Standard Commander Gatecrash Archetypes and Example Decks, Part 1

Author’s note: Since this article series was started, Born of the Gods has been released. Its addition alters the Dimir, Simic, and Gruul decks enough to warrant a revision of the example deck lists. Those lists will be included in part two of this article.

For a Standard Commander format, Gatecrash guilds are going to get an ever-so-slight advantage over the Return to Ravnica guilds when it comes to deck building. This is because Theros came with scry lands for all five of the Gatecrash guilds. However, Boros and Gruul do not have blue or black for card advantage options available in the Standard Commander card pool. This will make it more difficult for those guilds to perform smoothly.

Orzhov

Orzhov got two very interesting teaser creatures in Magic 2014 that combo with Theros‘s enchantment themes: [card]Ajani’s Chosen[/card] and [card]Blightcaster[/card]. This thematic control build focuses on maximizing casting enchantment creatures, board-controlling enchantments, and auras. With this in mind, the Orzhov deck is best served by using [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] as its commander. The repeated incremental life gain will help keep the deck pilot alive while politically chipping away at the most threatening opponent.

[deck title=Obzedat Standard Commander]
[Creatures]
1 Celestial Archon
1 Gideon, Champion of Justice
1 Nighthowler
1 Erebos’s Emissary
1 Fate Unraveler
[/Creatures]

[Token creature generators]
1 Ajani’s Chosen
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Heliod, God of the Sun
1 Angelic Accord
1 Murder Investigation
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
[/Token creature generators]

[Creature buff]
1 Archetype of Courage
1 Path of Bravery
1 Ethereal Armor
1 Holy Mantle
1 Herald of Torment
1 Archetype of Finality
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Mark of the Vampire
1 Gift of Orzhova
[/Creature buff]

[Card draw]
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Dark Prophecy
1 Underworld Connections
1 Liliana of the Dark Realms
1 Sanguimancy
[/Card draw]

[Creature removal]
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Pacifism
1 Arrest
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Blightcaster
1 Viper’s Kiss
1 Bile Blight
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 One Thousand Lashes
1 Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
[/Creature removal]

[General removal]
1 Martial Law
1 Ashen Rider
[/General removal]

[Noncreature removal]
1 Revoke Existence
[/Noncreature removal]

[Graveyard hate]
1 Rest in Peace
[/Graveyard hate]

[Board wipe]
1 Fated Retribution
1 Planar Cleansing
1 Merciless Eviction
[/Board wipe]

[Life gain]
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Vizkopa Guildmage
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Debt to the Deathless
[/Life gain]

[Control]
1 Blind Obedience
1 Sphere of Safety
[/Control]

[Recursion]
1 Silent Sentinel
1 Treasury Thrull
1 Immortal Servitude
1 Obzedat’s Aid
[/Recursion]

[Tutors]
1 Plea for Guidance
1 Diabolic Tutor
[/Tutors]

[Mana ramp]
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Orzhov Cluestone
1 Orzhov Keyrune
[/Mana ramp]

[Lands]
1 Encroaching Wastes
1 Godless Shrine
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Orzhov Guildgate
19 Plains
1 Rogue’s Passage
12 Swamp
1 Temple of Silence
[/Lands]
[/deck]

The Orzhov player will most often seek to find and play [card]Sphere of Safety[/card] or [card]Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts[/card], to defend his life total while playing key threats such as [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] or [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card]. The production of creature tokens will further assist in holding back opponents while working toward large life swings with [card]Sanguine Bond[/card] or [card]Vizkopa Guildmage[/card] on the back of a [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] or [card]Debt to the Deathless[/card].

Boros

A Standard Commander Boros deck is heavily saddled with some of the weakest mechanics for Commander: battalion, heroic, and, now, inspired. Separately, these mechanics require building a deck that is fast enough to kill opponents before they can interact with the board state. This strategy comes with clear disadvantages in a singleton format. Together, these mechanics require risking overextension into a board wipe, often for minimal damage gain. Furthermore, Boros decks are complicated by the greatest lack of card draw of any of the guild color combinations. Therefore, Boros is forced to handle its inherent weaknesses with the possibility of a voltron army strategy with [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] or pseudo-damage doubling with [card]Aurelia, the Warleader[/card]. [card]Tajic, Blade of the Legion[/card], could also be a voltron strategy, but there are not quite enough tricks in the Standard Commander format (i.e. [card]Worldslayer[/card]) to ensure that Tajic gets to 21 commander damage consistently. These deck-building themes will probably lead to unsatisfying gameplay. Instead, a Boros deck could focus on having some of the best token creation in the format to gain resource advantage while hoarding cards in hand to recover. With this in mind, a semi-competitive Standard Commander Boros deck could look like this:

[deck title=Aurelia Standard Commander]

[Creatures]
1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
1 Frontline Medic
1 Seraph of the Sword
1 Gideon, Champion of Justice
1 Boros Reckoner
1 Tajic, Blade of the Legion
[/Creatures]

[Token creature generators]
1 Precinct Captain
1 Evangel of Heliod
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Heliod, God of the Sun
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Assemble the Legion
1 Trading Post
[/Token creature generators]

[Creature buff]
1 Archetype of Courage
1 Frontline Medic
1 Phantom General
1 Archangel of Thune
1 Angelic Skirmisher
1 Path of Bravery
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Rootborn Defenses
1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
1 Legion Loyalist
1 Archetype of Aggression
1 Pyrewild Shaman
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Hammer of Purphoros
1 Legion’s Initiative
1 Gleam of Battle
1 Boros Charm
[/Creature buff]

[Additional combat steps]
1 Aurelia, the Warleader
[/Additional combat steps]

[Card draw]
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
[/Card draw]

[Creature removal]
1 Angelic Edict
1 Arrest
1 Banisher Priest
1 Chained to the Rocks
1 Five-Alarm Fire
1 Molten Primordial
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Firemane Angel
1 Foundry Champion
1 Warleader’s Helix
[/Creature removal]

[Noncreature removal]
1 Solemn Offering
1 Revoke Existence
1 Wear/Tear
[/Noncreature removal]

[Artifact removal]
1 Batterhorn
1 Vandalblast
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Shattering Blow
[/Artifact removal]

[Enchantment removal]
1 Keening Apparition
1 Ray of Dissolution
[/Enchantment removal]

[Board wipe]
1 Angel of Serenity
1 Luminate Primordial
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Street Spasm
[/Board wipe]

[Mana acceleration]
1 Boros Cluestone
1 Boros Keyrune
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Burnished Hart
1 Opaline Unicorn
[/Mana acceleration]

[Tutor]
1 Plea for Guidance
1 Ring of Three Wishes
[/Tutor]

[Lands]
1 Encroaching Wastes
13 Mountain
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
20 Plains
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Temple of Triumph
[/Lands]
[/deck]

There’s certainly at least one Commander player who will still want to try a Heroic deck with [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] at the helm for a voltron win. However ill-advised it may be under competitive stratagems and deck building precepts, [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] could still win, fits a tighter budget, and improves its odds in a one-on-one Standard Commander format:

[deck title=Anax and Cymede Standard Commander]

[Double strike creatures]
1 Fencing Ace
1 Ghostblade Eidolon
1 Bonescythe Sliver
1 Two-Headed Cerberus
[/Double strike creatures]

[Heroic creatures]
1 Favored Hoplite
1 Fabled Hero
1 Phalanx Leader
1 Vanguard of Brimaz
1 Hero of Iroas
1 Akroan Crusader
1 Arena Athlete
1 Anax and Cymede
[/Heroic creatures]

[Token creature generators]
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Heliod, God of the Sun
1 Murder Investigation
1 Assemble the Legion
[/Token creature generators]

[Creature buff]
1 Archetype of Courage
1 Frontline Medic
1 Archangel of Thune
1 Angelic Skirmisher
1 Path of Bravery
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Brave the Elements
1 Rootborn Defenses
1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
1 Legion Loyalist
1 Pyrewild Shaman
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Aurelia, the Warleader
1 Legion’s Initiative
[/Creature buff]

[Auras]
1 Nyxborn Shieldmate
1 Hopeful Eidolon
1 Eidolon of Countless Battles
1 Observant Alseid
1 Ethereal Armor
1 Ordeal of Heliod
1 Gift of Immortality
1 Holy Mantle
1 Indestructibility
1 Nyxborn Rollicker
1 Everflame Eidolon
1 Spearpoint Oread
1 Purphoros’s Emissary
1 Lightning Talons
1 Madcap Skills
1 Ordeal of Purphoros
1 Shiv’s Embrace
[/Auras]

[Equipment]
1 Prowler’s Helm
[/Equipment]

[Instants]
1 Aerial Maneuver
1 Dauntless Onslaught
1 Gods Willing
1 Coordinated Assault
1 Titan’s Strength
1 Boros Charm
1 Martial Glory
[/Instants]

[Creature removal]
1 Five-Alarm Fire
[/Creature removal]

[Card draw]
1 Chosen by Heliod
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 Dragon Mantle
[/Card draw]

[Recursion]
1 Silent Sentinel
1 Strionic Resonator
[/Recursion]

[Mana acceleration]
1 Boros Cluestone
1 Boros Keyrune
[/Mana acceleration]

[Lands]
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Encroaching Wastes
12 Mountain
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
17 Plains
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Temple of Triumph
[/Lands]
[/deck]

This deck quite literally goes all-in on playing a heroic creature or two and relying on heroic triggers from auras and instants. Each aura in this list either draws a card, replaces itself in the event the aura recipient dies (via bestow), or causes some sort of recursion/resilience for its voltron target. Instants either scry, target multiple heroic or double strike creatures (twelve total including the general), or bump power by two or more. [card]Five-Alarm Fire[/card] functions similarly to [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], but with a slower activation cost. [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card], has even been cut to streamline the deck’s mana curve while [card]Silent Sentinel[/card] has stayed in order to recur enchantments if possible.

It is important to note that plays such as [card]Madcap Skills[/card] followed by a [card]Boros Charm[/card] after a turn three [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] deals 14 points of general damage. The opponent has to be able to successfully eliminate [card]Anax and Cymede[/card] on the next turn or be able to prevent further general damage to avoid losing quickly.

Once this particular deck enters topdeck mode, it will have an extremely difficult time winning if any other player takes the lead. Additionally, this deck has very weak removal. In this format, white and red are already short on ways to draw into cards that can handle indestructible gods. Without [card]Angelic Edict[/card], [card]Trostani’s Judgment[/card], or [card]Revoke Existence[/card], this deck simply is unable to deal with these threats.

Thanks for reading today! Please share any comments below.

Kirsin Koch

@duneecho     -     Email     -     Articles

Kirsin Koch works as an IT professional and trainer. As a Magic: The Gathering player since Revised in 1994 and one of the original founding members for CasualPlayers.org, he deeply enjoys Commander, Legacy, and Draft.
Kirsin Koch
About the Author
@duneecho     -     Email     -     Articles Kirsin Koch works as an IT professional and trainer. As a Magic: The Gathering player since Revised in 1994 and one of the original founding members for CasualPlayers.org, he deeply enjoys Commander, Legacy, and Draft.

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