Category Archives: New Voices

New Voices: What Commander Players Can Learn from Conquest

By Savannah Beard

The Commander format produces myriad experiences within multiplayer Magic. The Rules Committee and Commander community-at-large stress the importance of open-mindedness and communication, regarding gameplay preferences, and the kinds of experiences its players wish to have. This directs worthwhile attention to “the Gathering” aspect of our pastime, and harbors shared appreciation of the game itself. Meanwhile, the optimization of a player’s or group’s Commander decks, strategies, and political maneuverings to win games, is considered fun by some, and problematic by others. 

The Philosophy of Commander admits “it does not seek to regulate competitive play,” and encourages “groups to use the rules and the ban list as a baseline to optimize their own experience.” Commander’s underlying malleability gives cause for Conquest, a community-driven variant of Commander, aimed at addressing common barriers to accessibility and balance, particularly in the context of optimized Commander.

The Conquest variant adapts Commander’s ten rules, with four changes:

  • Legendary creature or planeswalker commanders.
  • Decks are at least 80 cards.
  • Players begin with 30 life.
  • 12 commander damage eliminates a player.

Conquest also uses a substantial banlist to regulate the high-power metagame.

Conquest is rooted in a culture of competitive Commander, that celebrates both the wonders of high-power Magic and the social experience of the multiplayer format. This article explores how Conquest promotes harmony in this context, and invites the reader to apply the lessons of Conquest to your own understanding of Commander. 


What do we mean by “accessibility,” or making Commander more “accessible?” One answer is affordability: the expense of a highly tuned deck is prohibitive to many, especially because of the scarcity of Reserved List cards. To provide a more affordable experience, Conquest excludes all cards on the Reserved List as a first principle. We recognize that history, collectibility, and nostalgia are driving factors in Commander playership. While unfortunate to leave behind some of Magic’s most interesting and powerful designs, a path for everyone to acquire excellent Conquest decks must begin with this difficult step. 

Accessibility means more than just affordability. The size of Conquest decks, which can be as few as 80 cards, is another major accessibility feature. Smaller decks are easier to learn and master for beginning players, easier to construct and test for brewers, and easier to handle, search, and shuffle for everyone. Improved decklist legibility lightens mental load. 80 cards being only a suggested minimum adds flexibility to making cuts, and permits constructing a deck that fits both Commander’s and Conquest’s parameters. 

The Onslaught/Zendikar fetchlands, like Polluted Delta, are uniquely disruptive to game flow in any format where they are present, especially Commander. Their activated ability requires searching a large library, tracking a life payment, and shuffling. Sequencing their deployment in multiples creates a tedious attention and time sink that other lands do not. The power of fetchlands in fixing mana and enabling other synergies is missed by some in Conquest, where these cards are banned, but the consensus is that the experience without them feels much more streamlined. 

Bettering accessibility in our games is vital to sustainable community building. We need to recognize and eliminate barriers to access in the hobby, especially in terms of gender, social class, and disability, because we should foster inclusion and belonging, and reward improvement and success, without elitism and gatekeeping. Community has transformational power, but before we can wield it, we must first involve our authentic selves. All gamers in our pastime can take this to heart–Conquest engrains this mentality from Commander even deeper into its rule set.


The curation of competitive play in Conquest is its main philosophical departure from Commander. The Rules Committee conservatively maintains Commander focusing primarily on the casual experience; Conquest’s rules and ban list, on the other hand, invite open exploration of Conquest’s fringes and upper boundaries. While competitive balance is a nebulous topic in gaming, expertise in powering and piloting optimized Commander decks has especially crystalized in the past few years.

In the competitive Commander context, a core of fast artifact mana and powerful tutors homogenizes deck building and makes luck in mulliganing a strong factor in success. Card combinations that win with few resources and no prerequisite board state detract from Commander’s stability as a strategy game. The dominance of combo, prominence of disruptive anti-combo decks (which often win with their own combos), and Commander’s starting life and commander damage constraints, threaten the variety of viable archetypes

So how does Conquest create strategic and archetypal balance? Players start Conquest games with 30 life, and 12 combat damage from one commander eliminates a player. These tweaks from Commander alleviate the strains on strategies that attack life totals directly, and particularly invigorate commander-damage-dealing archetypes. These gameplans are atypical in optimized Commander pods, but are commonplace in Conquest. 

With its ban list, Conquest prohibits some centralizing fast mana, tutors, combo enablers, and card advantage engines, but none of these kinds of cards are totally eliminated. For instance, instead of Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, and Jeweled Lotus, Conquest players work with Chrome Mox, Mana Vault, and Lotus Petal. A banned-as-commander section allows proven legendary cards like Tymna, the Weaver and Oko, Thief of Crowns to remain playable inclusions without being clear best choices in commanders. 

And oh, Planeswalker commanders! Conquest implements an idea demonstrated in Brawl and Oathbreaker, that most planeswalker commanders add new dimensions to deck personalization and metagame dynamics. Advances in planeswalker design technology have yielded compelling new characters and mechanics, as well as efficient non-combat answers to planeswalkers. The renewed emphasis in Conquest on creature combat, due to the life and commander damage changes, pressures planeswalker permanents to keep them in check.

Conquest accentuates the process of optimizing constructed Magic, but encourages players to progress at their own pace. An average Conquest deck can still have a good game against a top-performing deck, because Conquest, in some ways, narrows the power level spectrum. For those who take pride in optimizing strategies that push the envelope, Conquest welcomes that attitude too. Taken to its extremes, the Conquest metagame can show which play patterns might be too successful: if you think Conquest can be broken, you should try and prove it! 

By incorporating balance and competitive play into its identity, Conquest destigmatizes optimization and the mindset of playing to win. Studio X’s significant design attention on Commander Magic, and some of its most power-pushed products like Jeweled Lotus, may necessitate amending Conquest’s ban list, but we are optimistic that the future holds more designs in line with Command Tower. 

Conquest, in my Commander?

It’s more likely than you think. 

Much like Elder Dragon Highlander was first brought to light by remote Magic judges cleansing their palette from the monotony of tournament Magic, Conquest originated in online competitive EDH cabals, where repetitive play patterns, especially involving the card Flash, also warranted discussion of change. Conquest serves a broad audience: since being unleashed on the public, Conquest has garnered playtime not just from former and current competitive Commander players, but self-described “casuals” and non-Commander Magic enthusiasts as well. Adoption of Conquest has transcended literal borders and language barriers, too.

At a technical level, Conquest and Commander are separate formats, and this is advantageous to both leadership groups. Conquest is guided by a different yet related set of principles from Commander-as-written, justifying bans that support the health of the high-power metagame. Format supervision in our online era can transparently incorporate community feedback, and Conquest’s management works to meet this standard regularly. By distinguishing itself, Conquest makes breathing room for Commander.

Philosophically, the similarities and compatibilities between Conquest and Commander are robust. Conquest retains Commander’s foundational principles: singleton constructed decks, legends to lead them, and a welcoming, multiplayer atmosphere. A relaxed, “beer and pretzels” social environment is not mutually exclusive to tight decision-making and powerful Magic. Thus, the experiences Conquest precipitates align with Commander Magic, or the greater vision of what Commander can be, because Commander licenses groups to suit our own passions by modifying its overarching framework.

Further practical evidence for the compatibility of Commander and Conquest is found in the abundance of resources that support enjoyment in both formats. Most game knowledge, card collections, piloting expertise, and interpersonal relationships, are just as applicable in Conquest as they are in Commander. In fact, virtually any preconstructed Commander product can be modified to Conquest simply by cutting Sol Ring! The threshold to Conquest entry is very low. At the other end of the spectrum, Conquest can reward advanced skills like primer writing, metagame analysis, event management, and high-production content creation. (The deck building website Moxfield has Conquest format integration.)

However, Conquest is not immune to the core critique of “competitive multiplayer” as a concept: competitive logic in multiplayer has contentious, gnarled consequences. We believe Conquest can be instrumental in establishing new norms for competitive and tournament multiplayer settings. The Conquest community, as all gaming communities should, strives to root out antisocial and unsporting behavior, such as collusion, kingmaking, spite play, and quarterbacking. We know fair play, shared learning, and mutual respect to be integral to the Conquest and greater Magic ethos. 

A Harmonious Future for Multiplayer Magic

Conquest does not intend to polarize nor splinter the groups that already love Commander. Commander players are independently discovering intuitions about modifying the format to the interests of our own groups, and the shared language, for when players with different preferences intermingle, is continually evolving. Conquest stands, on its own merits, in dialogue with Commander Magic: it is a peace offering, renewing Commander’s social contract with optimized play in mind.

When viewed from the basis of Commander, Conquest might inspire players of all persuasions to further assess our own metagames.

  • Which cards and strategies in your games are leading to amusement or annoyance?
  • Which cards and (planeswalker) commanders, prohibited by the letter of Commander, would enrich your group’s playstyles?
  • How can you streamline access in your group, including through house rules and bans?
  • How can you balance the desires of everyone in your group, when those ideas go in different, sometimes competing, directions?
  • What, precisely, do you like most about Commander? 

Commander’s overwhelming popularity has matured the appetite for the kinds of Magic events that its community attends. Some local game stores award booster and promo packs for winning pick-up Commander games, and an international subculture of tournament Commander is germinating in the competitive online space. In these contexts, the uncompromising pursuit of victory can drown out the prosocial pretense of the Gathering. Because Commander-as-written remains fundamentally “not competitive,” Conquest manifests an alternative accessible and balanced environment for these settings.

Thank you for engaging with this essay. I hope this has at least given you new fodder for pregame and aftercare conversations in your Commander circles, and maybe it enticed you to try Conquest on its own terms. Conquest has enriched my appreciation for the Philosophy of Commander and my passion for Magic as a whole ecosystem of recreation. For the Conquest community, our format is not merely a reconstruction of Commander with the architecture of competitive Magic, but a bridge to more sublime, resonant experiences that the pastime engenders.

Cat lover and Brawl apologist Savannah “beard_umbra” Beard is a Level 1 Judge, moderates the PlayEDH Discord, and after composing this article, was appointed to Conquest’s Balance Team. Follow Savannah on Moxfield.

New Voices: Yet another Golos Deck Tech

by Gabriel Mahaffey

“You can’t keep me down”

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, probably

I would like to talk to you about our lord and savior, Golos. When commander players see Golos, they might think of five color good stuff, powerful and spicy cards. The take I did for Golos is to really abuse him without activating him. If you’re like Patrick living under a rock, Golos is a 3/5 Legendary Artifact Golem for 5 generic mana, and when he enters the battlefield, you can search you library for a land and put that land onto the battlefield tapped, then you shuffle your library. You can also pay 2 generic mana and one mana of each color in order to cast the top three cards of your library without paying their mana costs until the end of the turn. This deck is designed in a way to not use the activated ability of Golos. 

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Blink and Now He’s Gone

The object of the deck is to rarely, if ever, activate Golos’s activated ability. How can we abuse the enter the battlefield effect? There is always recasting it. Eh, seems inefficient. Blinking it! There we go! There are several ways that we exile Golos and have him come back. One way is Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and Brago King Eternal, flicker him either at the end of turn or on combat damage. Another way is Venser, the Sojourner. Exile him and have him come back at the end of the turn. The final way is to use Astral Slide effects, send Golos on a journey that lasts until end of turn whenever a player cycles a card.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Magic, Theros Beyond Death
Venser, the Sojourner, Magic, Scars of Mirrodin
Astral Slide, Magic, Onslaught

Stop It, You’re Enabling Him

There are cycling payoffs and cycling enablers in the deck. The enablers make it so my cycling abilities cost cheaper, from Gavi, Nest Warden and New Perspectives, to Fluctuator. Gavi and New Perspectives makes my cycling abilities free while Fluctuator makes them cost two generic less. The payoffs are Drake Haven and Lightning Rift. By paying 1 we can either create a 2/2 flying drake or deal 2 damage respectively.

Gavi, Nest Warden, Magic, Commander 2020
Drake Haven, Magic, Commander 2020
Lightning Rift, Magic, Commander 2020

Cycling is Fun

For those of you like Patrick Star, I’m going to go over what cycling is and isn’t. Cycling isn’t a spell, so if you want spell like effects but worry about counters, then you are in luck. Cycling is an ability that you can pay mana and discard the card with cycling to draw a card. Cycling can turn cards that are dead in certain circumstances into useful cards, be it dig for answers or just wanting to draw cards. Nearly half of the deck is just cards that have cycling. Some just plain cycle such as Barren Moor and Forsake the Worldly. Other cycling cards help you get the land you need in lieu of drawing in Eternal Dragon and Ash Barrens. One notable thing about Eternal Dragon is that by paying 3 and two white you can bring it back on our upkeep. And our final category of cycling cards are card that have effects when you cycle them. There is Renewed Faith where we gain 6 life if we cast it, but if we cycle it we may gain 2 life, and Krosan Tusker, which gets us a basic land when you cycle it plus the draw.

Barren Moor, Magic, Commander 2018
Eternal Dragon, Magic, Commander 2020
Renewed Faith, Magic, Masters 25

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing…

With all the exiling and entering the battlefield effects that we have, we might as well abuse those as well. How do we do it? We include creatures that have an ability that triggers when they enter the ring. There is one creature that doesn’t have an enter the battlefield ability, but doubles up those abilities, and that is Yarok, the Desecrated. These enter the battlefield effects can range from drawing a card with Wall of Omens, scrying with Omenspeaker, to bringing back cards from the graveyard with Eternal Witness and Archaeomancer.

Wall of Omens
Omenspeaker, Magic, Core Set 2019
Eternal Witness, Magic, Commander Anthology Volume II

I Never Miss My Target

There is a suite of targeted removal. When there is an annoying creature or permanent that you want gone, then do we have the right product for you. Here is Pongify and Rapid Hybridization for when you want that annoying creature gone. Not to your liking? Okay, moving on! You might like this one, Oblivion Ring and Cast Out. You can get rid of the annoying creature and you can also get rid of the annoying nonland permanent that you want gone. One other note is that Astral Slide and Astral Drift can also remove those pesky creatures for the turn as well.

Pongify, Magic, Planar Chaos
Oblivion Ring
Astral Drift, Magic, Commander 2020

Wipe Out!

An essential part of any commander deck is the suite of board wipes. These board wipes come in two varieties, symmetrical and asymmetrical. The asymmetrical board wipe is Archfiend of Ifnir, where whenever you discard or cycle a card you put a -1/-1 counter on each creature your opponents control. The symmetrical board wipes are Wrath of God, which destroys all creatures, Decree of Pain where you can either cast it to destroy all creatures and you draw that many cards or cycle it to give each creature -2/-2 until the end of turn, and Akroma’s Vengeance which destroys all artifacts, creatures and enchantments.

Archfiend of Ifnir, Magic, Amonkhet
Akroma's Vengeance, Magic, Commander 2020
Decree of Pain

I Don’t Fit In

There are six cards that don’t fit into the above categories. I’m just going to go over the notable ones. One helps our engine go into hyperdrive. That card would be Ephara, God of the Polis. She will very rarely become a creature, but her ability draws us a card at the beginning of the next upkeep if a creature entered the battlefield last turn. With our cycling engine going, that is exile a creature and having it enter the battlefield at the end of turn, or with Gavi out, we can reliably draw a card every turn. The other card is Shadow of the Grave. Sometimes we may get carried away and cycle our entire hand in one turn and not draw any more cyclers. This is where Shadow of the Past comes in. When you cast it, you return all cards that you have discarded to your hand. You essentially refill you hand with cyclers. The final card is Reliquary Tower. Sometimes you draw a lot of cards with Decree of Pain or bring back four cards with Shadow of the Grave and at the end of the turn you would have to discard a card. Reliquary keeps you from discarding those sweet, sweet cards.

Ephara, God of the Polis, Magic, Secret Lair Drop Series
Shadow of the Grave
Reliquary Tower, Magic, Commander 2020

You Better Watch Out!

With the commander death trigger rule change. For those that don’t know what the rule is: 

“If a commander is in a graveyard or in exile and that card was put into that zone since the last time state-based actions were checked, its owner may put it into the command zone.

If a commander would be put into its owner’s hand or library from anywhere, its owner may put it into the command zone instead. This replacement effect may apply more than once to the same event.”

There is one thing that you might want to be aware of is an opponent using cards that counter triggers like Stifle and Disallow. Astral Slide and Astral Drift have a delayed trigger of the creature coming back to the battlefield at the next end step. One way to combat this is running Rift Sweeper. Although this card is not in the deck, it might be worth running.


The Close Out

This deck has plenty of ways to close out the game. We’re not monsters and build a deck with no win conditions. We have Maze’s End, where we use our engine to get every gate onto the battlefield with Golos. The second way the deck can close out the game is Decree of Justice. We can cast it for its mana cost and get maybe one to three angel tokens or we can cycle it for three or less and create twice as much 1/1 soldier tokens than angel tokens. The other way is to cast Approach of The Second Sun twice. When you cast it from your hand for the first time, it will be the 7th card from the top of your library. Since we are cycling cards, instead of being seven more turns, it will become at least one more turn to three more turns before it will be the second time you cast Approach, in which case you win the game.

Maze's End, Magic, Dragon's Maze
Decree of Justice
Approach of the Second Sun, Magic, Mystery Booster Cards

Sliding Out

In playing this deck, I find it very fun to play with and can win fairly quickly without going infinite. I have included a link to my deck list for you:

Gabriel Mahaffey lives in Arizona and has been playing Magic since Onslaught block and has been playing Commander since September 2008, when From the Vault: Dragons debuted, in what he calls “the first officially-recognized Commander set.” You can catch him as a regular in chat on streams such as the RC’s and AffinityArtifacts.

New Voices: $100 a Deck

by Verdell Shannon

In $100 a Deck, we tackle the the simple concept of a budget brew for Commander. The concept of budget decks is always a slippery slope, with some wanting to aim for the absolute lowest possible price to play, and others thinking budget is whatever a card costs. Generally, I aim for the lowest price point where I can design with flexibility and consistency. Now, let’s dive in.

Part 1: What does the commander do?
Well, we lucked up and got ourselves the most desirable of the new Commander 2020 precons, with a creature that both reduces the cost to cycle cards AND rewards us for doing it. So, any deck we build will be doing a lot of cycling. This is a commander that has a great pedigree with it’s mechanical tie in.

Cycling is a mechanic that has been around in Magic since my favorite block (back when Magic had those) Urza block. It has taken many laps over the years, and appears in all five colors.

Part 2: How do we break this thing?
Thankfully, there is a lot of inspiration to draw from here. We can break him by loading up our deck with cards that are playable and beating our opponents with an interactive game plan… OR we can do a couple of cheap parlou tricks and ruin some fools!

Part 3: What is our inspiration?
I had to dig in a bit to research on cycling in competitive play for this guy. Cycling has come around in tournament decks at least four times, with long time players having seen it do a lot of tricks over the years. So, here are the cliff notes:

Modern: Living End
Game plan is simple, load the graveyard with big, dumb animals, and cast a Living End to reanimate them all. This deck won off the back of cascade spells to control when you could cast the backbreaking spell in a deck that featured no other cards under three CMC. That deck is Jund (black, red, green), so we can’t really rely on it for a direct port. The deck evolved to include an amazing mana denial plan with cards like Avalance Riders, Fulminator Mage, and Beast Within. This is something to note.

Standard: Astral Slide // Lightning Rift (Onslaught standard)
This is a RWX value deck that won the long game through card advantage provided by sticking a powerful enchantment that could match our opponent threat for threat and finally win card advantage. Due to the archetype dating back to 2003/2004 standard, sadly digging into this deck is a bit tougher. You don’t have the same wealth of coverage available to mine, as websites port over content, and the web ages.

Standard UW Control with Drake Haven (Amonkhet standard)
This deck features a suite of UW control options, and wins off the steady stream of creatures a resolved Drake Haven provides, while also controlling the game. This is going to be very important to our build.

Standard Fluctuator (Tempest/Urza standard)
Similar to Living End, but the original. This deck took advantage of the card Living Death out of Tempest block to load up on cards with cycling (that all had the then standard cycling cost of 2 mana), to fill it’s graveyard quickly.

Part 4: What’s the brew? 
Really, the best cycling decks are either blazingly-fast combo reanimator decks with some interaction, or they are slow, grindy incremental advantage decks that win off the value enchantments. Well, in our colors we are doing ourseves a service to go for the long game here. There are two different decks that are long-game driven to draw on in color. Also, I am a strong believer that Commander needs control decks. You don’t need to take every game to one hour length, but sometimes it’s okay to not combo out on turn five.

Here’s the link to the deck list.

Part 5: How does it work?
Cycling is a skill testing mechanic. The deck will reward you for long term play, and getting a feel for what you need in any scenario. You have a lot of grind them out potential. The interaction between blinking your own creature and re-buying one of your board wipes is huge. Also, you will be able to remove threats and stall your opponents by cycling cards.

Essentially, your plan is to slow the game down using a lot of tap out control. Once you have exhausted your opponent’s resources, you can take charge and start to bully the table with your near limitless card advantage available.

Part 6: Upgrades
So, upgrading this deck further is all about retuning your interaction and adding more cards to slow your opponens’ development. Decree of Silence is a free counter anything and Nimble Obstructionist is your Trickbind option. You of course can upgrade the mana base, to minimize the tapped land impact more and make sure you hit your colors.

Part 7: Closing Comments
Gavi, Nest Warden is a fantastic control or combo/tempo commander. You can dictate the pace of the game very well, and are mostly immune to counterspells. Call me nuts, but I think after you cast the same wrath effect for the 5th time, people may scoop in frustration, since they can’t kill you. The best thing about the 2020 Commander decks is a lot of the cards are already packaged in there, so your upgrade money can go much farther.

Verdell has been into magic since Phyrexians roamed the earth during Urza block. He is a tournament scrub turned commander player and loves all manner of broken and classic deck. You can find him hanging around EDH forums and talking about why he draws the line at Boil and Acid Rain, but is perfectly fine with Ruination, Armageddon and Wave of Vitriol in commander. He can be reached on twitter (@VerdellShannon) or Instagram (@res5music).  

Deal or No Deal?

by Magical Hacker

I have a method for upping your political game that no one is talking about. Once you start using it, you’ll rarely ever make deals again. What comes to mind when you think of “politics” in Commander? Chances are, you’re probably thinking about making a sales pitch to another player for your “mutual benefit” and the destruction of everybody else. Sounds great, right? But there’s a problem.

The Problem with Deals

The problem with deals is that they lock you in to what could be a bad play in order to convince an opponent to do something that is probably beneficial for them anyways. Say I’m playing a game with my friends, Taylor, Spencer, and Jordan, and at 10 life, with no creatures on the board, and just a Path to Exile in hand, I’m tempted to make a deal, especially because Taylor has an Ulamog the Infinite Gyre on the board, while Jordan has four 3/3 Beast tokens. 

If I get attacked by both players, I lose the game even after using my Path to Exile on the Ulamog, so I decide to make a deal with Taylor. “Hey Taylor, if I get rid of the Ulamog, will you attack Jordan with all your creatures for the next two turns?” It might seem like a fair trade: I don’t take damage from the Ulamog or the tokens, I don’t have to annihilate anything, I stay alive, and Taylor gets to attack Jordan without fear of Annihilator retaliation! But by making a deal I lock myself into a course of action.  

What if Spencer plays out a combo like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts, making enough creatures to kill me and all other players at the table? I won’t have my Path to protect me. Also, what if Taylor overestimates how much influence the deal had in stopping them from attacking me, and Taylor attacks me even more than before? This is why instead of making a deal, I like to use the Art of Inception. 

The Art of Inception

The art of inception is to convince your opponents that it’s in their best interest to help you. Sometimes, our goals will align with the goals of our opponents. In fact, sometimes our opponents will also perceive that their goals align with ours.

Instead of making a deal, say I ask, “Hey Taylor, I don’t think I can deal with Jordan on my own, so I guess that means we are allied against them, right?” That simple question launches the entire political move! At this point, I am forcing Taylor to evaluate the board state. Mentally, they have to decide which opponent is the greatest obstacle standing in the way of them winning the game, and to keep the example fundamental, the simple details tell us that they are going to see Jordan as the primary hurdle to overcome. In that way, Taylor will definitely attack Jordan (unless my commander is scary enough that I’m still a threat without a board state, like Golos, Edgar, or Kykar).

As a result, now Jordan will have to make the same decision for themselves, and with someone attacking them for 12 each turn, they certainly have to start annihilating their board before things get uncontrollable. So, how did I manage to do all this with just a simple question?

The concept behind inception is using the board state to my advantage, and leveraging my unthreatening appearance and the threatening appearances of my opponents to lead them to their own conclusions that they should use their resources to fight back against the biggest threat. In this way, I get what I wanted to make a deal for, but at the same time without having to use any resources of my own! It’s free real estate.

Now that I have performed the political move of inception, I can continue to prepare for whatever happens by waiting to use my Path to Exile, both Taylor and Jordan will use their resources to diminish each other’s life total, and once the dust settles, I’ll know exactly who to use my resources on! But of course, there’s an exception to every rule.

An Exception to Every Rule

There are still times where you know that inception won’t work, and that a deal is your best shot at winning. Sometimes, it’s a hail mary. Sometimes, it’s just the least risky path to victory. Let’s add a few more details to the example and we can see where it might be better to go for the deal instead. Let’s say I also have Heartless Hidetsugu and Loxodon Warhammer in hand, but I have to cast Heartless Hidetsugu this turn in order to cast and equip the Warhammer, tap Hidetsugu, and gain a bunch of life on my next turn. At the same time, I know that playing it down would immediately make my opponents attack me. 

In this situation, I can lock in a deal before the game state changes, allowing me to have a better chance at victory. In fact, this is the most common example of when I’ve seen deals being necessary: when you know you need to become threatening in order to secure a good position, but becoming threatening would kill you.

At the end of the day, politics are key to winning games when all hope seems lost, and I know that using this strategy of inception will be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to get there.

So what do you say, deal or no deal?

MagicalHacker is a thinker, a philosopher, and a scientist, constantly searching for the needles of truth in the haystack of what we assume to be true. You might know him from his plethora of YouTube videos (including multiplayer game play, deck techs for commanders previewed within the past week, top 10s featuring only cards he plays in multiple decks, live deckbuilding of underplayed commanders, or even his monthly deck doctor or game play videos for each of his patrons.