Standard Commander Gatecrash Archetypes and Example Decks (Part 2)

Author’s note: Since this article series was started, Born of the Gods has been released. Its addition altered the Dimir, Simic, and Gruul decks enough to warrant a revision of the example deck lists.

For the Standard Commander format including Return to Ravnica block and Theros block, the addition of the Born of the Gods set does bring some interesting inclusions, particularly for Dimir and Gruul decks. Also, with the release of Born of the Gods, [card]Sylvan Primordial[/card] has been banned in the eternal Commander card pool. The Simic and Gruul decks in this article will reflect this in order to make the decks as compatible as possible with an unfamiliar playgroup.

Dimir

Dimir is defined in this Standard Commander format, specifically in Return to Ravnica and Theros Limited, primarily by its slow milling abilities. [card]Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker[/card] might have been an appropriately thematic commander, but [card]Phenax, God of Deception[/card] really put a light onto a possible Standard Commander milling strategy. The main issue with Phenax is a heavy reliance on having multiple, non-attacking, and resilient creatures in play to tap. Alternatively, self-untapping creatures are possible inclusions. Phenax is also a prime candidate for a deck based on the inspired mechanic. Unfortunately, there are too few defensive inspired creatures in blue and black in the Standard card pool worth attempting to play in a Phenax deck outside of [card]Pain Seer[/card] and some others that fit the above criteria.

So with Born of the Gods failing to offer support for a substantial commander to a Dimir deck pilot, [card]Lazav, Dimir Mastermind[/card] is still best as the general. The Lazav player will need to play politically while protecting Lazav and capitalizing on milling effects and control elements. In true Dimir spirit, the player will direct attention elsewhere while setting up to stab someone in the back.

[deck title=Lazav Standard Commander]

[Creatures]
1 Clone
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Wight of Precinct Six
1 Nighthowler
1 Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
[/Creatures]

[Deck milling]
1 Jace’s Mindseeker
1 Psychic Spiral
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Traumatize
1 Balustrade Spy
1 Returned Centaur
1 Lord of the Void
1 Consuming Aberration
1 Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker
1 Phenax, God of Deception
1 Psychic Strike
1 Mind Grind
[/Deck milling]

[Creature removal]
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Doom Blade
1 Asphyxiate
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Gild
1 Grisly Spectacle
1 Far / Away
[/Creature removal]

[Card draw]
1 Thassa’s Emissary
1 Prognostic Sphinx
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 Opportunity
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Read the Bones
1 Notion Thief
1 Pilfered Plans
[/Card draw]

[Board wipe]
1 AEtherize
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Curse of Swine
1 Whelming Wave
1 Bile Blight
[/Board wipe]

[Counterspells]
1 Annul
1 Swan Song
1 Negate
1 Nullify
1 Cancel
1 Dissolve
1 Scatter Arc
[/Counterspells]

[Recursion]
1 Meletis Charlatan
1 Achaeomancer
1 Elite Arcanist
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Sepulchral Primordial
1 Rise of the Dark Realms
[/Recursion]

[Life gain]
1 Servant of Tymaret
[/Life gain]

[Tutors]
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Ring of Three Wishes
[/Tutors]

[Mana acceleration]
1 Crypt Ghast
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dimir Cluestone
1 Dimir Keyrune
1 Burnished Hart
[/Mana acceleration]

[Lands]
1 Dimir Guildgate
1 Encroaching Wastes
18 Island
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Rogue’s Passage
14 Swamp
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Watery Grave
[/Lands]
[/deck]

This deck does not include [card]Duskmantle Seer[/card] as a possible damage condition. With the amount of decks running [card]Erebos, God of the Dead[/card], this may be a mistake, but there’s also a worse possibility of a tenuous board state thanks to [card]Duskmantle Seer[/card] itself.

Simic

Blue and green will quite possibly be the strongest color combination in a Standard Commander format. With mana acceleration to power card draw followed by speedy recovery after an opponent’s board wipe. The downside of the Simic color combination is the lack of quality creature removal.

Picking a Simic general is also going to result in quite different builds. [card]Vorel of the Hull Clade[/card] is going to allow the deck pilot to focus on evolve, monstrosity, charge counters, and hydras. Timmy/Johnny players will find Vorel to be the most engaging. However, Spike players will enjoy the raw power that [card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card] brings to the table. In some games, just playing Zegana alone to draw two cards will be enough to pull ahead.

[deck title=Zegana Standard Commander]

[Creatures]
1 Clone
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Stolen Identity
1 Witchstalker
1 Kalonian Hydra
1 Arbor Colossus
1 Progenitor Mimic
[/Creatures]

[Creature buff]
1 Archetype of Imagination
1 Crowned Ceratok
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Primeval Bounty
1 Bow of Nylea
1 Master Biomancer
1 Prophet of Kruphix
1 Vorel of the Hull Clade
[/Creature buff]

[Creature removal]
1 Polukranos, World Eater
[/Creature removal]

[Board wipes]
1 Blustersquall
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 AEtherize
1 Curse of the Swine
1 Whelming Wave
[/Board wipes]

[Counterspells]
1 Annul
1 Swan Song
1 Negate
1 Nullify
1 Cancel
1 Dissolve
1 Scatter Arc
1 Plasm Capture
1 Mystic Genesis
[/Counterspells]

[Noncreature removal]
1 Unravel the Æther
1 Artisan’s Sorrow
1 Fade into Antiquity
1 Bramblecrush
[/Noncreature removal]

[Card draw]
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Zameck Guildmage
1 Fathom Mage
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
1 Unexpected Results
1 Urban Evolution
[/Card draw]

[Recursion]
1 Elite Arcanist
1 Archaeomancer
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Strionic Resonator
[/Recursion]

[Graveyard hate]
1 Scavenging Ooze
[/Graveyard hate]

[Life gain]
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Horizon Chimera
[/Life gain]

[Tutors]
1 Ring of Three Wishes
[/Tutors]

[Mana acceleration]
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Gyre Sage
1 Manaweft Sliver
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Voyaging Satyr
1 Karametra’s Acolyte
1 Into the Wilds
1 Ordeal of Nylea
1 Peregrination
1 Astral Cornucopia
1 Chromatic Lantern
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Simic Keyrune
[/Mana acceleration]

[Lands]
1 Breeding Pool
1 Encroaching Wastes
16 Forest
14 Island
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Simic Guildgate
1 Temple of Mystery
[/Lands]
[/deck]

Gruul

Gruul deck pilots will get to pick from [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card], [card]Ruric Thar, the Unbowed[/card], and [card]Xenagos, God of Revels[/card]. [card]Seek the Horizon[/card] as the only enabler and a lack of card draw eliminates Borborygmos. A reliance on Standard Commander creatures without extremely strong and/or fun creature combos eliminates Ruric Thar. Luckily, Born of the Gods brings Xenagos to the game, giving repeatable creature buff each combat. However, with Xenagos, trample becomes incredibly necessary to ensure the damage gets over chump blockers.

[deck title=Xenagos Standard Commander]

[Creatures]
1 Satyr Rambler
1 Pyrewild Shaman
1 Ember Swallower
1 Fanatic of Mogis
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Molten Primordial
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Charging Badger
1 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Spire Tracer
1 Kalonian Hydra
1 Savageborn Hydra
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
1 Polis Crusher
1 Rubblebelt Raiders
[/Creatures]

[Creature buff]
1 Legion Loyalist
1 Archetype of Aggression
1 Hammer of Purphoros
1 Boon Satyr
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Primeval Bounty
1 Bow of Nylea
1 Skarrg Guildmage
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 Prowler’s Helm
[/Creature buff]

[Creature removal]
1 Forgestoker Dragon
1 Five-Alarm Fire
1 Deadly Recluse
1 Arbor Colossus
1 Clan Defiance
[/Creature removal]

[Board wipes]
1 Street Spasm
1 Mizzium Mortars
[/Board wipes]

[Noncreature removal]
1 Reckless Reveler
1 Batterhorn
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Unravel the Æther
1 Artisan’s Sorrow
1 Fade into Antiquity
1 Bramblecrush
[/Noncreature removal]

[Card draw]
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 Garruk’s Horde
1 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Warriors’ Lesson
1 Domri Rade
[/Card draw]

[Recursion]
1 Strionic Resonator
[/Recursion]

[Graveyard hate]
1 Scavenging Ooze
[/Graveyard hate]

[Life gain]
1 Courser of Kruphix
[/Life gain]

[Damage magnifier]
1 Burning Earth
[/Damage magnifier]

[Tutors]
1 Ring of Three Wishes
[/Tutors]

[Mana acceleration]
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Gyre Sage
1 Manaweft Sliver
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Voyaging Satyr
1 Karametra’s Acolyte
1 Into the Wilds
1 Ordeal of Nylea
1 Burning-Tree Emmissary
1 Zhur-Taa Druid
1 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Gruul Keyrune
1 Burnished Hart
[/Mana acceleration]

[Lands]
1 Encroaching Wastes
17 Forest
1 Gruul Guildgate
13 Mountain
1 Mutavault
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Rogue’s Passage
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple of Abandon
[/Lands]
[/deck]

The Xenagos deck will suffer greatly from being an aggro deck without access to horizontal threat creation and global pump effects. The deck’s pilot will need to take out key enchantment threats such as opposing gods and use politics to encourage the group to gang up on the strongest player.

With the conclusion of the Gatecrash guild decks, this author has hoped to inspire some of the Standard players out there to consider an expanded use for their collections. With more than fifteen decks explored here, there’s certainly enough variety to play in a diverse environment. If there’s any serious criticism that can be leveled at a Standard Commander format, it’s the distinct lack of combo and the spells associated with that play style. Standard Commander will focus heavily on mid-range aggro and aggro-control strategies and encourages battlecruiser-style play. Fortunately, Standard Commander still has all the rest of Magic’s archetypes and can provide a continuously interactive game state for all active players. If a playgroup experiments with Standard Commander, any constructive feedback would be welcome.

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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