deckstats.net
You need to be logged in to do this.
When you have logged in, click the Refresh Session button and then try again.

Author Topic: Threat Assessment in Commander  (Read 2395 times)

Morganator 2.0

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Karma: 1730
  • Decks
Threat Assessment in Commander
« on: May 12, 2019, 03:18:09 am »
At the request of another member, I'm going to give my tips and tactics for proper threat assessment. Other people can add in their own advice, reinforce what has already been said, or ask questions.

Deck Building
First step is the deck building. Make sure you have a good interaction package, otherwise the rest of this thread doesn't matter.

Creature/Artifact Removal
  • Have 3-5 pieces of creature removal, and 3-5 artifact removal.
  • Should be 3 mana or less. 4 mana isn't worth it (with very few exceptions).
  • Instant-speed. This part is very important.
  • Hits multiple supertypes. Artifact removal should hit enchantments when possible. Cards like Abrade and Hero's Downfall are also good.
Counterspells
  • 3-5 counterspells. Because counterspells are inherit card disadvantage in multiplayer, you don't want to pack your deck full of them.
  • 2 mana or less. This is often all you will have left after you pass your turn.
  • Countering non-creature spells is more important than creature spells
  • Simple package: Mental Misstep, Arcane Denial, Swan Song, Counterspell, Mana Leak.
Stax effects
  • Make sure they are relevant in your meta. Don't use Cursed Totem if it's not going to help. Be sure to do a meta-analysis (look at the strategies of the other decks you'll face) before deciding what stax effects to use.
  • Be sure to have some way to mitigate the harm that stax will do to you. If you're using Winter Orb, make sure you have creatures (Elvish Mystic) and/or artifacts (Talisman of Indulgence) that give mana.
  • Not all decks need stax effects, but grave-hate is usually a good idea.

General Rules
  • Be cautious with politics. People will betray you if it means winning the game. Always do what is best for yourself.
  • It is usually a good idea to wait as long as possible before using removal. As annoying as Notion Thief is, someone else playing Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and then winning with a combo is worse.
  • Prioritize targeting the person in the lead. If they have a big advantage over the other players, gang up on them. Your best bet is to remove their card advantage (draw outlets like Rhystic Study, or their commander if that provides them an advantage).

Dealing with combos
As you face off against more combo decks, you'll start to see signs as to when they are about to combo off. If they played Bloodchief Ascension, there is a good chance that they will play Mindcrank in a turn or two, so get ready to use that Nature's Claim. Don't use it right away though, wait for them to actually cast Mindcrank. That moment is the best time to remove Bloodchief Ascension, because someone else could play their combo leading up to that point.

With combos, your top priority is stopping the fastest decks first. This might sound obvious, but you should always be wary for the person who is going to combo first. Think short-term. The other important thing is using stax effects. Stax cards are really good at stopping combos. If you face a lot of artifact-based decks, consider using Stony Silence or Aura of Silence. If they win with a creature's activated ability (Like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or Prime Speaker Vannifar) use something like Cursed Totem or Linvala, Keeper of Silence. If they cast lots of spells in one turn, use something like Damping Sphere, Rule of Law, or Ruric Thar, the Unbowed.

Dealing with stax
Most important thing with stax effects; if it's stopping someone else from winning, leave it alone. As annoying as Damping Sphere can be, if it's stopping a combo deck from winning, leave it be. You should only remove a stax piece if it is either hurting you more than other players, or if it is directly stopping you from winning. As with combo pieces, wait for the last possible moment to remove a stax piece. This will usually be right before your untap step (end step of the previous turn) so that way you are the first person to take advantage of the stax piece being gone.

Baiting and bluffing
This applies more to counterspells than removal, but it can be applied to both. Baiting is when you play a spell, expecting it to get countered, and then you play the spell you really wanted to cast. For example, if you're playing Brago, King Eternal, you might cast Armageddon (your bait), which gets countered, and then you can cast Panharmonicon. Depending on the situation, you might instead use Panharmonicon as the bait, and then cast Armageddon. The point is, your opponent uses their counterspell, so you can safely cast your other spell. Keep in mind that your opponents might not have a counterspell, so make sure that you're not hurt if your bait actually resolves.

Bluffing is when you pretend to have a counterspell, but you don't actually. You make your opponents think you have one, so they hold back their most powerful moves. Games can be altered by bluffing. One of the best bluffs:
I'm not kidding, this is often all it takes to make people second guess their plays. Now if someone plays something that is definitely worth countering, play it off like you don't need to. "I'm casting Purphoros." "How many cards do you have in hand?" "Three." "Yeah that's fine." Make it look like you have a plan to deal with this obvious threat, so it isn't counterspell worthy. They might be baiting, and this will still make people hesitate.

Wrapping up

I'm done for now. Bring on your questions and comments. In a little while, I might post little challenges to test your threat assessment skills.

Soren841

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5005
  • Karma: 590
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2019, 03:37:51 am »
Don't even get me started on threat assessment in EDH
Nils is the God I worship

Morganator 2.0

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Karma: 1730
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2019, 05:21:22 am »
Done.

Firegriff

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 779
  • Karma: 268
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2019, 06:02:24 am »
Another thing to consider is if you know an opponent will specifically target you regardless of what other players may have on the field.  I was in a playgroup before where a certain opponent who liked playing high powered decks always prioritized me over anyone else (even if they were about to win), which forced me to have to angle my board to sropping that specific player.  Otherwise, I would be more or less his only target.  Didn't matter if I was playing high power or janky fun decks either.

WWolfe

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3459
  • Karma: 1247
  • Banging and (spell) slanging!
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2019, 03:33:36 pm »
Be sure to really survey the board and prioritize any thing on it/coming into it that hoses your decks line of play. GY hate (Rest in Peace) in a GY based deck (Sidisi, Meren, Karador, etc.). Propaganda effects against a token swarm deck. The exception would be unless it's stopping someone else from winning the game.

Exile effects (Path to Exile, Swords, Merciless Eviction) are better than destroy effects (Go for the Throat, Damnation, etc.) 99 times out of 100 as it's 100 times easier to bring something back from the GY than it is from exile.

Cards with multiple modes (Austere Command, etc.) are usually better than cards that don't have multiple modes even if they cost a mana or two more (Wrath of God).

Watch for tricky political players. For instance, my main playgroup has a player that will live up to his end of the bargain to the letter BUT with a way of turning it to his advantage. For instance, he one time convinced someone not to exile his Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to get the Annihalator 4 trigger on another player and would then sack the Ulamog in his second main phase while the exile player would use the exile spell to clear the path so Ulamog would get through and deal combat damage. He did just that BUT he then brought Ulamog back right away with an instant speed Reanimate (thanks to Orrery & using the mana from sacking Ulamog to his Phyrexian Altar). So he did live up to the deal but he did so in a way that propelled him ahead of both other players (my girlfriend was telling the guy he was making a deal with the devil but he did so anyway).

As Morganator said, bluffing is also part of the game. I have won several games where I bluffed my way to winning by leaving open the right amount of mana for a bluff until I had my win condition in hand.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 01:57:52 pm by WWolfe »
This space for rent.

Red_Wyrm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
  • Karma: 166
  • I'm the boss of the forums.
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 02:32:18 pm »
Great thread, Morganator, and nice tips from both you and Wwolfe.

Wwolfe kind of mentioned this. Like austere command over wrath of god for the selection, but what about something like return to dust? It can be 4 mana instant speed or 4 mana addendum before addendum was a thing. Or decimate. It is sorcery speed compared to something like naturalize, but it is hitting 4 targets, and you can either spread the love, or decimate (haha see what I did there) one person badly. Then I also run Hull breach for the chance to clear an artifact AND enchantment, but at the cost of sorcery speed.

It was implied in your post that removal should be instant speed, but how is sorcery speed? Is it never worth it, or worth it sometimes? Usually it has an advantage over an instant since it is slower, but someone can cast all their combo pieces in 1 turn and win, right?
My King Baby said yes!
I thought you'd never ask
Also, I always spell your name correctly, Red_Wurm.  :)

Please, it is Red

Morganator 2.0

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Karma: 1730
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2019, 02:43:39 pm »
That's a good point actually.

Instant-speed is generally better, because it gives more opportunities than sorceries. This is especially important when dealing with combo or stax pieces (so, most cases where you want to remove something).

The advantage with cards like Hull Breach and Decimate is that they hit multiple targets. Whereas one-for-one trades aren't that great in commander, being able to hit multiple targets can become one-for-two, or one-for-four.

The issue is that the downsides are usually sorcery-speed, and they cost more mana. Both Return to Dust and Decimate are 4 mana, which is also not good.

From my experience, low-cost high-efficiency tends to work best. If you're in a more casual meta where combos and stax are less common, but bomb plays like Coat of Arms or Sunbird's Invocation are more common, then Decimate and return to Dust will work fine.

Judaspriester

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Karma: 490
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2019, 02:54:55 pm »
I personally prefere Crush Contraband over Return to Dust. Yes, I'm not able to exile 2 cards of the same type, but on the other hand, I'm able to exile 2 Cards at instant speed, in stead of 1 at instant speed or 2 at sorcery.

About the cost, always take a look around at your playgroup. If they play high optimized low cmc decks, 4 mana for a removal is damn expensive. In a slower meta, or if you got enough ramp to afford them, you can also play the higher cmc stuff.

Speaking about this, what about Deathsprout? basical this is Rampant Growth + Murder for cmc 4. For me it seems like a solid choice, unless you need to be fast.
You say Prison Cell, I hear 'Holiday'.

Morganator 2.0

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Karma: 1730
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2019, 03:20:07 pm »
I don't like Deathsprout. Even Murder isn't that great of a card. 4 mana is bad for removal, and bad for mana ramp. Having both tacked on to the same card doesn't make up for the 4 mana downside.

robort

  • Patron
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1617
  • Karma: 364
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2019, 12:02:51 am »
Nice thread and here is one important thing and I was suspectable to it myself the last time our playgroup go together. First I forgot who was the best player at the table and I know who he which is sort of important. Now why I say this was because another player drops Ugin down and wipes everyones board but some of his. Next player goes and his turn is insignificant and I have my turn. This turn I call a revenge play and I exile ugin and destroy his biggest creature but yet his board was threatning but not that threatning at all. Best player goes next and within 4 turns wins the game. My revenge play would have been better to hold out but I was getting revenge no matter the cost.
A legend in my own mind or so what the voices keep telling me

WWolfe

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3459
  • Karma: 1247
  • Banging and (spell) slanging!
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2019, 01:00:33 am »
There is also some value to showing that you will come back on people who come at you Robort. I may not get them back right away, but I will before the end of the game.
This space for rent.

Morganator 2.0

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Karma: 1730
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2019, 01:33:54 am »
Maybe this will help, or maybe this is just me putting way to much effort into something pointless (again). I hope this picture shows up well enough that you can read the cards. Let's see how good your threat assessment is, starting with an easy one.



  • Cards with the tap symbol on them are tapped.
  • There are no commanders on the battlefield. You are playing as Ruric Thar.
  • The Extraplanar Lens is imprinted with a Snow-Covered Swamp. Snow-Covered Swamps tap for double mana.
  • Lightning Greaves is equiped to Birds of Paradise.
  • It is Grand Arbiter's end step, so it is about to become your turn. You have Nature's Claim in hand. Which artifact do you destroy before your untap step?

Hover your cursor over to reveal the answer. For whatever reason, card names are hidden under spoiler text.

You should remove Cursed Totem. The Cursed Totem is hurting you a lot more than anything else.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 10:29:04 pm by Morganator 2.0 »

Firegriff

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 779
  • Karma: 268
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2019, 03:54:43 am »
I would probably go after Winter Orb.  First, I would get the mana advantage, and it is inhibiting my play potential.

Soren841

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5005
  • Karma: 590
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2019, 04:32:51 am »
Big bet. Kill lense easy
Nils is the God I worship

Judaspriester

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Karma: 490
  • Decks
Re: Threat Assessment in Commander
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2019, 10:14:39 am »
Hmm.. lets see what we can hit:
  • Winter Orb - Doesn't seem a that big deal right now, since I've got 2 mana dorks out
  • Cursed Totem - currently doesn't matter, since it just doesn't allow to re-equip the greaves hurts only me
  • Extraplanar Lense - snow swamps give an additional mana, but the power is limited by the winter orb

Hmm.. the most interesting choice would be Winter Orb, since the other 2 doesn't really affect me and I'm the first player that benefits of the mana advantage. But I'm not sure I would blow it up at all this turn, depending on my hand it could be a viable solution to wait one more turn, if I'm able to play something useful with 3 mana. It hurts the player to my left way more than me.

/edit: As Moganator mentioned, i mixed up Cursed Totem with Null Rod. This changes the situation. In this case, I think its more interesting to destroy the Cursed Totem, since this would help me, but not my opponents (at least at the current board state). Waiting doesn't seem to be a viable option, since I would be limited to 2 mana in my turn.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 12:28:25 pm by Judaspriester »
You say Prison Cell, I hear 'Holiday'.