Hey Everyone, Unmistakable back with another edition of Sowing Salt: This week, it’s the turn of Mono-coloured commanders. In the vast frontier of Elder Dragon Highlander, Mono-colour means a few things. One, it’s often ridiculously affordable. Being one colour, the land base is mostly basic; this can be a great draw to a single colour, as brewers on a budget don’t have to sink half of their budget into their mana fixing. Two, it often means there is going to be a weak point. The colour wheel of magic is such that every colour does something incredibly well, but lacks in other areas. Mono-colour decks accentuate this, as other colours aren’t present to reinforce those weaknesses – Decks that consist of only black often have problems dealing with noncreatures efficiently, while mono-white decks often suffer from a lack of card draw. While some colour pie bends (Or breaks, for example Desert Twister) help shore these weaknesses up, usually they must refer to colourless options. In the previous example black may refer to Unstable Obelisk, or white to Mind’s Eye.
While these weaknesses are defining of mono-colour deckbuilding, it doesn’t completely deter people from building them; I myself have two very successful and enjoyable mono-colour decks, which handle in a very unique way. As with previous editions of Sowing Salt, my rule of colour-balancing means that the commanders I find best represent their colours will make the list, and there will be one of each. This isn’t to say that I’m ranking the colours, in fact that couldn’t be more incorrect. The colours of magic are fantastic in their balance (besides early blue but we shan’t discuss that here), and I believe they are relatively competitive with one another. And, despite being between five colours, I do have one honorable mention:
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: While the power of the eldrazi swarm is
undeniable (Just ask Zendikar) they come in as an honorable mention due to the fact that
colourless isn’t, well, a colour. While colourless can do everything at a price, and could easily argue its raw power level higher up the list, it makes a false start from not being monocoloured so much as non-coloured. Sorry, Kozilek, please don’t hurt me.
5) Kemba, Kha Regent: At number five this week comes the representation of monowhite in this format, Kemba. While strong in support commanders such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Iona, Shield of Emeria, white strategies often come down to beatdown by voltron (Avacyn, Angel of Hope + Worldslayer, for example), I chose Kemba as she is probably the best example of the white plan A. She offers an aggressively costed body (defensively built so as to survive soft removal early game) with a strong incentive to load up with
weapons. Having a continuous effect, she can hope to prolong the aggressive start by offering incremental board state additions. As a colour, white struggles primarily with card advantage, as it is premier in almost LITERALLY every other aspect. While excellent elsewhere, the lack of advantage makes white game pretty short lived, and bar an untouched Mind’s eye the monowhite player can struggle to rebuild if plan A is a bust. Kemba once again offers backups for this, as usually voltron strategies such as this run equipments such as Infiltration Lens or Sword of Fire and Ice to enable a steady flow of cards.
4) Sheoldred, Whispering One: Coming in ahead of White this week is monoblack. Being full of bile and hate, monoblack is usually slow and controlling, or lightning fast (cough cough Tendrils of Agony); I picked Sheoldred as the embodiment of Black control – an inevitable engine, slowly removing resources from your opponents in an unfair way that only black can do. Sheoldred is a constant looming threat that imposes herself on the game making the game about answering her. While her high mana cost may seem outlandish, she can abuse one of blacks main strengths of efficient mana generation (such as Dark Ritual or Cabal Coffers) to come out much earlier in the game. She also embodies two of blacks other strengths in her ability to keep enemy creatures under raps, she also represents black’s ability to cheat threats in through the graveyard. Unfortunately, black has a heady weakness in not being able to deal with noncreature threats. While not as crippling as white’s lack of card advantage, it falls to monoblack to look to answers such as Unstable Obelisk, Scour from Existence and Spine of Ish Sah to answer problems of this ilk; as is apparent from the examples, these also come at a premium in terms of cost, meaning an early anti-black threat (Such as Rest in Peace or Grafdigger’s Cage) can cripple black until it gets its engine up and running.
3) Omnath, Locus of Mana: As we get higher up the list, the embodiment of Monogreen. Now, as I’m sure it is evident; green is often characterised by one factor; its ability to ramp out massive creature threats. Omnath does just that, allowing your mana pool to become an ocean, allowing you to use your mana on either generating more land or creature threats, while storing your excess to become a scary late game threat for a measly 3 mana investment. Green’s weakness is characterised by its inability to deal with creatures or draw cards from an empty board while breaks do definitely exist (Desert Twister and Harmonize being huge examples), indestructible isn’t rare in green, and often one of the first priorities for green is setting up resiliency through Spearbreaker Behemoth or Asceticism. Because of this flexibility, green takes the bronze medal this week.
2) Azami, Lady of Scrolls: Taking the back seat this week is monoblue, with my choice of Azami at the helm. Azami (and her reputation) are both something indicative of monoblue to most players; unfair, fast to win, and drowning in card advantage. The Azami combo erupts to a win once Azami + Mind over Matter is online, and wins primarily through Laboratory Maniac, who is also a wizard. Pretty disgusting stuff, when you think about it. Though, as crazy as it all is, blue is let down by its lack of flexibility in removal options. Counterspells, while powerful and unconditional removal, require setup and anticipation of coming turns. If a play comes out of left field, you’re often left with a threat that blue can’t remove. Sure, it has options such as Evacuation or Cyclonic Rift, though those only offer tempo swings and not permanent removal options. They are powerful ways of shoring up a weakness yes, and that is precisely why blue is so high up; but slower blue decks often also run options such as Nevinyrral’s disk or Spine of Ish Sah to not force their premier removal spells so soon.
1) Purphoros, God of the Forge: Perhaps an upset at number one this week, comes monored. I’ll begin with an amendment on a previous statement; remember when I said Daretti was the most sickening thing to come out of monored in a long time? I forgot the God of the Forge. Purphoros resembles Monored at its finest; going wide, getting in for damage, and hitting before combat even takes place. All strapped to an indestructible commander that often noncreature. I say that as Purphoros is often seen at the helm of goblin decks, infamous for being able to create a sickening level of tokens insanely quickly through engines such as Krenko, Mob Boss. In terms of weaknesses, probably the biggest strike against red is its lack of enchantment interaction. Besides the quintessential answer of Chaos Warp, there really isn’t much that a monored deck can do. This is where red pulls ahead of the others, as often it can outspeed them. A black deck can struggle, but Purphoros punches through them. Increased life totals barely matter once the Purphoros machine comes online, when each enchantment can barely protect against two times the amount of tokens that can be put out by Firecat Blitz or Mogg Infestation.
That covers it for this week everybody, thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know if you agree with my choices, and feel free to leave feedback or ideas for future installments below. For now though, Unmistakable out.