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 Post subject: X, Information Broker (an UnCommander deck)
AgePosted: 2017-Dec-17 12:52 pm 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Deck name: “X, Information Broker”

Commander: X

Colours: Blue/Black

Theme/s: Spying, group hug, theft

Primary Win Condition/s: Attacking with creatures, preferably my opponents’ and/or using my opponents’ spells against them

Secondary Win Condition/s: Infinite mana combo + Capsize + cast all spells from opponents’ hands

Budget: I’ve spent about £50 on cards to get this deck to where it is now. I don’t really plan on spending much more money, though am debating buying a Staff of Domination to go in the deck.

Playgroup: I no longer have a regular playgroup. I now play at a FLGS that has a wide variety of decks with little-to-no self-imposed restrictions. Things like very well tuned Azorius control decks can go up against Casual Mill or other, similarly lower-powered decks. Ironically, that metagame actually makes this deck a bit more powerful than it might initially appear. Also, one of the workers at the FLGS runs a Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck, which seems like a pretty hard counter to X and his hand-based shenanigans so that’s something I need to keep in mind.


Salutations, MTGCommander.net. I’ve been away from the forum for a while and decided to celebrate my return with my latest deck list. It’s actually only the fourth Commander deck I’ve physically put together in paper (after my Blue Braids, Garruk’s Packleader Pauper Commander, and Nicol Bolas decks) but I’m really stoked to play with it (which I’ll hopefully get to do at some point next weekend).

Having played in two Unstable drafts over the course of the release weekend, during the first draft I drafted a sweet UB deck that included X and promptly went 3-0 with it (the second one, with two Rules Lawyers and a Do-It-Yourself Seraph only went 1-2, but I still had a blast). Whilst he didn’t do a great deal in my games in the draft, I was really inspired by him to want to build an UnCommander deck with him at the helm. And with the Rules Committee giving the go-ahead for Silver-Bordered cards to be legal until January 15th, I figured I’d give it a shot at doing so.

A quick and informal census at my FLGS gave me the feedback that an UnCommander deck with X at the helm would likely lead to me getting hated out of the game early on. So, to hopefully prevent that from happening, I’ve built this deck in a non-traditional way to how you might expect it to play: a significant portion of the deck is based around Group Hug cards. I plan on giving other players at the table free card draws, token creatures, mana, and information on their opponents’ hands, acting as a neutral-but-bribable information broker (hence the deck’s name), until someone decides that I’m a threat. Whilst I do plan on playing X as early as possible (turn 2), he won’t enter anyone’s hand until they take an offensive action against me (whether that’s attacking me, attempting to remove X or any of my other permanents, or something of that ilk) at which point I will retaliate, usually starting by putting X into their hand and seeing where it goes from there.

The nature of the Group Hug part of the deck means that I can help to even the playing field. If there are some more powerful decks at the table then I can help bolster the lower-powered decks to help beat them. Even putting X in their hand helps with that as the hand is revealed so that everyone can see what they’ve got.

I've uploaded the deck to TappedOut.net, and the deck list can be found here, in case anyone wanted to look at the deck in more detail or to playtest it.

The deck can also be seen below, with in-depth discussion of my choices.

X - the Commander

Spying

Clairvoyance
Glasses of Urza
Isochron Scepter
Peek
Spy Network

The initial draft of this deck list included Seer’s Vision, Telepathy, and Thoughtcutter Agent, as I had intended to force all of my opponents to reveal their hands. However, it was pointed out to me that by doing so I’d slow the game down to a snail’s pace as every player had to consider all of the additional information before making any in-game decisions. So I exchanged them for this array of “spying” cards. They let me look at my opponents’ hands but only I can see them, so I can write down the contents and keep them to myself or share them as I desire, which won’t slow the game down too much. Peek and Clairvoyance let me do this as a one-off cantrip effect whilst the appropriately-named Spy Network also allows me to look at their Morphs, the top card of their library, and to look at and rearrange the top four cards of my library (though not draw a card). Isochron Scepter allows me to Imprint any of those three spells for a repeatable effect, which the Glasses of Urza also do naturally.

Haste

Hall of the Bandit Lord
Lightning Greaves
Strider Harness
Swiftfoot Boots
Thousand-Year Elixir

One of my biggest concerns whilst brainstorming this deck is that, especially in the later stages of the game, I doubt that X would survive a full turn cycle to be able to use his second ability, so I figured that I needed some things that give him Haste, which isn’t the easiest to do in the Blue/Black colour identity. I mostly picked cheap-to-Equip Haste-givers as that would allow me more mana on turns it was essential to get him back into an opponent’s hand and cast their spells, and being Equipment means that they are useful for other creatures (including those I steal from my opponents). Hall of the Bandit Lord is an interesting one as I can only use it for X once he’s gone back to the Commander Zone at least once, but, like my Equipment, I can use it for my other creatures.

Flash

Leyline of Anticipation
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Vedalken Orrery

In a similar vein to the above Haste-granters, giving X Flash means that I can cast him on the End Step of the player immediately before me, giving my opponents only a small window to use removal on him. Teferi also gives me a little bit of insurance in the corner-case example of an opponent with X in his or her hand top-decking an Instant, as I can cast the Instant from his or her hand in his or her Draw Step whilst he or she can’t.

Flash also allows me to get X out of an opponent’s hand at Instant speed if an opponent casts a Wheel or some other card that would let him or her discard X. This is an important point as one of the workers at the FLGS I play at has a Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck filled with Wheel effects.

No Hand Size

Reliquary Tower
Venser's Journal
Thought Vessel

One of the biggest problems about X is that his ability is pretty mana-intensive, leading to the potential problem of me spending all of my mana on casting my opponents’ spells and not mine. To prevent me having to discard to hand size, I put a few cards in the deck to prevent that. I tried to use cards that helped me in other ways, rather than just something like Spellbook that does nothing else.

X’s Ability

Rings of Brighthearth

This is pretty much an auto-include in an X deck, as it turns X’s ability from “3UB cast a spell” to “5UB cast two spells”. Plus, as I point out later, it’s also part of my secondary win condition.

Bait

Rhystic Cave

This is a bit of a weird card choice. The idea is that I can give my opponents the chance to mess with me by denying me the chance to get mana. In actuality, what I’ll do is only use it in a case where I don’t need the mana from it (I.e. I have another mana source I can use) as I’m laying a trap for them to pay the 1 mana and, thus, make them a legitimate target for X and his shenanigans.


Mass Draw

Jace Beleren
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Otherworld Atlas
Temple Bell

These cards allow me to give card draws to the table, including myself. I get to control when to use them so I can control just how much my opponents can take advantage of them (as opposed to things like Howling Mine and Dictate of Kruphix).

Counterspells

Arcane Denial
Dream Fracture
Swan Song

All of these give the opponent who just had their spell countered something, whether that’s card draw or a token creature.

Mass Exile

Curse of the Swine
Hour of Need

These cards let me deal with built-up board states but replace those creatures with token creatures.

Spot Removal

Pongify
Rapid Hybridization

These cards let me deal with specific, individual threats, replacing them with a token creature.

Tap/Untap

Deserted Temple
Fatestitcher
Vizier of Tumbling Sands

These cards let me tap or untap a variety of permanents, including those of my opponents. This gives me some political bargaining power as I can untap their lands to give them more mana or tap potentially bad attackers or defenders. The previously mentioned Thousand-Year Elixir also lets me untap a creature, which could either be an opponent’s creature, or could be either of the above two which would let me tap or untap any permanent.

Give Creatures

Forbidden Orchard
Hunted Horror
Hunted Phantasm

These cards allow me to give token creatures to opponents whilst also giving me an advantage.

Prevent Attacks

Maze of Ith
Mystifying Maze
Thaumatic Compass/Spires of Orazca

These cards allow me to prevent nasty attacking creatures from doing so, whether they’re attacking me or other players. The Thaumatic Compass also doubles as ramp, both because it tutors basic lands to my hand but also because it can tap for mana once transformed.

Donate Mana

Rainbow Vale
Spectral Searchlight

These cards allow me to directly give mana to other players. The Rainbow Vale is a bit of a gamble, as it’s entirely possible that whoever I give it to won’t give it back to me, but that also adds to the politicking. The Searchlight also acts as ramp if I don’t need to donate mana to anyone.

Pump Creatures

Vow of Flight
Vow of Malice

These cards are a couple of fairly basic ways of giving my opponents’ creatures bonuses without them being able to use them against me.


Stealing Spells

Aethersnatch
Desertion
Kheru Spellsnatcher

These cards let me steal control of spells on the stack or let me exile them to cast later.

Stealing Cards From Library

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Lord of the Void
Praetor's Grasp

A bunch of cards that let me steal cards from my opponents’ libraries.

Stealing Creatures On The Battlefield

Beguiler of Wills
Fool's Demise

I didn’t want to run too many cards here, as whilst there are a large number of Auras that let me do so, they’re mostly one-for-ones, which seem quite boring. I picked Beguiler of Wills as a repeatable way to steal creatures as I pulled her from a pack of Dark Ascension back in 2013 and have never used her despite really wanting to. Fool’s Demise also seems like a nice, repeatable way to steal creatures.

Stealing From Graveyards

Hedonist's Trove
Sepulchral Primordial
Wrexial, the Risen Deep

These cards let me steal or cast cards from my opponents’ graveyards.

Redirect Spells

Imp's Mischief
Insidious Will
Misdirection
Willbender

These cards let me change targets for spells on the stack, which seems like a fun way to mess with people’s strategy. Insidious Will gives me more options, which I can use to tailor to the specific situation.


Ramp (aka Mana Rocks)

Chromatic Lantern
Darksteel Ingot
Dimir Signet
Dowsing Dagger/Lost Vale
Everflowing Chalice
Fellwar Stone
Sol Ring
Talisman of Dominance
Thran Turbine

These cards, plus the already-mentioned Thought Vessel, Thaumatic Compass, Spectral Searchlight, let me ramp. I especially like the Dowsing Dagger as it lets me give two creature tokens to another player, which makes it fit in extremely well with my Group Hug theme, and later turns into a Gilded Lotus land.

Thran Turbine is a very interesting little card. In a lot of decks you won’t be able to use it well, as you get CC in your Upkeep, but can’t use it to cast spells. With X, however, you can use it to help pay for his third ability, meaning that you can cast an opponent’s spell for only 1UB as long as you do it in your Upkeep (or two spells for 3UB if you have Rings of Brighthearth in play too). Also, there are plenty of activated abilities in the deck such as Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and Thaumatic Compass which means that it’s not a dead card if X isn’t in a hand. In this deck, it’s almost like having a second Sol Ring.

Lands

Arcane Lighthouse
Choked Estuary
Command Tower
Darkslick Shores
Drowned Catacomb
Exotic Orchard
11 x Island
Sunken Hollow
10 x Swamp
Tainted Isle
Temple of Deceit
Watery Grave

There’s nothing terribly interesting here. I’ve gone for an approximately 50-50 mix of Blue and Black sources despite not having a 50-50 mix of Blue and Black costs in my spells as I really do want to be able to cast X on turn 2, even if I don’t intend to put him into an opponent’s hand immediately.

Overall, there are 39 (41 after transforming) mana-producing lands (40/42 if Chromatic Lantern is in play) and 9 mana rocks (plus Thran Turbine). This is a high amount of both as I feel that X plays like a control deck and, thus, wants to ramp quickly and hit as many land drops as possible. Getting to 7 mana seems like a priority (2 so I can put X in a hand then another 5 so that I can cast a card immediately) in this deck.

The artifacts and lands that tap for any colour of mana are somewhat important, as they let me use activated abilities on cards that I steal from other players. I could have included more of those, such as Mana Confluence or City of Brass but if I’m counting those as regular lands to just cast my spells as well, then I could see my life total draining away pretty quickly.


Capsize

Capsize, which is a versatile spell that can be used in a number of ways, is also my secondary win condition. Using a combination of Rings of Brighthearth, some number out of Thousand-Year Elixir, Deserted Temple, Fatestitcher, and/or Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and either Everflowing Chalice (if it was multikicked 3 or more times) or Lost Vale, I can generate infinite mana. Using Capsize I can then return all of my opponents’ permanents to their hands and cast a bunch of them with X. That should give me a one-sided board state large enough to win the game within a turn or two, giving me the chance to end the game without dragging it out too long if I need to, unlike my Bolas deck.


As mentioned previously, I have already changed the deck a couple of times. Here’s a list of cards I’ve previously removed from the deck:

Seer's Vision – replaced with “Peek” cards
Telepathy – replaced with “Peek” cards
Thoughtcutter Agent – replaced with “Peek” cards
Howling Mine – wanted more control over opponents’ card draws
Akroan Horse – felt a little underwhelming for giving opponents tokens, plus it might make an early enemy if I give it to them and I’m trying to avoid attracting hate
Tempt with Reflections – I don’t really fancy giving any or all of my opponents a copy of my creatures
Gate to the Aether – Giving my opponents a random permanent off the top of their deck is nice for a Group Hug deck, but perhaps a little too powerful for this one to deal with
Haunted Cloak – I don’t actually own one, so had to substitute Strider’s Harness
Commander's Sphere – Had to remove to make room for Dowsing Dagger
Redirect – Had to remove to make room for Capsize, and seems a little lacklustre compared to the other Redirection spells
Dictate of Kruphix – wanted more control over opponents’ card draws


Future thoughts for the deck include the following:

  • Alternative Commanders for when Silver-Bordered cards are no longer legal. Of course I’m going to ask if I can continue to use X after January 15th but I want a Black-Bordered alternative in case my opponents say, “No.” Right now I’ve got Dragonlord Silumgar who seems to be a reasonably decent one-for-one replacement. I’m also considering acquiring a copy of Sen Triplets as that card is the closest thing in Black Border to X, but it would mean reworking the fully-Black Border deck from Dimir to Esper. In doing so I may drop the Group Hug aspect of the deck and just go 100% “steal-your-stuff” as the deck’s theme.
  • Other cards that I’d like to consider for the deck include:
  • I’m not too interested in including Price of Knowledge. I’m aware that it could prevent opponents from discarding X due to hand size, but I feel that it would make me a target (since I’d be damaging each player each turn) and I don’t think it’s too much of a worry (X is cheap, so I can recast him easily, I can probably cast any discard spells first, or redirect them, and/or I could move X to another hand or the battlefield (if he has Flash).

_________________
Regards,
MT.


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters


Last edited by Masked Thespian on 2017-Dec-17 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: X, Information Broker (an UnCommander deck)
AgePosted: 2017-Dec-17 12:53 pm 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Reserved for changes and for overflow, if necessary.

Changelog

17/12/17: Deck posted

_________________
Regards,
MT.


Putrid Pirate Proliferation
Lord of Voltronhorn
Unlife of the Party
Jaya Ballard, Discard Mage
Zedruu and the Minotaurs
Vish Kal's ManSlaughterhouse
Izzet Any Good?

Chorus of Counters


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