Defending the Commander Social Contract

Tag: Video

Philosophical Commander 7 – Magnum Opus

I thoroughly enjoyed using my recent mini-series, “The Philosophical Commander,” to bring you on my journey  – from a bad introduction to the format that we love, to the shenanigan-raining fruit loop regular readers have all come to know. If you’ve read any of it (and I hope you have), I hope you also enjoyed getting into my headspace. Consider this my Magnum Opus – my attempt to bring it all together, summarize, answer questions, and package it up in a nice, Kaka-twisted bow.


In case you missed any of the parts of my mini-series, here’s every part together with a summary:

Philosophical Commander Part 1: If I were a superhero, this would be my origin story – a tale of a supervillain seeing the error of his ways and becoming a champion of truth, justice and the American General Damage Control way. A journey has to start somewhere, and the beginning is as good a place as any.

Philosophical Commander Part 2: An introduction to the philosophical concepts I applied when designing my weapon of choice. My hopes and goals here are to entice you, the wider community, to think about what you want your play experience to be for yourself and with your group. There is little point to building a deck that you won’t enjoy playing, but there’s about as much point in building a deck that will never let you actually play. My goal was to get you to think about both the dynamics of your group and the dynamics of what you want your deck to be able to do. For myself, I provided an example of my goals for how I wanted Riku to play.

Philosophical Commander Part 3: I expand on some of the conceptual choices I outlined in Part 2. Even though a lot of the cards I ended up selecting are “very good cards,” I believe that the true value of a card rests in the job that you choose to assign to it. As such, I talk about how some of the cards I chose fit into how I wanted the deck to run.

Philosophical Commander Part 4: In this installment, I finally offer the decklist. Even if you are not into lists, this is definitely worth a read, as much for the Japanese Aesthetic philosophy as for my in-depth analysis of card choices. While I don’t expect everyone to have Timetwisters lying about, I hope that my explanation of the mechanisms involved could help you find alternatives if you wanted try my list.

Philosophical Commander Part 5: In this the penultimate part of my series, I share the second half of my in-depth analysis of card choices, breaking down the mini-goals of the deck and linking them to the card choices.

Philosophical Commander Part 6: My favourite part of the series, here I talk about the concept of Enso. Both a culmination of a brief exploration of Japanese aesthetic philosophy and a brief breakdown of mulligans and early game strategy, this piece ties it together.


The big question I received about the deck was about the choice to run Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in this list – specifically what the man mountain is there for. I need to extend apologies for neglecting to discuss this earlier. As I have stated, every card must fill many roles. So I was looking for a card to do the following:

  1. Defend myself from mill strategies;
  2. Protect myself from my own excessive draw power by providing the ability to recycle my deck;
  3. Provide targeted, permanent removal;
  4. Throw a difficult to remove threat into the fray.

Old Ulamog offers the unique combination of all of these elements in one card. Initially, I was looking for a tool protect against mill strategies. While Gaea’s Blessing does offer a degree of defense against mill strategies, it only functions when sent to the graveyard from your deck. The Eldrazi titans trigger the reshuffle when sent to your graveyard from anywhere. This means that I am not in a pinch if I draw the card into my hand.

This did leave me with a choice between Ulamog and Kozilek, since both have the reshuffle trigger and carry the immense threat of their size and annihilator ability. The question was down to Kozilek’s ability to reload on cards versus the greater difficulty of killing Ulamog combined with its destroy clause. I elected to run the wrath-resistant removal option, as the deck already possesses sufficient depth of raw draw power.

The follow-up question, “Had I considered any of the New-Drazi to replace Ulamog?” I did review each of the new versions of the three titans, but they all lack the key element, the ability to shuffle the graveyard into the library. Should there be a future iteration of Eldrazi titans, (which looks doubtful) I’ll review them for a potential upgrade or change of pace.

Special Extra Content (Cos I love you all)

I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks trying to put this together. I’ve been toying with creating some video content to show what is going on. It’s a little bit rough at the edges, and this is my first time doing video work of this nature on my own, so I’d appreciate any feedback you have for me (good or bad – please keep it constructive). If you like the video, I’ll look into investing in and setting up a better rig.

First, there’s a 30-minute video of me running mulligans on the deck and discussing a few opening plays each hand offers.

Then I uploaded a longer video of me goldfishing the deck through its paces, running through general predictions of common board states and how I normally progress the game through to a critical-mass end state. I’d prefer to actually have footage of a game or two here. However, the advantage is that I can actually talk through my thinking and the plays. If you’d prefer to see game videos in the future but want commentary, again let me know as I will definitely need a rig for that.



As always you can message me on twitter or in the comments.

Love and Velociraptors

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