Achievement Unlocked - Building a Deck Using EVERY Magic Expansion - Part 2
( | Art byJohannes Voss)
Legends Through the Years
Have you ever made a Commander bucket list? Welcome to Achievement Unlocked, where we take a look at the cool and unique things you can do in this format other than just winning.
Recently I had the idea to build a deck with a card from every Magic set. Unfortunately, with Core Sets and supplemental products, we are way past 100 sets at this point. However, we've had exactly 95 expansion sets as of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. The deck I am working on will have exactly one card that was originally printed in each of these 95 expansions plus one of each of the 5 basic lands. This week I finish that deck.
The main rule here: it has to be the card's first printing, and no more than one card per set. Let's get to it!
You may be wondering why I'm breaking the trend of going in order and jumping all the way to Kaldheim. My first article received some well-deserved criticism of being a “good-stuff” deck. There's absolutely nothing wrong with playing a good-stuff deck if that's your vibe, but it doesn't scratch the itch that is the deckbuilding challenge I desired. Consequently, I'm choosing to start this article off with our commander to give the deckbuilding experience a little more direction. However, we're still somewhat priced into a good-stuff deck given the first half of this deck as built, so I decided to pick a commander that gives us direction but maintains some flexibility. lets us venture into a legends theme while the backside still lets us make use of any creatures we chose in part 1.
The Power Creep is Real
The average card is quickly growing in power. In particular, creatures are much more powerful, giving us a variety of options.
Shards of Alara
is a cEDH staple, but it does not fit well in our deck. I wish or any of the Ultimatums could fit into a 5-color deck, but with weak mana that feels less than wise. is a legend and can give us additional value from our creatures, especially those with an ETB ability such as or .
is one of my favorite cards all time. It's not good, as it's so expensive and is bound to direct aggression your way, but it's so much fun to pull five cards out of your deck. That being said, is a Commander staple for a reason. It performs best in a five-color deck like this. Hot take: is crazy overrated!
immediately caught my attention, as it's a legend, but it felt like a boring inclusion, and it's not particularly strong. There are some solid removal options, such as and . However, sometimes I need to remind my friends that their cards are not safe with . it's not fun and it will attract some hate, but it's much more manageable for opponents when it isn't the commander itself.
I will be taking as my second fetchland, but there are some honorable mentions I want to shout out here. and are both all-stars but are not nearly as strong with only two fetchlands. The most underrated card here is , which should be in almost any Equipment deck.
is a favorite of mine, but it's not the powerhouse it once was. is a role-player, especially in lands decks, but my pick here will be another land, and that's . All decks need graveyard hate, and getting it on a land that taps for colored mana is huge.
Rise of the Eldrazi
could give us another fetchland, but where's the fun in that? How can I not pick an Eldrazi in the Eldrazi set. Luckily, they also work well with our legends theme and our just about the best creatures we can flip into with our commander, and is my favorite of the Eldrazi.
Scars of Mirrodin
This set is crazy strong for any artifact deck, but it doesn't have quite as many toys for the average deck. will perform in any deck, but it gets significantly better when you can take full advantage of it being an artifact. , on the other hand, is a boring pick, but it gives us two colors and importantly can give us green to cast a ramp spell in the early game untapped.
and are both pretty menacing cards to flip into with our commander, but neither are legends. isn't legendary either, but the power level and versatility of the card are so high, and it helps us generate more mana to cast our biggest threats.
The original Praetors are all rather strong and all good cards to cast for free. However, they vary in power level, especially if we have to actually cast them. has a high ceiling, but is extremely hard to cast. is the easiest to cast, but is also the least exciting. My pick is . Her impact on the board is huge, and it isn't a disaster if you have to hard-cast her.
The Early 2010s
This era saw Magic visit a variety of new planes as well as returning to one of the most beloved planes in the multiverse.
and are two of the most iconic cards in the history of the game, but unfortunately they're significantly weaker in Commander. , however, is a card that grew in popularity as Commander grew in popularity. It remains one of the premier board wipes in the format and is an obvious choice here.
Once again we have cards that are significantly weaker in multiplayer, but I want to mention them because they're two of my favorites. and highlight just how strong Flashback is. is strong, but the downside will affect our deck too much. is strong and a potential combo piece, but it's very hard to cast. is not the best card in the set, but it can be a strong removal spell if we can set up the right situation.
is a legendary creature that can win the game. However, we have arguably the best game-ending creature in the format with . I think this Beast is strong enough to break the legends theme for.
Return to Ravnica
is a great fit in a deck with bad mana as it can be a band-aid on the problem and it doubles as a mana rock. The legends in this set can be hard to cast, such as . As good as is, I cannot pass up on . It's incredibly strong as both a removal spell and a board wipe that can win the game.
Once again, legends such as are difficult to cast. , on the other hand, is a flexible spell that will most often save your creatures but can double as a way to deal lethal damage if the situation presents itself.
resembles , but the Dimir color identity is keeping it from being banned. is a legend you won't see very often, but it's quietly very powerful. Notably it hits all nonland permanents meaning it will even shut down opponents' mana rocks. This creature will throw a huge wrench in your opponents' plans.
is not what it used to be, and we have better options for removal. is strong, but only in a mono-colored deck. Many of the Gods fall into this same trap. is a boring pick, but there is a reason it's so popular.
Born of the Gods
The Gods in this set are generally more exciting for Commander. and are both strong cards outside of a dedicated Gods deck. However, I think it's worth picking up one of the scry lands here in .
Journey into Nyx
We get a few more scry lands here, but we also get another strong land that's the pick here. is one of the strongest lands in the format, and the life payment is just about negligible.
Khans of Tarkir
is an underrated card. It's a three for one that will always hit something relevant. I like , as it saves our best creature and will leave our commander in play as well if we cast it for its enchantment side. is tempting, but I have to take a tri-land here even if they're a little underwhelming. is the pick.
is one of the best card draw spells in the format, but our deck is focused more on big creatures than sheer quantity. is one of my favorite legends, as I love the Delve mechanic. This card is a great mana sink when we have nothing better to do, and we can get political with it to get back what we want.
Dragons of Tarkir
All of the Elder Dragons here are enticing, but two stand out to me. is a great source of card advantage that can be tricky to deal with, and it's also the cheapest of this cycle. However, is too strong to ignore. This card lets you do just about whatever you want on your turn with no disruption.
The Latter Half of the Decade
Magic's power levels continued to rise, and we even saw two new card subtypes in Vehicles and Sagas which both narrowly missed out on this list.
Battle for Zendikar
is hard to cast, but at least it's colorless. However, if it flips off the top of our library we don't get the ETB, making this card way less appealing. is also hard to cast, but it's strong as a card to cheat into play or hard cast while also being a legend.
Oath of the Gatewatch
We get more creature lands, such as , but those don't quite hold up in our format. is a little overcosted and is not the gem it once was. can ramp us while also allowing us to give trample to our scariest creatures and reuse lands such as .
Shadows over Innistrad
is a legend, and it also is one of my all-time favorite commanders. is also an all-star that holds up in Commander. However, it's really hard to beat if we're looking for the best removal spells.
is a banger, but we already have so many expensive creatures, and it'll be hard to make this cheaper in a deck with no focus on Delirium. is the much more Commander-friendly of the two Thalias. The effect may seem small, but it can effectively put your opponents a turn behind, and she's a legend.
Vehicles changed Magic forever, and some, like , are great in Commander, as they can both attack but also offer some other purpose such as ramp. However, will get us value at any point in the game and helps up our legends count making it my pick here.
We don't have enough artifacts to make work. is a great option, and we could even combo with it, but unfortunately it's horrendous if we put it into play with our commander. is the safer pick and can help ramp us into our bigger creatures while being a legend itself.
This set boasts various cheap legends that would not have much synergy with our deck, such as or . is a good role-player, but I opted to go with . It's not great, but the Cycling helps, and we can find it off either of our fetches or our ramp.
Hour of Devastation
I am tempted by to go with our , but I don't think we can afford a land that doesn't tap for colored mana. is tempting, but we already have a few more expensive cards that fill a similar role. allows us to buff our team in a pinch or at least threaten to, but it's mostly just another untapped white source.
Ixalan is famously underpowered despite giving us . We already have quite a few big creatures, making the likes of , less appealing. can turn into ramp if we can sneak even just one creature through early.
Rivals of Ixalan
will rarely cost twelve mana, but even when it's cheaper it's only ever just a big beater. would probably do the job just fine in any deck, but without added synergy I feel that we can do better than that. is not a legend, but it can help us power out of big legends sooner. It also is not the worst creature in the late game as it's still a 5/5.
This is where we start to see legends everywhere and plenty of synergy too. and are both solid options, but I opted for more raw card advantage with , which will trigger off all our legends. Bummed I couldn't fit a Saga here, but the legends are too good.
My Era of Magic
I personally have a lot of fondness for this era, as it's when I began to play the game. Many others associate it with the death of the Standard format and when power creep went too far.
Guilds of Ravnica
We do get some solid cheap options in legends, but I will once again pass on the guild leaders this time around. is a favorite of mine, but the obvious pick here is .
I'm wishing I could pick more shocklands, but I will not break my own rules. once terrorized various formats, but I'm going to opt for another card that was once banned in Standard, and that's . This innocuous card is ramp that is not dead in your hand late game.
War of the Spark
is the boring pick here, but this set was way too exciting to pick a counterspell. Unfortunately, I don't think we have quite enough targets to run . is incredible in a vacuum, but it's hard to cast and I don't feel we can best utilize it here. is an absolute menace to play against and is a must-kill planeswalker for any deck that intends to draw cards.
Throne of Eldraine
I'm not going to count , as it was designed for the Brawl products. This also rules out all the powerful commanders such as . is a solid legend that can come down early and buff our creatures for the rest of the game. The value here just about puts this over , since I have so few basics.
Theros Beyond Death
I will once again reiterate that is a solid Commander card. The Escape cost may be hard to pay with our mana base, but by the time we reach the last game and want to bring it back it we likely will be able to. In the early game it's a cantrip that ramps and gains us some life while also being a legend. It's just about everything we want in this deck.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
and the other Companions are all interesting as creatures on their own and they're all legends. However, we still need to fill out land slots and this set gave us some of the best in the Triomes. I picked because we can find it with our fetches or with cards that search for Forests.
I want to pick , but I think it's hard to argue against the power of the MDFCs. Normally I feel is one of the weaker of this cycle, but in a deck with so many bombs to find with it, it fits in nicely. At worst, it's an untapped green mana source.
Strixhaven: School of Mages
These cards have so many words! has a home in Commander despite the fact that it has not completely caught on yet. However, the powerhouse of this set was .
The Post-Eldraine era
Power levels began to level out in the early 2020s and we got some solid role players for Commander decks.
Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
is an interesting choice for a legends deck, but I don't think we have enough creatures that will benefit from this ability to include it here. gives us two legendary creatures with a single card, but I'm not sure we have enough effects in our deck to benefit us with that. is another creature land, and although you won't activate it often, it's a way to exile cards from an opponent's graveyard in a pinch.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
is one of the best variants of all time, and I want to include it, but this set also gave us one of the best land cycles for Commander in a while. The “slow-lands”, such as , are perfect for this format as any time after turn two we will have access to these untapped, and Commander decks are much less reliant on the first two turns.
Innistrad: Crimson Vow
and are both legends that are generically strong and can give us card advantage. However, it feels prudent to take another of this land cycle with .
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
There are so many strong legends in this set that it almost feels a shame that the decision is definitely between the Channel lands. is obviously the strongest, but I wanted to shout out as the most underrated of this cycle.
Streets of New Capenna
We are really on a roll with lands, aren't we? The Triome cycle from Ikoria is completed here, and is the definite pick from this bunch. We can even find it with both our fetchlands.
There's plenty of legend support here from to , but I'm going to pick the legend that almost led this deck. is crazy strong and will immediately put a target on your back. If you can legend-cascade even once, you're getting crazy value.
The Brothers' War
is a great fit with our Legendary theme, as is . flew under the radar, but this card can generate a ton of value in any deck that is looking to spit out creatures.
Phyrexia: All Will Be One
is so busted some people were hoping it would be preemptively banned. However, it was another legend that caught my eye, and that was . This card is near impossible to block and will generate consistent value each turn entirely on its own.
30 Years of Magic
That's all of Magic's 95 expansions, and we have a deck! What do you think of the picks so far? What would you have picked differently? Let me know in the comments below!
Check out the full deck below!
A Deck for the AgesView on Archidekt