Archetune-Up - Lolth Be Praised!
All Victory is Her Doing!
In my last article, I mentioned that I had the idea for a "Rule 0" deck with Lolth at the helm, which prompted a few questions in the comments and on other platforms just what exactly a "Rule 0" deck is and how someone would go about building one.
The thing we reference as "Rule 0" has been expanded into The Philosophy of Commander proper, but instead of going through the entire document, here is a quote that I feel is a succinct summation of the idea behind "Rule 0":
"Commander is designed to be a malleable format. We encourage groups to use the rules and the ban list as a baseline to optimize their own experience. This is not license for an individual to force their vision onto a play group, but encouragement for players to discuss their goals and how the rules might be adjusted to suit those goals."
Basically, just talk with your play group. Communicate and get an idea for what everyone wants out of a game. To add to this, our sister site, Commander's Herald, has a bevy of pieces discussing what "Rule 0" is and what it isn't, written by wonderful creators such as Dana Roach, Sheepwave, and Mike Carrozza, so if you're looking for follow-up material, it's certainly out there!
In the case of this article, as soon as I found out that extremely excited to build a Commander deck around her!was getting a card in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, I was
But then, when she was revealed, I found out that her card wasn't a legendary creature like I had hoped, but instead a planeswalker.
While I feel my queen is certainly deserving of the honor of being depicted as a 'walker, this status causes a bit of conundrum. She doesn't have the "Lolth, Spider Queen can be your commander" text she would need to legally be a commander, so... that's it? I guess I should pack it up and go home? My quest for a Lolth deck is over, right...?
This is the perfect place to break out the ol' Rule 0!
But how should we go about doing that?
Never Lie When the Truth is More Profitable
Despite how badly I may want to playas a commander, I have to show others that I respect them and their time. The last thing I want is for my opponents or my playgroup to think I'm using a Rule 0 Lolth-in-the-command-zone as a way to take advantage of them. I'm the one asking a favor of the group, so the onus is on me to make them feel comfortable. These people are friends, not just opponents.
The first and biggest thing anyone in this position can do is keep a spare commander as backup and announce it early. That way, if the playgroup decides that they aren't interested in a bend of the rules - which is perfectly fair and fine - we can still play the deck. The second thing to do is make sure the deck is a known quantity. For, it's super easy: it's mono-black Aristocrats! Everyone knows what that is, and its intent is really easy to get across to everyone. You'll have an easier time convincing people to try something new by using something familiar as opposed to using something extravagant or convoluted.
The third thing to do is to be a good sport. If your playgroup doesn't want you to do *gestures vaguely* whatever it is you want to do, take it in stride. You're the one asking people to change things for your sake, so be gracious about it. You're asking consent, and they are allowed to say no.
These were the three core tenants I kept in mind when I started putting this deck together.
Once I got those ideas sorted, the first thing I did was take a stroll over to the site's Mono-Black Aristocrats theme page. The goal here was to try and scope out potential commanders with a deck that could serve as a good base for , as well as be good backup commanders in their own right.
There were some good picks here, like
one two of these commanders caught my eye specifically.
Very similar to Lolth. Lots of tokens and sacrifice (though sadly not as many limbs). Let's check out their average deck and see what Lolth wants to do with it!
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Not only are these two a fantastic pair for backup commanders, but one of them is a planeswalker, meaning we can always guarantee that we will have a 'walker in the command zone, no matter what! Not only that, but a lot of the time, an issue with "Rule 0" discussions is that there is a fear that the house-ruled commander would be stronger than the options already available. In this situation, I wholeheartedly believe thatPartnered with is actually stronger than on her own. This factor should also hopefully increase the chances of the table allowing to helm the deck.
That's enough about the hypotheticals. Let's say that our opponents give us the A-Okay to run the. Where do we go from there?
Well, how about back to the source? The Mono-Black Aristocrats theme page!
The Foolish and Unwary Find Waiting Death
Aside from the choice of commander, this deck is pretty standard fare. We want lots of creatures, we want them to die, and we want to profit from it.
Despite that, a Lolth deck will want to play slightly differently than other Aristocrat legends. One of our best win conditions is trying to get emblem as quickly as possible and then leisurely pick away at our prey with seemingly inconsequential attacks, slowly whittling them down over time. This means we should show our loyalty to with a venerable buffet of sacrifices the turn we beckon her onto the field so we can start our ascension to victory.'s
These three cards serve the same function: feed. With a sacrifice outlet, like , , , etc., we can quickly increase Lolth's loyalty, bringing her to ult range or simply keeping her big enough to avoid getting picked off by our opponents. supplies a burst of expendable bodies for four mana, while is a reusable creature who can be brought back and killed consistently. simply gives us an extra creature for each nontoken one that dies, giving us twice the feast for three easy mana!
Emblem easily. This isn't even taking into account the sizable 6/6 flying body that the has in its own right! Combine this with and , and you've got a fantastic engine that easily brings you into the late game.is a potent piece in this deck, as not only does he come with an impressive cadre of 1/1 flying Harpies to sacrifice, but these expendable fliers are fantastic at pecking in for a single point of damage, triggering 's
Death is Not the End, but the Means
Next are some generally good cards for this deck and archetype. They're a mix of utility, power, and recursion, all things that I'm always in the market for.
Bothand function as recursive pieces as well as providing added utility. is here to get back key pieces consistently each turn, ranging from the aforementioned and to and . is a ZNR MDFC, so I don't need to explain to you all how much I love it and how good it is - I've done so in many previous articles - but being both a reanimation spell and a land is exactly what this deck wants. It either helps us through the early game, or it's a great payoff later.
is, in my opinion, one of the best cards from Strixhaven, and I will put it into any deck that can feasibly run it. is right at home in the deck, providing both a sacrifice outlet as well as a way to accrue card advantage, which is exactly what this list wants, especially if both of those things are on a single card!
Ambition, if Used Correctly, Will Lead to Ascension
I'm nearly done, but before I go, I want to mention one other class of cards I added to the deck, this time from the Planeswalker Theme Page.
Since the plan for this deck is to always have eitheror in the command zone, we can splurge a bit and dedicate some slots to some 'walker love specifically. All three of these cards will give us either an extra activation of or an extra copy of one of her abilities. This provides additional value in the form of extra cards or more 2/1 Spiders.
Additional Proliferate cards, like, , and , are also potential contenders should you want to lean into building around your 'walkers more.
As a final note, though, don't go out of your way to copy emblem. It will only ever cause opponents to lose up to a total of 8 life at the maximum, and multiple emblems will not stack.'s
That said, if you believe your playgroup will be on board with you showing up to the table with adeck, why not quit the balancing act and lean into her a bit more? . , and are all great additions to a deck, helping to drain opponents faster and doubling the amount of life her emblem steals from opponents. If you have the go-ahead for this planeswalker in the command zone, dig deep and find cards that are uniquely suited for !
Who Knows Better Than the Goddess?
There we have it! A fun Rule 0 brew for one of the most well-known antagonists in all of the Forgotten Realms!
Much like my article, I was ecstatic to build . While her card is a touch tame compared to most 'walkers these days, it is wonderfully flavorful. I much prefer this version of her than something more robust or powerful, so kudos to the designers of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms!
What about you? Would you let me playas a commander? Would you build her differently? Would you have used a different deck as a base? Do you have any "Rule 0" decks? Make sure you let me know down below!
As always, you can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.
Archetune-Up Lolth Be Praised!
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