I want to talk about how to draw cards right in Commander.

My favorite commander decks, whether I played with or against them, are the ones that feel unique, thematic, and can still hold their own in a four-person brawl. The history of Magic is full of cards that are powerful on their own like Necropotence , Sensei’s Divining Top[/card, and [card]Consecrated Sphinx. It’s understandable that you see these cards regularly while playing Commander. However, these cards aren’t unique and usually don’t fit a theme. It is less likely that decks filled with these sorts of Commander Staples are also the memorable and fun decks.

In this series, I will be going over sources of card advantage that stick to a particular theme. We will be releasing one every other Wednesday until the series runs out. Each episode will cover one theme and suggest a seven-card package that you can fit into your deck to ensure a minimum level of card advantage. The themes I’ll cover are:

  1. Discard
  2. Enchantress
  3. Beasts/Big Creatures
  4. Instants/Sorceries – Sunforger
  5. Life-gain

EPISODE ONE: Discard

Are you one of those players who is always trying to get Megrim working? Do you enjoy swinging in with Hypnotic Specter? If so, today is your lucky day. Getting your opponents to discard has been a valid strategy on and off in competitive formats for a while. However, it hasn’t gotten a lot of love in Commander. One of the reasons is that expending your own card to make someone else discard does cost you that card, and can put you behind the rest of the table. To make a discard strategy viable, we need to have a way to get more advantage out of making opponents dump cards from their hand into their graveyard.

The Cards

  1. Geth’s Grimoire
  2. Waste Not
  3. Words of Waste
  4. Dream Salvage
  5. Wheel of Fortune
  6. Whispering Madness
  7. Memory Jar

The big player in this package is Geth’s Grimoire. This card is both phenomenal and phenomenally underplayed. It’s the Consecrated Sphinx of discard. When someone cast Wheel of Fortune with this out you draw seven + the total number of cards in all players’ hands. Anytime an opponent uses Survival of the Fittest or cycles a card, you draw.

The Grimoire, and to a lesser extent Waste Not, reached a new level when you add in Words of Waste. You go to draw a card and instead each opponent discards a card. They discarded so you get a draw trigger for each opponent (who had at least one card in hand). This continues until you are left with a full grip and they are left with tears. Example:

  • You have 0 cards in hand. Player 1 has 7 cards. Player 2 has 3 cards. Player 3 has 5 cards. You go to draw. Instead of drawing you pay 1 mana and everyone discards.
  • You have 0 cards in hand and 3 draw triggers. Player 1 has 6 cards. Player 2 has 2 cards. Player 3 has 4 cards. Instead of drawing you pay 3 mana and everyone discards 3 times.
  • You have 0 cards in hand, and 8 card draw triggers. Player 1 has 3 cards, player 2 has 0, and player 3 has 1. You pay for 3 discards and draw 5 cards. Everyone else discards up to 3 cards.
  • You end up with 9 cards in hand. Your opponents have 0 cards in hand. You spent 7 mana to get there.

Dream Salvage is a perfect pair with another card on the list, Memory Jar. You don’t usually want Dream Salvage unless you draw it off of a Wheel of Fortune effect or just smacked your opponent with Nicol Bolas. With Memory Jar, you can crack the Jar with it in hand and then use it during the end step. A one mana and instant speed, it draws you an amazing 7 cards.

Wheel of Fortune, Whispering Madness, and Memory Jar are all very powerful on their own. They come with the package because of their amazing synergies with the other cards. If you are playing Grixis, you can replace any of these with Dark Deal, Syphon Mind or Windfall. With Waste Not and Dream Salvage being so amazing, I would suggest you make your discard deck Grixis if you can. Dimir is a second option. Only play mono-black as a last resort.

Conclusion

Here is an example of a deck that would do well with this draw package.

[Deck]
[Commander]
Nicol Bolas
[/Commander]
[Mana Ramp]
Sol Ring
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Liliana’s Shade
Sword of Feast and Famine
Chromatic Lantern
Gilded Lotus
Solemn Simulacrum
[/Mana Ramp]

[Theme Stuff]
Blizzard Specter
Doomsday Specter
Abyssal Nocturnus
Guul Draz Specter
Liliana’s Specter
Sangromancer
Scythe Specter
Ghastlord of Fugue
Duskmantle Guildmage
Bloodchief Ascension
Quest for the Nihil Stone
Liliana’s Reaver
Liliana’s Caress
Megrim
[/Theme Stuff]

[Card Advantage]
Geth’s Grimoire
Waste Not
Words of Waste
Dream Salvage
Wheel of Fortune
Whispering Madness
Memory Jar
[/Card Advantage]

[Creature Control]
Big Game Hunter
Dominus of Fealty
Incendiary Command
Cruel Ultimatum
Dinrova Horror
Liliana of the Dark Realms
Slave of Bolas
[/Creature Control]

[Non-Creature Control]
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Capricious Efreet
Silumgar’s Command
Steel Hellkite
Unstable Obelisk
Cyclonic Rift
Vandalblast
[/Non-Creature Control]

[Pillow Fort]
Painful Quandary
Propaganda
Collective Restraint
Ensnaring Bridge
Stormtide Leviathan
[/Pillow Fort]

[Wrath of God Effects]
Coercive Portal
Crux of Fate
Extinguish All Hope
Life’s Finale
Hythonia the Cruel
In Garruk’s Wake
Necromantic Selection
[/Wrath of God Effects]

[Graveyard]
Liliana, Heretical Healer
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
Necrotic Ooze
Sepulchral Primordial
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Soul of Innistrad
Diluvian Primordial
[/Graveyard]

[Land]
Cavern of Souls
Creeping Tar Pit
Lavaclaw Reaches
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
Rogue’s Passage
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Grixis Panorama
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Mana Confluence
Crumbling Necropolis
Shivan Reef
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Malice
Bloodfell Caves
Dismal Backwater
Swiftwater Cliffs
9 Swamp
6 Island
3 Mountain
[/Land]

[/Deck]

It still has some generic just-base-good cards like Solemn Simulacrum or Sol Ring, but as a whole the deck aims to feel like something you don’t see every day. If this doesn’t fit into your current decks, no need to worry. We will be covering a broad range of card advantage engines until we find one that is good for everyone.

Sean Patchen

@swordstoplow

swordstoplow@gmail.com