Commander is a format that allows you to explore strategies and themes that normal constructed decks don’t. It’s about freedom of creativity, card choice, and the ability to explore some long-forgotten cards in order to make something completely obnoxious that nobody even realised was a thing.
Due to the creativity that’s innate here, it can sometimes be hard to remember that your deck isn’t meant to just sit there and go off, but actually meant to be played against other people. The downfall of many a deck is the fact that people go a little too hard on a theme and, as a result, end up with a deck that’s great, but completely lacking in interaction, and that’s bad.
Stick to your theme, sure, but don’t go too overboard
Let’s say, for example, that you’re building a dungeon deck thanks to the likes of Hama Pashar, Ruin Seeker or even better, that you’re using Sefris of the Hidden Ways, the White, Blue, and Black 2/3 Commander from the Dungeons of Death precon that we didn’t forget about because that aren’t too many cards coming out at the moment. Sefris is all about venturing into the dungeon, and they’re in the colors that are generally best for doing so.
The precon itself has a few bits of interaction with the likes of Swords to Plowshares, Utter End, and even Necromantic Selection, all allowing you to have some say in what lives and what dies. However, it’s really not got all that much outside of those cards aside from a handful of Creatures with ETB effects and a Necrotic Sliver, which feels woefully out of place here.
Despite that, upon picking up this deck, most people will likely take out anything that isn’t specifically helping them venture into the dungeon, and we know we’d do the same instinctively. We know why; it’s far more entertaining to just constantly be advancing your gameplan, even though the gameplan here is basically speedrunning through the dungeons as fast as possible. However, you really do need to keep the interaction there, and probably add in a bit more.
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You can always have more interaction
Sefris is actually a perfect example for this whole debacle, because while the temptation is to go all-in on dungeons and forsake everything else, you’re in Esper colors, which is a great combination for control decks. Now, we’re not saying you warp the deck until you’ve got some unholy Counterspell deck, but, it is worth considering when you’re making your tweaks. Counterspell, that is, not becoming a control deck.
Adding in a few bits of countermagic, no matter what they end up being, is a good way to start. You need to make sure that you have ways to stop anything that’s going to mess up your game plan, and as long as you’re trying to do things with permanents, which most decks are nowadays, then you need to be able to protect them.
It’s not always something that has to go against the themes though, because there are always plenty of ways to incorporate your themes into your interaction if you refuse to abandon them. It’s also generally more fun to do this than to just put something like Cyclonic Rift in every Blue deck you have. So, given that this hypothetical deck is all about dungeons, you can just plop in removal from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and you’re still on theme. Simple!
What if there isn’t thematic removal?
Of course, that’s the ideal, sometimes it’s also not going to be the case. Sometimes you’re going to have a deck that simply won’t have access to decent removal on theme. It’s at that point that you need to decide what you want from your deck. Do you want to have fun on theme, or do you want to make a couple of exceptions to occasionally actually win?
It can be a little grating to have to take out a few cards that fit what you’re trying to do with the deck to make way for removal or interaction, but it’s generally going to help the rest of your deck perform far better, so we’re in favor of it. Of course, we’re not in charge of building your deck, so it’s not up to us.
However, just keep this in mind if you feel like you’re fantastically fun idea for a deck keeps getting wrecked because you refused to put a couple of counterspells in there or some Creature removal. If losing becomes far too frequent, maybe just accept you still need to be able to actually play MTG, and that’s better than getting crushed in every game forever.
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