Vorthos Vortex: The Most Dangerous Gamer
The Most Dangerous Gamer by Aaron J. Riley
For today's edition of Vorthos Vortex, I wanted to pay homage to gamers and gaming culture more broadly, and with the annual Global Game Jam having just wrapped up, there's no better time. For those of you who are game developers and those of you who just enjoy games and for whom games are an integral part of your life, this article is especially for you.
The commander for our deck today is The Most Dangerous Gamer. This commander is a relatively new addition to the Magic canon from last year's Unfinity set. The theme of the set was carnivals, theme parks, and games, so we were given a hefty pool of cards that fit this theme excellently. As you can probably guess, many of the cards in today's set come from Unfinity. For those who may be unaware, Wizards of the Coast changed the rules for the latest Un- set and actually made some of the cards in the set legal in the eternal formats, including Commander. The whole thing was unfortunately a bit of a debacle, as visual indicators on the cards don't make it easily understood which cards are legal and which are not. Here's a quick rundown: if a card has an acorn symbol at the bottom of the card, it is not legal in Commander. These acorns are treated the same as silver borders in the Un- sets of old. If a card doesn't have an acorn, then it's legal in Commander. Today's decklist, in order to be legal in Commander, will omit all cards with the acorn symbol.
We will also be including a new card type in this deck: attractions. Attractions are a card type unique to Unfinity, and they are treated as artifacts. Along with attractions, Unfinity features a new stickers mechanic that will be important to our deck. More information on both of these mechanics can be found here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/news/feature/unfinity-release-notes-2022-10-07
On top of the gaming- and carnival-themed cards, I've also included a number of dice-rolling cards, as dice-rolling is one of the most foundational and iconic game mechanics.
As a quick reminder, this is a column that discusses Vorthos--flavorful and aesthetically minded--deckbuilding. The goal of decks designed in this column is to create decks where all, or most, of the cards in the deck fit within a particular aesthetic or theme. The theme could be anything from holidays to art styles to Magic: the Gathering lore. A Vorthos deck should leave some kind of aesthetic impression or tell some kind of story to other players. Competitive viability is also taken into consideration, though we build budget-friendly decks of more modest power levels (5 or 6 out of 10) for casual play environments. With that, let's jump back into today's deck!
For sticker-related creatures, we have Blorbian Buddy, Carnival Carnivore, Chicken Troupe, Clandestine Chameleon, Lineprancers, Scampire, Ticketomaton, and Wicker Picker. Something to keep in mind about stickers is that a player is required to choose 10 unique sticker sheets from which they will draft 3 random sheets to use in a game. This means that one cannot reliably design decks around specific stickers, as the odds of drafting those stickers are somewhat unlikely within a given game. Instead, it's best to see them as a bonus or an extra boost that you can use to augment your existing strategies. I like to use sticker cards because they are fun and unique, plus this Vorthos deck is all about unpredictability and surprises, so they fit the theme of the deck well.
For attraction-related creatures, our decklist includes "Lifetime" Pass Holder, Deadbeat Attendant, Discourtesy Clerk, Draconian Gate-Bot, Line Cutter, Petting Zookeeper, Quick Fixer, Soul Swindler, Spinnerette, Arachnobat, and Squirrel Squatters.
Because of the small pool of available attraction and sticker cards, it isn't really viable to build an entire deck around either of the mechanics. Instead, each mechanic is meant to augment the rest of the deck and to provide fun flavor to the deck.
Finally, we have dice-rolling creatures, which include Ancient Brass Dragon, Ancient Bronze Dragon, Atomwheel Acrobats, Celebr-8000, Centaur of Attention, Dissatisfied Customer, Resolute Veggiesaur, Vegetation Abomination, and Xenosquirrels.
Again, given not only the variability with the sticker and attraction mechanics but the uncertainty of dice rolls, this deck will be less reliable than a more finely tuned deck, but that's what makes it fun. You should be aware of that variability before you start building it. Where it lacks consistency, though, it makes up for in Vorthos and flavor. It's one of those decks that is incredibly fun to play even in games that you don't win.
Instants and Sorceries
We have a number of flavorful instant and sorcery cards in our deck list that will help us remove threats, draw cards, bring cards back from the graveyard, and visit attractions.
For removal, we have Saw in Half, Six-Sided Die, Attempted Murder (which will also likely create us some Bird tokens), Battle at the Bridge, and Black Hole.
Going into this deck build, I hadn't intended on making graveyard recursion a part of the strategy, but I found through the process of looking for Vorthos cards that there were several cards that synergized with the deck's flavor while also providing us with recursion effects, and given that there aren't a large number of sticker and attraction cards in the deck, it's important to find ways to make the most out of the sticker and attraction cards that we do have, and recursion provides us a means of retrieving those cards and allowing us to trigger their effects again while also just providing us a lot of value. For recursion, we have Pair o' Dice Lost, Return to Action, Song of Inspiration, and Danse Macabre.
We also have two valuable cards that allow us to visit attractions in Coming Attraction and Step Right Up.
Artifacts and Enchantments
Today's deck build only has three enchantments, but each of them is valuable and flavorful. Done for the Day allows us to create a Treasure token or gain a ticket if we control a Performer, Robot, or Employee creature, criteria that we will likely meet on most turns. Atomwheel Acrobats, Celebr-8000, Centaur of Attention, Chicken Troupe, Deadbeat Attendant, Discourtesy Clerk, Draconian Gate-Bot, Lineprancers, Petting Zookeeper, Quick Fixer, Resolute Veggiesaur, Scampire, Soul Swindler, Spinnerette, Arachnobat, and Ticketomaton all fall under that umbrella!
Night Shift of the Living Dead allows us to pay life to modify die rolls, and when we roll a 6, we create a 2/2 Employee creature token. Given how often we'll be rolling dice in this deck, this card should generate several Employee creature tokens in a given game.
Finally, we have the iconic Phyrexian Arena, which allows us to draw cards each turn. I included it in this deck specifically because the arena theming fits well within the gaming and entertainment aesthetic of the deck.
Most of the artifacts (outside of the attractions) are mana rocks, but there are several Vorthos artifacts that I want to highlight.
Clown Car is a fun Vehicle that has us rolling (X) dice to create Clown Robot creature tokens and put +1/+1 counters on Clown Car. Strength-Testing Hammer, which hearkens to the classical strength test games at carnivals, has us rolling a die on the equipped creature's attack to pump the creature and possibly draw a card.
The Deck of Many Things has an activated ability that has us rolling a D20 to determine which of its effects triggers. All of them are great: we'll either return a card from our graveyard (with the possibility of getting to choose that card if we roll a 20) or draw cards. Ticket Turbotubes is a mana rock that we can also pay mana into to generate stickers.
Vexing Puzzlebox is another fun mana rock with a triggered ability where we put counters on it any time we roll dice, which will be happening a lot in our deck, and once we have 100 counters on the card, we can remove the counters and fetch an artifact card from our deck.
For today's article, I'm covering attractions in a separate section, since they are a unique card type. As noted before, attractions are a unique type of artifact that have their own separate deck that is separate from the main deck. You draw a card from the attraction deck whenever the card ability, "open an Attraction" triggers. There are several cards in Unfinity with this ability, and I've included most of the relevant and legal attraction-related cards that I could in this deck (remember that not all Unfinity cards are legal in Commander), though not all of the attractions themselves, as our attraction deck only needs 10 attractions. Once you have played an attraction, each turn during your main phase you will roll a six-sided die, and if the die lands on one of the numbers highlighted on the left side of the card, the corresponding effect will trigger.
There aren't many attraction cards to choose from, so I put in the most flavorful and highest value attractions in this deck. You'll find a list of the included attractions as part of the larger deck list. Keep in mind that attractions don't count towards the total card count for the Commander deck, as they compose a separate deck. This means that the deck list will have 110 cards, even though Commander decks themselves are limited to 100 cards.
I think that you'll find The Most Dangerous Gamer to be among the most fun, unique, and unpredictable ones you've ever built. Each game plays out differently, and that's exactly what makes this deck worth building. It's an homage to gaming and a reminder as to why we play Magic: the Gathering and Commander. I hope you all will give this deck a try.
That's all for this edition of Vorthos Vortex. I'll be back soon with more Vorthos content for Commander in the coming weeks. I'll also be writing some articles about designing Commander cubes soon as well, so be on the lookout for those.
Happy gathering Commander players!
The Most Dangerous Gamer
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