What does it mean to say your deck has goals? I believe a commander deck has three generic implied goals for a deck to succeed and one specific individualized goal. Last time we took a look at the implied goals. You can read about them here.
The general goals can’t be completely addressed unless we define a specific goal for the deck. It defines how we accomplish the generic goals. At the same time, without meeting these general goals every deck calls for, we will not be able to accomplish our individual goals for each deck. The implied goals and the deck specific goals are interconnected. You can’t accomplish the one without the other. This is the home stretch to a Magic the Gathering obstacle course obstacle in a Deck Building Boot Camp. You may slog through it. You may hate it but you’ll be able to survive your commander pod better for it. .
Goal 4: Your deck needs a plan or path to victory it wants to accomplish.
While the other three goals are static from deck to deck this one will change with each commander deck you build. This goal comes from several factors. First what type of player are you? If you like to swing with creatures that will affect your goal. If you enjoy assembling a combo as a Johnny it will show up in your goal more often than not.
Your commander determines this goal most times. There are a lot of legendary creatures that are just awesome. When you read the card you say I want to build around that. Those situations have you creating the individual goal of the deck around it.
Sometimes there is a card in the 99 that you just love and it is strong enough that you can build around it. Often it is a non-legendary creature but it can also be one. In the cases it is legendary you want to have access to colors outside of its color identity or you want to conceal your decks true win plan out of the gate. Some commanders draw instant hate but if they are in the 99 where they are not reliable to cast opponents will not target you as fast for having the card in the deck.
When putting together this final goal of a deck you need to ask yourself “How do I intend to win with this deck?” Typical answers will be through combat, commander damage, direct damage or mill. Sometimes it will be a card that lets you instantly win the game. This is where deck archetypes from BLU # 2 apply. You can read about them in Part One and Part Two as a refresher if you need to. After that decision you need to ask how am I going to accomplish a battlefield that will allow me to accomplish this win.Answering these questions help you focus in on your deck’s individualized goal. When you come up with a goal write it down. When deck building it’s good to have it to refer to so that you stay focused in on what your deck wants to do.
Putting it All Together: Three Examples
I believe before you ever sleeve a single card for a commander deck you should have a fully developed plan for how your commander deck should be built. I call it a deck building map. This is because when done properly, if you follow the process, then it will be a road map to a to a solid commander deck. I will lay out this unified plan in a future article. Part of this process is vocalizing the individual goal of your commander deck. Here are a few examples of the goals.
Example #1 Avacyn, Archangel of Hope.
I returned to Magic at the start of the Innistrad block. Because of this I bought too many boxes of Avacyn Restored and had several Avacyn cards laying around. When I made the switch to commander, I had initial tendency towards color greed. Eventually I grew past the color greed, I decided Avacyn would be a strong deck to build. When you can make all your creatures indestructible it’s easier to control the battlefield. I built the deck initially but it has changed over the years. When I finally wrote the goals of the deck it was around using board wipes to create an advantage with my indestructible creatures and to ramp fast into Avacyn before people could mount an attack against me. In a brief manner here was my goal for the Avacyn Deck.
Goal: Mana Ramp to Avacyn fast. Board wipe, play answers and win.
Example #2 Zacama, Primal Calamity
Zacama is big. He was stompy. Timmy will love him to win big and Johnny will love the flexibility he brings as a commander with his abilities to control the board, if you can get him on the table. Relying on such a big commander and having him come out late, I was realistic I might not win as much. Instead I focused on the fun of the deck just stomping around the board blowing things up and if you can win it would be a bonus. looking at Zacama as a commander this was the deck goal I came up with.
Goal: I want to generate lots of mana and blow a lot of things up with Zacama. I will have a big turn which will turn the tables and then win by turning creatures sideways.
Example #3 Sigarda Host of Herons
As I branched out into more commanders I expanded how I played the game. After a while I reconized I avoided Voltron strategies to win. When I thought of Selesnya colors I thought of tokens. Then quickly realized for my Selesnya commander I could use Sigarda as an voltron commander for the protections she offers and improve my game play. When thinking about how to build her power I decided I wanted to use +1/+1 counters. If I could find cards, like the Ajani planeswalkers, where I could reuse adding counters it would be card efficient.
Goal: I want a deck where I voltron the commander and kill someone with 21 commander damage. I will pump up my commander using +1/+1 counters.
In conclusion, your deck has four goals. Three are in every deck and your fourth goal on how you win varies. You can see there are different win goals and how you will want to phrase them. This is important as it helps to focus your deck for what it wants to do. You will want to play many cool cards but those cool cards are not always best for your deck Your deck goals helps you to make the decisions you need to build a strong commander deck. Again, it is tempting to skip this step if you are not a Johnny personality style. Don’t do this. The rewards that it will pay off is worth the effort even if deck building is something you don’t enjoy.