The Commander Skeleton

Commander is one of, if not, the most fun way to play Magic the Gathering these days. Although it can be very daunting for a player to build a commander deck.

Many players trying to break into the format have trouble building their own decks, getting flustered and stressed when going through the process. There is no simple strategy online on how to build a functioning Commander deck, until now.

For years, I’ve been working on a commander skeleton that players can start with as a playable deck. This skeleton follows a simple rule:

35 – 35 – 10 – 10 – 10

I’ve drilled these numbers into my head for years, helping me build new commander decks for both my friends and myself. This rule relates to the 5 sections you should split your commander deck skeleton into:

  • Lands – 35
  • Ramp spells – 10
  • Removal spells -10
  • Draw spells – 10
  • Strategy – 35

Total: 100 cards. Very simple list to follow. This skeleton allows you to play your custom commander deck straight away.

Using this method, you can get in some great games and tune the list to your liking. You may find you need more ramp, or need less removal, and this is what the skeleton is for, to give you a general deck to start playing with.

I will go further into detail about the 5 skeleton points.

Lands – 35

Every deck needs lands to run. Some need a lot, some need very few. A lot of players skimp on their lands as they are usually the most boring part of your deck. The reason why we start off with 35 lands is so we can see how often we get stuck or flooded on land as we test the deck.

Try to use as few lands that come into play tapped. It’s just as bad as missing a land drop in most cases.

Note: A land that does not tap for mana cannot be considered as part of this 35.

Ramp Spells – 10

Commander is a unique format where ramp usually reigns supreme and increases your chances of winning greatly. Because of this, every commander deck needs ways to increase the amount of mana they can produce each turn.

Mana rocks, mana dorks, rampant growth effects and rituals are all powerful ramp effects in the format. Be sure you look into ramp effects under 4 mana so you don’t fall to far behind your opponents.

Removal Spells – 10

A lot of strong decks in commander usually focus a few cards, that when combined, provide a large advantage and win the game, most of the time into a game ending combo. The best way to stop your opponents from achieving this is through removal. Removal counts as any spell or effect that can remove or delay a problem. This can be anything from counter spells, exiling, destroying, or even bouncing.

It is usually best to find removal spells that can hit more than 1 type of card so you can react to a wider range of strategies.

Draw Spells – 10

With all the spells you’ll be playing a game, you will find you are running out of cards in your hand really quick. Keeping a constant flow of cards coming to your hand helps you find answers and ways to progress your board state. You want to look for spells such as cantrips or spells that draw you more than 1 card.

The best kind of draw spells are permanents that can draw you cards constantly over time.

Strategy – 35

This is where you start making your commander deck do it’s thing. You have an idea of what you want your deck to do, so you have 35 cards to work with. Your commander/s are included in this 35.

You can fill in this space with tutors, combos, game changing cards or anything you want your deck to do.

You may also find that cards you are adding may fall into one of the other categories. This is alright because the more consistent your deck, the smoother it will run.

Putting It All Together

This method helps turn complex deck building into a simple practice.

Remember though, this is the start of a deck, not the final result. You can now playtest your own custom commander deck idea and make adjustments as you see fit.

Now that you understand the concept, how easy does this method look to you? Does it make you want to build a deck right now?

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