As you saw in my post last week, while I already know what guild I’ll likely align with in Return to Ravnica (Izzet), I don’t have the attachment that so many fans do to their respective guilds and guild leaders. Which kind of works out well. If you did your homework and read the articles I pointed out last week – and Part Two of the Planeswalker’s Guide to Ravnica that was posted yesterday – you’ll know that most of the guilds have new leaders. But thankfully, Niv-Mizzet’s still around as the leader of the Izzet League.

I just recently built my first EDH deck, and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind is my commander. And I have yet to lose with said deck. Not a bad standard to set for playing U/R , right?

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick rundown of the EDH (or Commander) format.

EDH has the same basic rules as a free-for-all, where any number of players can play against each other and there are no teams. …unless of course you count the silent (and sometimes not-so-silent) alliances we all make when playing. That aside, each player starts with 40 life instead of the standard 20. The main differences are in your deck.

An EDH deck is built around your commander – a legendary creature that determines what color your deck will be. Exactly 99 other cards that share color(s) with your commander fill out the rest of your deck, and you can only have one copy of any one card (also known as the Singleton format). So since Niv-Mizzet’s mana color identity is U/R, I can only put blue and red spells in my deck. For a full set of rules, check out Wizards’ Commander resources.

With introductions out of the way, here’s the stupidly simple way I built a deck that’s yet to be defeated, and is a ton of fun to play.

STEP 1: Summon dragons


Anyone who knows me – and especially anyone who’s played Magic with me – knows that I love dragons. At the time that I sat down to build this deck, I had two and a half dragon decks with another in the works. (The half is because I put a bunch of dragons in my Sliver deck and used Hivestone to turn them into slivers, too. Don’t judge me.) I figured maybe it was time to trim the pack down, so I disassembled my mono-red dragon deck (Burninator), used some cards to support Mr. Mizzet, and saved the rest for my upcoming Hellkite Overlord deck. I started with 40 dragons, but begrudgingly trimmed it down to 30 in order to…

STEP 2: Draw cards

Niv-Mizzet has a passive ability that deals one damage to target player or creature every time I draw a card, so why not make myself draw more? I loaded my deck with spells that put as many cards in my hand as possible, which lets me do a crazy amount of damage without ever attacking. Not too shabby.

STEP 3: Screw defense

I initially started with some defensive cards in the mix. A few counterspells, some bounce spells…and it just felt, well, wrong when I playtested it, so I took almost all of them out. I’ve got a swarm of dragons here! What the hell do I have to be afraid of? So I focused on getting them out and winning with brute force if the damage-through-drawing thing wasn’t working out.

STEP 4: Mana balance

The most obvious challenge for me to overcome was my mana curve. Dragons are expensive! So I was left with not much to do early in the game, and was totally screwed if I didn’t have a mana drop every turn until turn five, unless I managed to pull a Dragonspeaker Shaman. Even still, I was easily limited. I eventually upped my nonbasic lands to help out, including the addition of Forgotten Cave and Lonely Sandbar – which served a dual-purpose with their cycling ability. I came out with 24 basic and 12 nonbasic, which has been working pretty well so far. I still usually end up only able to cast one spell per turn, but that’s kind of what I signed up for with 50% of my cards costing 5 or more.

STEP 5: Add Jace

jace_memoryadeptIt quite literally almost killed me to do this. But we had this Jace, Memory Adept sitting around…might as well put him to work, right? And if I’m ever going to embrace playing blue, I suppose making friends with this guy has to happen eventually.

And that was it! Since then, Dragon Pipeline has performed just fabulously. You can check out my deck list here on MTG Vault!

EDH was actually a format developed by fans that Wizards just recently made an official gametype, and has been considered a casual format. While I didn’t see the intrigue immediately, what I quickly learned to like about it is that often times there are awesome cards that I want to use that either a) I only pull one of out of a booster box, b) I can’t validate building them into a deck, or c) would cost more than I want to spend on a playset. So this is the perfect way to use all those one off cards!

But more importantly, EDH really encourages creative deckbuilding and interactive, social play in a more low-stress environment, and I like that.

We host a lot of Magic nights at our place and we’re always looking for ways to make sure everyone’s having a good time. (We can’t depend on alcohol all the time!) So free-for-alls can be tough, because if you’re the first person knocked out you just end up sitting around, waiting for the game to end. EDH tends to extend the game and keeps everyone engaged for longer, so it’s definitely getting working into the rotation.

Do you host Magic nights outside your LGS?

What gametypes do you guys tend to play most?

We have a homebrewed format called Overlord that I’ll be sharing next week, so if you have Magic nights at home and are looking for ways to keep people involved, check that out!