MagicFest London is in the books, and while the main event wasn’t so successful for me, I had a great time engaging with the Magic community, as you can tell from the team’s event review. Another thing I did was acquire more colourless cards to expand the core of Colourless All-Stars (CAS) that I’ve featured in my other five decks (see Nissa, Nezahal, and Avacyn 2.0 and Gonti and Daretti) into a complete deck. In this article, we revisit the CAS core it all started with and run through some updates I’ve made since. We’ll then have a quick tour of the additions that take it from a collection of cards into a fully-functional Commander deck.
Colourless All-stars (CAS) Core
Below is an updated breakdown of cards in the core. In situations where a card features in a subset of the five decks, I’ve given an indication of which decks they slot into (e.g. if a card functions well in only the green and red decks, I have indicated this in brackets: “(RG)”). Any new additions which have been made since I last wrote up the list are highlighted in bold text
Wastes (WR), Arch of Orazca, Blast Zone, Buried Ruin (R), Detection Tower (BRG), Emergence Zone, Endless Sands, Ghost Quarter, Inkmoth Nexus, Inventors’ Fair, Mirrorpool, Reliquary Tower, Scavenger Grounds, Tectonic Edge, Temple of the False God, Thespian’s Stage, Tomb of the Spirit Dragon (R), Winding Canyons
Artisan of Kozilek (RG), Burnished Hart (WUBR), Duplicant (UBRG), Filigree Familiar (UR), Golden Guardian (BR), Matter Reshaper, Meteor Golem (UBRG), Oblivion Sower (WUBR), Phyrexian Revoker, Pilgrim’s Eye (WUBR), Platinum Angel (G), Sandstone Oracle (RG), Skittering Surveyor (WUBR), Skyscanner (WBR), Solemn Simulacrum (WUBRG), Thought-Knot Seer (WRG), Walking Ballista (G)
Chaos Wand, Conqueror’s Galleon, Dowsing Dagger (WUBR), Oblivion Stone, Panharmonicon (BRG), Relic of Progenitus (WUR), Skysovereign, Consul Flagship (UG), Sunset Pyramid (R), Sword of the Animist (WUBR), Thaumatic Compass (WUBR), Treasure Map, Wayfarer’s Bauble (WUBR)
I’ve seen countless colourless decks powering out Eldrazi Titans or expensive artifacts like Planar Bridge and Blightsteel Colossus ahead of curve via classic ‘mana rocks.’ The CAS core above could allow us to build either of those types of decks, but I wanted to stick to my preferred style during deck construction and gameplay. This means that there’s an emphasis on hitting land drops and making marginal plays by default over time, as well as prioritising meaningfully interacting with other decks at the table regardless of their power level.
Karn, Silver Golem: Colourless All-Star deck
Fortunately, the CAS core is full of marginal and ‘value’ effects, many of which help us hit our land drops on time. We’ve also added Bomat Bazaar Barge, Treasure Keeper, and some Planeswalkers. I’m personally not normally a fan of ‘Superfriends’ in Commander, but I’m becoming more interested in running them since Wizards has started printing some that can’t easily be classified as ‘Must Kills.’ War of the Spark deviated from the classic formula of +1 draw a card, -3 kill a creature, -8 game winning effect and printed a number of Planeswalkers who can shape games entirely through the marginal value they provide without threatening to end the game with an ‘ultimate.’ With respect to this, we are trying out Karn, Scion of Urza, Karn, the Great Creator, and Ugin, the Ineffable.
Decks of no colour that aren’t simply ‘Colorless Eldrazi tribal’ have a propensity to lean very heavily on Artifact spells, and ours is no exception. Exploring potential additions I wouldn’t normally play in the format made the deckbuilding process a bit more challenging and fun. We eventually settled on including a few cards with artifact-based synergies in Arcbound Ravager, Shimmer Myr, and Scrap Trawler. The reason we’ve chosen not to include too many ‘artifacts matter’ cards is because we want the deck to function even when it doesn’t have a critical mass of metal on the table. Any of these cards can provide incidental utility on a sub-par day or be an ‘engine card’ on a good day.
Card advantage, recursion and removal
Our lack of colours has also swayed us in interesting directions where general card advantage and recursion are concerned. Karn, Scion of Urza, Endbringer, and Trading Post provide the main sources of repeatable ‘card draw’ (among other things). Codex Shredder, Ancestral Statue, Junk Diver, and Epitaph Golem allow us to get additional uses out of our cards. Druidic Satchel and Mirage Mirror provide us with more versatile sources of card advantage.
Colourless removal spells and/or ‘interaction’ isn’t particularly plentiful relative to what’s on offer in terms of coloured spells, but we’ve managed to fit quite a lot of removal into the deck. Spine of Ish Sah, Transmogrifying Wand, and Brittle Effigy help the deck deal with particularly troublesome threats and Perilous Vault compliments Oblivion Stone and All is Dust as a reset button. It’s worth noting that the power-level of All is Dust goes up significantly in this deck as it never wipes our own board. Steel Hellkite also provides a useful way to eliminate tokens without having to reset the whole board.
In addition to removal, we have deliberately included a few cards to help defend or rebuild our health total in Aethersphere Harvester, Batterskull, and Hangarback Walker. Most of the time the deck lacks the ability to interact at instant speed, which means it’s often harder for us to survive, let alone defend against sudden heavy assaults.
Normally you don’t want to run too many colourless utility lands, as they can often limit your ability to cast coloured spells. In this deck however, this drawback doesn’t really exist. We have thirteen Wastes simply because we have a lot of cards that fetch a basic land and we want to make sure we can always do so. We have every land from the CAS core plus a few additional lands that either can become creatures or allow us to buffer the number of deserts in the deck to keep Scavenger Grounds well-fuelled. Hostile Desert does both! We’re also trying out Karn’s Bastion in this deck as we have a few cards involving counters, including our three walkers, Ravager, Ballista, and Hangarback. I could see this card joining the CAS core in the green or red deck. While not a land itself, Expedition Map can help us get us lands and is especially useful when we need a specific utility effect. It can even ‘tutor for a tutor’ by searching for Inventors’ Fair.
Originally, I had aimed to have Hope of Ghirapur as my Commander, but, other than its ‘meme value,’ it turned out to not really contribute to games particularly well. Turning off a ‘spells deck’ for a turn and being able to chump block other big flyers is not quite the repeatable value I was hoping for. Karn, Silver Golem therefore emerges as our Commander. His ability to animate random artifacts can provide a more aggressive avenue if a game needs closing out. We can even help other players out by turning their artifacts into blockers.
If you are building the deck on a bit more of a budget, the main offenders as far as cost is concerned are: Arcbound Ravager, Inkmoth Nexus, Winding Canyons, Walking Ballista, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Batterskull. The removal of these cards doesn’t change the way the deck functions very much, other than depriving it of some reach (you could play Triskelion instead of the Ballista) and a possible kill via Infect damage against decks that gain ‘infinite’ life.
As I mentioned before, building a colourless deck around my core of All-stars has been a fun and rewarding process – playing it has been one even more so. I hope this has provided you with some ideas if you ever find yourself looking to try out a deck that eschews coloured mana entirely.
I’m off to some Mythic Championship Qualifiers for the rest of May, so I’ll be providing you with some coverage of competitive events in the UK in the near future. The format for all of them is Standard, so look out for those next week.
Feel free to hit me up with any of your thoughts! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Chris54154. I play most of my games of Commander in Leeds, so if you are local you could see me at your LGS. You’ll also find me at large competitive events in the UK throughout the year, such as the aforementioned Mythic Championship Qualifiers, MagicFests, and others like Axion Now’s Mega Modern and Legacy Masters events.
As always, thanks for reading, and good luck and have fun in your next game of Commander!