Mogis and Merieke

Sometimes you have problems at your Commander table — problems too tough for your average deck to solve. To help, I've created a pair of decks perfectly suited for very specific situations: "Closing Time" and "The Answer."

Me and the crew had just spent 2 hours grinding our way through a tough and competitive game, everyone trading card advantage, momentum swinging wildly, a tense standoff, all leading up to an epic shootout finish.

Lew casually shuffled the Planechase deck. "Come on, you mooks up for one more?"

"I don't know. Maybe if it's a quick one," answered Molly.

"Aw man, there's no such thing as a quick game of Commander." The disappointment in Jerome's voice was obvious.

That's when the bartender chimed in, guy named Mogis. He'd been letting us play Commander games at his joint for a couple of weeks, but he wasn't the most patient guy. "Last call! I'm kicking the lot of you out in an hour. You don't gotta go home, but you can't stay here."

"All right, Moe," Lew said. "Pull up a chair and help us move this last game along."

Closing Time — Commander | Ed Grabianowski

Commander (1)
Creatures (29)
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (6)
Enchantments (16)
Artifacts (2)
Lands (36)
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Mogis, God of Slaughter
Mogis's deck is designed to accelerate Commander games by inflicting repeating, inevitable damage to everyone at the table, usually including itself. It's like a giant clock sitting on the table counting down to everyone's doom, a razor-sharp blade hissing through the air as it slowly descends. Its win conditions are ways to dole out the last remaining bit of damage needed to finish off an opponent already battered and bruised by Harsh Mentor, Maralen of the Mornsong, Havoc Festival, or Mogis, God of Slaughter himself. Attack with a Cryptborn Horror (who probably has a bunch of +1/+1 counters on it) and cast Howl from Beyond or Hatred. Take out stragglers with Breath of Malfegor or Disintegrate. Or just sit back while everyone rushes to figure out how they're going to survive Sulfuric Vortex.

To be sure, this deck is not great at winning Commander games. Its goal is to let you play a fun game that wraps up relatively quickly. Figuring out a way to come out victorious with it is a bit of a puzzle. Some games it's just not going to happen. The other players may not target you at first, but when it gets down to the point where you're going to kill them on their next upkeep, they're probably going to send a lot of heat in your direction.

Don't worry about it, though. Even if that happens, the deck still did its job. It let you squeeze in one more game of Commander, and along the way you got do fun stuff like make someone really sweat over a Choice of Damnations, Deadly Tempest the tokens player to death, attack with Flameblast Dragon while you had Furnace of Rath in play, or watch all your opponents shred each other to pieces with Rite of the Raging Storm tokens (egged on by Goblin Diplomats and Antagonism).

There are obvious ways to give this deck a higher win percentage. I have intentionally avoided those things because that isn't the point of my version of the deck, and because a lot of those cards are not fun to play against. That's why you don't see Exsanguinate or Kokusho, the Evening Star. I am considering adding Blade of Selves and Warchief Giant, however. I'm not sure if I want to push this into more of the "everybody shares the pain" direction, or remove some of the high-curve creatures in favor of some simple burn spells for closing out games. Oh, be careful about playing Bedlam early. We want to make the candle burn faster, not hit it with a flamethrower. Removing blocking from the game makes it into a crazy damage race, which is not always what you want (but sometimes it's exactly what you want).

One last note: this deck is pretty budget-friendly, and with a handful of changes you can make it extremely budget friendly. But it also has an unusually high percentage of cards that have really great alternate art versions. Goblin Diplomats and Cryptborn Horror have great extended art promos, while the textless Blightning and Bituminous Blast are very cool.

So there we were, back at Mogis's Bar & Grille for another week of playing Commander. After a few games, Molly gave me a nod that said, "Let's talk." Out of earshot of the table, she told me what was going down.

"This guy keeps playing a certain deck and it's a real problem. I don't want to name names but let's just say it rhymes with Tedgar Barkov. I really need him 'taken care of,' if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I think I do. I know just who to bring in. Calls herself Merieke Ri Berit, don't ask me how to pronounce it. Anyway we all just call her 'The Answer.' When she shows up at the table, you know things just got real. Any problem that comes along, she's got the . . . "

"Yeah yeah, the answer, I get it. Just give her a call, okay?"

The Answer — Commander | Ed Grabianowski

Commander (1)
Creatures (20)
Planeswalkers (3)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (11)
/Enchantments (10)
Artifacts (11)
Lands (36)
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Merieke Ri Berit
I built this deck for two reasons. First, those decks you run into now and then that are just a huge pain to deal with. They take many forms, but at some point they take over the game and you think to yourself, "If only I had [specific perfect card for this weird situation], I could shut this nonsense down." The second is that I noticed my friends and I tend to build decks that are so single-mindedly focused on what the deck does, either mechanically or thematically, that no one runs enough generic "answer" cards. There are times when a really powerful enchantment gets played and we go around the table trying to think if any of us has a single enchantment removal spell in our decks to deal with it.

That's why I knew this deck would be called The Answer before I even built it. That is its primary function, to have an answer to every problem that hits the table. After some thought I decided Esper colors gave me the most answers, and a look at {W}{U}{B} legends suggested Merieke Ri Berit as the best choice. She is herself an answer to problem creatures — untap with her on the battlefield and opponents will think twice before sending powerful creatures in your direction.

This deck does some things that my Commander decks often avoid. I'm running a lot of fast artifact mana because I found that powerful decks could simply outpace it and seal up the game before The Answer had a chance to start solving problems. I've stopped putting Sol Ring in every deck, but it's a necessary evil here.

It also runs a lot of tutors, and I might add some more (I have a Vampiric Tutor that's looking for a home). A lot of answers are very specific. You can't count on drawing into Vile Consumption against a tokens deck, Damping Matrix against a broken artifact combo, or Vampire Hexmage right when a planeswalker is about to ultimate. Tutors are really the key to The Answer.

Luminarch Ascension
The deck does not have a very robust win condition, but there are some threats there that can earn you the W if you can outlast your opponents. Flying to victory on the wings of Baneslayer Angel is very satisfying. Sire of Stagnation is pretty powerful. The deck's defensive abilities have the side effect of letting you turn on Luminarch Ascension without too much trouble. Elspeth and Gideon can get the job done, and hitting the ultimate on Liliana Vess is an awesome way to close out a game.

You might have expected this deck to feature a ton of counterspells. I really wanted to focus on Vindicate type effects and dealing with things on the battlefield rather than having to sit there with mana open for counters all game long. Plus, while I'm not against counterspells in Commander, a steady stream of them are not a lot of fun to play against. I decided to make this deck primarily White and Black, with the Blue as more of a splash. So the only counter I'm running (Arcane Denial) is splashable. Other conditional counters with one {U} in the casting cost are a possibility if that's your jam.

I have an idea for an alternate build of this deck that takes advantage of effects that let you bounce back instantly from sweepers. Sweepers are really good answers to a lot of battlefield problems, so this deck already runs several. It's nice knowing you have Wrath of God and Damnation up your sleeve. But it could run a few more, especially Phyrexian Rebirth. Then add things that give you a payoff when your creatures die, so when you clear the board you're able to jump ahead of your opponents. Teysa, Orzhov Scion is perfect, along with Ogre Slumlord, Sifter of Skulls, Grim Haruspex, and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. Massacre Wurm and Revel in Riches could even be win conditions.

I have run this deck with my usual Commander friends using Karakas, with the understanding that I would only use it in good faith to bounce a commander that was about to kill me or otherwise become a serious problem for the table (and not to just obnoxiously bounce everyone's commander all the time). But it is technically banned in Commander, so your mileage may vary.

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