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Tomer's Deck Updates | Innistrad: Crimson Vow


With Innistrad: Crimson Vow finally released, I figured it was time to do another around of updates to my personal Commander decks. So here's a peek at what paper decks I have in my collection and the new cards that I'm currently testing out:

Tribal Tribal

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Of all the decks I've ever built, Tribal Tribal is my all-time favorite: it's the deck I pick to play for most games and the one I never seem to get tired of. Plus it's the deck that my opponents seem to enjoy playing against the most as well, which is a nice bonus.

Tribal Tribal (or Everything Tribal) is essentially a Changeling Tribal deck: the base of the deck is a bunch of changeling cards that are every creature type (e.g. Universal Automaton) and then we load a bunch of tribal support cards from a huge variety of different tribes, and turn that into a cohesive deck with layers upon layers of multitribal synergies. The deck has a tribal way to do everything it needs: we play untapped dual lands by revealing changelings with Murmuring Bosk, turn our changelings into ramp with Harabaz Druid, draw cards and make opponents lose life with Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, tutor any changeling we need with Cateran Summons, exile creatures with Crib Swap, kill our opponents' non-army creatures with Widespread Brutality, play any changelings from our graveyard with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, and we can win the game with Liliana's Contract or combos like Haakon, Stromgald Scourge + Morophon, the Boundless + Blades of Velis Vel. So yeah, the deck is sweet.

Innistrad Update

I actually have two paper versions of Tribal Tribal. The first is a Combat-focused version, which emphasizes combat triggers like blowing up stuff with Feline Sovereign or creating treasures with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator. For this version, I've recently added Tovolar, Dire Overlord as a combat-focused way to draw cards. Sure, our changelings don't transform, but Tovolar draws an insane amount of cards for a 3-drop.

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My second version of Tribal Tribal is the Untap-focused version, which is just a handful of cards that I swap in when I want to switch from combat to untap shenanigans. This version taps changelings to blow up stuff with Devout Chaplain or steal everyone's lands with Gilt-Leaf Archdruid, and we also have sweet ways to untap our changelings with cards like Myr Galvanizer. For this version of the deck I'm adding Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, which turns all of our changelings into mana dorks.

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I'm currently considering Necroduality. I tested and ultimately cut Reflections of Littjara: it costs too much mana, isn't a creature, doesn't generate immediate value, can't copy legendary creatures, and would get far more hate than it was worth. Necroduality is basically the same thing but one mana cheaper. While I would auto-include it in a Zombie Tribal deck, I'm not sure it's worth a slot here, but I do intend to test it.

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Toshiro Mono Black Spellslinger

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Toshiro Umezawa is a unique and powerful oldschool commander that lets you cast instant spells from your graveyard whenever opposing creatures die, doubling the value of your instant spells. The deck is essentially Mono Black Control with a Spellslinger twist, running a ton of instants and controlling the board with removal spells like Snuff Out, Liliana's Triumph, and Force of Despair, drawing cards with Dark Bargain, Necrologia, and Wretched Confluence, generating a ton of mana with cards like Crypt Ghast, Cabal Coffers, and Nirkana Revenant, and eventually winning the game by stealing opposing creatures with Thrilling Encore or going for the Chain of Smog + Professor Onyx combo.

Mono Black rarely supports the Spellslinger archetype, which makes Toshiro stand out even more, as he enables a strategy that no other Mono Black commander does.

Innistrad Update

Innistrad gave the deck two sweet upgrades. First we've got a solid new targeted removal spell with Infernal Grasp. For two mana you kill anything with no restrictions. But the thing I'm super hyped about is Blood Pact; while this card isn't fancy, it does exactly what we're looking for, which is card draw at instant speed.

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In Out
Blood Pact Read the Bones
Infernal Grasp Prismatic Lens


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Kicker 2-For-1

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One of my most ambitious projects, my Kicker 2-for-1 deck is actually two very different Kicker decks sharing the same core card pool. It's composed of three sections: a Green Core containing all the deck's green and colorless cards, a Hallar, the Firefletcher section containing red and gruul cards, and a Verazol, the Split Current section containing blue and simic cards. Depending on what style of Kicker deck I feel like playing, I shuffle up either the Hallar or Verazol section with the Green Core and to have a fully functional 100-card deck.

Despite both caring about Kicker spells and +1/+1 Counters, the commanders have very different playstyles: Hallar is very explosive, looking to burn out opponents by chaining together a bunch of cheap kicker spells in a single turn, and Verazol is a Midrange value engine, looking to bury opponents in card advantage and copied haymakers. I often switch between the two to keep things interesting.

Innistrad Update

The green core gets two sweet upgrades from Innistrad: Ruinous Intrusion is instant speed artifact/enchantment removal, and while it costs more mana it can be a great way to load up counters onto our commanders. Visions of Dominance is another way to get a ton of counters for cheap, and while the flashback cost is pricey it's still nice to have in the lategame.

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Green Core:

In Out
Ruinous Intrusion Acidic Slime
Visions of Dominance Biogenic Upgrade

I'm also considering Ride the Avalanche for Verazol, which puts a lot of extra counters on to the commander with some flash utility.

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Niv-Mizzet (Under Construction)

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I've long been a huge Niv-Mizzet fanboy. I loved the character's lore and aesthetic ever since the original Ravnica set and accompanying books. Back when I got into Commander in 2011 I always wanted to build a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck, but I avoided it since it was already the main deck of a player in my original playgroup and I didn't want to step on his toes. Years later though we got a stronger version with Niv-Mizzet, Parun, which I wrote a budget primer on and loved to so much that I built a paper version of the $50 deck that I've been slowly upgrading ever since.

This is a pretty straightforward Spellslinger Combo deck: Niv-Mizzet, Parun + Curiosity / Tandem Lookout / Ophidian Eye is infinite damage and infinite draw. Our secondary combo is Isochron Scepter imprinting Dramatic Reversal plus mana rocks that tap for at least 2 mana for infinite mana and infinite instant casts, which again is infinite damage/draw with Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Easy peasy win. The rest of the deck is a Spellslinger list full of card draw and removal, plus secondary win conditions like a giant army from Talrand, Sky Summoner and The Locust God.

REBUILDING AS CEDH!

I've decided to make Niv-Mizzet my CEDH deck, or at least as powerful as it can be. It's not ready to share yet, but hopefully I will have it put together soon!

Purphoros Dragon Tribal (No Changes)

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Like most of my decks, I wrote a primer on Purphoros and more recently did an Abridged Gameplay video that I enjoyed so much that I ended up finishing my paper deck. My personal version is based on the one I played on stream but with a heavier emphasis on Dragon Tribal because I just so happened to have all the dragons that I wanted already in my collection.

Purphoros is a Mono-Red Stompy deck that uses the commander to fling huge hastey beaters at our opponents faces. Some of our beatsticks blow up stuff, like Balefire Dragon, Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, and Steel Hellkite, others refill our hand like Sandstone Oracle, Knollspine Dragon, and Dragon Mage, and some specialize in just murdering our opponents, like Terror of Mount Velus, Lathliss, Dragon Queen, and Angrath's Marauders. The deck is super explosive and aggressive. I love it!

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$100ish Gargos (No Changes)

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While the vast majority of Gargos, Vicious Watcher decks focus on the commander's mana discount to build a Hydra Tribal deck, I found that the commander is far more powerful if you ignore that and focus on its incredible fight trigger, which I've covered in my Budget Gargos article. The idea is to use mana-efficient targeted spells like Warriors' Lesson and Invigorate to trigger Gargos, nom-nom'ing all opposing creatures while smashing in with your 8/7 commander. It's essentially a Mono Green Control deck, locking out your opponents from keeping creatures on the battlefield as you quickly KO them with commander damage. Since all the key cards are dirt cheap the deck ends up dominating even on an extremely low budget.

After destroying the Commander Clash crew with the $30 and $50 versions of this deck, I decided to build a paper version of the deck for my own personal collection. 

For a long time I kept the deck's price under $50, swapping out cards as they increased in price, but I've now given up: downgrading my deck every single update since prices keep going up just feels bad to do, so I'm going to stop doing that. I'll still update the deck with new budget cards but I'm not going to stress about budget anymore.
 

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$100ish Siona (No Changes)

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Siona, Captain of the Pyleas is my strongest dollar for dollar deck. It regularly surprises folks how fast and consistent it can combo off, and even when the table is prepared there's just so much built-in resiliency that I can still steal wins after being shut down multiple times.

My Siona is a Combo deck, looking to generate infinite Soldier tokens thanks to the primary combo Siona, Captain of the Pyleas + Shielded by Faith or the secondary combo Siona, Captain of the Pyleas + Reins of the Vinesteed + either Altar of Dementia or Blasting Station for infinite damage / mill. These combos are uniquely suited to a low budget because one part of our combo is in our command zone and the other is an aura which can easily be tutored up by a bunch of budget-friendly cards: Heliod's Pilgrim, Auratouched Mage, Boonweaver Giant, Open the Armory, Three Dreams, and Pattern of Rebirth. Our combo can be assembled very quickly and consistently even at a low budget. But even without our insta-win combos, the rest of the deck is a powerful well-rounded Enchantress / Aura deck that can win via a token army (Archon of Sun's Grace) or even single creature beatdown (Ancestral Mask).

Like Gargos, I initially challenged myself by keeping Siona at just $50 and trying to make it the most optimized possible at that price point, though I do have a sideboard to boost its power with more expensive cards if I'm playing at a higher power table. But constantly swapping out cards to keep up with ever-increasing card prices has become more stressful than enjoyable so I'm no longer going to keep that restriction.

Innistrad Update

Two cards caught my attention: Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr and Hallowed Haunting. Katilda is a strong beater, but I'm not really interested in another beater or else I'd already be running Eidolon of Countless Battles. Hallowed Haunting probably will make the cut though; I think it's stronger here than Ajani's Chosen, being an enchantment itself and scales better.

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Zedruu "Gifts" (No Changes)

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Zedruu the Greathearted is the very first Commander deck I've ever owned. I bought the Political Puppets precon back in 2011 and have been tinkering with the deck ever since. Zedruu was love at first sight for me, stirring up nostalgic glee of when I was a little kid sleeving up a proxy version of a deck called Trix, a Standard all-star back in ancient times that revolved around Donate'ing Illusions of Grandeur to your opponent and winning when they can no longer pay the cumulative upkeep and lose 20 life.

My Zedruu deck has gone through so many different iterations throughout the years. It started as a traditional Donate deck, then was a Lifegain deck, an Enduring Ideal combo deck, Coin Flip, even briefly Goat Tribal, but I always came back to that original design of just giving away bad stuff to my opponents while stealing their good stuff. We give away our permanents with Zedruu the Greathearted or we swap them for better stuff with cards like Puca's Mischief, Role Reversal, and Sudden Substitution. The permanents we give away are either mean, like Illusions of Grandeur and Pyromancer's Swath, or neutral, like Akroan Horse and Vedalken Plotter. We can even get back the permanents we've traded with cards like Homeward Path, Leave // Chance, Venser, the Sojourner, and Brand.

The deck wins the game by stealing our opponents' best threats, overwhelming the board with a token army, or most stylishly by casting Fractured Identity on Nine Lives and responding to its leave the battlefield trigger by casting Patrician's Scorn, killing our opponents before we would lose the game.

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6-Drop Tribal (No Changes)

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Of all the decks in my arsenal, 6-Drop Tribal is the weirdest. It started as a meme deck for a meme week in Commander Clash, CMC Tribal, where each of us built a deck with each nonland card being the same cmc. While the rest of the crew stuck with low cmcs, I went big and dived into 6 cmc. The deck was swiftly crushed, but I was so intrigued with the concept that I went back to refine it, spending literally hours researching and optimizing 6 CMC Tribal, math'ing out the correct amount of lands, cyclers, ways to cheat on mana cost, and the best win conditions.

The end result was my 6 CMC Tribal article/video, which I feel is one of my best pieces of content. Despite the restriction, the deck is actively advancing its game plan right on turn 1. We're running a bunch of cycling cards and fetchlands to quickly fill out our graveyard with cards that will fuel various cards, like delving with Tasigur, the Golden Fang and ultimately culminating in one of our best win conditions, Twilight's Call, to make a game-winning army.

We also have a bunch of spells that we can cast for less than six mana. Cards like Avatar of Growth and Curtains' Call cost less based on the number of opponents, split cards like Reason // Believe can be cast either side for less mana, we have ways to cheat out multiple 6cmc spells with cards like Selvala's Stampede, etc. We even have cheeky ramp options like Myriad Landscape and Shefet Monitor to get us casting spells earlier than turn 6. Eventually, we win with big beaters or Triskelion + Mikaeus, the Unhallowed combo.

It's a silly control deck and the weakest deck in my arsenal but I love it and love that people enjoy playing against it.

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KALDRA (No Changes)

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Helm of KaldraShield of Kaldra. Sword of Kaldra. My signature. 

I still haven't won a game with Kaldra on Commander Clash yet (I've been trying for 5+ years).

My paper version of Kaldra is essentially Mono White Equipment splashing Red. It also has not won with Kaldra yet. 

It'll happen though. One day.

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That's All For Now!

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my personal collection. Thanks for reading and I'll be back when the next set is released!



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