A friend of mine frequents a store that has just started running Commander tournaments, and after playing in a couple, he asked me for advice on how to improve his deck (and no, this article isn’t going to be about competitive play). I’m not a fan of competing in Commander, so I had to spend a while thinking about how the format operates differently in one-on-one with the Duel Commander banned list. The two biggest differences are that you will never be left alone to build up and that depriving your opponent of resources is now just as good as gaining new resources for yourself. These factors do a lot to depower Rampant Growth effects and boost countermagic, so blue takes the throne from green.
In the realm of casual Commander, however, the vast majority of strategies are best pursued by making a lot of mana and drawing a lot of cards. Green, blue, and black all have reasonable card-draw, but green is the only color with a really solid collection of ramp spells. Sure, any deck can be packed full of artifact mana, but with the exceptions of Wayfarer's Bauble, Darksteel Ingot, and Solemn Simulacrum, the boost isn’t likely to last forever. Well, unless, that is, you pick the right commander:
This ability is a bit out of place on a blue card, but apparently, the Moonfolk’s signature move was just too cool to pass up.
Anyway, the important thing is that Patron of the Moon solves the problems with drawing a lot of cards a lot more effectively than even conventional ramp. Having a ton of mana to play your new spells is great, but without the Patron, most of those lands will never do anything useful. With Patron, every Mind Spring turns into a Genesis Wave. If you’ve never chained Genesis Waves, I would recommend it.
Lay of the Land
So, how do things break down?
"The Patron’s Estate"
The basic plan is to draw a bunch of cards, use Patron to create a bunch more mana, and repeat until you’re ready to start dropping big bombs. There are only so many things to do at the top of a color’s mana curve, so you’d expect that finding win conditions for mono-colored decks would become pretty boring after a while. The synergies inherent in each theme are what keep things fresh, so even if cards such as Tidewalker and Roil Elemental are seemingly worse than just running Ulamog, the Infinte Gyre, they still deserve their slots in my book.
The same is true for other card slots. Patron of the Moon’s ability is reason enough to run Thwart over Force of Will and Seer's Sundial over Mind's Eye, and a chance to play Amulet of Vigor is like winning the lottery. Failing to do so just means that somewhere down the line, you’ll grow bored with Commander because every game is decided by the same cards. Please, don’t do that to yourself.
Shoot for the Moon
My eyes open up onto a field readied for battle. Three stalwart figures emerge from the fog shrouding the edges.
After a few moments of silence, the golem speaks. “Where is the sky-born?” The enormous child begins to cry, and five sets of beady eyes turn toward the now-swirling fog. Slowly, Karn lifts his eyes to the same spot. “Attending to its worshippers as always, I suppose.” Then, in a rush of wind, the concealing mist is gone.
Things start off innocuous enough. All four combatants gather mana from the surrounding lands, preparing for the battle to come. Then, the Child of Alara who began it all closes its eyes, rocks back, and sucks in a breath of air—air that has lost all of its cold and cling in the space of an eye blink. It can mean only one thing.
The Patron of the Moon takes full advantage of the newfound sunlight and uncovers the Seer's Sundial atop a nearby hill while Karn, Silver Golem demonstrates his technological superiority by first putting together a Thran Dynamo and then Sculpting Steel into another one. Progenitus grows distressed seeing its valley home covered in metal and produces a far more ancient device.
While the disk revs up, the child calls for help of a kind that not even Nevinyrral could undo.
Never have I come across such loyalty—beings willing to bear 5 damage for me, 6 even, yes. But 12? ’Tis the season, I suppose.
I’m wrenched from my reverie as the silver man raises his arms skyward and a giant, metal orb falls from the heavens. Despite the enormous speed with which it strikes the ground, the ball was unscratched, and I soon recognize it as a Myr Matrix.
Enough is enough; with a surge of power, Progenitus detonates the disk, and a chill returns to the air. Not content with such devastation, the hydra seeks to ensure that none will ever show such insolence again and gives the others a lesson in Humility. That lesson goes unheeded by the single stalk of green remaining unfrozen, and in a fit of Regrowth, the warmth and gaiety of Doubling Season returns.
The Moonfolk’s patron moves toward the battleground’s center, but it is far less resistant to the enchantment of Humility, and it bows low. Karn, on the other hand, erects a Trading Post in defiance of the hydra’s wishes. War now unavoidable, Progenitus appeals to the Inexorable Tide that can only end in the Worldsoul’s own victory . . . or at least, so say the prophets.
Chandra unleashes a gout of flame to knock the Moonfolk’s patron off the battlefield before the Child that summoned her calls forth another to cool the pyromancer’s fury.
Feeling outclassed after this show of force, Patron of the Moon brings forth two artifacts of its own, a Gauntlet of Power and a Journeyer's Kite. It is a pittance next to what follows. The appearance of two planeswalkers seems to have attracted the attentions of a third—one whom nobody but Progenitus could dream of enlisting.
Without any apparent effort, the towering dragon tears Chandra’s flesh from her bones, but just as quickly as she expires, another of Child of Alara’s cadre appears to take her place.
The vampire and dragon conspire to bring Alara’s infant to the brink of death and destroy any hopes of a comeback. Sobbing, the child flees, leaving only three combatants.
All eyes turn to the Patron of the Moon as the being takes a moment to collect it thoughts. And the fight is over.
There is a flash of images—too many to count. Then, the mists creep over my eyes, and the nightmare begins anew.
I’ve had Omniscience in decks before. I’ve never cast it before. The card looks like it could be fun, a sort of big ramp spell. Infinite and big are not the same. With big, you can funnel it all into a Mind Spring, and then you’re done. Omniscience is an entire storm combo in one card, and once you’ve cast Recurring Insight, there’s no real reason not to cast Rush of Knowledge for ten. I should have heeded its flavor text:
The rest of this deck can do cool things, but please just replace this card with a Gilded Lotus. I’m sure it’s possible to do something fun with Omniscience, but playing with fire is liable to get you burned. And getting burned is a topic best left for Rakdos week.