When you’re lacking inspiration ahead of game night, it can be tempting to try a new brew. Kristen has five Commander archetypes that can be built lightning fast to inject some novelty into your roster.
Sometimes you look at your collection of decks and feel like nothing is catching your eye. Maybe you’ve played them all recently; maybe you’ve deconstructed a bunch of your decks and are just left with your tried-and-tested forever decks, and you’re wanting something fresh for Commander night. The thing is, building a new deck can take time.
It might be that you need to research niche cards or spend a while theorycrafting. Either way, if you’ve got a busy work and social life, finding time to put together a new build is sometimes a nightmare.
This week, I want to talk about five Commander archetypes you can build in an hour. It’s as simple as pulling out cards in your collection that “do the thing” and whittling down to 100*. I’ll share my experiences building one of them, too.
*Sure, whittling down to 100 can take many, many hours. But when you’re in a rush, you’ll be surprised how quick you can make cuts. Besides, it’s a first draft — it doesn’t have to be perfect. The archetypes I’ve chosen today are very forgiving, and though seemingly straightforward, also have a lot of space to make them unique to you.
When our stipulation is to build a deck quickly, then Voltron is a sure winner. Voltron comes in many flavors and colors, and can be entirely built around what you have at home.
If you have a bunch of Auras, then maybe an Auras style deck can work for you. Uril, the Miststalker is an oldie but a goodie, and one I’m surprised I don’t see more of, to be honest, given how good Hexproof is.
If your collection isn’t broad enough, equipment wise, you’ve also got the likes of Sram, Senior Edificer and Wyleth, Soul of Steel, who combine artifacts and enchantments into one deck. It’s a perfect way to have some fun with Voltron without overly committing to the archetype.
Voltron isn’t tied solely to the Boros or Naya sphere, though. Much like Wyleth, Chishiro rewards auras and equipment — but in Gruul.
Or perhaps you want something a little more kooky and… well, ridiculous? For that, there’s Yargle and Multani, who need very little in order to Commander-damage someone out of the game.
When you’re building a quick build under time pressure, it’s rewarding and fun to opt for slightly out-there Commanders you ordinarily wouldn’t pick.
At the end of the day, a deck you build quickly is going to go under plenty of revisions, if you even end up keeping it built at all. So, don’t be afraid to let loose and do something out of your comfort zone.
Token decks come in so many flavors it’s hard to know where to start. First you must decide what you want to accomplish.
I think a great place to start is Ghired, Conclave Exile. Just on his own, Ghired is a clock. 4/4s with trample get it done, and you always have a way to make more tokens in the Command Zone. Once you add in a bunch of doublers and other classic token producers, like Rampaging Baloths (and a Scute Swarm, if you’re feeling particularly dastardly), you have a force to be reckoned with.
The Naya sphere (much like with Voltron) offers countless options. Neyali is a lot of fun, as I can personally attest. There’s nothing quite like casting White Sun’s Twilight with a Strixhaven Stadium in play and then dropping Neyali for double strike.
There’s Rhys the Redeemed for an alternate two-color choice, and even Mono-color has great options like Adeline. They’re low investment decks that often want you to play less “in-demand” cards.
Token decks exist across all colors, though, so have a think about what your preferences usually are.
For spell-slingers, Magnus the Red has proved to be both potent and enjoyable. Orzhov is also a classic Tokens pairing, and for anyone wanting to try a classic archetype, Krav and Regna still hold up pretty well — especially if you have access to a Jeweled Lotus or Mana Crypt to help power them out. Which you should, by the way. It ain’t power-gaming.
Enchantress is a timeless strategy. If you’re really unsure where to take it, then you can’t go wrong with Sythis, who keeps your hand perpetually topped up.
Picking a direction for your enchantress build in an hour might be tough, but looking through what you have already can yield answers.
If you have plenty of Sagas, then Narci, Fable Singer or Tom Bombadil are slam dunk picks. Both enable Sagas well, but Narci in particular is both an easier manabase and a win condition in the command zone.
Auras mean you can go Voltron, but not necessarily. Estrid is a classic for a reason, and if you like a little blue in your decks, she’s still a great pick.
Her +2 is similar to Tezzeret and Teferi in practice, untapping your lands with mana enchantments on. Creating Totem armor is where it’s at, though, and what you should be aiming to do.
Going “wide” with auras has become a bit of a thing with Wilds of Eldraine, so your options are truly broad. But one Commander who might be worth a shot is a quick Killian, Ink Duelist build.
While he can utilize powerful Voltron auras and play reduced-cost removal, he excels in playing pacifisms and other interesting enchantment effects that cost between three and six mana. That discount is wild.
Food decks are all the rage at the moment, but everyone knows the real power is in creating Lotus Petal tokens. So why not build a deck entirely around treasures?
Prosper is the poster-boy for Treasure decks, and is actually more of an impulse-draw Commander, but it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.
There are oodles of payoffs for running Rakdos treasures in particular. From the steady drain of Agent of the Iron Throne, to the game-winning Marionette Master play; Rain of Riches, propelling your tempo way beyond your opponents plus the smoothing that comes from Deadly Dispute and other incidental treasure makers — there’s a great many tools here to utilize.
While you can go into more colors (with Grixis and sans-Green being the optimal colors, in my opinion), Rakdos has more than enough going on. If you want to jump through some additional hoops, I recommend Burakos and Guild Artisan.
Pull out all of your party creatures, jam them into a deck, add some treasure payoffs and you’re cooking. You can even branch into other artifacts too, with Laurine and Kamber. My favorite thing to do is play Harmonic Prodigy and make up to 12 treasures in a single combat before firing off Dragonspark Reactor.
GOOD STUFF REANIMATOR
And finally, we get to the inspiration for this article. I could have written just about these three cards, to be honest (and maybe I will, in the future), but there’s something to be said for the sheer flexibility and potency of Dihada, Henzie and Raffine. They just get it done.
For anyone who has a collection of powerful creatures they just want to cast and enjoy, reanimator is a solid home for them. I’ve played countless games with Chainer, Nightmare Adept, Meren of Clan Nel Toth and even some janky Angel Reanimator decks with everything from Liesa, Forgotten Archangel to Aurelia, the Warleader.
I enjoy resolving everything from Archon of Cruelty, to Etali, to a melded Brisela — and I’m guessing you do too. If that’s the case and you’re looking for a sweet hit of dopamine, then there’s nothing better than picking up one of these three Commanders in Mardu, Jund or Esper and putting your favorite cards into a deck.
Dihada gets hooked up virtually every set thanks to her Legendary-matters theme, but she’s a perfect home for the years of Tales of Middle-earth and March of the Machine legends in particular. I sat down to brew her hours before a stream last week, dumped in all of my new-ish cards and had an absolute blast.
What makes her so powerful is she is basically free to cast the first time. What keeps me coming back is access to Mardu reanimator with smoothing in the CZ.
Henzie, meanwhile, is the perfect deck for casting the more rip-roariously fun cards like Etali (both flavors)! Getting cost reduction, a card back and haste combines the best parts of Chainer, Nightmare Adept and Meren into one deck.
And if Henzie is removed, your deck keeps up thanks to Henzie’s in-built cost reduction. Plus, you also get to run the most fun-for-you-but-not-for-them cards, like Archon of Cruelty and Lord of the Void, which warms my evil little heart.
Raffine is a little different and satisfies the urge to see a lot of cards. You can concentrate on Flyers, which is a fun restriction, and gives you plenty of cheap, evasive bodies that further protect Raffine, like Esior or Gold-Forged Thopteryx.
What really makes Raffine tick, though, is token production — so branching beyond flyers and utilizing Adeline, Resplendent Cathar is a good plan. What’s the payoff? Well you get to use Archfiend of Ifnir and All-Seeing Arbiter to truly ruin people’s days.
All of the archetypes I’ve shared today can be built dead fast. And building a quick deck can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re hankering for that little bit of novelty to keep things fresh. The beauty of these archetypes is in their customization; you can do whatever you want, and still come out with a consistent build.
I truly think Dihada, Henzie and Raffine top the list, and I’m not sure Wizards can even print better options in those colors for all-around, cornerstone Commanders. I recommended giving one of them a go, because they are a blast to play.
If you’d like to check out the Dihada list I threw together in an hour (which is basically a pile of Legendary things I opened in the last few months that had been sat on my desk) you can find it over on Moxfield. Let me know what you think on Twitter.
Kristen is Card Kingdom’s Head Writer, and member of the Commander Advisory Group. Formerly a competitive Pokémon TCG grinder, she has been playing Magic since Shadows Over Innistrad, which in her opinion, was a great set to start with. When she’s not taking names with Equipment and Aggro strategies in Commander, she loves to play any form of Limited.