Barney
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I've been playing MTG for over 2 years but my experience lies solely in the Standard format. I know enough to get me started but not enough to do a decent job. For the past few months our group has been toying with the idea of Commander and since that day I have been putting together a list of cards that I like the sound of (my general is The Mimeoplasm). In the past few weeks that interest has grown immensely so I got serious and slowly cut my list down from 700(!) to 104 cards, but now I have hit a wall and do not know where to go from here. On top of that I am not sure if I have the right amount of a certain card type.

Assuming external links are ok, here is my WIP list.

As you can see I need to make 5 more cuts but I'm looking at every card in there and thinking "it has a use and does something nice". I'm also worried about the amounts of a card type or the catagories they fall under; do I need more creatures, do I have too much ramp with the lands I have, should I reduce the amount of board wipes, etc.

Now I'm close to a 100 card list it has become increasingly difficult! Any help you guys could throw my way?

Thanks.
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Eric Jome
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I've written some articles on this;

How to Build a Deck for Magic: The Gathering

Building A Proper Mana Base

Essentially, it breaks down like this;

100 cards

1 Commander
5 creatures that cost 1
8 creatures that cost 2
14 creatures that cost 3
8 creatures that cost 4
5 creatures that cost 5+
2 non-creatures that cost 1
5 non-creatures that cost 2
8 non-creatures that cost 3
4 non-creatures that cost 4
2 non-creatures that cost 5+
38 lands

Cost here is converted mana cost. Two colors would be best, split evenly.

This will produce a deck that mathematically minimizes the number of times you are mana screwed or flooded as well as giving you the best balance between playability and power.

I recommend trying to find cards that make use of mana when in play for about a third of these. That means something like Fire Breathing on a creature; spend mana or land to get an effect. Longer games tend to pay out on these cards better and Commander is much longer than a normal Magic game.
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Dan Regs
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Actually your list looks solid to me. I know that those last few cuts are usually the most agonizing. Here are some very general suggestions.

(1) Keep a handful (20ish?) of the cards that didn't make the cut around. You may find after playing it that you forgot some effect, or want an extra card devoted to a certain effect.

(2) Playtest. Try goldfishing (playing against nobody) the deck to see if it does what you want it to do in the right amounts. Also try playing the deck against the decks your friends built. If something's broken (too weak or too strong) about it - that should become obvious in the first few games.

(3) Have fun, make sure everyone else is having fun. If you don't your doing it wrong.
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Well, remember that The Mimeoplasm will require a deck that will skew a normal mana curve. You're going to be presumably filling your graveyard with expensive creatures, and then using Mimeo to reanimate a powerful combo - something like Skytherix and Death's Shadow. So your CMC for creatures is going to be skewed by high casting creatures like Inkwell Leviathan that you're never going to actually cast.

My advice for building a deck is start with the creature combos needed for Mimeoplasm, not too many, and then the key graveyard filling engines (Intuition, Gifts Ungiven, Entomb, etc.). Then add utility cards - removal, card draw, board wipes (Damnation, etc.) - to fill out the rest.

There's really no formula for a deck like this.
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Exhume works for everyone I don't like it because you are going to find it helps your opponents more than you in group games.

You might want to take the tutor effect out of there. This format is about variation is changing every game tutor take away from that. Maybe keep just the demonic and then use it for needs not wants.

I think one thing you might want to ask yourself is how mean are you trying to make this deck. To me it looks vicious and you are not going to make friends with it. Jin-gitaxis and vorinclex are both considered really mean cards. You should be building a deck that makes friends not pushes them away. If I played against you and in the first game you buried alived a Jin-gitaxis and animated it the next turn. I would say good game, then ask you to play a different deck.
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Daybreak wrote:
There's really no formula for a deck like this.


You can adapt the method I mentioned above. If you have a number of cards that you intend to include in your deck that you are never going to play (ridiculously high mana costs), then you can treat them as another section. Not just land and non-land, but land, non-land, and dead cards.

Dead cards. Yeah. That's what they are really. Draws you can do nothing with... that's part of why you should think long and hard about this kind of strategy.

I have a Mimeoplasm deck myself, but you don't have to fill it with unplayable non-threats that you hope to trick into a Mimeoplasm... which promptly gets destroyed, exiled, or imprisoned. Instead, I put all threats on in my deck. It is much more effective than trying to pull of an extremely fragile combo.
 
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cosine wrote:
I've written some articles on this;

How to Build a Deck for Magic: The Gathering

Building A Proper Mana Base

Essentially, it breaks down like this;

100 cards

1 Commander
5 creatures that cost 1
8 creatures that cost 2
14 creatures that cost 3
8 creatures that cost 4
5 creatures that cost 5+
2 non-creatures that cost 1
5 non-creatures that cost 2
8 non-creatures that cost 3
4 non-creatures that cost 4
2 non-creatures that cost 5+
38 lands

Cost here is converted mana cost. Two colors would be best, split evenly.

This will produce a deck that mathematically minimizes the number of times you are mana screwed or flooded as well as giving you the best balance between playability and power.

I recommend trying to find cards that make use of mana when in play for about a third of these. That means something like Fire Breathing on a creature; spend mana or land to get an effect. Longer games tend to pay out on these cards better and Commander is much longer than a normal Magic game.

While I think the logic behind the sentiment is sound, it is better suited to faster formats with smaller deck sizes that want to win by turn 5 or 6. It also ignores three relevant factors which contribute to deck building and operation. One cannot simply ignore deck theme or type. For instance, a black deck that relies on killing opponents' creatures will not get much utility from any 1-3 cost creatures, as most of its card slots are devoted to removal and recursion. Control heavy decks will also not want to run many low cost creatures at all so that mana will be available for counters and sweepers. Combo decks also rely on a specific mana cost vs reliability mechanic that goes right out the window when you try to make the deck mathematically stable.

Second, no color is the same as another, and certainly no two color combination is equal to another. I really think the math here lends itself well to a mono white, WR, or GW build. Other color combos like mono black or green, GR, or GB would not need to limit themselves to the confines of mathematical stability. Totally ignoring green's ability to ramp and blue's ability to draw cards, preventing mana screw or flood, is the only way cosine's concept isn't skewed. Specifically I think his model works worst with a GU deck.

Last, it ignores the human element of card selection, shuffling, and play evaluation. For example, how many times would a shade or firebreathing ability have been viable in any of our multiplayer matchups? With the exception of a Cabal Coffers in a black deck, not much. I think cosine is right in so far as there needs to be some mana sinks in EDH, but they should be there as an out, not as a stable feature. Also, we all know card selection is a great way to differentiate decks, and assuming everyone will run the most efficient costing and effectual card at each cost drop is a pipe dream. Personal bias, card cost, and flavor deem this impossible. Besides, if all decks were as strict regarding mathematical stability and building styles, with everyone using the best cards at each cost drop, every deck would be basically the same.

No, I don't really agree with cosine's rigidity in regards to deck building. With that said, it would be a good guideline to follow for someone trying to build their very first EDH deck, at least until they get a feel for the format.


EDIT: Line breaks.
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logopolys wrote:
Last, it ignores the human element of card selection, shuffling, and play evaluation.


And on my side of this assessment?

Cold, hard, logical, factual math.

Pretty hard to argue against that. The ratios and the concept of building in ratios is mathematically sound. Stray from this and you increase the chances of having too much or too little mana. But you are right, this model is just a standard "win by using creatures to attack" model.

The biggest example of breaking with this is when you plan to turn the basics of the game upside down. The most common way that is done is with a combination. Say you plan to win by getting Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond in play. Here, you'll stock your deck full of card drawing, counter spells, and tutors to try to get this pair of cards into play and keep them there. Likely you'll run mana ramping...

But see? This isn't a game of creatures anymore for you. It's a game of "play two cards" - you don't even care what people have for life totals.

When you change the game, you follow different rules.
 
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cosine wrote:
The ratios and the concept of building in ratios is mathematically sound. Stray from this and you increase the chances of having too much or too little mana. But you are right, this model is just a standard "win by using creatures to attack" model.


cosine wrote:
This isn't a game of creatures anymore for you. It's a game of "play two cards" - you don't even care what people have for life totals.

When you change the game, you follow different rules.

Implying that running tempo creature decks are the only "normal" win-cons in Magic.

That seems more flawed than the rigidity of your "Cold, hard, logical, factual math."
 
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logopolys wrote:
With that said, it would be a good guideline to follow for someone trying to build their very first EDH deck, at least until they get a feel for the format.


The real issue with EDH is that you have to be prepared for the big strategic situations.

1) What are you going to do against artifacts?
2) What are you going to do against enchantments?
3) What are you going to do against a horde of creatures?
4) What are you going to do against a single large creature?
5) How are you going to win if your primary plan is countered?

Say you plan to use Darien, King of Kjeldor to get a horde of soldier tokens in play, buff them up and swing. What will you do if someone shuffles Darien into your deck? What will you do when Zur the Enchanter gets a lock on? (Cleanfall one hopes, eh?)

One of the best reasons to build a deck like this instead of a combination or synergy deck is to address these problems. To be a toolbox with a very reliable, regular plan - swing with creatures. To avoid drawing attention to yourself or putting the game into a position where the only out other players have is eliminating you.

BTW, there's some other concerns for Commander play I didn't list; how will you fix your mana? How will you draw more cards to fuel your ongoing operations? How will you recycle your discard pile if needed?

The most popular strategy article on BGG for Magic has some things to add here.
 
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cosine wrote:
logopolys wrote:
Last, it ignores the human element of card selection, shuffling, and play evaluation.


And on my side of this assessment?

Cold, hard, logical, factual math.

Pretty hard to argue against that. The ratios and the concept of building in ratios is mathematically sound. Stray from this and you increase the chances of having too much or too little mana. But you are right, this model is just a standard "win by using creatures to attack" model.

The biggest example of breaking with this is when you plan to turn the basics of the game upside down. The most common way that is done is with a combination. Say you plan to win by getting Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond in play. Here, you'll stock your deck full of card drawing, counter spells, and tutors to try to get this pair of cards into play and keep them there. Likely you'll run mana ramping...

But see? This isn't a game of creatures anymore for you. It's a game of "play two cards" - you don't even care what people have for life totals.

When you change the game, you follow different rules.

Even when you plan to win by attacking, there are many, many different strategies and different mana curves you can use. An aggressive Goblin tribal deck might play 20-22 lands. A GW midrange deck might play 23-24. A control deck whose sole win condition is AEtherling would play 26-27. All three decks win through creatures and aren't "changing the game." I haven't played Commander, but I know enough about it to know that you can't force every "fair" commander deck into the same box, just like you can't force all three 60-card decks that I just listed to play the same number of lands. Your list is a good starting point, but your "cold, hard, logical, factual math" has to be adapted if you want to play some decks that win at different speeds.
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logopolys wrote:
cosine wrote:
The ratios and the concept of building in ratios is mathematically sound. Stray from this and you increase the chances of having too much or too little mana. But you are right, this model is just a standard "win by using creatures to attack" model.


cosine wrote:
This isn't a game of creatures anymore for you. It's a game of "play two cards" - you don't even care what people have for life totals.

When you change the game, you follow different rules.

Implying that running tempo creature decks are the only "normal" win-cons in Magic.

That seems more flawed than the rigidity of your "Cold, hard, logical, factual math."


It's amusingly ironic that you quote things where I directly oppose the concept that tempo creature decks are the only way to win.
 
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Renaissance Man wrote:
I haven't played Commander...


Well, I've played a lot. In tournaments. For prizes.

Commander is almost nothing like Standard. Here's the first thing to think about coming from Standard, where all your games are one on one best of 3 matches.

You get 1 game. Of 4 players.

Right from the start, I can assure you that entire concepts that work in Standard or Legacy epically fail in Commander. Goblins? You'll be the first off the table - Goblins are terrible in Commander. There is no weenie rush in Commander. 40 life points. 3 opponents.

I'd just like to point out that I do agree with you and the others. This model I showed is a solid, basic way to play. It is not the only way. But then, remember the opening post - new to Commander. I've mentioned a basic deck approach for a starting player. Seems fair, no?
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cosine wrote:
Goblins? You'll be the first off the table - Goblins are terrible in Commander. There is no weenie rush in Commander. 40 life points. 3 opponents.


Krenko, Mob Boss + Intruder Alarm says hi.
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I'm no Commander expert, but I've played a decent amount. Commander definitely has a lot more variation to it than any 60-card format does, depending on the role your Commander is going to play in your strategy. The style of play your group prefers also matters greatly - a cut-throat tournament table is going to favor decks with lower curves that do big things quickly (and thus also favor Commanders that are compatible with these strategies). A more casual table is more likely to run decks heavier on big creatures and spells that have splashier effects.

cosine wrote:
100 cards

1 Commander
5 creatures that cost 1
8 creatures that cost 2
14 creatures that cost 3
8 creatures that cost 4
5 creatures that cost 5+
2 non-creatures that cost 1
5 non-creatures that cost 2
8 non-creatures that cost 3
4 non-creatures that cost 4
2 non-creatures that cost 5+
38 lands


I would say this is a significantly faster curve than most Commander decks I've seen in typical non-tournament play. Most Commanders will have a hard time finding 5 one-drop creatures that will do anything relevant before they're wiped off the board by a random Wrath effect. 8 two-drops is similarly high IMO. I rarely see decks run more than 8 1-2CMC creatures, if that.
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Well, that's quite a varied pool of posts! Quoting everyone would be more hassle than it's worth so I'm just going to say a straight-up thank you to everyone that has assisted and make some general replies.

That statistical break-down of the curve looks pretty quick for an EDH list but the mana topic was a decent read and duly noted.

Cards I've recently been cutting have been moved to the maybeboard just in case they have some use later on; if it was a hard choice to remove then it's considered "potentially good". I suppose I can play against the Commander 2013 Jund deck which I own, I'd rather that than go solo and assume everything works how it should.

I'm not going the (self) mill route with my general, partly because I've played a control deck in standard for many months that had mill as a win condition and I don't want to end up doing the same thing in another format. I'm not against using something like Traumatize but I don't want to fill the list with that stuff.

In a similar vein I do not want to go the combo route or put in one-hit-kills. Damage from the general is important but I want the creatures to do something else without being utilised or abused by The Mimeoplasm, which is why cards such as Triskelion and Death's Shadow are not being considered. I should have put this in the original post but too late now!

Exhume wouldn't be used on a whim and I consider it to be a political card. Early game it can be absolutely brutal against everyone else and late game it can be used as a tool to negotiate. The tutors are there to ensure I get what I want when I most need it; I wouldn't be searching for the same cards every game as it depends on the situation at hand.

The list is intended to be nasty but my friends are fine with that as it's a case of 'do bad stuff to the player doing bad stuff'. Similarly the EDH players at our store (both inexperienced and veteran) have some horrible concoctions and aren't afraid of being mean as they know it will probably come back to bite them in the backside. I think as long as no infinite or no-practical-way-to-stop-it combos are present it doesn't matter how good or bad you want to play as. Being EDH I can still hold back on certain things depending on who or what I am going against, I'm not going to kick a man when he's down, etc.
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Any other advice? If not I'll let this topic die off but it's worth another shot.

Someone else had suggested cutting 24 of my non-land cards - including half of my creatures - as there were better alternatives. Problem is he never suggested what the replacements might be so I have no idea what cards I am meant to put in their places!
 
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Curve - Even for Commander, you're way too top-heavy. I think you have 3 creatures that cost 4 or less and not much else to do with your spells at that level either. You don't want to be playing irrelevant junk in the early turns, but you don't want to waste your time doing nothing either. Especially in Green, you should be running some utility creatures (Sakura Tribe Elder, Yavimaya Elder, etc.) and maybe Nature's Lore as well. Drop some beef to make room (Butcher and Stormtide Leviathan would be the first to go IMO).

Grave Filling/Protection - Your goal appears to be to fill your own yard with the creatures you want to reanimate. If you're going to do that, you definitely want to run Entomb and any other tutors-to-the-grave you can find. Birthing Pod should contribute there too. Tooth and Nail and Worldly Tutor probably don't help as much as they would in a less graveyard-centered deck. Also, that focus on your own yard is going to make you an easy target for graveyard hate. Unless your group doesn't run any hate (and if they don't now, they probably will soon), I'd want at least a couple more answers to artifacts and enchantments, as those are the card types most likely to wreck your yard - if someone plays a Leyline of the Void, your deck is basically screwed. One Krosan Grip and a Acidic Slime don't feel like enough to me. At least Putrefy should be in there, maybe something like Rain of Thorns as well.

Overall, you have basically strong card choices. You'll just need to figure out how to balance the different categories against one another, and testing is the only sure way to do that.
 
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Thanks, this is the sort of reply I was hoping/need to see! Basically, my list needs to go on a diet: Cut down on the excess fat and replace with some healthy greens, right?

I don't have as much draw 'n' discard stuff as I would like and it seems like the right direction to head in for this style of deck. Greater Good could be a wise choice and Fact or Fiction plus other like-minded effects also sound decent. Thoughts?

I know a couple of my friends have some grave-hate planned but nowhere near as much as I have been fearing since I first told them about my general. As long as I don't put all of my eggs in one basket I shouldn't be at risk of grinding to a halt, at least that's the theory. Fair point on the non-creature removal, I could do with some more where room is available.
 
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thezeronumber wrote:
As long as I don't put all of my eggs in one basket I shouldn't be at risk of grinding to a halt, at least that's the theory.

Well, that gets at the big question for Mimeoplasm decks, IMO - how hard are you pushing fast reanimation effects at the expense of long-term resilience? I've seen decklists that basically put all their eggs into reanimating/Mimeoplasming a Sylvan Primordial on Turn 3 or 4. Those are stocked with every cheap tutor, grave-filler, and reanimation spell they can find and run a bunch of huge creatures, but don't have a lot of tools at their disposal if their yard gets blasted or their reanimation get countered. On the other extreme, you could build something that's basically just BUG-Goodstuff.dec that happens to be able to recycle its dead creatures for another go-round via The Mimeoplasm. That's going to run a flatter curve and include more utility spells at the expense of some of the reanimation stuff. If you haven't done so already, the primer at MTGSalvation is worth a read. That definitely leans towards the fast reanimator style and runs a few more cards you may be interested in, like Intuition and Jarad's Orders.
 
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