Barigord Gaming Weekly – 11/01/23 – Hallowe’en Commander Challenge

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Hey gamers! This past weekend was the latest edition of my favourite local casual Commander tournament, The Connection Games & Hobbies’ Commander Challenge. If you checked out last week’s post (there’s still time!!) you’ll know that I played a deck inspired by the spookiest of cereal monsters, Boo Berry!

I wore this very high quality Boo Berry replica mask. It was very hard to tell that I wasn’t Boo Berry, and I have to give my kudos to the mask design team. With it I wore blue clothes, which I felt was a strong choice. I also brought tokens.

So what Commander does Boo Berry play? This guy. Or these guys, whatever.

It’s really all about the tokens. If you missed it, here’s a link to last week’s post, which has the deck list. It might surprise you, but the Commander is the only creature in the deck!

Like the tokens? You can download a printable sheet right here.

I gave them out to my opponents after the matches. I do enjoy printing out the custom tokens, and will probably do it again in future. Let’s get to the games!

Round 1

The first matchup featured The War Doctor plus Clara Oswald as a companion, naming black as their colour, Blim, Comedic Genius, and an old favourite of mine, Varina, Lich Queen. No green from any of us!

Varina was my commander when I won my very first Commander Challenge, several years ago. It was strong then, and it’s still strong now. Zombies can do perfectly fine with just black and blue cards, so a third colour is just brain gravy. White adds a lot, including some serious spot removal, answers to artifacts and enchantments, and of course, Anointed Procession!

I like Blim in theory, though I wish the trigger didn’t require it to do combat damage. The War Doctor is new, and potentially dangerous enough that the player warned us all that while it might be intimidating, it wasn’t as bad as it could be. Those warnings usually come before the Commander does something scary.

We spent the early turns just playing land, and the first Commanders to hit the board were mine and Varina. I hit my gas early, playing both Halo Fountain and Survivors’ Encampment. This little mini combo allowed me to tap my commander for a white mana, then use that mana and the Halo Fountain to untap the commander right away. This netted me a human token and a citizen token. Holdout Settlement works great too.

It’s tough to look at Halo Fountain and not see the wincon. I honestly wish it wasn’t there, so the card could play a little fairer. When your opponents are constantly counting your tokens to see if you have 15, you know those token aren’t going to be around long. The card by itself is very strong. Tapping a creature is mostly easy, with combat being the simplest way.

With this little engine going, I soon made a decent pile of tokens, including one turn where I made an angel, requiring my commander to tap 3 times! The dream!

My opponents did not love this, and The War Doctor tried to slow me with a Swords to Plowshares on my commander. Meanwhile, The War Doctor was building up. They had the commander out, and had built in dozens of ways to exile cards. I was in a good position as my only creature was my commander, which could be sent to the command zone instead of exile, and tokens, which don’t count as cards when exiled. But still, The War Doctor quickly surged past 10/10 and into the fringes of killing us with a couple of hits of commander damage.

Blim tried to load us up with their stuff, passing Varina a land, and playing Humble Defector. The defector started circling the table but when it came to me, I put its trigger on the stack, then untapped it and my commander with the Halo Fountain‘s second ability, and tapped it again. That drew me 5 cards total. The defector did not come my way again.

It wouldn’t have mattered, because I played City of Shadows and would sacrifice any creature Blim gave me to add counters to the land. The City also let me slowly build up on mana at the expense of my extra tokens. I wasn’t planning on winning with the Halo Fountain.

Good thing too. At the end of a turn cycle where Varina played the very cool and very underplayed Library of Leng, I hit double digits on tokens, and The War Doctor smashed Varina for 14, Blim reset everything with a huge Decree of Pain, destroying all the creatures and drawing 21 cards.

Out of the dust came The Master, Multiplied from The War Doctor‘s side. One quick demonstration of Myriad without the sacrifice angle was enough to make this a must-kill, and something to kill on sight in future games. Yikes. It very quickly got out of hand and threatened to win the game outright in just a few swings.

Blim had taken a lot of damage, and was one Master attack away from death. I felt like I could slow the Master, but needed more help dealing with it, so when The War Doctor made that final attack, I cast my only counterspell, Dawn Charm on Fog mode and gave Blim another turn.

It paid off. Blim managed to get their commander into the air and attacked The War Doctor, giving them the enchantment they’d just played: Lich’s Mastery. If we could find a way to remove the enchantment, The War Doctor would just lose the game.

Varina took the simplest path, really, and attacked Blim for lethal. When Blim left the game, so did all their permanents, including Lich’s Mastery, taking out The War Doctor! Who was maybe really The Master all along? I don’t know the lore.

I was left staring at Varina, and time was called. Varina was willing to concede to my small gathering of angel tokens, but I did the math quickly and realized I couldn’t win with a single attack. The difference was that Varina had both the Commander on board as well as Wayward Servant, and my life total was low enough that they could kill me easily on the following turn by making zombie tokens. I conceded instead, and we were quickly off to game 2!

Round 2

Every now and again we have an odd number of players that necessitates a five-person matchup. This was one of those. It featured Karametra, God of Harvests, one of my first commanders, Kyler, Sigardian Emissary, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence, and Tom Bombadil.

Not only that, we were all in costume! We had 2 Jedi, a hook-handed pirate, and a vault-dweller from Fallout. Very nice.

We got off to a very slow start, with Auntie Blyte’s Roiling Vortex being the most notable thing anyone played in the early turns. The Tom Bombadil player had played Auntie Blyte in a Challenge recently, so the two of them chatted about self-damage sources like Barbarian Ring. Maybe we all got too distracted.

My commander and Karametra appeared, with Kara adding Emeria Angel. Kyler played some small humans. Blyte played Flame Rift, dealing us each some damage and buffing their commander, then played Batterbone, intending to equip it next turn. Tom Bombadil played the very cool Narci, Fable Singer.

I played Sword of the Paruns which required the table to take a look and discuss briefly, mostly trying to figure out what it did. I was able to equip my commander with it, but didn’t have much mana and had to stop there.

Then Karametra exploded. By exploded I mean played a ton of stuff. Creatures came with lands which came with triggers, and at the end of a very long turn, they had a huge board with a couple of different Nissa creatures, and a ton of life. Blyte lamented the fact that the Roiling Vortex could have stopped the life gain, but it was too late.

Kyler didn’t have much on their turn. Blyte swung in for a pile of damage at Karametra, and removed all of its counters for damage as well, gaining a whopping 53 life in the process, but it wasn’t enough. Tom Bombadil attempted to steal the Batterbone, and made the Smaug token from the saga There and Back Again, but that was it. I played Jeskai Ascendancy which might have set me up for a big turn, but it never came.

Karametra had a second huge turn, and then realized they had plenty of mana still left over, and a Craterhoof Behemoth in hand. We all counted up our resistance, but it was minimal in the face of a dozen 28/28s for each of us. And so Karametra…

…But wait! While Kyler, Tom and I all went down, Auntie Blyte morphed Fortune Thief and survived…!

…But wait! In true Auntie Blyte fashion, they went to the upkeep of their turn and found Roiling Vortex waiting for them.

On to game 3!

Round 3

The third game featured Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, and Brallin, Skyshark Raider. Just Brallin, not Shabraz, the Skyshark. The Shark is apparently sold out everywhere.

This game was defined in a lot of ways by two cheap artifacts, played early. Sidisi ran out Mesmeric Orb on turn 2, which nearly milled out all of us. The orb forces players to mill aggressively, once for each permanent they untap. This really whomped Trostani, who spent most of the game ramping.

The other artifact was Fluctuator, played by Brallin. I think they might have mulliganed to find it. It makes sense, considering how integral it was to their build. The deck centred around cycling cards, which provide a steady stream of card draw as well as both damage from Brallin and counters on Brallin. The deck was very fast and effective, especially with Fluctuator in play.

So we milled a lot, and Brallin cycled a lot, making things much more painful by adding Glint-Horn Buccaneer. One of the cards they cycled could destroy an artifact as well, and they slowed Sidisi a bit by blowing up their Sol Ring.

Sidisi responded with The Scarab God and had 4 full graveyards full of reanimation targets. They didn’t have enough mana to do much else, however.

Trostani played their Commander, finally, and Rhox Faithmender to gain a ton of life. With a big pile of lands out, their only obstacle to a strong late-game was the Mesmeric Orb

Brallin was also feeling the effects of the orb, and attacked our life totals with a vengeance. They played The Elder Dragon War and read ahead to chapter 2, discarding 4 cards and dealing 8 damage to each of us.

Sidisi added to their board a bit, but everything was wiped away by Trostani’s Phyrexian Rebirth, and we had to rebuild. The token Trostani made was 11/11, and would pressure both Brallin and myself in later turns. My Maze of Ith kept the heat off me, but was only going to do so much.

Brallin got back to being a threat the quickest, and took out Sidisi, and the Mesmeric Orb, for good with an attack from their Skyshark-Rider Commander. They then pushed hard on Trostani’s and my life totals, getting both of us down to nearly nothing, but ran out of gas on the cycling.

Just enough for me to swing in with a ton of tokens, backed up by Sword of the Paruns on my Commander and Rally the Righteous. It was the end of a long day, and I committed to attacking Trostani as well, not realizing they’d be able to get me on the crackback after copying the 11/11 token. Brallin went down, but I went down right after, leaving Trostani the only one standing.

Results and Prize Draft

This was a special Challenge, what with the costume element, and naturally there was a costume contest. First, I have to shout out to The Connection, who handed out a choice of a Midnight Hunt or Crimson Vow Collector Booster to everyone who arrived in costume. And kudos to the players, who almost all did.

My roommate and Barigord Studios co-conspirator Andrew Wade was a runner-up in the costume contest, dressed as his Commander, Rigo, Streetwise Mentor. It was slick and right on the money, and he got extra points for being who he played.

The big winner of the costume contest was a guy who made a Witchking of Angmar getup, a pretty convincing one, out of duct tape and garbage bags. He apparently did it the same morning, mere hours before the Challenge. For contrast, it took me about 40 minutes to cut out the Boo Berry mask and put a string in, so I feel a little… Halloweenie.

In terms of prizes, I did alright, landing in the upper middle of the group. As usual, we drafted from a prize pool of the store’s construction. I picked a convention Mystery Booster with 3 Dominaria United Jumpstart boosters included for value.

It seemed like a solid prize, and I got some cool stuff, including Lightning Colt in the Mystery Booster… and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in one of the Jumpstarts. Cool indeed!

Andrew drafted a few spots after me, and picked up a cool card binder and a set booster of one of the Innistrads, containing Toxrill, the Corrosive. Terrific pulls to end a terrific day of spellslinging!


The deck did surprisingly well! While I didn’t win any games, I came very close twice, and the deck might be worth a second playthrough. Not what I expected and I’m pleasantly surprised.

It was also fairly fun, trying to figure out the tap/untap dance. When it worked, which was often, it felt great. Halo Fountain is a helluva card!

Thanks for reading!

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