Jumpstart – Commander Edition

I’m pretty excited about Jumpstart. I know it’s a little weird, but I think it does a good job of encouraging casual players to a) check out Limited and b) try out different themes they might not otherwise use together, or even on their own. Obviously the extra cards that will be Commander-legal are cool, but since we have no info about those yet, I’m more interested in how we can use the concept to do something interesting.

While out for a walk, I had an epiphany – I can bring the fun of Jumpstart to Commander and use that to bring people who might not have tried it or may be on the fence into the format. I sometimes use old precons for that, but unless everyone in the game is on the same page and playing a precon, power levels are an issue – and other players might not enjoy playing the same precons they’ve seen before. This would be a totally different experience. (I’m not so naïve as to believe no one has had this idea previously, but my take on it is hopefully unique.)

Here’s the pitch

We take ten of the Partner commanders from Commander 2016 – one in each color pair – as shown:

Akiri, Line-Slinger - FoilIkra Shidiqi, the Usurper - FoilIshai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker - FoilRavos, Soultender - FoilSidar Kondo of Jamuraa - FoilSilas Renn, Seeker Adept - FoilTana, the Bloodsower - FoilThrasios, Triton Hero - FoilVial Smasher the Fierce - FoilKraum, Ludevic's Opus - Foil

We then build a unique 47-card half-deck around each one of these commanders. When the time comes to play, each player takes two of the half-decks and shuffles them together along with four extra cards that make it a little easier to build unique decks, assist with mana, and also capture that sweet Commander feel:

Sol RingCommand TowerTerramorphic ExpanseCommander's Sphere

You don’t have to use the Partner commanders for this – if you don’t have them, or if you prefer other commanders, you can just use those instead and pretend they have Partner. If you do that, I’d advise you stick to the color pairs and focus on commanders that aren’t too wildly powerful and aren’t excessively specific – you want them to mix well with the other options. 

Now let’s talk about deck construction

One focus here is going to be budget, as we’re effectively building five full Commander decks here. I’m going to set a target for each deck to cost $25, with no individual card costing more than $3.00. (Of course, these restrictions ignore the Commanders I’ve selected.) As with previous budget articles, every number I pull is the price on ChannelFireball.com as of this writing, so if things have changed, I apologize, but that’s just how it goes.

Another focus should be consistency. We want these decks to play well, so we should give them decent curves, enough creatures, and non-prohibitive mana costs. We should also make sure to include a sufficient amount of dual lands to make sure people get to cast their spells. 

With that in mind, let’s create an outline for the decks (which we’ll of course eventually deviate from):

47 Cards + Commander

19 Creatures

2 1-drops

4 2-drops

6 3-drops

4 4-drops 

2 5-drops

1 6+drops

10 Noncreature Spells

2 Mana Rocks

8 Other Things

18 Lands

5 Duals

2 Other Nonbasics

11 Basic Land

With our 2- and 3-drops, we’ll generally want to avoid CC and CD costs (by this, I mean creatures costed like Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Eutropia, the Twice-Favored) – we can mix a couple of these in starting with the 4-drops, but early game cards should be easy to cast. Obviously this isn’t a hard and fast rule – some exceptions will be made.

Now that we’ve created this structure and I’ve finished making an Excel version of this template (which is an extremely RagingLevine thing to do,) let’s get down to the business of deckbuilding, starting from the top with Akiri, Line-Slinger!

Jumpstart Commander Akiri, Line Slinger Deck List - Eric Levine

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Akiri wants to stack up artifacts and crash in for big Commander damage. With that in mind, I’ve included six pieces of equipment and creatures to synergize with them. I’ve also got some additional artifact creatures, the two obligatory mana rocks, and two artifact lands to boost the count to 13 artifacts total plus whatever Loyal Apprentice can generate. Add to that the two artifacts everyone gets, the guaranteed mana rocks from the other deck, and an assumption that most decks will have one or two more, and we can easily hit 18+ artifacts – more if Akiri teams up with Silas Renn. Total spend: $23.52.

Let’s explore the Golgari half-deck featuring Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper.

Jumpstart Commander Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper Deck List - Eric Levine

I’ll be the first to admit that this one is a little weird. We’ve only spent $13.42 on it, but I don’t think it’s underpowered relative to the others. I pushed hard at the lifegain theme – at least, as hard as one can without breaking the budget restrictions here – but perhaps Reyhan for +1/+1 counters would be stronger. I didn’t want overlap with Ishai, though, (spoiler alert) and I am excited to give this list a try and see how it plays. I think having large creatures in a format full of awkward 4-color decks might be a big winner, but we’ll see.

Next up: Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker!

Jumpstart Commander Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker Deck List - Eric Levine

Ishai’s theme is +1/+1 counters. A little weird for Azorius, but that’s not a real issue when you’re building less than half a deck, right? 17 of the 19 creatures care about counters – that’s some real synergy. Of course, when that gets diluted by the other deck, that’ll be a little less terrifying. I considered going the traditional control route with this deck but thought that might be both unfun and anti-synergistic with the overall plan, so leaning into some more aggression seemed worthwhile. Total spend: $23.92.

Let’s move on to Kraum!

Jumpstart Commander Kraum, Ludevic's Opus Deck List - Eric Levine

Kraum himself doesn’t lead directly to an interesting theme, so I just made an Izzet spells deck. It gets a sixth dual land because I couldn’t find a utility land I liked that also fit the budget. (It won’t be the last time I do this for this series of decks.) This is the one where I’m most concerned about power level so far, but if the deck plays well I’ll try to adjust other decks up to match rather than tuning it down. Obviously I deviated pretty hard from the template here in terms of creature count, but I tried to maintain a creature curve as well as ensure that spells were castable. I’m a big fan of using Rewind/Unwind to change the nature of the mana you have open in a four-color deck. I spent $24.82 on this one.

Moving on, let’s talk about Ravos, Soultender.

Jumpstart Commander Ravos, Soultender Deck List - Eric Levine

Ravos provides an anthem as well as a Raise Dead every turn, so I’m taking advantage of this by packing his deck full of creatures that create tokens, often upon entering the battlefield or dying. The biggest downside of this deck in this format is that you’ll need the right tokens for everything. I think this is competitive with Kraum in terms of power level, but I’m not worried about their interaction when shuffled together. Total spend: $24.54.

Let’s see how we can make Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa feel like a cohesive deck!

Jumpstart Commander Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa Deck List - Eric Levine

Sidar Kondo also wants to go wide, but with a twist – keep the power of your creatures at 2 or less. I’ve focused on repeatable token generation in this deck in order to make sure Sidar Kondo’s forces can continue to turn sideways for long periods of time. Spawnwrithe is the deck’s all-star as long as you can get a hit in with it. Total spend: $19.40

Let’s turn back to artifacts with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept!

Jumpstart Commander Silas Renn, Seeker Adept Deck List - Eric Levine

I always worry about the cost of artifact decks, but this one clocks in at a mere $19.36. It’s… very blue. There are only seven cards that use black mana in this one, but I was really trying to stay on theme, so I’m not too unhappy about it. After all, when you’re trying to build a deck with Disciple of the Vault and two artifact lands but not get everyone at the table to murder you right away, there are a lot of things to think about. If this deck and Akiri combine, they might form the most powerful deck in the box, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the power level of that particular partnership.

Another token-themed Commander rears its head – let’s check in on Tana, the Bloodsower!

Jumpstart Commander Tana, the Bloodsower Deck List - Eric Levine

This deck, like Sidar Kondo, goes wide on tokens, but it also goes tall with cards like Elder of Laurels, Wolfir Silverheart, and a few auras, most of which are intended to augment Tana’s trampling capabilities and create tons of saprolings. I think Gruul War Chant is likely to be very strong here. We only spent $17.57 on this one, so if upgrades need to be made, we have room.

Incredibly, we’re nearing the end. Let’s try out Thrasios, Triton Hero.

Jumpstart Commander Thrasios, Triton Hero Deck List - Eric Levine

Thrasios is an exciting little Simic Flash deck, which is not something you see every day in Commander, but I think it plays well in this format. Did I mention this format can be either 1v1 or multiplayer? No? Well, it can. It’s a little bit Commander, a little bit Battle Box. You’ll also notice I’m not leaning too heavily on Thrasios’s ability itself because I’m not putting in any ramp beyond the artifacts we’re including. I don’t want green decks to just feel like they’re the best all the time, especially in terms of mana fixing. (Maybe this is a misrepresentation of how Commander is, since that’s kind of how the mid-level tables work…) Anyway, the deck costs a respectable $23.99.

Okay, we’re at the final hurdle. It’s time to get aggressive with Vial Smasher the Fierce.

Jumpstart Commander Vial Smasher the Fierce Deck List - Eric Levine

Vial Smasher is not your friend. Vial Smasher is not anyone’s friend. Sometimes Vial Smasher is not friends with Vial Smasher and deals damage to everyone, though that doesn’t actually happen a ton in this deck. (I’m really just talking about Spear Spewer here.) Regardless, this deck will find a way to make the rest of the table mad, so it’s only natural for it to do tons of damage. We even have some card draw mixed in for good measure. 

Okay, that’s it! I know this might be a daunting undertaking, but maybe you’ve been inspired to try something like this. If so, let me know how it goes, and once I get a chance to build this myself (probably later this year as it’s a busy time) I’ll report back! Feel free to add your comments here or tweet your scientific findings to me at @RagingLevine on Twitter, and I’ll see you next time!

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