Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: Desert Island

Desert Island Decklists #4 – Back To The Beach (The Commander 2017 Tribal Challenge)

We’re taking it way back today. Here’s the recommended homework first:

Desert Island Decklists – Shanghai-ed On The Magic Cruise…

Desert Island Decklists Revisited – Legends!

Desert Island Decklists Re-Revisited – Travis Woo, MTGFinance and a Barrel of Monkeys

Welcome back to the Island.  Grab a hammock and a Mai Tai.


When last you met your intrepid author, he was in the process of hiding from the MTGFinance community (over an Emmara Tandris buyout gone bad) and schooling a bunch of primates on the art of the Social Contract.  After trading a copy of Jace, the Mind Sculptor for a tiki hut full of Fallen Empires commons with the monkeys, I used guano from a nearby cave to glue them all together into a boat and set off into the ocean to find civilization.

…with predictable results. If anyone is interested in purchasing 50,000 waterlogged Thallids, give me a holler.

So we find ourselves washing up on a new deserted Pacific island. Since I’m about to run out of batteries on my iPhone, clearly the important thing to do is to check Twitter to see what’s going on.

Hey…a brand new WotC announcement that the Commander 2017 release this August is tribal-themed! Great!

As the screen goes blank and darkness closes in, I gather up a makeshift blanket of palm fronds and fall fast asleep, dreaming of my all-time favorite tribal cards

THE CREATURE– Radiant, Archangel

It’s no secret that I don’t particularly like tribal theme-decks. I’ve always felt that the ones I’ve come up with – and against – are either underpowered in the face of other dedicated strategy-first EDH decks, or else are goodstuff decks in sheep’s clothing. (Go ahead – explain to me again how Craterhoof Behemoth is in any way on theme in an elf deck?)

That said, the one theme deck that I have enjoyed the most and had the best luck with over the years is a mono-white Radiant, Archangel deck. It never broke down the walls of innovation, but it seemed to perform well and maintain a slightly-stronger power curve than most tribal offerings. It also ticked off the “old-school unobtanium” box – pulling down a foil Urza’s Legacy copy is still going to be a $30-$40 endeavor.

…Unfortunately, all those results were strictly realized only in Emperor games. The deck got absolutely hammered in regular FFA games, and was summarily disassembled three times over.

Still, as far as tribal generals go, Radiant is my first stop.  If I have to stop.

THE ENCHANTMENT – Shared Animosity

Oh, Hazezon Tamar. You used to be so awesome. You used to do so much work, confusing new players with your delayed sand warrior creation trigger and dropping a hilarious “Gotcha!” moment on people, exiling their entire team in response to removal with a well-timed Shields of Velis Vel.

Now, people just drop Purphoros, God of the Forge and ping the table to death instead. Yawn.

Anyway, here’s to the good old days, when playing Hazezon on turn seven meant attacking with him for lethal commander damage on turn eight.

THE ARTIFACT – Cryptic Gateway

Yeah, yeah. Coat of Arms is a thing. I get it. All you cheeky Sliver Queen players know the real deal is instant-speed uncounterable summoning.

Wait…that’s pretty low-hanging too.


Azami…Krenko, General Tazri

Oh good lord. Never mind. At least Coat of Arms requires you to actually attack. Forget I said anything here.

THE SORCERY – Wrath Of God

The original. Often imitated, never duplicated.

Why is it tribal? Well, it’s a great way to kill all the slivers, goblins and wizards the people playing Cryptic Gateway are crapping out onto the battlefield.

THE INSTANT – Tsabo’s Decree

Did I mention that I don’t particularly like tribal? This should make it pretty abundantly clear.

THE LAND – Springjack Pasture

The reason this land makes the list is all in the art. Most people are like, “Oh…a field of goats! Make a goat! It’s so friendly! Whee! Gain some life?”

Not many people stop to think about the story here.

And even fewer notice the bloody axe sticking out of the chopping block in the bottom right corner.  Now, that’s what I’m talking about.


Seriously…are there any that really care about tribal? I guess Elspeth and Ajani make tokens that are kinda tribal, but that’s so easy. Sarkhan can make dragons and then hit himself in the face with them…that’s pretty funny.

Who knows. Probably Chandra of some variety? Preferably, one of the ones that blows up (tribal) creatures.


Yeah…there’s a prevailing theme here. But I realize that I’m in the minority. How do you get down with tribal? What are your fave tribal cards of all time? Join Team Cass – what are your favorite anti-tribal cards of all time?

Hit up the comments below. Thanks very much for reading!


Happy Just Be with Your Family Day (and Give Thanks)

We have a lot to be thankful for at GDC.


To get in that spirit, here’s a list of some of the greatest hits from Pappa Cassidy, the cardfather of General Damage Control.

Thanks for bringing this motley umlaut of misfits together, Cass.

1. Post number 2 in the entire history of GDC is Cassidy plugging himself guest-posting in Sheldon Menery’s old Star City Games column, Embracing the Chaos. OMG This fills me with Lols. Go read some wisdom from “DJ Catchem.”

2. In which three bogies that have persisted for five years all rear their well-loved heads: Poor threat assessment, Cassidy being the victim of said, and “The Mr. P effect.” Serendipity

3. Oh Man these old bits are SO GOOD. Cass tells us which is his favorite card of each type, if he were marooned on a desert island. Weird premise, shockingly revealing selections.

4. The appearance of Mr. P, in the ink.

5. The Sharuum Community project holds a close place in my heart because participating as a reader is how I got to know and eventually join GDC. There are lots of parts. One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight

This is really just a dip of the toe in the water, and you can find more here (in reverse chono).

Sometimes, a walk down memory lane and a bit of gratitude is all we need.


@MdaveCS and the rest of team GDC

Desert Island Deck Construction, Part 3: What’s In A Deck?

I was looking back at the list of Magic expansions, and realized that I started playing EDH somewhere in between Planar Chaos and Shards of Alara.  (I know this based on my first two general choices of Intet, the Dreamer and  Sharuum the Hegemon.)  That means that I’ve been slinging 100-card decks for somewhere between five-and-a-half to seven years.  Time really files.

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Desert Island Deck Construction

The good news:

You saved your pennies and bought a ticket to the Magic Cruise!

The bad news:

You went infinite with Riku and Time Stretch in a casual game on the first night of the cruise.  Your co-players rioted in response, tied you up, and tossed you into a lifeboat.  By morning, you’ve drifted up onto the beach of an uncharted island off the coast of Vancouver. 

Congratulations, Gilligan!

Fortunately, you’ve thought to bring the essentials with you; sealed in a waterproof bag in your back pocket are a box of matches, a survival knife, and some deodorant.  (Come on…you’ve been to a regional Prerelease…you think that times ten on a cruise ship is going to be pleasant to the ol’ olfactory nerve?)

Also included is your Magic: The Gathering Care Kit…a selection of a general, as well as one card of each card-type to get you through the balmy days and chilly nights.

Here’s what would come with me:

General – Progenitus

My sweet personally-altered Conflux version:

 It keeps me open to playing all five colors in a pinch, is incredibly hard to deal with, and should be able to hang no matter who else washes up on shore. 

Artifact – Legacy Weapon

I’m in all five colors already, so I may as well aim for maximum value.  I can handle *anything* with everyone’s favorite Disembodied Planeswalker Head (We’re going with 10th in foil, to protect from the salty air…), and let’s face it…high replay value, since it can recur itself.

Creature – Colossus Of Sardia

This was the first creature I ever fell in love with.  We’re talking back in the days of Scrye Magazine and no such thing as the internet here; when I was introduced to the game, Antiquities had just been discontinued and Revised was just hitting the shelves.  Since we had a relatively insular gaming community in rural New England, the most info I could glean about new cards beyond what I saw in the local shop was from the checklists in Scrye, and the ads in the back for the mail-order dealers.  It was quite some time before I got my hands on one, but just from reading the name I knew this guy was going to be the biggest creature ever.  He made my Force Of Nature look tiny in comparison.  (Instill Energy was the nut-high as far as my combos went back then…)

Sorcery Time Walk

This card holds a place near and dear to my heart.  Once we started to branch out a bit and find new groups of players, we started to get an inkling of an idea that we might have missed a few things that came before Revised.  Again, with the trusty help of Scrye, we learned what the Power 9 was.  Time Walk blew my mind from moment I saw the card; the classic abstract Amy Weber art, the unbelievable effect, the dirt-cheap cost…I had to have one. 

Fun Fact: This was the first card I ever mail-ordered…and the second card I ever mail-ordered.  I bought one from a dealer in the back of Scrye (I had to call for availability, and then send a check for payment.  These were the dark ages, folks…), and had barely played it more than a handful of times when a chance opportunity popped up at a tournament we were running at the local community center.

Somehow, a trio of older players from some other town had caught wind of the tourney, and showed up to play.  I was paired with one of them a few rounds in, and played my Time Walk as part of my Storm Seeker/Fork/Underworld Dreams creatureless build. 

“I need that!” he said to me.  “Will you trade it?”
“Ehhh…”  I wasn’t crazy about the idea.
“We don’t have one of those in our cardpool…I can make it worth your while”
“Ehhhh….”  Frowns.
‘We have a Mox Emerald…”

In the end, I entertained the trade, in what turned into possibly the most painful ordeal this guy probably ever experienced.  I wish I was kidding when I say it took multiple hours to complete.  The Unlimited Emerald hit the table, followed by several Revised dual lands, an Ali From Cairo, Sword Of The Ages, and Mirror Universe.  (At the time, all of these cards were considered “money cards”, so this was already *way* lopsided…)

I dragged my heels. 

“Ehhhh….I dunno…”

The tournament ended.  There we sat, him agonizing over the offer, me trying and failing to convince myself to part with my beloved card.  Finally, one of his friends came over.

“We need to go.  Throw this in.”



And on Monday afternoon, I was on the phone to the dealer, asking if they had another Time Walk in stock…

Instant – Gather Specimens

This gets a slight nod over both Wild Ricochet and Cauldron Dance.  Specimens is just a huge, satisfying swing no matter if you’re stealing a general with it, or blowing everyone out responding to Warp World.  Strangely, this card has never recieved a reaction other than raucous laughter when it has been played in our local group.  That speaks volumes in my book.

Enchantment – Rhystic Study

There was an honest time when I was convinced Mind’s Eye was better even in blue decks.  I have no idea what I was thinking…

Planeswalker – Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of planeswalkers in general.  This one gets the nod simply because I had it in a proliferate deck designed to just cheat ultimate abilities off as much as possible, and I created an emblem in Magic Set Editor that used a picture of Jesse Ventura as Captain Freedom in The Running Man:

 (Can I bring the emblem too?  Otherwise, I may just take Jace so I can trade with the locals for a canoe…)

Land – Hmmm…

This is a tossup…either:

Faerie Conclave to catch a ride out of here, or

Rishadan Port…gotta be a boat along sometime soon.

If all else fails, I guess I can’t go wrong with Safe Haven.  🙂

What would you bring?


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