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Much Abrew: Baral Polymorph (1v1 Commander)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, we had a huge surprise—our first ever Commander deck tech ended up as the most popular of the week, so today we are heading into a competitive 1v1 Commander league to take Baral Polymorph out for a spin! The basic idea of the deck is simple: we take advantage of the fact that Baral, Chief of Compliance is super cheap to get our commander on the battlefield quickly and then use Baral, Chief of Compliance's ability to make our spell cheaper to target it with a Polymorph effect and turn Baral into our one creature: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. As weird as it sounds, the biggest drawback to the deck at the moment is probably that some of its important spells are plagued by Magic Online bugs. So, what is this 1v1 Commander format all about, and can we post a winning record with Baral? Let's see!

Oh, one last thing before the videos: 1v1 Commander is a one-game match format, so instead of splitting the league into separate videos, all the gameplay footage is together in one video, and then we have a wrap-up video talking a bit about the deck and format!

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Much Abrew: Baral Polymorph: Instant Deck Tech

Much Abrew: Baral Polymorph (1v1 Commander League)

Much Abrew: Baral Polymorph (Wrap-Up)

Discussion

  • First off, we finished our league with a 3-2 record, but this is a bit deceiving because one of our losses was 100% due to a Magic Online bug impacting Polymorph spells that exile, like Mass Polymorph and Synthetic Destiny. The bug makes it so that when we cast out Polymorph, nothing happens except our Baral gets exiled. So, if you decide to play this deck, make sure you're aware of the bug and set your Baral, Chief of Compliance to go to the exile zone rather than the command zone when you cast exiling Polymorphs. 
  • As for the deck, it's pretty simple. Apart from the actual combo of Baral and a Polymorph, it's almost exclusively card draw and counterspells. This makes the deck feel a bit like the old Copy Cat decks in Standard or even Modern Twin, where we can play a fair control game and win eventually in the very late game, or we can get a nut draw where we have an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on the battlefield on Turn 3.
  • One of the biggest decisions with the deck is when to play Baral, Chief of Compliance. We want Baral on the battlefield as quickly as possible, but we also want to try to defend it with a counterspell. Because of this, I often wait until Turn 3 to first cast Baral, Chief of Compliance, but it really depends on the hand and matchup. 
  • The most important aspect of the deck is to leave up a counter every single turn. The easiest way to lose with the deck is to get behind on board because we have relatively little removal.
  • Otherwise, I'm not sure there's much to say about the deck. If you enjoy mono-blue control decks and combo finishes, it's likely the perfect 1v1 Commander deck for you. However, one word of warning: a lot of people were surprised the deck wasn't banned during the last B&R announcement, and it would be even more surprising if it is still in the format six months from now. With this in mind, the question isn't so much if something from the deck gets banned but what gets banned. If it's Baral, Chief of Compliance, you might be able to play a very similar deck with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy as the commander, but if it's Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, the Polymorph strategy will likely be dead. The good news is that the rest of the deck is good blue cards, which will always be playable in Commander, so it's unlikely you will lose too much of your investment, even if there is a major banning.
  • As for the 1v1 Commander format, it's weird. One of the biggest upsides is that you can play through an entire league really quickly (the league from our videos was over in like an hour), so if you're looking for a quick way to play competitive Magic, 1v1 Commander is a great option. 
  • The format feels a lot like weird Legacy or Vintage, and you get to play a lot of extremely powerful and broken cards, which can make the format pretty fun. 
  • The downside is that the meta is pretty broken. Blue decks are—by far—the best in the format, while mono-green decks (designed to fight the blue decks) are also pretty good. Black sometimes shows up as a splash color with blue, while white and red are both close to unplayable (although mono-red Zurgo is a popular budget option). 
  • There are also quite a few non-games in 1v1 Commander. While Strip Mine was recently banned, it's not uncommon to get killed (or locked out of the game early), and because of the one-game match format, if you get a bad draw or have to mulligan, you lose the entire match to variance rather than just the game. 
  • All things considered, I enjoy playing 1v1 Commander, but I also imagine it's not for everyone. If you want long, interactive games of Magic, you're probably better off looking elsewhere, but you'll love it if you want high-powered, high-variance games with lots of broken stuff going on (and don't mind playing against a blue deck every round). 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Make sure to let me know what you think of the 1v1 Commander format, and don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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