The WTF Commander Deck Challenge

Commander is built on a number of go-to standards. Perhaps 1000 cards could see use in most Commander arsenals, and that’s being a little generous. Whether it be mana rock variants, such as Dreamstone Hedron, removal such as Utter End, Vindicate, Mortify, Orim’s Chant, Wear // Tear, or 20 of the Counterspell variants that see frequent play, the format is built on staples.

And this all happens despite the massive amount of high quality cards outside those 1000. The sheer number of options is staggering. In fact, there a lot of cards most people just haven’t seen in a Commander context.

Or any context, for that matter.

I want to push outside the 1000. One of my favorite moments in Commander is when the table has to stop, read a card, and then realize the great synergies it has with the deck I made. That “A-ha!” moment is awesome. In particular, there is that first pause. That . . .  WTF moment that I just adore. How is Abe winning with that?

I want to take that idea and carve out a brand new group of cards for most players and groups. The WTF Challenge.

The Challenge

The goal of this challenge is to have a very good, solid Commander deck where every card (other than mana making lands and such) will be something obscure that most have forgotten or never knew about.

Now, different players have had different experiences with the game and any given card will have fans and people who remember it fondly from one of their first decks or some great limited play. For example, I’ve written an entire article about how Scarwood Bandits is my favorite card, but most won’t remember it or will have never known it existed, even if a few, like myself, have multiple real-life decks where I run the Bandits right now.

To be fair, I want to cast the cards that I run in the deck, so I will allow myself to run any nonbasic land that only taps for colored mana no matter how commonly played. So, I can run Adarkar Wastes or even Tundra, but not Celestial Colonnade, unless it was similarly forgotten. I’m also allowing Command Tower, Terramorphic Expanse. And so forth.

Now that one-of concept ends at lands. No Sol Ring. No Solemn Simulacrum. No Cultivate. No Pilgrim’s Eye or Armillary Sphere.

Scarwood Bandits

I wanted to run Scarwood Bandits as one of the inspirations for today’s WTF Challenge. I was looking for any rare or difficult leaders that included Green. I found two separate ones in Gruul. Tuknir Deathlock and Livonya Silone, both rarely played leaders from the set that introduced legendary permanents. In fact. As of right now, Livonya Silone has only a handful of entries over on EDHREC that shows previous builds, where you often have hundreds of entries for even obscure or recently released leaders.

Livonya is as obscure as they get.

So let’s do . . . 

Livonya Silone

Livonya’s Silence — Commander | Abe Sargent

And there you go!

Before we get into anything too crazy, let me just post a few imagines from Gatherer of some of my wonky card cards, because I want you to understand how this deck works and operates. Here we go!

Ayumi, the Last Visitor
Hand to Hand
Molder Slug
Seeds of Innocence
Viridian Revel
Butcher Orgg
Floral Spuzzem
Centaur Rootcaster
Cunning Giant
Ma Chao, Western Warrior
Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen
Kird Chieftain
Magistrate's Veto
Overwhelming Instinct
Volcanic Wind
Fearsome Temper
Tempting Licid
Alluring Scent
Tangle Asp
Basalt Golem

And there are most of my different sub-themes in the Livonya deck. Like it? I hope so!

So let’s begin!

Since I cannot run a bunch of high profile artifacts, equipment that played into my other themes like Whispersilk Cloak was totally out. So where do you go when you can’t run most equipment, mana rocks, or support cards? I decided instead to (mostly) hate on artifacts instead. Basically, just Basalt Golem and Gauntlets of Chaos made the cut. Then I leaned onto my artifact hate. Both Green and Red are loaded with cards like Vandalblast and Shatterstorm and Creeping Corrosion. But those are certainly not WTF cards. People play with them all the time. But this hatred is deep enough to find stuff no one is running. And then we can just destroy anything unnatural at the table. Artifacts? Gone. I even added in Viridian Revel as a great way to draw cards off artifacts dying.

The next subtheme is to try and slip in hits here and there. How can I make sure to smash your face with Livonya and her Friends? What makes sense here? What works? I like Livonya as a good option for smashery, but I wanted to smash with other forces as well.

The first thing I did was add in two legendary lands and the only swap-land card not commonly known in my colors, Gauntlets of Chaos. Red has “giving away” cards like Harmless Offering and Bazaar Trader, but those are well known. Gauntlets? Who really has played and remembers those? So those went in.

But that was not enough. I tossed in some effects to support my Scarwood Bandits so in went Scarwood Hag, and then leaned on a few cards with solid evasiveness like horsemanship. But I wanted more.

Given that I could not run a lot of equipment for cool stuff, I looked at auras, and we have a variety of auras in theme. First, with the hard-to-block theme you can see the introduction of cards like Treetop Bracers and even Fearsome Temper to the above list.

That subtheme led me to Lure effects. Lure was waaaay too commonly known as a card itself, but again, that it a well-known genre of effects in Green. The idea is to Lure something, swing with the team, and then get in hits with everything not Lured for damage. In this case, we’re using Lure precisely as it was originally intended — as a combat feint to allow the rest of your party to smash face. Cards like Roar of Challenge and Tempting Licid and Shinen of Life’s Roar wound up making the cut.

Now that I had a few of those effects, I wanted to use them. So, in went Tangle Asp and friends. I felt Thicket Basilisk was too-well known for its usage of Lure-based shenanigans, so I stayed away. Nevertheless, I liked the idea, so I used a better Basilisk and a few other cards as well that want to be blocked.

And since we’re directing people to either block the Lured creature or we have some innately hard-to-block stuff, I wanted to add a few saboteur effects to the deck, for creatures that slip through the cracks. Now, cards like Avenging Druid or Ohran Viper are probably too well known for that, but certainly not the forgotten Centaur Rootcaster. In went Floral Spuzzem and similar effects as well that played into this theme. I even found some auras like One with Nature or Ordeal of Nylea that played well here.

I tossed in some cards that I felt played well in here, like Butcher Orgg(cough, see tomorrow’s article, cough) and Magistrate’s Veto as I looked to solidify my card choices. I also added in some removal to ensure that I could deal with any issues that arose, and cards like Rootgrapple and Shivan Meteor wound up finding a place. Volcanic Wind is a powerful answer for a lot of stuff. I then added in some more removal options, like Ancient Hydra and Deadshot Minotaur and even Wild Swing. I enjoy Hand to Hand as a potential answer to combat related chicanery, and felt it was a good addition.

And that was pretty much a challenge!

So, what do you think? Do you like the deck and its core concept? Did I miss anything relevant and forgotten for my Livonya Silone deck?

What will your WTF Challenge look like?

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