Deckbuilding – The Fab Four

black vinyl record playing on turntable

Happy Sunday morning, Commander players! If you’re like me, you’re under some social restrictions that are probably keeping you inside where the gatherings are small. But with the release of Zendikar Rising earlier this year, we now know that three may be a crowd, but four is a full-fledged Party.

I initially wanted nothing to do with a Party deck. I think the mechanic is under seasoned and underdone. I want the R&D to take it back to the kitchen and cook it longer, and then finish it with the same salt that the community will approach it with. But recent decks have made me yearn for something janky and unpredictable. Something that plays cards other people have to read and then still don’t quite get. Something that gets laughs. Something with a bit of a story to it.

So imagine this premise: General Tazri is at the end of the long resistance against the Eldrazi. She’s made Allies, and is well known and respected across the Plane. She’s looking for a new gig, with the General thing being just an honorific now, and then one lucky day, some Planeswalker appears, wearing earbuds and bopping to some silent song only they can hear. General Tazri is intrigued, and the Planeswalker hands over an old MP3 player they were saving for some reason (not hoarding!) and goes off looking for Squid races to bet on or something. General Tazri pops in the headphones (after sanitizing them first) and discovers a whole new world. Of music. And some spoken word that was on there from when the Planeswalker was in college and they were trying a lot of stuff. This was before the Spark. I digress. The music that General Tazri found most appealing was the Beatles. The Fab Four. A quartet of musicians of unparalleled ability and appeal. They didn’t have a General, but Sergeant Pepper put a pretty amazing group together.

Tazri realized she was the perfect Commander to build a new Fab Four. For Zendikar. Maybe they wouldn’t be the Beatles, but it’s Magic, so they turn sideways instead of sing and play instruments. Magic has a checkered history with Musicians, so she couldn’t really do worse than what’s out there. She could try out some Wizards, like John, and some charming Rogues, like Paul. Some road Warriors, performing endlessly over the years, like Ringo, or the spiritual type, Clerics, like George. Maybe even an Ally or two, like Pete Best. But just jamming four types together is a Party, even if everybody involved is a Legend. What Tazri wanted to put together was a Band.

General Tazri's One and Only Lonely Hearts Club Band

Manager (1)
Tazri, Beacon of Unity

Up and Comers (40)
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Brion Stoutarm
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder
Chevill, Bane of Monsters
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Eron the Relentless
Ezuri, Claw of Progress
Geist of Saint Traft
Ghoulcaller Gisa
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Grand Warlord Radha
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer
Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
Ith, High Arcanist
Jhoira of the Ghitu
Jori En, Ruin Diver
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist
Marchesa, the Black Rose
Marisi, Breaker of the Coil
Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Mistform Ultimus
Nekusar, the Mindrazer
Niambi, Esteemed Speaker
Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage
Rayne, Academy Chancellor
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan
Stitcher Geralf
Surrak Dragonclaw
Tahngarth, First Mate
Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Tymna the Weaver
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
Yasova Dragonclaw

Rehearsal Venues (6)
Adventurers’ Guildhouse
Base Camp
Cathedral of Serra
Mountain Stronghold
Seafarer’s Quay
Unholy Citadel

In the Studio (6)
Calming Verse
Empowered Autogenerator
Lithoform Engine
Recross the Paths

The Tour (32)
Blighted Woodland
City of Brass
Command Tower
Eiganjo Castle
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Forbidden Orchard
Krosan Verge
Maze of Ith
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Terramorphic Expanse
Windswept Heath

Possible Song Titles (14)
Commander’s Sphere
God-Pharaoh’s Gift
Maelstrom Nexus
Mimic Vat
Rampant Growth
Scroll of Fate
Sol Ring
Thaumatic Compass
The Immortal Sun
Thran Temporal Gateway
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Whim of Volrath

Cease and Desist order from Mr. P. Gabriel and Mr. P. Collins (1)
Genesis Ultimatum

That’s right. I’m playing with all five ‘Bands with other Legends’ lands. I have an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Burgeoning waiting in the wings in case they’re a major mana sputter, but it’s not like I’m intending this deck to win any tournaments. In fact, I really have no idea what the deck is going to do. I plan to get Tazri out ASAP, then play more Legends and see what happens. React to the table and not get so caught up in a linear sequence that my opponents will have to disrupt or else lose. I’m looking to make Bands, ideally of four separate Party members. I’m looking to have a good time.

So no strategy up front, but once things get going, the micro strategies should be a gas. I’m light on removal and disruption and such, but I’m hoping it won’t be a critical factor. It might be. That might be where the game is now, where the cards are simply so strong, they demand answers or win with minimal interaction from players. I’m going to review Commander Legends a bit this week, and the power creep is pretty substantial. If the deck does nothing because the format is simply too fast and too strong for something like this… I don’t know.

What I’m not doing are any kind of punny Beatles references. No Sky Diamond or Mr. Spellskite, or even Land Tax Man. No subtle ones for you hard-core fans, either, like Illusionary Wall. I do want this to be playable, not just a fun list. Okay I do have The Immortal Sun, here it comes, but it’s about the Fab Four and and Banding. However, I didn’t have either Helm of Chatzuk or Baton of Morale for this deck, and I’m hoping they aren’t super-necessary. The Baton is a pretty good microphone, so I should think about it.

A big side benefit of a deck like this is that it encourages me to play a huge pile of Legends that normally live in a box, and through real Commander play, suss out which ones are good, better or best. The best can probably start helming decks of their own, and the merely good will probably be replaced by future Legends as the prospect of new Warriors, Wizards, Rogues and Clerics coming out over the next year or so are pretty good.

I actually didn’t have enough playable Legendary Rogues to include for the deck, and went with Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, and Mistform Ultimus as substitutes. I would love to get a Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats, and am looking forward to plenty of the cards from Commander Legends to jam into the deck.

I’m also playing some fun stuff I haven’t put in decks yet, like my new Lithoform Engine, God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Scroll of Fate. Old Favs Mimic Vat and Maelstrom Nexus should add some unpredictable fun. I’ve got Whim of Volrath to change up the colour on my Band-lands if needed, and Calming Verse and Harmonize are both legitimately included for utility, not just as musical references. Sure I’m probably the worst mana base for Calming Verse but I only have the one enchantment.

There really isn’t much more to say. How about: it’s wonderful to be here, it’s certainly a thrill. You’re such a lovely audience, we’d love to take you home with us, we’d like to take you home. Thanks for reading! Your life matters! Black Lives Matters!

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