The Commander’s Chair – Dueling Grounds

During the last episode of Red Cast Wins, there was a scuffle that may or may not have been cut from the recording. The result of the altercation is that Luis and Amanda will be battling for the right to ridicule. There will be 3 formats chosen for the face-off. You can vote on which format will be used here:ttp://

Votes will be taken until the end of the week. Right now, it looks like Commander will be one of the formats chosen. It will probably end up that neither of them will be allowed to use a list that I generate. They will be forced to build their own unique Commander list. With that feeling of equality in mind, today I will be giving some advice for playing Commander in a two player setting.

Tip 1: Change Your Mindset

When you play against just one person in Commander, the game can be still be very fun. However, if you are expecting the same sort of slow paced, lackadaisical feeling, you are going to be greatly disappointed. Politics do not come into play when there are only two of you. Do not hold back plays because you think it might make the other person mad. Using Wort, Wild Ricochet, or New Chandra to double a plow under and effectively 4x Timewalking someone is normally seen as cruel and unusual. However, in a situation where you are facing off, this is in the realm of normal game plays. In contrast, not playing to your fullest can be seen as insulting your opponent.

Tip 2: Fast Mana

Unless you are following the French Ban List, you have access to some incredible acceleration. You have access to cards that are rightfully banned in Legacy. 0-3 Mana acceleration is where you want the majority of the ramp you use. We are talking cards like;

  • Sol Ring
  • Mana Crypt
  • Mana Vault
  • Mox Diamond
  • Exploration
  • Grim Monolith
  • Basalt Monolith
  • Mind Stone

Tip 3: Land Destruction

Personally, I will not play a deck that is meant for heads up without Crucible of Worlds, Strip Mine and Wasteland. Land destruction and mana denial, through things like Mishra’s Helix, are incredibly powerful when you only have one person to keep in check. This is especially true of any deck that takes a while digging up its win conditions. Most green and red decks I have seen built for heads up battles include a strong land destruction theme.

Tip 4: Efficiency > Power

In a typical multiplayer setting, you would prefer to have cards that are high powered over cards that are high powered for
their cost. In a two player game that idea changes considerably. In a two player format I will almost always want to be playing Swords to Plowshares over Final Judgment.

Tip 5: Good Stuff is the Worst Stuff

If you are playing a Commander just for the colors in your dedicated two player deck, you are doing it wrong.
The deck should be able to function without a Commander, but the Commander should be able to push it over the top. Do not just throw cards into your deck because you think they are just good in a vacuum. Every card in your deck should have a specific purpose.

Tip 6: Tutor, Tutor, Tutor

In multiplayer, you want to embrace the randomness of Commander. In two player games, randomness is your enemy. You want to be fast, consistent and strong. Tutors will help you accomplish all three goals. If you cannot tutor up an important card in your deck, you should consider changing your strategy.

Tip 7: Start at the End

When you are building a two player deck, you want to build around win conditions. Throwing win conditions in to a utility deck will result in you losing games. The easiest way to do this is going for an aggro style deck. In this way, Commander is very much like life; the path of least resistance is usually the wrong path to take. Outside of some rare corner cases, aggro decks do not win as fast as combo decks and they cannot slow a game down like control decks.

Tip 8: 2 Card Combos are the Only Combos

If it takes you a ton of cards to create an infinite loop, do not do it. The combo in The Voltron Matrix is a prime example of a combo not to use. Every piece of disruption and removal in your opponent’s deck is going to be aimed at you. You want combos that can be assembled in one or two turns and early in the game.

Tip 9: Sideboard

Commander allows for a 10 card sideboard. If you are building a deck to dual with, I would suggest building a sideboard. This lets you pack in extreme hosers. We are talking cards like Acid Rain, Stranglehold, Kataki or Boil; cards that can knock out an opponent with one foul swoop.

Tip 10: Be Prepared to Spend Money

The cards that shine in two player commander are not cheap. That is because these are generally the same cards that have been making waves in legacy and vintage. Legacy and Vintage players are willing to spend larger amounts on their cards compared to other formats, because they are not forced to be buying a new deck every time a set comes out.

Be on the lookout for the upcoming face-off. I am hoping we can catch the whole thing on video, with me and Jason doing commentary. In any case, I am sure this will be very amusing. Make sure to vote on the formats to ensure we get to see these two face-off if the most interesting way possible.


P.S Thank you CommanderCast for choosing my alter for the season 3 contest.

About SwordsToPlow

I like building and tuning decks to make them more fun and more effective.

Posted on July 25, 2011, in Articles, The Commander's Chair and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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