Refining Your Deck

When tuning your commander deck, you may notice that sometimes your deck seems to not function correctly or some cards don’t work with others. This is a common pitfall when it comes to deck building and tuning.

Pick a Main Strategy

You may find yourself adding too many strategies together, causing your core strategy to become lost in the mess. What do I mean by this? Well let’s give an example.

Let’s say your commander deck specialises in drawing cards to deal damage to your opponents. You think that since your drawing so many cards, you should add the ability to mill your opponents for each card you draw. This is an example of a Nekusar, the Mindrazer commander deck that I’ve seen players trying to make work.

You may notice that with this example your splitting your deck’s options on how to win the game, damage and mill. The problem with this is your damage and milling effects do not work together. Instead of a single strategy that can be built upon and strategies that accompany each other, you have included 2 strategies which cannot capitalise on one another.

With this issue, to make use of an analogy, you will find instead of a using sturdy finely tuned blade, you’ll have a flimsy distorted stick.

How do we improve this? You should look at a single strategy that you want your deck to focus on. Make sure a majority of your deck is applied to this strategy.

Taking our Nekusar commander example into account, we can capitalise on extra draw for opponents and extra damage-on-draw effects. Forcing opponents to draw to take damage is already what Nekusar is wanting to do. It may seem like an obvious answer, but with 99 cards in the deck, the main strategy can often be lost in the mess.

Now it isn’t a bad thing to add in other strategies into your deck. You just have to make sure they are further extending your core strategy. These strategies should increase the potency of your main strategy and not move away from it.

If we take Nekusar into account once more, we could look at adding double-damage and wheel effects. You may see how these 2 strategies are different from Nekusar’s main one, but they accompany it and further increase it’s potency by increasing damage from Nekusar’s draw effect.

Tweaking Draw, Ramp & Remove

In a previous article, we talked about splitting your deck into 5 piles, following the ’35-35-10-10-10′ rule. Three of those piles are 10 draw, 10 ramp, and 10 removal cards.

When you first build your deck, you may notice you shove what you have into the deck to make it as fast as possible. Let’s face it. Finding 100 cards for a proper deck is a lot of work and we like shortcuts. You may have just added generic cards to make up your draw, ramp and removal.

You can make your deck more powerful by finding alternative cards that can contribute to your main strategy. If we want an example, we should take a look at Edric, Spymaster of Trest.

This is a deck that loves to attack with creatures constantly as it core strategy. We could look at adding cards such as Harvest Season to ramp based on the number of tapped creatures we control. We could even include Aether Mutation to not only remove a threatening creature, but make more creatures to attack with.

You will notice both of these cards feed into each other, making each other stronger. Magic the Gathering has a massive card pool that we can abuse, finding cards that may be fringe or mediocre, but may be powerful in the right strategy.

Final Thoughts

Fine-tuning a Commander deck is quite an effort and time consuming, but don’t get discouraged. It is a rewarding process.

Remember to apply these techniques to help with your refining process and you will not only find your deck will become stronger over time, but you will understand your deck better, making tuning it that much easier.

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