Much like the latest set releases, most of the Magic content sphere is primarily focused on the new cards and decks. While it is exciting, it can make it feel like we need to constantly update and change our decks in order to keep up.
There are many decks that have stood the test of time, however; ones that persevere through set releases, never to be taken apart. These “forever decks” are an emblem: they may update & improve over time, but they remain a distinct, identifiable part of the player. Many players own at least one such forever deck, and some creators even become synonymous with the commander.
It can be difficult to find a forever deck, but I’ve identified a number of aspects and considerations that can help you to find yours. To highlight these, I’ll be using real examples from me, my local playgroup, and from some great creator friends from within the community. This will be less about the individual card choices, and more about helping you identify what matters most to you in Magic, which is at the core of every forever deck.
Flexibility – Chase’s The Locust God Deck
Many players stick with a deck because of its flexibility, and its ability to adapt to any situation. Chase (@manacurves) has made a name for themselves with The Locust God, a deck that has a heavy focus on wheels. It has the flexibility to work through any predicament, and has multiple different avenues to victory.
“The Locust God is one of my all time favorite decks. I’ve had it since college when he first came out, and I have been slowly foiling him out over the years. What I really enjoy about the deck is that it isn’t linear. It makes me think several turns ahead. It can win in a number of ways, and finding which way is the most viable is always fun.”
“Will I be able to win through a lock with Narset, Parter of Veils? Will it be with no cards in my library with Laboratory Maniac? Maybe it’ll be with points counters from Strixhaven Stadium, damage from Impact Tremors, or even just straight-up combat? The wins with this deck usually have to be precise, and finding that threshold mid game is always fun and exciting!”
Consistent Yet Varied – Angelo’s Gonti, Lord of Luxury Deck
Some decks can become boring over time if they are too consistent, particularly at a casual level. Angelo (@thejesguy) has found a way to circumvent this with his Gonti, Lord of Luxury deck. Despite the number of tutors in the deck, the only consistent thing about it is its wild variance!
“My absolute favorite deck is Gonti, Lord of Luxury. I built it in 2016 when Kaladesh initially released, and I’ve been tuning it ever since. The entire deck revolves around maximizing Gonti’s ability to steal opponent’s cards. The deck runs a plethora of tutors to ensure that always happens, but the gameplay wildly varies, since I am relying on my opponent’s cards to close out games. The mix of consistency and variance has cemented Gonti as one of my forever decks.”
A Solid Go-To – Tara’s Tuvasa the Sunlit Deck
It can be important for a forever deck to be one that you not only want to pick up often, but one that you feel you can play regularly. Tara is one of the players in my regular playgroup, and her Tuvasa the Sunlit deck is one that I see a lot of. It’s at just the right power level to be able to throw down against almost anything, and is ideal to play when she doesn’t know what to expect from the rest of the table.
“I’ve had Tuvasa for several years now, and I don’t see myself ever taking her apart. She is a very good Voltron commander, but she is not oppressive or overly difficult to interact with. Her enchantress ability also gives me card advantage while helping her consistency, which allows me to stay in a game longer.”
“I keep her together because it’s a fun, synergistic deck that is at a good power level to bring to an unknown pod.”
A Ship of Theseus – Aaron’s Meren of Clan Nel Toth Deck
Decks can be an ever-evolving entity; they might have no clearly defined end point, or they are in a constant state of flux. These kinds of decks can still be forever decks, despite their shifting nature. Aaron is another player from my regular pod, and their Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck is one such build that is continuously evolving with the player.
“Meren was one of the first commanders I ever played with, and I love her play style. For me, she’s a bit of a project commander; there will always be new toys for her in almost every set, so there will always be new ways to build the deck. She’s built to be a little slower and more fair right now, but there were times in the past where she was much faster. I really enjoy the modularity of the deck, it’s what keeps me coming back again and again.”
A Labor of Love – Anthony’s Kalamax, the Stormsire Deck
Sometimes, decks can be more than just the card themselves, or even the play experience the cards provide. Some forever decks are chronicles of the memories the game has given us, from the friends we’ve made to the impact it has had on us as people. Anthony’s Kalamax, the Stormsire deck is one such list, where the cards are more than just game pieces.
“One of my longest-running decks is my Temur Merfolk tribal deck. Over the years of playing, I eventually honed down precisely my favorite way to play magic, and built this deck to do exactly what I love to do. And in that time, I’ve filled the deck with foils I love, cards signed by people to bring back wonderful memories of playing this game, and weird tricks that are only possible after playing the same deck for so long. There is now so much of myself represented in these 100 cards, that I can’t possibly imagine what could ever bring me to take it apart.”
He was eager to show off some of the deck’s contents, and rightly so. “These signatures are from Sheldon Menery, Gavin Verhey, Chris Rahn, and friends like Andy & Nick from Scrap Trawlers. Shoot, even that Pendelhaven was in my Infect deck from the only large(ish) tournament I ever won!”
It’s these kinds of memories and chance encounters that define us as both people and players. Having a physical representation of these experiences that you can look back on with fondness is priceless, and a forever deck is the perfect home for them.
Embodying The Role – Scott’s Laelia, the Blade Reforged Deck
Some players have a flair for the dramatic. In the latest episode of The BM Cast, we talked in depth about the links between improv routines and games of Commander. The core takeaway was that those involved can assume a role and embody it fully to create a dramatic and entertaining game. While this might sound like more of a mindset consideration, it is possible to make decks that can help achieve this, like my Laelia, the Blade Reforged deck.
I love to really embody my role within a game, and I’m constantly aware of what that might be at any time. I always want to have the tools at my disposal to be able to take my role in the game to the next level, and Laelia allows me to do that. If I’m the threat at the table, I can cause chaos with spells like Disrupt Decorum, but if I’m behind, I know I have the tools to claw my way back in dramatic fashion.
I recently mentioned on stream that this deck feels like the physical manifestation of an anime protagonist. It’s a fun-loving, carefree aggressive deck that’s constantly getting stronger as the game progresses. If I encounter a setback, however, I can recoup my losses before embarking on my redemption arc. If I believe in the heart of the cards, Laelia can grow to be bigger than ever before, knocking the biggest threat right out of the game!
If there’s a specific role you like to play in Commander, a deck that lets you lean into it completely would surely become a forever deck. A Mizzix of the Izmagnus storm deck can help you manifest a mad scientist vibe, a Jalira, Master Polymorphist polymorph deck can cement your role as the wild card, and a taxing Derevi, Empyrial Tactician encapsulates the full “fun police” role. Once you choose the right fit for the part you want to play, you’re most of the way towards finding a forever deck.
There’s no one way to find a forever deck. Experimentation can be a big part of the process, and finding one might not even be intentional. Just be open to the idea, and look for what matters to you when you’re brewing, building, and playing. Not every deck needs to become a permanent part of your arsenal, either. Sometimes you’ll build a deck that is a blast to play for a few months, before it loses its charm; it’s important to celebrate the joy it brought during that time, because that’s one commander closer to finding your next forever deck!
Do you have any forever deck(s)? What do you look for in one? I’d love to know more about what makes people want to keep certain decks together, so be sure to tell me over on Twitter! Happy playing!
Scott is an Irish content creator and the Head of Budget Magic for the Izzet League. He focuses on affordable decks in Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper, particularly ones that stray from the mainstream. When he’s not writing about his favorite decks, he can be found talking incessantly about them on Twitter and on The Budget Magic Cast.