Happy Monday, everyone. I hope you all had a great Commander 2013 weekend, and were able to get out and pick up the decks you wanted to and get in some solid games this past weekend. Many of you saw my Friday Twitter escapades, so I was pretty happy to get where I wanted to be with these things. I haven’t gotten a chance to play any of them yet, but I’m hard at work breaking down my copy of the Esper “Eternal Bargain” deck; stay tuned for my thoughts on the stock build, where it hits and misses, and what can be done to improve – or completely overhaul – the deck to make it a contender.

Speaking of “Eternal Bargain”, we’ve read your submissions to our “Commander 2013 Pre-Con Giveaway”, we’ve argued our points, and we’ve analyzed each and every submission sent in by the deadline (Noon EST on Saturday, Nov. 2nd). We got a great spread of submissions, covering quite a few of the different generals from the new set, and more strategies than we expected to see. You all went to some pretty cool places, as you’re about to get a glimpse of.

So…the prizes!


Here’s the deal, folks. It turns out we’ve got a pretty giving group of individuals here at GDC:

First Place – A sealed copy of the “Eternal Bargain” Commander 2013 Pre-Con

This was what I had in mind. Sean, however, didn’t want to leave it there, so…

Second & Third Place – Some customized “instant upgrade” packages – recursion and mana ramp goodies.

The judging ended up being really close, and we wanted to spread the love. Sean is whipping up something special for the third place winner, and something slightly more special for the second place winner.

Mr. P couldn’t leave well enough alone, though:

“What about everyone else?”


Everyone Else – A nice pack-fresh Command Tower for your troubles!

Again, a little token of our appreciation for coming out and taking part in our give-away. Thanks again.

So…the Winners!


THIRD PLACE – Shawn McBride – Shattergang Brothers

[Deck title=Wither Without You]

1 Balthor the Defiled
1 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Borderland Ranger
1 Carnifex Demon
1 Charnelhoard Wurm
1 Corrosive Mentor
1 Creakwood Liege
1 Deity of Scars
1 Dusk Urchins
1 Grief Tyrant
1 Harvester of Souls
1 Hateflayer
1 Hex Parasite
1 Kulrath Knight
1 Madrush Cyclops
1 Massacre Wurm
1 Midnight Banshee
1 Necroskitter
1 Noxious Hatchling
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Pharika’s Mender
1 Protean Hydra
1 Quillspike
1 Reiver Demon
1 Rendclaw Trow
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper
1 Shattergang Brothers
1 Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
1 Skinrender
1 Vein Drinker
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Witherscale Wurm
1 Yavimaya Elder[/Creatures]

1 Chaos Warp
1 Hunter’s Insight
1 Incite War
1 Jund Charm
1 Momentous Fall
1 Psychotic Fury
1 Asceticism
1 Crumbling Ashes
1 Everlasting Torment
1 Flourishing Defenses
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Rage Reflection
1 Sylvan Library
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Damnation
1 Soul’s Majesty
1 Syphon Mind
1 Tower Above
1 Violent Ultimatum
1 Blight Sickle
1 Darksteel Plate
1 Phyrexian Splicer
1 Power Conduit
1 Sparring Collar
1 Swiftfoot Boots[/Spells]

1 Blood Crypt
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Command Tower
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Evolving Wilds
6 Forest
1 Golgari Guildgate
1 Grim Backwoods
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Kessig Wolf Run
3 Mountain
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Savage Lands
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Stomping Ground
8 Swamp
1 Temple of Abandon
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg
1 Woodland Cemetery[/Lands][/Deck]

This was my favorite deck of the bunch. Shawn did a good job of really attacking a mechanic that doesn’t see a lot of exposure in wither and -1/-1 counters, and he pulls together a really cohesive deck in the process.

From my notes:

“I kept coming back to this list over and over. I’m always going to love a dedication to a mechanic that is designed to take down giant creatures and hordes of tokens, and it’s not an angle that we see in this neck of the woods. I think Shawn sells this well, and gets off the beaten path with some really well thought out choices that you rarely see, but that are there because they work with the deck. Shawn’s deck attacks the constraint without apology or miscue, but still comes from a fresh and interesting place. Of all the decks, this one did the best job in my opinion of convincing me that it would stand up to any given game through virtue of good design, not necessarily just a pile of good cards.”


SECOND PLACE – Eric Decker Blegen – Shattergang Brothers

Eric narrowly missed first place with this submission, which adheres to a strict “pauper” building limitation of commons and uncommons. His submission describes both a serious passion for the deck, the general (including a render of a full-border replacement art Shattergang Brothers, complete with flavor text addition!), and the design, which is pretty awesome all around; Despite owning forty different decks of all power levels, Eric built this one to hang with a mostly-budget playgroup. That’s a pretty cool philosophy, and a great adherence to a restriction.

[Deck title=Shattergang Pauper]

1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Carven Caryatid
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Diligent Farmhand .
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fierce Empath
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Masked Admirers
1 Multani’s Acolyte
1 Pelakka Wurm
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Viridian Emissary
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wirewood Herald
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Dryad
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Yavimaya Granger[/Creatures]

1 Aspect of Mongoose
1 Beseech the Queen
1 Chromatic Star
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Despondency
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Elsewhere Flask
1 Explore Sorcery
1 Fallen Ideal
1 Farseek Sorcery
1 Fiery Mantle
1 Fortitude
1 Golgari Germination
1 Horizon Spellbomb
1 Ichor Wellspring
1 Illuminated Folio
1 Into the North
1 Khalni Heart Expedition
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Mycosynth Wellspring
1 Myr Retriever
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Panic Spellbomb
1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Phyrexian Reclamation
1 Rampant Growth
1 Rancor
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Skullclamp
1 Sleeper’s Guile
1 Sluggishness
1 Spreading Algae
1 Squirrel Nest
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Terrarion
1 Three Visits
1 Undying Rage
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble[/Spells]

1 Bojuka Bog
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Encroaching Wastes
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Khalni Garden
1 Strip Mine
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Wasteland
20 Snow-Covered Forest
3 Snow-Covered Mountain
6 Snow-Covered Swamp[/Lands][/Deck]

From Dave:

“First off, this competition ended up tougher and more exciting than I expected. So that’s rad.

The “only commons and uncommons” angle didn’t appeal to me when reading his intro because it sounded gimmicky. Then I looked at the list and thought about how it would play out, and really liked it. Sac-ing eggs to control artifacts and draw cards, sac-ing little dorks to ramp and pay for what is an expensive activated ability, and attacking enchantments with that weird cycle of marginal-to-unplayable, self-recurring auras – it’s sweet. And he gets to run a few c/u tutors so he doesn’t fold to tuck while staying on-restriction. I can’t tell how this deck will win, but who cares. It will be fun to play, and has enough readers to be fun to play against.”


FIRST PLACE – Trevon Tapp – Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Trevon nailed a flavorful and tribal-thematic entry that captured the attention of more than one judge as a pack-leader.

Flat out – Imps tribal!

Trevon went deeper, really diving into an archetype with the potential to be a very synergistic build that wants to push one main goal – getting everyone into the red zone.

From Trevon:

“…People just don’t attack enough around here, they are afraid to draw first blood and thereby draw the ire of other players. I wanted to change that so I set out to build an everybody attacks all the time deck. In my research I found out that’s not really a red white ability. It’s actually now a red blue ability and it used to be a black ability. GO IMPS!”

[Deck title=Grixis Tribal IMPS!]

Walking Desecration
Nettling Imp
Rage Nimbus
Shipwreck Singer
Goblin Diplomats
Heckling Fiends
Maddening Imp
Courtly Provocateur
Master of Cruelties
Baleful Strix
Bitterheart Witch
Vengeful Pharaoh
Wurmcoil Engine
Vampire Nighthawk
Ogre Slumlord
Diregraf Captain
Death Baron
Grave Titan
Harvester of Souls
Hythonia the Cruel
Keepsake Gorgon
Liliana’s Reaver
Djinn of Infinite Deceits
Homura, Human Ascendant
Phyrexian Metamorph[/Creatures]

Season of the Witch
Imps’ Taunt
Keldon Twilight
Magnetic Web
Angel’s Trumpet
Bident of Thassa
Curse of the Nightly Hunt
Curse of Stalked Prey
Hissing Miasma
No Mercy
Curse of Stalked Prey
Curse of Shallow Graves
Curse of Inertia
Curse of Chaos
Curse of Bloodletting
Illusionist’s Gambit
Collective Restraint
Vow of Flight
Vow of Lightning
Vow of Malice
Pemmin’s Aura
Darksteel Plate
Sol Ring
Akroma’s Memorial
Endless Ranks of The Dead
Demonic Tutor
Mind over Matter
Shield of Kaldra
Chaos Warp
All is Dust
Leyline of the Void[/Spells]

Volrath’s Stronghold
Strip Mine
Thespian’s Stage
Forbidden Orchard
Homeward Path
Lavaclaw Reaches
Creeping Tar Pit
Opal Palace
Command Tower
Blood Crypt
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Grixis Panorama
Terminal Moraine
Evolving Wilds
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Sulfur Falls
Temple of Deceit
6 Island
5 Swamp
6 Mountain[/Lands][/Deck]

From Imshan:

The ‘imps tribal’ part of this deck is pretty cutesy, but there is a hidden genius in this kind of deck-building: there is a profitable subtlety in doing something that isn’t obvious with a general, and gaining advantage from your opponents’ resources. Any monkey can look for every Underworld Dreams effect, or find ways to force players to draw a ton cards and then cram them into a deck. Arguably, that’s what’s really unimaginative about Nekusar: he really begs you to play Howling Mine and you probably wouldn’t if you weren’t playing Nekusar, and this makes Nekusar really predictable. What makes this deck special is that rather than just giving people a glut of resources and punishing them for it through hand-size and draw punishers, it instead gives less of a deluge of cards, and more of a reason to shove those cards at other people with the use of imps, curses, Vows from Commander 2011, and ‘rattlesnakes’, like deathtouch defenders. It’s pretty clear that Trevon has dug deep for effects that are going to make this whole thing work; he’s got a personal favorite of mine in there: Season of the Witch.

And Mr. P:

This is my kind of crap right here! Imps? Curse subtheme? Magnetic Web? AWESOME! (Puppet general? Maybe a little, although I like his explanation of how it feeds people more stuff to attack with.)

This is exactly the sort of thing I want everyone to build; silly, aggressive, and fair. I love this thing.”

Nice job, Trevon! And thanks to everyone who submitted entries. We really appreciate it. Stay tuned for emails from GDC, folks. We’ll reach out for mailing addresses ASAP.

Next up – Our own “Black Sheep” Sean digs in on all five pre-cons for an overview on how to upgrade them to bring them in line with a regular EDH metagame.

See you next time-