Imagine that you are well into your latest evening of playing Magic with friends, and you once again watch as your friend uncreatively combos out with their Cascade deck into Restore Balance or Living End, while another player has resorted to browsing their smartphone because they died not ten minutes into the game from an aggressive Infect deck full of Invigorates and Double Cleaves.
Yes, it may have been exciting to see these decks show off all of their fantastic stylistic plumage at first, but after watching them clean house time and time again, the charm and appreciation has worn off. As you brace for your inevitable fate, you find yourself wishing you were anywhere else but at that table…
The thing is, these scenarios happen in tournament halls and kitchen tables all the time. All. The. Time.
Unlike a tournament, though, you are going to see your friends again, and they will be facing your deck on more than one occasion. Over time, dealing with the same people time and again produces an interesting byproduct of play style behavior.
The longer you become accustomed to playing with the same people, whether by choice or not, the more your own deckbuilding decisions are affected by them. At first, it could be something simple. If your group predominantly plays muliplayer games, for instance, you’re far more likely to let go of the idea that decks must be highly tuned 60 card speed machines than if your play circle prefers traditional duels.
With greater frequency of opponents pulling off the same moves, however, there is a natural inclination to include cards in your decks to offset your friends’ annoying antics, such as:
- Gaea’s Herald to deal with those who like to counter all of your fun creatures.
- Skullcrack and Everlasting Torment for those who like to life gain their way to victory.
- Deathgreeter to offset those annoying Blood Artists.
- Token creature generation to stop Grave Pacts from ruining your day.
- Witchbane Orb to avoid those who love to destroy your hand, library, and sense of enjoyment.
- Torpor Orb or Hushwing Gryff to avoid repetitive Enter the Battlefield behavior.
And so on, ad nauseum.
In this sense, building or altering Magic decks is done in one of two ways. The first is building to accomplish whatever it is you want the deck to actually do. The more you deviate from the theme you’re striving for, the less cohesive the deck becomes. By contrast, the second way to change decks is to include cards that will specifically disrupt your metagame. Adding in cards specifically designed to combat your friend group can certainly increase your chances of stopping the latest slaughterfest during game night, but it’s done at the cost of something else that could be useful in your deck. Plus, should you find yourself outside of your normal play group, it may have no purpose at all.
Therefore, while the desire to throw in a ton of cards to stop your resident group antagonist is strong, it isn’t the best approach to making an efficient deck.
Of course, to a large degree Commander throws that logic out the window. EDH thrives on versatility and planning on the unexpected while still trying to have a functional deck. In that sense, Commander decks are often at construction odds with themselves, as you’re trying to balance the need of the deck to work with the flexibility to adequately respond to what other players will throw at you. This dynamic makes EDH more unpredictable, but it also makes it more entertaining. Besides, having a one-off random card isn’t going to wreck the deck.
To that end, it’s only fair we check out a card that can be both practical as well as actively disrupt your opponents.
Today we have: Leyline of the Void
Name: Leyline o the Void
Edition: Guildpact / Magic 2011
Focus: Graveyard Control
Highlights: The cycles of Leylines are a versatile group of cards for Commander, offering a host of useful abilities right out of the gate. In a 99 card deck, starting with even the simplest of benefits can be a nice boon. If you don’t start with it, most of the Leylines still offer a worthwhile effect for their mere four mana cost.
While there are a number of strategies that can be leveraged for having your opponents’s graveyards empty, Leyline of the Void is more about being disruptive than anything else. Graveyards in Commander are a heavily used resource, whether you’re trying to reanimate creatures, mill libraries, get spells back, or any other method of giving second life to a card.
At worst, this is a card that simply evens the field if you’re not one to do a lot of graveyard diving. At best, it can completely shut certain decks down. From the myriad of Black and White graveyard recursion cards, to card recovery in Green, to the swath of card mechanics who rely on the graveyard like Dredge, Flashback, Delve, Persist, Undying, Soulshift, etc, this card hurts them all just by existing. This also says nothing of the increasing number of Commanders who rely on the graveyard too.
That said, whether or not the Leyline draws any ire will be up to the the people you play with. For some players, it’ll just sit there doing absolutely nothing. For others, it could be the bane of their existence. Be aware that this card can draw threat your way from those in the latter group, and it will come quickly.
Still, given that this enchantment can start the game on the battlefield and has no activation cost for its effect, it’s highly economical to use. Of course, whether you utilize this card for strategic reasons or simply to deal with a friend’s deck whom you’re sick of is completely up to you.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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