Convertible Commander: Xenagos, God of Revels
Author’s Note: We all make mistakes, and I’m guilty of a big one. For the first draft of this article, I thought I understood how the commander works, but I didn’t. I appreciate everyone who pointed out the mistake, and the article has been corrected. The deck is a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoy it! –M.W.
We can be composites. In fact, I’d argue almost all of us are some amount of each. But most of us have one, or two, of these which dominate how we approach, and enjoy, the game. (It’s worth pointing out each point of view is both valid and worthwhile. It’s also good to note each type can be a good — or bad — player, and winners of Pro Tours have been all three.)
Me? I’m a Timmy/Spike. Sure, I like to play with good cards and have challenging games, but more than anything else, I want to have an experience. I want to attack with a 14/14 double-striking Giant Adephage so I can make two more. So, um . . . let’s do that.
Xenagos, God of Revels — Commander | Mark Wischkaemper
We really want Xenagos out early and we have a lot of fairly big plays, so we’ve got to play some mana. Let’s start with 41 lands. That’s one more than this column’s normal, but we’ve got some big spells and we’re not running any silly ramp. It actually started with 42, but Firewild Borderpost is a thing, and it gives us two devotion just for existing, plus we can play it first turn, so 41 it is. We’ve got some free stuff that comes with lands — Arcane Lighthouse, for example, or Mystifying Maze — but most of the time we’re just playing lands which make mana. Kessig Wolf Run, too, can be a bonus later if we don’t have anything else to do.
A quick note about this style of play. We are intentionally sacrificing consistency for fun. Sometimes we just aren’t going to hit our lands and a 6-drop is going to sit in our hand as we gaze wistfully at the top of our library, hoping for any land at all. But other times we’re going to have a game where every single turn we’re playing action which affects the board in some splashy way, rather than taking a turn or two to cast some puny spell which does nothing but pull extra lands.
We’ve got an Acidic Slime, a Reclamation Sage, and a Krosan Grip (just in case some jerk plays Blood Moon or is getting too threatening with an Assemble the Legion). Polis Crusher, too, can take care of some problems. Heroic Intervention saves us from someone else’s Wrath of God, and Chandra’s Ignition serves as our very own wrath effect. We might be able to Plague Wind someone with a Fused Armed // Dangerous on something huge, but probably not.
But really we’re here to just have fun. Imagine this line of play: turn one, land (whee!), turn two Primal Rage, turn three Fires of Yavimaya, turn four Blood Mist, turn five Xenagos, turn six Hydra Omnivore trigger Xenagos targeting the Hydra and swing with both. Xenagos is a 6/5 Double-Striking Trampler. Hydra Omnivore, meanwhile, is 16/16, also Double-Striking, also Trampling, but if we can hit someone clean every opponent will take 32 damage.
Malignus is fun with Double-Strike, because it should be worth enough to kill, well, anyone at the table. Rogue’s Passage will make that easy. Take that, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic! Siege Behemoth plus Haste means we don’t even need Trample. Hydra Omnivore loves Xenagos, Double Strike, and Trample a whole lot, and just in case, we’ve got some fun Bloodrush creatures which can be big and stompy if we want or just buff up an already huge dude for extra oomph. Urabrask the Hidden certainly makes a splash, and Xenagos, the Reveler (his Planeswalker version) will draw some attention, not to mention sometimes just give us a giant thing for free. Plus, we really can do that 14/14 Double Striking Giant Adephage thing, which makes me giggle out loud.
Sadly, we can’t fit every fun thing in a 100-card stack. Some of them break the budget, but sometimes there’s just not enough room. That’s where the optionboard comes in this time around. We’ve got 10 extra cards, each of which is swappable for some of our other big drops. Many thanks to A. E. Marling and his excellent article on the subject from a few years back for the ideas.
- Crater Hellion
- Cyclops Gladiator
- Deus of Calamity
- Hellkite Tyrant
- Hunted Troll
- Ignition Team
- Nessian Wilds Ravager
- Sheltering Ancient
- Varchild’s War-Riders
- Volcano Hellion
There are a few things worth adding with some extra money. Avatar of Slaughter comes to mind; it’s pricey, but boy is it right on for this deck. Scourge of the Throne and Balefire Dragon, too, would be good. Stonehoof Chieftain grants an awfully powerful ability for a deck which really wants to spend most of its time in the red zone. And Raging Ravine would be an excellent addition, if for no other reason than it’s just straight-up fantastic with Xenagos kicking around.
Do any of you have a deck just for fun, sacrificing power or consistency for the sheer joy of the cards you love? Let us know in the comments!
This is not the deck to take to your LGS’s monthly Commander tournament where the winner takes home a box. It’s not the deck to play when someone across the table pulls out Sharuum the Hegemon while casually commenting she normally combos out by turn five. But it’s the deck to play when everyone is there to have a blast, and whether it wins or loses, it will make an impression and leave behind a great story.
Total cost of main deck: $98.31
Total cost of optionboard: $8.66
Total cost of both: $106.97