| Illustrated by Greg Staples
Hello, and welcome to Am I the Bolas?
This column is for all of you out there who have ever played some Magic and wondered if you were the bad guy. I'm here to take in your story with all of its nuances so I can bring some clarity to all those asking, "Am I the Bolas?" Whether it's because of a mean play or even just getting bored with your playgroup, I'm ready to hear you out and offer advice. All you have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I'm Mark Carbonza, the raised oil slick collector's edition foil borderless version.
This week, is there a way to make a commander less scary?
(Email edited for brevity, clarity, spelling, adding that thing where you can see the cards if you hover over them.)
Oh hi Salut, Mark!
I have made adeck here with the goal of being a reactionary, political deck to play amongst other decks I bring. After playing it twice over a few weeks among my other decks with friends who agreed to it, I lost both times swiftly before really impacting the games (fair enough, they had well-built decks). Later, I moved to a new city with new locals to play against. I hoped the Triplets' reputation had been refreshed.
Here's my list: https://www.moxfield.com/decks/oUtKdCwN2EuNC3YQXiivSg
I want to play it with people I've played with for seven months now who I get along well with, so I brought the deck a few times to show them what to expect. My hope was it would put them at ease and they could evaluate how powerful it is, but so far no luck. My question is, can a commander like Sen Triplets ever have an underwhelming-enough deck to play, or is it doomed to be cringed at and be met with "maybe next week when I bring a different deck"? I like the challenge of having a scary commander that's trying to be political with helping others draw, etc.
Many thanks from a frequentplayer.
I followed up with Bryce and asked about his tutor package and this is what he said:
Tutors are fine with the folks I play with, but that's understandable for others not to be keen on them in a singleton format, so I can try replacing them with generic card draw. I tutor/Transmute just for/ so I can have mana of any colour in case the board's strongest player is a red/green one. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply and I am curious to see what folks say in the comments to this polarizing commander!
Thanks so much for writing in! (If you, the reader, would like to write to me, please email your story to email@example.com)
I love this question. I think it speaks to parts of Commander I really love, such as finding unique ways to experience the game and trying to make a square peg round.
are notorious... at least they used to be a lot more than they are currently. The Triplets do something that some players absolutely detest: theft. Whether that's in the form of or quite literally getting to cast their spells, lots of players have a reaction that's not dissimilar to a child saying, "That's mine!"
And I understand! I built my deck for me to play it! Why should you get to play my deck? And the reason is because it's possible. Because this game we love is varied and evolving and strange and ever-changing. Every Commander game is new. Unless you're playing with basically only tutors or you're playing with redundancy cranked to the max, Commander is a high-variance format and that's super appealing to me.
So if I sit down and someone takes control of me for a turn, it is what it is. If I really hate it, I can ask to face down another deck or find another pod. Surely, with repeated exposure to a certain commander yielding similar results every time, I'll grow to dislike a commander entirely.
So we come to your question: how do we make those scary commanders more palatable and less scary? Is it possible?
Yeah, absolutely. Lenny Wooley does it in each article of Power Sink over at EDHREC.
You've found part of the way, at least! Find a very unique strategy and employ it to the utmost. This doesn't always work, though. For example, I have a friend whoseis actually a Sliver deck. Rather than using or one of the other five-color monstrosities, my friend decided to remove two of the (at the time) strongest colors from the deck and focus this strategy to make it less scary. Unfortunately, Slivers snowball pretty quickly, and anybody who has seen three Slivers in play at once will tell you that at least one of them has got to go.
That said, with, finding ways to give rather than take is an interesting route. When you show up to an LGS, I'm not sure people trust your word until they've seen some group hug elements get played. And that's the concept that I think this all hinges on:
Managing what people think of you and your playstyle is important to your ability to show that you can pull off this experiment of a less scary version of a commander. I've seen my fair share of situations where I pull up to an LGS and get introduced to the "not-that-kind-of" deck and get either the exact kind of deck I thought I'd see or something very cool and new! (It was Muldrotha Enchantress, by the way. I had never seen one before!)
So build the trust necessary to not be the target and when you are, it's water off a duck's back. You have to be chill because these are people who have likely been hurt by the commander you've chosen before. Show them through action, show them your deck before beginning the game, or run it by your playgroup if that's who you're going to be playing against.
All in all, enjoy the surprises that will emerge from your new deck while also being receptive to the possibility that a deck led bymight still be a saltlick. If this is a project you're hoping to keep ongoing, maybe do a quick debrief after games asking what can be done to make the Triplets less scary or if there were any elements of the deck your opponents liked or disliked.
I appreciate you asking because this means that you're taking your opponents' wants and needs into account and that's very kind. Just don't forget that your fun is important, too.
I look forward to hearing how this goes! Thanks again!