Barigord Gaming Weekly – 10/18/23 – Commander Challenge – Early October

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The last post can be found here.

Hey Gamers. Wow it has been most of a month since I last posted! The summer and early fall was blindsided by 2 unexpected but irresistible film contests, and if you follow the film side of things here on the site, you’ll be delighted to know we have another short film dropping soon.

But so many of you are here for the Magic, and that’s what’s on the menu today!

This past weekend was another fantastic Commander Challenge at my LGS, The Connection in Vancouver BC. You can find out more about the format here, but in short, it’s a casual, 3-round Commander tournament, with points for winning and for getting votes from other players. Votes are given after each round, with no set criteria. Prizes are drafted from a prize pool of the store’s making, in the order of finish. It’s great.

This time around, I chose to bring my Bilbo, Retired Burglar deck. I tested it a couple of times at the last Challenge, in between rounds, and it seemed pretty good. It’s quick and very interactive, and makes some really strange but effective plays.

The deckbuilding post can be found here, and I’ve added the modifications I made recently.

One extra thing about the Challenge this time: it was Doctor Who theme weekend, with the associated Planechase cards provided for every table. We rolled the Planar Die and everything. The Doctor Who planes were pretty sweet, and mostly added to the games. In Round 3, we were tired, so they kinda got neglected, but overall I was impressed with the designs and flow of the Planechase.

Round 1

My first opponents were Mari, the Killing Quill, which I played as a Commander at the previous Challenge, Gut, True Soul Zealot with the Background Haunted One, and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait.

We started at Amy’s Home, which is totally a Plane in the magic multiverse. This allowed us to start suspending stuff from our hands right away.

The Suspend effect turbo-charged the game for a bit. We all Suspended stuff, though other than Aesi, it was small stuff we would have cast in the early turns anyway. Aesi Suspended stuff like Nezahal, Primal Tide and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.

On turn 3, all of us but Aesi dropped our Commanders. On turn 4, Aesi had had enough Suspend, and Planeswalked us away from Amy’s Home. We ended up at the Aplan Mortarium, which was nothing but escalating lifeloss. Aesi, unsurprisingly, ramped like crazy.

I used Mirror of the Forebears to copy Bilbo, making the mirror die instantly as a copy of a Legend. This gave me Bilbo’s ‘leaves the battlefield’ trigger, pushing me to The Ring Tempts You stage 2.

I then used my Suspended Clever Impersonator to copy Thassa, which was probably unnecessary, and then cast Blasphemous Act. This wiped the board, and sent everything to exile, as Mari, the Killing Quill was in play. It also gave me Ring stage 3. Replaying Bilbo pushed me to Ring stage 4, which is where the deck really wants to be.

Mari reappeared, and Aesi Planeswalked to Bad Wolf Bay. Gut used Diabolic Intent, sacrificing a Goblin token, but whatever they searched for didn’t change the course of the game.

After that, it was all about Aesi, who mysteriously played a Wastes which scared all of us, and then took over the game completely.

The main problem for the table was Scourge of Fleets, which bounced all of our creatures. Aesi was clearly planning to pair it with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling to do it every turn. Gut took care of the Scourge, but it wasn’t enough, as Aesi followed up with a huge turn full of landfall and card draw, capped by The Great Aurora and Karn’s Temporal Sundering.

Aesi put half their deck into play and killed us before any of us could get another turn. It’s really tough to stop any landfall deck once it gets going. Lands are possibly even tougher than enchantments to interact with, and if many of them are just basics, what do we do? Win fast, I guess. On to game 2!

Round 2

Round 2 featured Kosei, Penitent Warlord, which I played to great success a few Challenges ago, Sliver Gravemother and one of the Doctor Who precons. The precon was sold with Davros, Dalek Creator as the face Commander, but the player chose the much cooler Cult of Skaro.

We started in the vast Plane of Coal Hill School, which let us draw a card when casting an Historic spell (Legends, artifacts and sagas). Lucky for me I had Sol Ring and Voyager Staff turn 1, and played both. My Commander followed on turn 2.

Kosei ramped quickly, and then threatened the table with Blackblade Reforged on their Commander. Skaro played Propaganda which took the heat off them completely. I managed to get Ring stage 4 by turn 4.

We Planeswalked around a bit, seeing the Besieged Viking Village, the Tardis Bay, The Dining Car, and the Stormcage Containment Facility over the next few turns.

On turn 5, Kosei had Sylvan Library out and kept both cards, paying 8 life. Then they atacked me for 11. Slivers played Sliver Hivelord, adding to their Commander and other assorted slivers. Skaro played Hunted by the Family which forced us to nerf our creatures or give Skaro copies of them. We all chose copies, giving Skaro a copy of each of our Commanders, plus an additional Sliver Hivelord!

On my turn, I used Curse of the Swine, a totally underplayed blue removal all-star, and got rid of Skaro’s Sliver Hivelord and Sliver Gravemother copies, as well as the originals on the sliver side. The slivers responded with a Regal Sliver on their turn, adding the Monarch to play.

I quickly took the Monarch from them with a skulking Bilbo, and played a Meekstone which stalled all the boards but mine. Sliver now saw me as a threat, and cast both Path to Exile on my Bilbo, and Cleansing Nova to rid the board of artifacts and enchantments. This also slammed Kosei pretty bad.

I saw an opening and tried to get there, replaying Bilbo after casting a whopping 10 point Rolling Earthquake that killed almost everything in play. It also brought our life totals very low. The highest anyone had was 12.

The sliver deck played a haste sliver and got some others in play, enough to take Skaro out. I managed to get the slivers down to 2 life, then used my Keldon Necropolis to deal lethal… but they had a food token kicking around from the The Dining Car and just enough mana to use it.

I was stuck. I had a couple of double strike options in hand, plus a Relentless Assault, but couldn’t force enough hits through on the following turn, and the slivers finally got me.

There was a brief struggle between Kosei and the slivers, but the slivers attacked, then leveraged how Kosei blocked into a narrow win. Firewake Sliver was the win-con, allowing for a sacrifice that both boosted an unblocked sliver, and also removed the one that Kosei’s Commander blocked. The Commander was big and beefy, and had lifelink, which would have been the difference-maker. Clever slivers.

Round 3

The final matchup included newish card Yenna, Redtooth Regent, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence, and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, a classic. I’ve played against Blyte recently, and it goes fast.

Speaking of going fast, I chose to take a quick washroom break before the round started, which made me shuffle quickly rather than break things up nicely. My lands were probably pretty clumped from the 2 previous games. Subsequently, I had to mulligan to 5, which was a real groaner.

We started on the Mondassian Colony Ship which was pretty similar to the card Shared Animosity. Looking at my notes, I can see that Auntie Blyte Planeswalked 4 times. That’s a big chunk of my notes. We went to the Aplan Mortarium again (ugh), The Lux Foundation Library, Lake Silencio which is amazing as it gives all spells Split Second, and finally The Matrix of Time. What a ride.

The early turns of the game were less eventful. Yenna made some Weeping Angel tokens at the Aplan Mortarium for rolling ‘Chaos Ensues.’ Blyte played Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Oloro tutored for an artifact.

I managed to get rolling despite my card disadvantage to start. I played Bilbo, played Fool’s Demise on him, and then made a mistake, playing Clever Impersonator and copying Bilbo. The mistake was letting the Impersonator die instead of Bilbo, who would come back with Fool’s Demise. What was the difference? What I chose left me at Ring stage 3 instead of Ring stage 4.

I chose to keep the aura on Bilbo, basically, in case of a board wipe. Instead, Yenna promptly played Heliod’s Punishment on it. Oof. No attacking, blocking or any textbox abilities for 4 turns or so. It really squished me good. Yenna was also starting to snowball, building up a huge board of creatures with auras of their own.

One of the random ‘Chaos Ensues’ effects from the Planeswalking ended up being a difference maker. The Lux Foundation Library puts a shadow counter on a creature. Oloro rolled it, and lacking any other real target but Bilbo, chose Blyte’s Torbran, Thane of Red Fell.

Torbran can create a lot of damage under normal conditions, but with a shadow counter, and with Blyte’s also playing both Dictate of the Twin Gods and Gratuitous Violence it was a one-shot kill for me.

Despite the Torbran, Blyte was looking overwhelmed by the massive pile of enchanted creatures on Yenna’s side. Oloro had a ton of life but minimal board presence. Yenna had enough of a wall up to get Calix, Destiny’s Hand to its ultimate, and activated it.

Oloro said ‘hold on’ and Blyte mentioned it was an ability, not a spell, so Oloro would have to have Stifle or something. It was Disallow.

Yenna was able to take Blyte out, but on Oloro’s turn, Oloro turned an powerful lifelinking attack from Archangel of Thune, a surprise Aetherflux Reservoir and a flurry of cheap spells to get to 54 life and blow Yenna away with the Reservoir. It was an awesome finish to an awesome afternoon of spellslinging.

Ranking and Prizes

It was expected that there’d be Doctor Who stuff in the prize pool, but it wasn’t that much. There were a couple of the precons, and some collector boosters. I guess that’s all there is, product-wise.

I had my eye on a collector booster, which usually go middle of the pack. Surprisingly, I was 5th!

There were several prizes with a larger shelf-footprint, but I was thinking booster and I grabbed one. It turned out pretty well. 4 different doctors in different treatments. A foil Command Tower and a foil Wedding Ring. Plenty of other great stuff, honestly. The best collector booster I’ve ever opened, with a lot more rare/mythics than I’ve seen before.

I will be prioritizing these boosters at future Challenges.

One last little side note: I played one ‘between rounds’ game, and it included a really cool and fast mono-white build. The Commanders were Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful, and Keleth, Sunmane Familiar. They called it the ‘Dog and Pony Show.’ Very cool.


I have a very specific takeaway from the Bilbo deck: add more ways to make Bilbo unblockable. Don’t rely on Skulk, which is what the Ring effectively gives you. Even a 1 power creature can be blocked easily by other 1 or less power creatures, and there’s a lot of those. It’s weird to be stonewalled by an Argothian Enchantress with a +1/+1 counter on it, but I was.

I added some thoughts to my deckbuilding post along those lines too. I’d also consider adding a Counterspell of some kind. Or two. For The Great Aurora and friends.

Thanks for reading!

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