed resource for the Commander community.

First, I’d like you to go to the comments or Tweet at me @SwordstoPlow answering any of these three questions:

  1. Who is missing and why?
  2. Which Commanders to you agree or disagree with, and why?
  3. How would you use one or more in an innovative or fun way to counteract their bad reputation?

Now, without any more delays…

Commanders with Bad Reputations

Table of Contents

Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Child of Alara
Uril, the Miststalker
Rafiq of the Many
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Five Color

Scion of the Ur-Dragon

Scion isn’t really a problem. The problem is that he has become the poster child for Hermit Druid Commander decks. Hermit Druid decks run zero non-basic lands so they can flip the entire deck, and then use Narcomeba, Hermit Druid, and any card that resurrects itself for free or cheap to fuel a Dread Return based combo. The most common target for Dread Return is currently Necrotic Ooze. Since the whole library is in the graveyard he can have any number of game winning abilities such as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Mogg Fanatic to burn the table to the ground. This deck runs an abundance of cheap tutors such as Vampiric tutor, Demonic Tutor, Survival of the Fittest, and Worldly Tutor to get druid as quickly and consistently as possible. The final piece of the deck is a gigantic control plan to keep itself alive and protect the combo.

This is honestly an incredibly difficult build to deal with, because the combo requires such little commitment, making it easy to run enough control to deal with the answers that come up. The best thing for this is graveyard hate. Having Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace on board can make all the difference. Otherwise, countering the druid or using Ravenous Trap in response to the Dread Return is key. If all else fails, you can force the Scion player to draw a card in response to the Return, because they have effectively decked themselves.

Scion isn’t bad on his own. If you play it as a five-color ‘good-stuff’ deck or a dragon tribal, you will be fine. Just don’t play Hermit Druid without a decent number of basic lands and you can start to repair the Ur’s reputation.

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Child of Alara

Child gets a bad reputation for being the go-to leader of Wrath of God.dec. Having the board get completely wrecked every turn can make games last forever and a day. It’s just frustrating for a table to never have the ability to set up.

This is a deck that really needs it’s Commander, and needs the commander to go to the graveyard. Having Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace will force the player to resort to the regular wraths in the deck. The absolute best way to deal with this is to have someone steal Child and then cast Darksteel Mutation on the bad baby. The best Counterspells for this are Spelljack and Gather Specimens

I’m honestly at a loss for how you could possibly improve the reputation of this card. It does what it does, and that can be frustrating.

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Naya

Uril, the Miststalker

Big, hexproof commanders are very difficult to deal with. When they changed the legend rule, people were clamoring for the banning of this beast. With the ban of tuck he has become even more difficult to control. Every set seems to improve Uril, one of the most prolific boogeymen in Commander. All of the various Enchantresses and powerful auras quickly make him a two-to-three turn commander-damage clock who you will have a heck of a time killing. Thanks to Totem Armor, wraths are usually pretty ineffective as well.

Arcane Lighthouse and Archetype of Endurance will allow you to use some regular removal on him. If you combine one of those with a Control Magic you could put the Uril player in a position s/he is not prepared for. If you don’t have access to those, mass enchantment removal and hate is a good path to take. Fracturing Gust, Austere Command[card], [card]Back to Nature[card], [card]All is Dust, Bane of Progress, ect, ect.

Aside from not hitting people with Uril, he’s another commander who just is what he is. Avoiding the Armageddon and Jokulhops style of play is a good idea to improve his reputation. Otherwise, you can try playing him on a budget with more of the fun enchantments or not building so much around him as the center.

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Bant

Rafiq of the Many

Rafiq falls into the same category as Uril, Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Godo, Bandit Warlord, andThe Mimeoplasm – commanders that can realistically get to the point where they kill a player each turn. Rafiq’s bad reputation comes from abruptly ending games. Grafted Exoskeleton turns him, or any creature with a base power of three or more into a one shot killing machine. He’s also the poster boy for being equipped with Swords of X and Y (like Sword of Feast and Famine). He has double strike, and Finest Hour can give him quadruple strike, for all the value in the world.

Fogs and spot removal are the way to go if Rafiq is a problem in your area. He’s a straight-forward aggro kinda guy, so straight-forward control can usually take care of him.

Rafiq doesn’t have to be a bad man. Putting him at the helm of a soldier-themed deck, and Exalted deck, or just not playing Umazawe’s Jitte and Grafted Exoskelton could go a long way in removing his bad reputation.

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Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Derevi is a card who recently upped her (?) bad reputation. Without tuck, this value monster will never go away. At a converted mana cost of four for the entire game, she can make players feel hopeless. The biggest issue right now is that playing Derevi will look like you are trying to take unfair advantage of the rules change (assuming your group has decided to follow the rules change).

Essentially your best and only option to combat Derevi is to have a way to steal her. I suggest memorizing the Avarice Totem stack order if you don’t play blue or green (hi Willow Satyr).

If you are playing a casual Derevi deck, I suspect that the reputation will just improve over time. She currently make this list mostly out of bitterness over the rules change, and maybe her tendency to lead a staxy “unfun” deck.

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Esper

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Grixis

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Jund

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Mardu

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Temur

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Abzan

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Jeskai

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Sultai

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Azorious

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Selysnya

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Simic

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Izzet

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Gruul

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Golgari

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Rakdos

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White

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Blue

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Black

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Red

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Green

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Again, I need your help. So head to to the comments or Tweet at me @SwordstoPlow answering any of these three questions:

  1. Who is missing and why?
  2. Which Commanders to you agree or disagree with, and why?
  3. How would you use one or more in an innovative or fun way to counteract their bad reputation?

I’ll work any feedback into part two next week when I’ll start digging into questions about these generals.