With the blog being so new, it gives us the ability to evolve, change and make it better. While I loved the quick hitter series of posts, they're going to evolve into what we're calling "4 Quarters." Yes, that does mean more sports, and specifically basketball, puns. But it will also give more reasoning for card choices and how to build out the deck from the 4 quarters. Each quarter will be themed, with the 4th quarter being the strongest cards that should win us games. The goal of each 4 Quarters is to keep the total cost of the 16 cards under $12.00 total which would lead to a total deck budget of $75. A $75 budget is a great middle ground for deck building. You can add cheaper cards to this list and end up with a $50 deck or below. Or add more expensive cards and end up around $100. I like the flexibility an anticipated $75 deck brings with it. Without further ado, let's start with our first 4 Quarters from the upcoming Jumpstart product - Emiel the Blessed:
Emiel the Blessed is a four mana Unicorn that lets us "flicker" (exile a creature we control and then immediately return it to the battlefield) one of our creatures for three mana. It also has a Selesnya (Green + White) ability where we can pay either a green or white mana when a creature we control enters the battlefield and put a +1 /+1 counter on that creature. Now that we now what Emiel does, let's start the game!
1st Quarter: ETB Ramp
The goal in the 1st quarter is to get as many lands out as quickly as possible so we can cast Emiel and begin activating it every turn while continuing to cast spells. These 4 cards will let us do exactly that. Elvish Rejuvenator lets us look at the top 5 cards of our library and put a land card from among those 5 cards directly onto the battlefield. The opportunity to miss altogether is there, but with Emiel's ability, we're sure to not miss forever. Both Yavimaya Granger and Yavimaya Dryad let us search our deck for a land (Granger a basic land and Dryad a Forest card) and put it onto the battlefield. Solemn Simulacrum comes in and does the same for a basic land but with the added benefit of drawing us a card when it dies. Total Cost of the 1st Quarter: $2.09.
2nd Quarter: ETB Value
In the 2nd Quarter, we're going to try and generate as much value as possible from our creatures ETB triggers and keep snowballing that value with Emiel's ability until we just run away with the game. Acidic Slime is a great, flexible removal spell on a creature with the ability to destroy an artifact, enchantment, or land when it enters the battlefield. You can get really mean and just start blowing up all of the strongest opponent's lands until they have nothing left. Thragtusk provides double value because everytime we activated Emiel's ability targeting Thragtusk, we will get a 3/3 green beast token as well as gaining 5 life when Thragtusk reenters. Stonehorn Dignitary is a sneaky card in this deck. Every time it enters the battlefield, we can force an opponent to skip their next combat phase. With 9 available mana, we can force all 3 of our opponents to repeatedly skip their combat phases forcing them to win in another manner. Aid from the Cowl is another super flexible all-star in this deck. Each turn we activate Emiel's ability will trigger revolt for Aid from the Cowl which is going to let us reveal the top card of our library and if it's a permanent card (so almost anything outside of instants or sorceries) it goes directly onto the battlefield. This card can quickly get out of hand for us. Total Cost of the 2nd Quarter: $1.54.
3rd Quarter: Count 'em Up!
The other part of Emiel that has been overlooked so far is the ability to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature we control for 1 mana when it enters the battlefield. We're going to make full use of that effect in the 3rd Quarter. Good-Fortune Unicorn is going to put a +1/+1 counter on any creature of ours that enters the battlefield saving us the 1 mana from Emiel. Rishkar, Peema Renegade enters and puts a +1/+1 counter on up to 2 creatures, making it a great target to continually flicker. But Rishkar also has the added benefit of turning all of our creatures with +1/+1 counters on them into mana dorks (creatures that tap for mana). Armorcraft Judge is going to let us draw cards for each creature we control with a +1/+1 counter and Inspiring Call is going to do the same plus give those creatures indestructible for a turn. In the 3rd Quarter we really start running away with the game. But now it's time to close the game out. Total Cost of the 3rd Quarter: $1.49
4th Quarter: To Infinity & Beyond
Now to be completely and totally honest, I am not a fan of infinite combos in Commander. What I've always enjoyed about Commander is the complexity of having 3 other opponents I have to attack and defend myself from. Infinite combos take a lot of that fun away. But this one was too fun to not include. With Emiel on the battlefield and either Soul Warden or Essence Warden on the battlefield as well, we can cast Brood Monitor and gain 4 life. But more importantly, we create 3 1/1 Scion tokens that we can immediately sacrifice for 3 mana and activate Emiel's ability again to flicker Brood Monitor. Without our opponents being able to interact (by killing either Emiel, the life gain creature, or Brood Monitor) we can now repeat this process umpteen times and gain umpteenth life. Now we can cast Aetherflux Reservoir and pay the 150 life to kill our 3 opponents. Now just a note, Aetherflux Reservoir is one of the more expensive cards I've ever included in the blog at right around $6. But this card is incredibly powerful for that price and fits into A LOT of different Commander decks. It's absolutely worth picking up this card. Total Cost of the 4th Quarter: $6.92
Total Cost of all 4 Quarters: $12.04
Ok ok, I know I said I was going to keep it under $12.00, but this one was too fun to not break the budget just a little bit. I hope you will forgive me! That wraps up our first 4 Quarters post. I am going to be doing one every day until the Jumpstart release date of Friday, July 17th so stay tuned!