Hey Magic players! Today I want to break down one of a few new decks I’ve built over the past few weeks. There’s still too few opportunities to play cards in person, and I missed out on a good one recently, but we’re getting closer.
I’ve been reforming most of my decks anyway, and trying to dissolve the ones other people are probably going to hate a lot. I’m pulling out all the look-through-your-deck-and-shuffle effects, including basic ones like Evolving Wilds, so you won’t see that stuff in my lists going forward. I’m tired of searching and shuffling. I want to focus on the boardstate and topdeck, even if (oh no!) I don’t win.
I picked up a Codie, Vociferous Codex recently, thinking it might be good in my Commander Battlebox, but the more I thought about what kind of a deck Codie could be, the more I actually wanted to try building it. Codie gives you a mana boost, turning 4 colourless into one of each colour, and then gives your next spell cast this turn a variation of Cascade. When you cast the spell, you look at the top cards of your deck until you find one that’s cheaper to cast, and you can cast it for free that same turn. Note that the first spell is on the stack while the second card is revealed, so if the revealed card copies a spell on the stack, you can choose the first card. Make sense? No? Oh man.
Suffice it to say you can cast something like Wolf’s Quarry and reveal Twincast and choose to immediately copy the Quarry for 6 little pigs. Does the wolf get mobbed or just double up on his protein? Can’t it be both?
My first draft was a total fail. I had a huge pile of powerful control cards, like Swords to Plowshares, Anguished Unmaking and Merciless Eviction. I could build Codie to kill anything threatening and totally police the table… but I really don’t want to do that. People feel targeted when you wreck their stuff, especially if you nail something integral, and get rightfully salty. The better you get at threat assessment, the more of a threat you yourself present.
This is my second draft. I like it much better, and I’ll explain some of the finer points below.
Call Me Bookman
First off, no Command Tower or other common rainbow lands. I’m out. They’re all in other decks. It’s been a while since I grabbed a precon, and I’ve traded in a few Towers, and given some away, but I’m not so choked. I have very few pre-Codie plays anyway, and this deck would rather resent a low profile, so Transguild Promenade and friends are just fine.
The deck runs a whopping 2 permanents other than Codie, Yidaro, Wandering Monster, which can be cycled and then played without being cast through Codie’s restriction, and Tectonic Reformation which can be played early, or cycled late, and turns lands into extra value.
The spell component of the deck is constructed so that there’s almost no fail case with a Codie activation. All Sorceries are mana cost 4+, and all Instants are 4 or less. That means when activating to cast a Sorcery on your turn, or with Alchemist’s Refuge, you can hit any card, but when activating with an Instant, you’re guaranteed to get another card that can legally be cast that turn. The one possible exception I’m aware of is an Increasing Vengeance flashback activation, but that’s so likely in response to a Codie’d spell, it’s unlikely to matter.
The Sorceries are more splashy, and mainly going to dump tokens in large numbers onto the battlefield to serve as Codie’s main win condition. Cards like Increasing Devotion and Army of the Damned can even be cast for a higher mana cost when flashed back, leading to a more expensive free card off the Codie activation.
In addition to flashback, including spellslinger allstars Mizzix’s Mastery and Past in Flames, there are plenty of cards with alternate costs, and ways to recast them, like Retrace on Spitting Image and Jump-start on Chemister’s Insight. Even with an empty hand, the deck might be able to fire something off from the graveyard and get some spells going.
As far as chaining spells is concerned, Throes of Chaos is an option from the graveyard, and a fun card overall, doubling up the free spell component with Cascade. Sram’s Expertise offers a lot of value too, and might make me consider the other expertise cards again. Aminatou’s Augury should be a huge flurry. I’m really high on Dual Strike among my copy cards, mainly due to the Foretell ability. Seems like it’ll fit the plan well.
Two sorceries to highlight before I move to instants are Dusk // Dawn and Chronomantic Escape. I’m pretty sure these cards will work the way I want. Dusk // Dawn as a card has a mana value of 9, which means that only Storm Herd should ever hit it, and that should be fine. Otherwise, I’m not going to get a surprise untimely boardwipe, but I have a one in my pocket that doesn’t hit Codie, and isn’t too much of a burn to my opponents who can hardly blame me for taking out their chonkers. Dawn also fishes Codie out of the graveyard when the Commander tax gets too high. Chronomantic Escape, as far as I understand, can be suspended, and then when it is cast, can be responded to with Codie’s ability (which is a mana ability!) and be the trigger spell at 6 mana cost, which the card establishes, but maintains you didn’t pay. Neat! Two free spells and WUBRG to play with, and another Escape in a few turns.
When choosing instants, I went with a few basic styles of card I wanted, and then filled in the gaps with fun and power. For starters, I think one of the best things my cheap instants can do is untap Codie for another activation. Especially if I didn’t use all of the mana resulting from the first activation. Not required at all. Several cards, like Refocus, Twitch and Cerulean Wisps simply untap with a cantrip and maybe a little more upside. Crypsis can make a super-blocker or blank some nasty targeting ability, Energy Arc can also negate combat, and Essence Flux untaps by blinking, potentially stopping removal or an attempt to steal Codie. Both Undying Evil and Graceful Remorse pull a similar trick, untapping by recursion, which is great if there’s a boardwipe or something.
There are plenty of other cards that will either save Codie or stop combat damage, or even better, damage from opponents’ creatures, like Riot Control. Since most of these cards are so situational, I tried to include those that had some upside like cycling, cantripping or making a creature token.
A small suite of charms made the cut, which is to say that most charms did not and none of the commands either, like Dromoka’s Command or Lorehold Command. Most don’t scale well to Commander unless you really like a couple of the modes for your strats. As much as having options seems good, you either need several great choices like Dawn Charm or a great top choice like the tokens on Rith’s Charm or the card draw on Archmage’s Charm. Sometimes you’re casting on an empty board and all those flexible answers just fizzle.
Finally, I have a few really high-risk, high-reward cards that are all fun. Call the Coppercoats and Curious Herd have tons of token-making potential, but can also fizzle like crazy. Wrong Turn should make for some interesting politics. One of my favourite cards ever is Fumble, which is sometimes the talk of a whole football championship game.
Now of course, this whole deck is pretty random. I’m looking to play this mostly responsively, with instant speed Codie activations at the end of the turn before mine, or in response to big trouble, removal, wipes, etc. And we’ll see what’s in the book.
Thanks for reading, hoped you enjoyed it! Now go read an actual book!