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By: Contributor James Ness


Initially, I wanted to write an article on Commander deck construction, but the complexity of the task quickly became evident, so I decided instead to write a few pieces covering the various components of deck construction.  This too, quickly spiraled into something very expansive.  So I finally decided that the best way forward is to divide up this process into numerous parts in what will surely be an ongoing series, at least for the foreseeable future!

My aim is to more closely engage players in all aspects of the format and more broadly, the game of Magic: The Gathering itself and its meta.  This should be read as less of a tutorial than a ‘food for thought’ series.  I’ve decided to call this series “Smoothing the Curves” and this will serve as the mission statement and introduction to the series at large!

But before we get settled, a little about me!

My name is James and I’ve been playing M:tG since Fallen Empires (thanks, but apologies are entirely unnecessary) and I’ve dabbled in a lot of formats – everything from Type 2 (well, that dates me) to commander.

I’d like to use this format and forum to not only share my knowledge and experiences but also initiate conversation within this community and to learn and grow myself!  I’ve learned a lot over the years however I believe even the simple act of attempting to explain fundamental ideas like “how” and “why” of the actions you already perform forces you to form a deeper understanding where previously there may been more of a muscle memory action at play.

So why is that important?  Because when you break down the decisions you make, you weigh their merits and sometimes you discover either a reason, or a lack there of.  This are key becoming a better player and understanding your strengths and opportunities.

I principally play the commander format as I find the singleton, 99 card format forces a fantastic level of creative and out-of-the-box thinking that regardless of where you want to jump in – jank or competitive, budget or priceless, you need to make some interesting decisions and that’s where the fun lies!  I believe the brewing of the deck to be just as fun as the gameplay itself.

99 is both an intimidatingly large and a frustratingly small number to work with and that’s where the magic happens (pun most certainly intended).  The decisions you make for what you run and what you cut are crucial ones and I really want to take a deep dive into as many of the aspects of deck building as I can think of.

I connect with that game as just that – a game, a pass time, a social catalyst.  I’ve met many wonderful and amazing people because of this game and I want the same for everyone who asks “what are you playing?”

I believe in inclusion, support and patience for everyone looking to engage in this game and its community.

I will do my best to keep my articles easy to read, engaging and informative in equal measure!

As we work through the various aspects of theory crafting and brewing, building, playing, strategy and everything else, I thought it would be best to have a common reference point for everyone to follow along with.

This is the deck that I have spent the most time contemplating and fiddling around with and the design intent for it was to make the most aggressive, combo-tastic deck that I possibly could with the stipulation that I not conform to the tried tested and true cEDH build of Korvold: Food Chain.  My reasoning here is simple: I was told this build would never be cEDH viable, so I took that as a gauntlet hitting the floor.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

I really hope you enjoy your time spent with me digging deep into why this is the greatest game ever made.


Copy and paste the deck list below to the orange "Decklist" tab on the right to see what cards we currently have in stock:


1 Allosaurus Shepherd

1 Arbor Elf

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Blood Artist

1 Bloodghast

1 Bloom Tender

1 Caustic Caterpillar

1 Deathrite Shaman

1 Dockside Extortionist

1 Elves of Deep Shadow

1 Elvish Mystic

1 Fiend Artisan

1 Fyndhorn Elves

1 Lotus Cobra

1 Mayhem Devil

1 Murderous Redcap

1 Opposition Agent

1 Orcish Lumberjack

1 Poison-Tip Archer

1 Putrid Goblin

1 Ramunap Excavator

1 Reassembling Skeleton

1 Sakura-Tribe Elder

1 Scute Swarm

1 Sylvan Safekeeper

1 Temur Sabertooth

1 Tinder Wall

1 Viscera Seer

1 Woe Strider

1 Zulaport Cutthroat

1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking

1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

1 Radha, Heart of Keld

3 Forest

2 Mountain

4 Swamp

1 Ancient Tomb

1 Bayou

1 Blackcleave Cliffs

1 Blood Crypt

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Cinder Glade

1 City of Brass

1 Command Tower

1 Cragcrown Pathway Flip

1 Dragonskull Summit

1 Exotic Orchard

1 Fabled Passage

1 Field of the Dead

1 Kessig Wolf Run

1 Llanowar Wastes

1 Maze of Ith

1 Overgrown Tomb

1 Spire Garden

1 Stomping Ground

1 Strip Mine

1 Undergrowth Stadium

1 Verdant Catacombs

1 Phyrexian Tower

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Faithless Looting

1 Farseek

1 Nature's Lore

1 Primal Growth

1 Three Visits

1 Beast Within

1 Bedevil

1 Chaos Warp

1 Deadly Rollick

1 Harrow

1 Nature's Claim

1 Noxious Revival

1 Pyroblast

1 Red Elemental Blast

1 Shared Summons

1 Tragic Slip

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Veil of Summer

1 Worldly Tutor

1 Compost

1 Defense of the Heart

1 Dreadhorde Invasion

1 Goblin Bombardment

1 Ordeal of Nylea

1 Rhythm of the Wild

1 Underworld Breach

1 Wild Growth

1 Arcane Signet

1 Ashnod's Altar

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Sol Ring