This is the first in a series of three articles where I'll discuss transferring some of your favorite 60 card deck archetypes into Commander. If you're new to Commander, doing so helps you dip your toes in the water with a style of play to which you're already accustomed. Or if you're a veteran Commander player, maybe you'll still find something cool here to try out.
These won't be the typical decks you see for the selected commanders. We're going to mix in elements from the competitive 60-card decks that usually don't make it into Commander to make it interesting, and more familiar to the 60-card players.
Starting Deck: Vintage Dredge
We'll start by taking a look at Vintage Dredge, which is 35% of the Vintage metagame at the time of this writing. Here is an example of the archetype upon which our conversion to Commander is based that went 6-0 in a Vintage challenge:
1 Ashen Rider 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite 1 Golgari Grave-Troll 4 Golgari Thug 4 Hollow One 3 Ichorid 4 Narcomoeba 4 Prized Amalgam 4 Shambling Shell 4 Stinkweed Imp 4 Cabal Therapy 3 Dread Return 1 Gitaxian Probe 4 Unmask 4 Force of Will 1 Mental Misstep 4 Serum Powder 4 Bridge from Below 4 Bazaar of Baghdad 1 Strip Mine 4 Force of Vigor 3 Leyline of Sanctity 4 Leyline of the Void 2 Sickening Shoal 2 Tormod's Crypt
This is a Red-less self-mill deck that reanimates big creatures like
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and
Ashen Rider and mechanics like Flashback or Dredge to get them back in play from the graveyard.
Choosing a Commander
Now let's figure out what commander we're going to use to lead the final deck in this article. Elesh Norn is a great reanimation target but not so sweet a commander. You can't self-mill your commander, plus she's mono-White which is way to restrictive for what we want to do here, so she's not a viable option.
Some honorable mentions are
Ravos, Soultender and either
Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix or
Thrasios, Triton Hero because they give us all 4 colors from the original Vintage deck. Ravos also has soft reanimation, but probably costs too much. Thrasios is mainly for cEDH (Competitive EDH), so you'll be putting a big unnecessary target on your back using him without an infinite mana strategy.
Let's look at some commanders in similar colors that use the graveyard that we'll be filling up.
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis,
Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and
Varolz, the Scar-Striped are probably the best for the job, two using Delve and the other Scavenge. Others that lean more into reanimation like
Karador, Ghost Chieftain or
The Mimeoplasm are also worth considering, but let's go with Tasigur for more utility and a varied strategy like the original Vintage deck has.
Now that we've chosen our commander, let's start by adding in as many cards from the original Vintage deck as will work here. I think we can include every non-White card in the deck, but let's leave out the cards over $100,
Force of Will and
Bazaar of Baghdad, for budget reasons and
Serum Powder and
Mental Misstep because they don't work very well in the Commander format.
Next, we need some graveyard-filling cards like
Stitcher's Supplier and
Ashiok, Dream Render. We also need some cards that use the graveyard like
Ramunap Excavator and
Drown in the Loch. And every deck needs some common utilities like board wipes, card advantage (or draw), ramp, and maybe a few other categories depending on your preferences. I find it best to slot in cards that fill these needs that also match your deck's theme and provide extra synergy, instead of just using good stuff cards like
Birds of Paradise.
I usually want 3+ board wipes in every deck, but I have a feeling we can get a
Necroplasm in the graveyard fairly easily.
Necroplasm is a great repeatable board wipe. If you want some more consistency, consider some things like
Entomb. Some examples of ramp that are on-theme are
Sakura-Tribe Elder and
Deathrite Shaman. For card advantage,
Seasons Past and
Dig Through Time seem like great choices.
After all the relevant cards are in, I usually add 5 mana rocks and 35 lands to finish the deck. Keeping a consistent number like that makes sure you aren't taking out lands to fit in more cards you want and making the deck unplayable because you keep getting mana-screwed.
How We Win
This deck is mainly going to cheat out many creatures and big creatures fast with mechanics like Delve or self-recurring things like
Narcomoeba. It also has a lot of resilience that comes from all the recursion and mechanics like Dredge, so if a board wipe sets you back, you can pick and choose what you need out of your graveyard to get back in the game.
The Final Deck
Here is the final deck:
1 Golgari Grave-Troll 1 Golgari Thug 1 Hollow One 1 Ichorid 1 Narcomoeba 1 Prized Amalgam 1 Shambling Shell 1 Stinkweed Imp 1 Cabal Therapy 1 Dread Return 1 Gitaxian Probe 1 Unmask 1 Bridge from Below 1 Stitcher's Supplier 1 Ashiok, Dream Render 1 Fact or Fiction 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder 1 Ramunap Excavator 1 Crucible of Worlds 1 Dig Through Time 1 Seasons Past 1 Drown in the Loch 1 Deathrite Shaman 1 Life from the Loam 1 World Shaper 1 Regrowth 1 Mystical Tutor 1 Eternal Witness 1 Seedborn Muse 1 Biomancer's Familiar 1 Archaeomancer 1 Satyr Wayfinder 1 Muldrotha, the Gravetide 1 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant 1 Underrealm Lich 1 The Gitrog Monster 1 Scavenging Ooze 1 Riftsweeper 1 Taigam, Sidisi's Hand 1 Mission Briefing 1 Necroplasm 1 Nightmare Void 1 Oona's Grace 1 Spitting Image 1 Worm Harvest 1 Charnel Troll 1 Lotleth Troll 1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped 1 Noxious Revival 1 Crop Rotation 1 Frantic Search 1 Forbidden Alchemy 1 Murderous Cut 1 Muddle the Mixture 1 Harrow 1 Ancient Excavation 1 Grisly Salvage 1 Greenwarden of Murasa 1 Skullwinder 1 Sol Ring 1 Simic Signet 1 Dimir Signet 1 Golgari Signet 1 Talisman of Resilience 5 Forest 5 Island 5 Swamp 1 Dakmor Salvage 1 Strip Mine 1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Opulent Palace 1 Hinterland Harbor 1 Drowned Catacomb 1 Yavimaya Coast 1 Woodland Cemetery 1 Llanowar Wastes 1 Terramorphic Expanse 1 Waterlogged Grove 1 Exotic Orchard 1 Sunken Hollow 1 Underground River 1 Temple of Mystery 1 Temple of Deceit 1 Fetid Pools 1 Temple of Malady 1 Twilight Mire 1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
If you have a budget for it, fetchlands and
Crucible of Worlds are very strong additions to the deck because of
Life From the Loam, Muldrotha, and some other synergistic cards.
Next time, I'll be taking a look at Legacy Storm, then the 3rd article will feature my favorite Modern archetype and my favorite commander deck, along with a little story about how it came to be.