Welcome to Jankmander with Sona. What is Jankmander you might ask? Jankmander is a type of deck building that uses self-imposed limitations, aka Jank, in building commander decks. In this series, I’ll take you through my process of deck building and how I honor the limitations of Jank. I also hope to address the idea that just because a deck is Jankified, that it can’t be focused or optimized.
There are some things to keep in mind when building a deck.
Commander is a format that uses a legendary creature to command your forces against another mage who has their own commander. Unless a planeswalker card specifically states that it can be a commander, you’ll have to get permission from your playgroup to use one as your commander (Rule 0 in commander is to always discuss expectations about the game with the group you are playing with prior to beginning a game). Then you’ll make a deck with 99 other cards where each other card may only be used once with the exception of basic lands. Also, the color identity (the mana symbols found on the card in the casting and abilities) must match those found on your commander. For example, if your commander has the casting/ability symbols for blue, red and green you can’t use any cards with black or white mana symbols. Hybrid cards also count for both colors for color identity, so you wouldn’t be able to use something like Footlight Fiend in a mono red deck (the casting cost is either red or black mana aka Rakdos). However, this has the same caveat as before that if you want to run a hybrid card in a mono color deck you need to discuss it with your playgroup. You can’t assume that most playgroups will automatically be okay with this, so communication is key for any game.
In this installment, I’ll be discussing how to build a commander deck from a sealed box. There are quite a few considerations to take into account when it comes to approaching this type of Jank. The number of legendary creatures in the set is one of the more important considerations because you can’t build a commander deck if you don’t have a decent selection of legendary creatures. Mono color legendary creatures tend to be harder to build around as the potential card pool will be much lower. However, if there are a decent amount of artifacts in the set, this can help increase the available card pool regardless of the color identity of the commander. Luckily the set I selected for doing this is stuffed full of artifacts and cards that synergize with artifacts.
I chose to use Double Masters for my first foray into a sealed box deck as master sets tend to be easier to work due to the potential pool of legendary creatures. Also, I had already preordered a box and was going to open it for the Lotus Council YOuTube channel (the video can be viewed here). As expected, I ended up with a good variety of legendary creatures. However, with potential commanders like Breya, Etherium Shaper and Kaalia of the Vast, this didn’t feel quite Janky enough. So, we asked the channel Patrons to select the commander I'd build around and despite my quiet campaign for Breya, they selected Bosh, Iron Golem. Initially I was worried about a mono color commander; however, Bosh synergizes with artifacts as it is a sac outlet to deal damage equal to the sacrificed artifact’s CMC and Double Masters is full of artifacts.
With the commander selected, I needed to come up with a strategy for the deck. With the amount of equipment and red good-stuff creatures, I decided to go for a voltron/red deck wins strategy. From there I built the deck with the usual commander necessities (ramp, card draw, removal, utility spells, etc.). My card pool was limited to red and artifacts, so many of the typical needs for a commander deck were not as strong due to limited options, such as card draw in red. But I made due with what was available and tried to lean into my full blown Jank strategy.
I started off with the mana base. It’s fairly straightforward with 29 mountains, the three Urza lands to help ramp, High Market for life gain, Buried Ruin to return an artifact from the graveyard to my hand, and Darksteel Citadel. Since I had pulled a Karn Liberated in my card pool, I also included that for removal shenanigans. Who says Jank can't be fun? I also included other removal spells like Abrade, Dismantle and assorted burn spells like Lightning Axe. Utility enchantments included Ion Storm and Blood Moon (because I’m a terrible person and running mostly mountains). I also included utility spells for card draw and to pump creatures.
The red and artifact creatures both had an aggro focus or provided some other utility. Other artifacts included equipment to pump the creatures (for the voltron part), and utility artifacts. Among the utility artifacts, Ensnaring Bridge is used to help reduce the amount of damage I take by limiting the size of the creatures that can attack and Conjurer’s Closet. With the closet, the hope would be to exile Thopter Engineer and then return it to make a 1/1 flying thopter each turn. Other uses for the utility artifacts include adding charge counters with Coretapper, card draw, and taping down creatures or artifacts with Tumble Magnet. The ramp package included cards like Jhoria’s Familiar to reduce the cost of legendary and artifact spells, Expedition Map, Chrome Mox, Everflowing Chalice, Magnifying Glass, Basalt Monolith, and Springleaf Drum.
Overall, the deck is pretty Janky and likely wouldn’t be able to do much against decks that weren’t around precon strength. Still, it was a fun exercise and was a good chance to hone my deck building skills with a limited card pool, especially with Commander Legends coming up soon. The deck list can be found here and the deck tech video here, but this wasn’t the last time I built a deck from a sealed booster box. But you’ll have to read that deck tech in a future article. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time on Jankmander with Sona. Have a Great Janking!