The most important mechanic coming out of the new Commander 2016 set of decks is Partner. Basically, you can have two commanders in your deck if both have Partner. Your deck’s color identity is the union of both commanders.
The decks will have 10 Partner commanders in enemy colors, and 5 in allied colors, leading to (apparently – I haven’t done the math) 105 different combinations.
That’s a lot of decks. How about we cut that down to around a third the number of “decks” to build, but have access to all 105? How? Here’s my thought.
A typical commander deck has ~38 lands, and four to five mana rocks. For simplicity, let’s say 42 mana-producing cards.
There are 25 possible 2, 3, or 4 color combinations of Partners. What if we built 25 42-card manabases and 15 29-card decks, one for each Partner?
I get that dual lands can be expensive, and that could be a sticking point to this approach. However, you don’t have to build all 25 manabases right away. Work up to it, use budget alternatives, etc. Maybe have a core of cards you’d put in every manabase (Sol Ring, Chromatic Lantern, Command Tower, etc.) then additional lands to flesh it out.
This is, in spirit, a chunkier approach to the Staple Binder idea championed by Commanders’ Brew and others, and could lead to some interesting game play, if those 29-card decks are fashioned appropriately.
Here’s an illustration of how this might work:
Example manabase core (8 cards):
Sol Ring, Chromatic Lantern, Commander’s Sphere, Gilded Lotus, Prismatic Geoscope, Command Tower, Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge.
Example Jund manabase (34 cards):
Aether Hub, Blackcleave Cliffs, Blood Crypt, Bloodstained Mire, Cinder Glade, Dragonskull Summit, Fire-Lit Thicket, Graven Cairns, Overgrown Tomb, Rootbound Crag, Savage Lands, Smoldering Marsh, Stomping Ground, Twilight Mire, Wooded Foothills, Woodland Cemetery, 8 Forest, 5 Mountain, 5 Swamp.
Example cheap Jund manabase (34 cards, under $8 on TCG)
Jund Panorama, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Savage Lands, Temple of Abandon, Temple of Malice, Temple of Malady, Golgari Rot Farm, Gruul Turf, Rakdos Carnarium, Akoum Refuge, Bloodfell Caves, Jungle Hollow, Kazandu Refuge, Rugged Highlands, Cinder Barrens, Foul Orchard, Golgari Guildgate, Gruul Guildgate, Rakdos Guildgate, Timber Gorge, 13 basics.
Tana, the Bloodsower mini-deck (29 cards)
TBD – waiting to see contents of the precon that includes Tana. Expect an aggressive token theme.
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan mini-deck (29 cards)
TBD – same, but a counter theme.
Grab those four things, shuffle up, go.
In the three-color manabases, you’ll need to tweak the counts on basic lands to reflect which color is common across the two commanders. I recommend including extras, then pulling out a few in the colors that are not repeated to show the focus on the common color. In the above example, I have more Green than Black or Red as Green is the common color across those two commanders.
Yes, tearing this down after play would suck. But that’s the drawback of any “Staples Binder” based approach. You can’t just scoop, shuffle, store.
Tweaks to this approach might shrink the number of lands in the manabases, and include appropriate utility lands in the mini-decks. Not EVERY commander is going to want High Market, for example.
The Partner mechanic opens up a completely new approach to Commander deck building. While you can certainly find a pair, and build a custom 100-card deck for them just like before, the flexibility here allows for a greatly expanded set of play experiences from a smaller number of built components.
Any thoughts about this approach? It’s obviously not going to produce highly-tuned decks, but my gut says it will generate a much more flexible arsenal of decks than we’d typically get from 15 commanders. And it’s kinda cool.