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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
 
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
  • posted a message on Staples Binder Guide
    Quote from VaultTechy »
    I've seen one guy do this before and I'm not a fan of waiting for all of the reorganization


    Yeah, sounds like you haven't had a good experience but I would say that it sounds like the guy in your playgroup who is doing this doesn't have a good system. He shouldn't be "grinding the whole procession to a halt"; I agree with that. If you're organized it takes 2-3 minutes to switch decks which shouldn't be too much to complain about since I wait in between games for people to go to the bathroom, order a beer, etc. all the time. And the waiting really only matters if he's one of the last two people in the game; otherwise you can shuffle up while the previous game is finishing.

    Also, as I mentioned, other methods that can help your friend save time as well are proxying the shared cards (if that's acceptable in your group) or having a deck or two that doesn't use the system.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Staples Binder Guide
    Yeah, that's a great idea. I originally talked myself out of numbering the individual cards because I thought I might change around the cards in the binder every so often which would throw my numbers out of whack. In reality, though, I haven't changed the cards in the binder at all since I started so it would have worked out perfectly fine and would definitely save time when putting the cards back.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Staples Binder Guide
    Quote from darkeshrine »
    This seems like something that just isn't worth it for someone that's played Magic for a decade or more that has a very large and extensive collection. A new player, just getting into the format, could benefit from this greatly and could easily adapt to the system as they venture into the format.


    Yeah, I was originally in a somewhat similar situation as you. What the staples binder did for me was help me to acquire some of the more expensive cards that I didn't have access to. For example, I was able to trade off all of my additional Ancient Tombs, Crucible of Worlds, Survival of the Fittests, etc and turn them into Dual Lands which I didn't have a full set of yet. About 50% of my staples binder is lands and artifacts because they go into sooo many decks. My colored staples numbers are much less and are more likely to just be more rare/foil printings. So I understand not wanting to trade away your high value cards, but as long as you are able to turn those into other high value cards that you don't yet have, I think it can make sense. But, like I mentioned before...this exact binder system isn't for everyone but I think there are concepts and uses that a lot of players can take and make what works best for them, their play group and their play style.

    Quote from Acrocalypse »
    I guess my only question is how much set-up time do you think this would take someone with 10 decks, needing to re-sleeve them all in the process.


    For me it probably took longer then most because I went from single sleeving to double sleeving at the same time. I will say that I did all of my while watching tv shows and stuff, but if I HAD to make an estimate...maybe 20 minutes per deck to unsleeve then double sleeve? It's not too bad but unfortunately is part of the work to set up the system.

    Quote from Weebo »
    Rather than maintaining partial decks with shared staples, I just consolidated everything into a "box," actually a shelving unit now, using all one kind of sleeve. I keep things sorted by color -> creature/noncreature -> alphabetically (one big reason a binder wouldn't work). I build decks when I feel like building decks. If I like a list, I'll write it down and be able to build it again later. More often, I just build around themes and recreate decks slightly differently each time I revisit them.


    I think this is really cool concept. Building decks kinda on the fly and slightly different each time lets you see different interactions and keeps things fresh and interesting. Really cool idea!
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Staples Binder Guide
    Hey guys, I’ve been running a Staples Binder for well over a year now and I’ve had lots of people ask me about the system, how it works and if I would recommend it overall. I thought I’d put together a piece and post it to hopefully help some other people understand or set up a staples binder.

    Staples binders are not for everyone. It takes time to set up the system, organization to keep it going and a little money up front to get it started (more on this later). That being said, for others like me that play Commander almost exclusively and love deck building (43 paper EDH decks currently) staples binders really help to reduce the cost of building new decks.

    I started the staples binder system once I had around 10 decks and noticed how certain cards appeared in many of my decks. Some of the cards were fairly expensive. Sharing expensive cards across multiple decks allowed me to sell all but one copy of those cards and share the one copy among decks (similar to how MTGO does). Selling redundant cards gave me extra money for building new decks or foiling out my staples. The staples binder was the solution.

    As I mentioned before, this system isn’t for everyone. There are pros and cons and each player will need to weigh these against each other to figure out if the system works for them.

    Pros:
    • Save money by card sharing among decks.
    • Build more decks using the money you make selling off your spare copies of cards.
    • Save money building decks by using cards already in your staples binder.
    • Carry more decks in your deck boxes (now that your decks will be <100 cards until you pull the cards from your binder)
    • Pimp your staples collection. Now you can use your foil Command Tower in every deck!

    Cons:
    • Organization. This system won’t work if you can’t keep your cards/binder organized.
    • Time to set up the system.
    • Time to swap cards between decks between games.
    • Staples creep into your decks (i.e. lack of deck diversity)

    If a staples binder sounds like something that interests you, read on.

    Setting Up the Staples Binder
    When I started the system from scratch, I first figured out which cards I wanted to put in the staples binder. My personal criteria was based on the ‘collection’ value of the card which I based on the value of the card and how many decks that card is in. Chromatic Lantern is a great example. By itself Chromatic Lantern isn’t a super expensive card, but I put Chromatic Lantern in most of my three or more colored EDH decks. So if I multiplied the ~$10 value of Chromatic Lantern by the 10 decks that it is in, it’s collection value equals ~$100…about the same as the collection value of my Invoke Prejudice that I only use in a single mono blue deck. So even though the card itself may not be super valuable, if it appears in enough decks it might make it a good candidate for the staples binder over expensive cards that may only be used in a single deck. All this being said, you can use your own criteria to determine which cards you want to include in your personal staples binder.

    To figure out the collection value of all of the cards in my decks I digitized my deck lists and incorporated card values (using deckbox.org). Once I had all of my deck lists with card values it was a simple task of sorting cards by descending collection value to give me an idea of what cards I wanted to put in my staples binder. For my staples binder I use the 4 Pocket (2x2) Ultra Pro Pro-Binder which holds 160 cards, so I knew 160 staple cards was my limit. According to your personal preferences you may want a smaller number of staples selected, but I wouldn’t recommend doing over 160 since the system may become too cumbersome to manage with many more cards.

    Next, I put all of my decks in the same color of sleeves. Choose your favorite brand/color of sleeve because if you’re using this system all of your decks that use the staples binder will need to use this color of sleeve so that your staple card’s sleeve match your deck’s sleeves. Personally I double-sleeve using KMC Perfect Fits and Dragon Shields for the outer sleeves.

    Finally I set up the physical binder that will hold the cards to make it easy to identify and pull the cards for each deck. To make card slot identifiable I numbered each one in the binder. I used small slips of Post-It Notes and taped them to each slot in the binder. You’ll see more about how these numbers come into play in a second.


    The next challenges to overcome were how to determine which cards to put into each deck at the beginning of each game and then take out of the deck at the end of the game. Let’s tackle each of these issues one at a time and look at the solution that I settled upon.

    Before the Game
    For pulling cards out of the binder at the start of each game, if you are only dealing with a handful of cards per deck this could potentially be something that you memorize. I have a lot of decks, though, and my memory isn’t great anyways so I knew that I would need to come up with cheat sheets. So for each of my decks that uses the staples binder I have a card list that I have printed out, glued to a token and sleeved up that sits right next to my commander in my deck box.


    You’ll notice that my cheat sheets have the card name, card type/color and a number. That number corresponds to that card’s position (i.e. card slot) within the staples binder. So, for example, the Savannah that my Angus MacKenzie deck needs is in slot 4 of the staples binder. This lets me locate and pull the cards for each deck very quickly. You should also note that this cheat sheet also tells you where you need to put the card back once you’ve finished a game. In order for this system to work the staples need to be in the same card slots after every game so that you are able to easily pull cards for the next deck/game. I made the cheat sheets in Excel (where all nerdy people keep their deck lists, right?), but other programs or even making them by hand would work as well.

    When the Game Ends
    This leads great into the second challenge mentioned above; how to best identify and pull the staples out of your deck once your game is finished. I found that Post-It Notes were my best solution here as well. For each of my staples I placed a colored Post-It Note in the interior bottom left corner of the card sleeve. This allows me to quickly flick through a deck and identify/set aside all of the staples without having to look at any other details of the card (name, color, etc.).


    Once I have them all pulled from the deck, I put them in the same order as listed on the cheat sheet and then reinsert them into the staples binder.

    All-in-all I find that it takes less than 5 minutes to ‘disassemble’ one deck and ‘build’ another in between games. You may think that this sounds like a long time but in my experience it is just about the exact amount of time that it takes for people to start the next game anyways as people decide what decks to play, go to the restroom, trade, shuffle and everything else that people do between games.

    Time Saving Tips
    Another option I’ve seen people online suggest is to use a similar staples binder for your shared cards, but then print proxies or checklist cards for each of your decks to take their place. This way you don’t need to spend time between each game swapping out cards. I know that playgroups differ in terms of proxy acceptance, but if your playgroup doesn’t mind proxies being used in your decks (especially if you have the real card in a binder beside you), you can still save you a ton of money.

    Another time saving technique I recommend is having at least one deck on hand that doesn’t use a staples binder. This deck can be used when you need to quickly get playing and do not have time to pull cards for a new deck.

    Final Word
    Overall I’ve been really happy with my staples binder. I’ve almost got it foiled out at this point and I get to show off my favorite expeditions/inventions in every game. It does take some time to get used to the system before you feel fast at ‘building’ your decks but you will catch on quickly, I promise. Your friends may make jokes about your new binder system, but then you can just laugh at them for owning more than one Doubling Season. Suckers.


    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Xira Arien - The Insect Queen [Theme Deck]
    First off, I know that technically spiders, leeches and worms aren't insects; however I still wanted to use them for the creepy-crawly theme of the deck. Please find it in your heart to make that tiny exception and enjoy the overall theme of the deck.

    This deck started with a simple search of Insect creatures throughout MtG history. But in order to stay on theme with my non-creatures I had to get a little more down and dirty with my search. One by one I went through each MtG set (starting with Alpha) looking specifically at the art for each card trying to identify all cards that had bugs of some sort in them. I am proud to say that each card in this deck fits the insect theme via its art. In many cases only one printing of a card actually fits the theme (i.e. the Giant Growth is from Ice Age, Swat is the Urza's Legacy printing) so keep that in mind while following the links to the cards below.

    Without further ado, I present to you Xira Arien's Insect Tribal Deck:




    The exception to the theme currently is the mana base. I haven't had a chance to thoroughly look through every basic Forest, Mountain and Swamp to identify any print with bugs in them. But if someone out there randomly knows a printing of any that does fit the theme, it would be awesome to know.

    As far as non-basics...unfortunately there's not good way to find any of those that fit theme. Maybe I should looking into some alterations to give each of them a custom insect to fit in?

    Anyways, any comments are welcome. Enjoy!
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Cards that punish your opponents for drawing cards
    I used to run a Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck (which eventually changed to a Tetsuo Umezawa so that I could have access to all of the great black cards that fit this theme) that is very similar to what you are looking for here. I had tons of card draw for everyone (Wheel of Fortune, Howling Mine, Windfall, Font of Mythos, Prosperity, etc) and used cards like Psychosis Crawler, Viseling, Ebony Owl Netsuke, and Molten Psyche to punish them for drawing so much. A deck like this can not only win by dealing damage but I was able to win multiple times by just simply having people draw out their library.

    I will give you a couple of tips that I've learned from running a deck like this.
    • Run as much graveyard hate as the colors you are in will allow. Many of the decks in my meta just used my deck as an initiator to get their recursion engines started. If you keep filling people's hands with their best cards and letting them fill their graveyard at will, you're asking for trouble.
    • Spell copy effects work wonderfully in a deck like this. Being able to double copy a Molten Psyche with a leveled up Echo Mage is deadly.
    • Don't forget removal. After the first few games with this deck I really struggled to win. Once my opponents knew what I was up to I was priority #1 at the table to kill off. They will only think you're being a nice guy just letting them draw lots of cards for a game or two. So be sure to have plenty of removal and creatures to help defend yourself.
    • You might want to consider eventually adding an additional color to the deck to help support it. In my case I ended up added black to give me better access to graveyard hate and removal which I was lacking as well as being able to add in cards like Megrim and Underworld Dreams.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on UBW Survival Deck
    Some other cards you might find interesting:
    Aurification
    Propaganda (since you mentioned GP and CR already)
    Moat (may not be what you are looking for since it prevents opponents from attacking each other too)
    Teferi's Moat
    Story Circle
    Solitary Confinement (if you have other card draw)
    War Tax
    Safeguard
    Energy Field
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on UBW Survival Deck
    No Mercy. Or Dread for the creature variant.

    Edit: Apparently I was too slow.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on What are your oddly themed decks?
    I have an X themed deck where basically all of the cards have an 'X' as part of an ability or casting cost. I use Kresh the Bloodbraided as my general mainly for his colors but he also get X +1/+1 counters.

    I get to use the storage lands like Molten Slagheap, creatures like Silklash Spider, Hamletback Goliath, and Rosheen Meanderer, sweepers like Pernicious Deed, Savage Twister and Lavalanche and spells like Exsanguinate, New Frontiers, and Builder's Bane.

    I have some non-X themed cards in the deck like Mana Reflection, Rites of Flourishing and Mana Flare in there to support the mana-intensiveness of the deck. It may not win, but it is unbelievably fun to cast a huge, hastey Maga, Traitor to Mortals to kill two opponents in the same turn.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Worst ETB Abilities
    I'm looking for the best way to abuse Torpor Orb from New Phyrexia. I have been trying to think about creatures with really horrible ETB drawbacks trying to put a deck together.

    There are so many out there and I was just hoping to have you guys help me identify the best (errr...worst) ones. Also, I just wanted to confirm that Torpor Orb negates the "Champion a ________" ability on cards like Supreme Exemplar.

    So far I've got:

    Posted in: Casual & Multiplayer Formats
  • posted a message on What gets around Epic in Commander?
    Quote from Kollaps
    It doesn't work with Enduring Ideal if you grab it during your upkeep, since beginning-of-upkeep trigger time has passed already. Right?


    You grab Paradox Haze when you cast the original Enduring Ideal spell which on on your turn. On your following turn you will have two upkeeps and two Epic triggers.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on What gets around Epic in Commander?
    The very first thing you tutor up with Enduring Ideal is Paradox Haze.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on URG cards to speed up the game
    Ohhhh, I had forgotten about Mass Hysteria and it will definitely be added! And as much as I like Wound Reflection in EDH decks I'm trying to stick to Blue/Green/Red for this.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on URG cards to speed up the game
    I'm am looking for a list of URG cards that can potentially be used to speed up EDH games for everyone. I'm talking about cards that let people draw more, play more lands per turn, play free spells, double all damage, etc. So far my searches have turned up the short list below. I'm just wondering what I might have missed.

    Increase Damage:



    Draw More:



    Free/Cheaper Spells:



    More Mana:



    Mass Tutor
    Noble Benefactor


    Anything else that I'm missing?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Scottish Enchantress
    I've got to agree with Damnosus on the Propaganda/Ghostly Prison vs War Tax. I run a five color enchantment EDH deck that runs Propaganda, Ghostly Prison and Collective Restraint with great success. Its not necessarily that my opponents can't afford the mana to attack me but if they are planning to leave any mana open they can either pay 5 to attack me or simply attack another opponent for free. If nothing else they discourage people from attacking you by making it easier for them to attack your opponents. Not to mention that they totally shutdown token/overrun decks.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
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