Hidden within the depths of your trade fodder, bulk rare binder or maybe even just a box of old cards you shoved off into a corner lies a few Magic the Gathering rares that seem too damn wacky to play. For older players like me, this may be an old Thieves’ Auction from Mercadian Masques. For newer players, maybe it’s Scrambleverse. These are referred to as “Chaos Cards” and usually fall within the color pie of Red but sometimes dribble into blue or fly under the Izzet banner. Our collection of chaos cards are most frequently acquired by opening boosters or getting shafted in limited sealed or booster drafts. Once you get these wacky trinkets they are usually with you for life, heck you can’t even give them away.
For those of you familiar with some of my previous articles, I had introduced the concept of a Crock Pot Deck. In relation to Commander, a crock pot deck is constructed by only using cards in your current collection. In my case, I grew tired of seeing all of these funky red rares in my binders so I dumped them into a pile and constructed a Red/Blue deck with a plan to create ultimate shenanigans in my playgroup. I sleeved it up and gave it a go.
Let’s just say my first Izzet creation was nothing short of fan… terrible. My goodness, it was awful. During gameplay my hand would be chalk full of all of these cool effects that could twist boardstates, but they sat in my hand while I durdled at the speed of smell. Long story short, it played like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. I was embarrassed of this 99 card turd pile and exiled it to the dark depths of my office.
A few months later I revisited the abomination and realized where I went wrong. My chaos deck was too chaotic! Chaos cards can do several different things with effects that include misdirection (Grip of Chaos), parlor tricks (Goblin Game), card draw manipulation (Teferi’s Puzzle Box), and the list goes on. My deck’s issue, I crammed them all in there!
Before I get to the refocused version I have today, let’s first take a look at who i chose as my very first Izzet commander, Jhoira of the Ghitu. For you veteran Commander players out there, I am sure that previous experiences have taught you that the Jhoira player must be the primary target of all players at the table. It seems this little lady has made quite the reputation for herself by using her Suspend ability to properly stack an Apocalypse to go off right before her Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre resolves and prepares to eat your face.
It will take some convincing politics in the beginning, but it will soon be evident that my Jhoira build is NOT that deck.
So let’s get to it. Instead of cramming all of the chaos into one disappointing puddle of goo, i decided to focus on one chaos effect in particular and then build around it with a mountain sized portion of card draw and tricks to bring order to the randomness.
Jhoiras Time Counter Exchange
I selected the exchanging of permanents as my primary chaos effect of this deck. It seemed like the most fun in multiplayer format and I hope that the decks in my playgroup all have different color sleeves because this game of switcheroo is gonna be nuts! As you will notice, most of the exchange cards included are permanents that will continually relocate permanents on the battlefield. These swap meets will either be something I control (like Djinn of Infinite Deceits and Puca’s Mischief) or passes the fun and excitement around the table (as is the case with Conjured Currency and Avarice Totem). There are a couple of “one-shot” exchange effects and I have included them because they are game altering momentum swingers. Scrambleverse and Thieves’ Auction will take an entire board state and make it look like a scrambled Rubik’s Cube™.
So why did I choose the exchange chaos cards? My answer is two-fold. First, I think this will create wacky board states. The fact that it is not just me deciding where cards venture off to, but that each player gets the opportunity to control exchange effects solidifies a strong amount of politics and interaction. The second reason? I may be a bit of an “Indian Giver”. Ah, ha! More on this in the “Tricksies” section below!
What’s missing from this group? What about cards like Switcheroo? I tried not to include one time sorceries with minimal meaning in player midgame trades. I wanted epic effects and multi-card deals!
Drawin’ Some Cards!
Card Drawing Spells: As I found out from first hand experience in my first go-round, I needed ways to draw more cards. In this reiteration, I went polar opposite and included a butt-ton of spells that would do just that. I find that draw is super important to Jhoira, since we can cast big mana draw spells with her suspend ability. So, we have some doozies like Opportunity and Recurring Insight along with a couple that can suspend without our commander in Ancestral Vision and Wheel of Fate.
Creature Card Draw: Since our plan will be to trade permanents back and forth, I realized that I would need some creatures to be a part of the exchange. I included a handful of minions that are mere bumps in the road after their initial enters the battlefield effect. Would I trade my Raven Familiar, Sea Gate Oracle or Mulldrifter for a Consecrated Sphinx, Avacyn, Angel of Hope or slumbering Eldrazi? Umm, yep. After their initial card draw payload, they are practically cannon fodder and I can’t wait to move them around the table for something better.
Of course, there are a few other dudes that are a bit more valuable, but I have a plan! Humble Defector should prove a beneficial bargaining tool in a political strategy, while Arcanis the Omnipotent can simply be bounced back to my hand if I don’t want him to end up on the wrong side of the tracks. In unrelated, but slightly similar news, Aetherling provides an interesting game piece that can be removed from the game for a short time while dealings are going on.
This is my first experience playing with Mercurial Chemister and I really dig this dude for his repeatable Divination effect. Finally there’s Aeon Chronicler who will provide me with a one-sided Howling Mine when he is suspended or a possible win condition when he is in play and I have a full grip.
Time After Time
When Jhoira suspends a card, it takes four turns before that spell will be able to resolve. In Commander, games are lost and won in half that time. So let’s look at a couple of cards that should help speed up the time counter removal process.
First up, double time MVP Paradox Haze. P. Haze is an absolute must for suspension tricks. Two upkeeps mean that two time counters will be removed on my turn. Let’s speed those spells up!
The rest are not quite as exciting but definitely get the job done. From repeatable effects like Clockspinning to one time shots like Shivan Sand-Mage, there seem to be just enough of these effects to keep opponents from feeling getting too comfortable when my time-lapse spells still have a few counters on them.
Hey, What are you Attacking Me For?
There will come a time during the game that other players will grow weary of Jhoira’s exchange and chaotic fun. At this point I’ll need some defensive spells to prevent the alpha strike directed to my face. Cyclonic Rift, Illusionist’s Gambit and Aetherspouts can all prove catastrophic to the board state of enemy aggression. Volcanic Vision and Wash Out will help me be proactive and deal with threats before they turn their hungry beasts in my direction. After a few games with these successful tactics and opponents will proceed to combat with caution when I have untapped mana available. Included in this group are a couple of rattlesnakes, Gomazoa and Void Stalker that should deter that big ass flyer from punching me in the face.
Here are a few tricks that I have included to help give me a slight edge in the random chaotic fun we will be having:
Norin the Wary: Let’s swap Norin for someone else’s creature via Djinn of Infinite Deceits and it won’t be long before he returns to us like a loyal pup. I also have Norin abusing the likes of Confusion in the Ranks. A little trick I siphoned from Dodo Bird Commander’s Google Plus Post a while back. Great tech! Thanx!
Brand: Gimme back my stuff! Or cycle it. Value.
Homeward Path: Where the hell is that reset button! Ah, there it is!
Gather Specimens: In response to a suspended Thieves’ Auction? Mwah-ha-ha!
Possibility Storm: I have misunderstood this card in previous encounters, but think I have it figured out now. Everytime an opponent casts something from their hand, they will get something else totally random. However, I can cast spells using Jhoira’s suspend ability, and since they aren’t played from my hand, Possibility Storm does not trigger. Of course, I can also play along and use “the Storm” to get something much more relevant than the spell I cast. It’s nice being the only player with a choice.
There you have it folks, Jhoira’s Time Counter Exchange. I really like how it came out. I feel the deck provides a ton of interaction and not an oversaturation of chaos that would cause moans and groans from my playgroup.
So what do you think? Have you played against a deck like this before? What are your positive or negative feelings towards Jhoira and/or Chaos? Do you have any recommendations of obvious missing, on-theme pieces? Please comment and conversate below!
On to the next!