A deck full of all one’s favorite cards… Does it get any better than that? It’s Uncommonly, Mythic, Rare…
“Ooh, Dreamweaver I believe you can get me through the night.”
Today, I’ll be sharing my most powerful and favorite Commander deck to play, Rasputin Dreamweaver. I don’t play it often because it’s so powerful but I’m always super-stoked to find the right “pick-up game” to unleash Old Rasputin.
As you can see from the photo of my deck, I’ve been playing Magic for a long time (since ‘95!) and really love to play with the old cards when I can.
TURN ZERO CONVERSATION: POWER LEVEL, CONCEPT & INTENT
I know this deck isn’t CeDH pushed but it’s teetering on the edge which is a fun power level to play. I essentially handicapped myself by choosing to build around a general based on its coolness and personal nostalgia factor (I used to play it casually back in the day) rather than pure power level.
Coming from a background of playing Vintage and transitioning to the Pro Tour during the Golden Era of Tournament Play, my deck very much reflects who I am as a player: I love the old cards and the cards from the paper, Magic: the Gathering, Pro Tour. I’m still a fan of the game and of adding sweet new cards to my collection, (such as Displacer Kitten!) but nothing will ever replace my love of the era when I played competitively in, or the cards I played with.
So, for me, building my most competitive Commander deck wasn’t just about trying to win all the games; it was about winning with my personal style of play with the cards I love.
I wanted it to be good enough that I could hang in a CeDH game, but really I wanted something to play with other people who have very powerful decks in pick-up games. Players who say: “I don’t play CeDH but have extremely powerful Commander decks,” which is what this kinda is. I don’t hate on that mentality at all, in fact I’m always excited when I find it out in the wild and have opponents to play my Rasputin Dreamweaver deck with. It’s a deck looking for the right game, so I’m always excited to find it.
Rasputin Dreamweaver has swagger. It may not be as powerful as other options to build around such as Grand Arbiter Augustin IV or Brago, King Eternal but I get to play with my Rasputin Dreamweaver that I bought for $14 at a GP fifteen years ago. I still couldn’t help put GAA4 into my deck because it’s such a sicko UW creature.
Another neat aspect of Rasputin Dreamweaver is that it’s a uniquely off color-pie card. It’s a UW ramp creature. Also, because of how the card is worded, if we ‘blink’ it out, and back into play, we get a fresh set of 7 counters which makes a ton of mana. It is on-pie in the sense that it combines nicely with UW blink spells and can even go arbitrarily big-to-infinite with Deadeye Navigator, Displacer Kitten, and Eldrazi Displacer.
It’s always important to have the turn zero talk, but let’s get to the deck already….
RASPUTIN DREAMWEAVER: DECONSTRUCTED
When I build and brew decks, I typically don’t think of them as a singular entity until they are finished but rather I think of them as groups of pieces working together to facilitate a strategy. My Rasputin Dreamweaver deck is based on my all time favorite strategy to play in Magic, Combo-Control.
I want to hang around in the game, develop my mana base, have a say at controlling the pace of the game as it unfolds, and ultimately unleash a powerful way to win – on my own terms when it’s ready and protected. It’s the Vintage CS way!
The most important piece of any deck is the mana, so let’s take a look.
I play 12 Basic Islands and 9 lands that find Basic Island. I have a plan! The design of the spells and lands inform us that I’m essentially playing a mono blue deck that splashes white. Mana is so important to this deck, because the Commander is essentially a mana engine that really ramps it over the top to do extremely powerful things. We need to build up to that point though:
Mana Rocks are so important in EDH because they help us get up to the larger spells in our curve and have the ability to “double spell” as quickly as possible. I also love to just ramp out Rasputin to threaten a huge sequence on the following turn. It’s also a sweet progression to play Rasputin, use it to cast another big spell the same turn (thus depleting its counters) and then untap and blink to reset it for more mana.
Treasure Vault is a particularly spicy card in the deck since it allows us to filter indiscriminately large chunks of colorless mana into colored mana via treasure tokens.
I’ve also been adamant that I like to play Commander with a sideboard to change the power level of my deck between games.
My sideboard basically helps power me up a little bit more, if I’m playing in a CeDH game as an underdog, so I always add Back to Basics to take advantage of my 21 Basic Island salute. However, I’d say that card teeters on “unfun” even for a powerful, pick-up game which is why I don’t start it. I like to play games with cards like B2B but I respect when others don’t. It’s not just about winning, it’s about winning the right way.
It gives a player a lot of agency in multiplayer to be able to stop opposing threats cold on the stack. It’s one of the reasons I still believe Blue is by far the best color in Commander, no matter how many nice Green cards get printed.
I also play a fair amount of board control in my deck. I specifically gravitate toward bouncing the board with Cyclonic Rift, Crush of Tentacles, and even big boi Kederekt Leviathan (which I can blink). I’m also a huge fan of the fun-of Teferi’s protection in a deck that is trying to keep control and play a little bit longer game just in case anything goes awry.
I’ve discussed mana and board control but these are the cards that really define my strategy built around Rasputin Dreamweaver. Blinking (exiling and returning to play) to generate additional ETB triggers is a huge part of the concept and is baked into my threat package.
I also wanted to build around cards I enjoyed from my heyday of Pauper such as Ephemerate, Ghostly Flicker, and Archaeomancer and have great targets for those blink effects I so relish from my Pauper days.
One thing I love about playing my Rasputin deck is that it can be controlling but also proactive in the early sequences. I play value creatures and blink them to facilitate good mana and lots of extra cards. Once I’ve pushed the game later, I can really take advantage of these building blocks previously deployed into play.
Anybody familiar with my Vintage career will know Mindslaver is my signature finishing move and that’s how I like to win in Commander. It may not be popular, but when there’s a Slaver in play I can always buy a friend for 4 by stealing their turn!
I selected some of my favorite planeswalker and enchantment threats. Since my primary strategy is so rooted in creatures, my peripheral forms of advantage branch into other types so it can’t all be undone by a simple Wrath of God effect. I have lots of enchantments that create action for me on my opponent’s turns and are specifically powerful in a multiplayer context.
CARD DRAW AND LIBRARY MANIPULATION
Win, lose, or draw I plan to draw and see as many cards as possible. As much as I want to say I’m a white mage, in terms of game play I’m a blue Mage at heart and so I love my cantrips.
The cantrips and card draw spells help me hit my land drops and find the relevant cards at the right time. The early turns are all about finding mana and getting some blips on the radar (things to progress my board and blink later) into play. I’ll also say this is a SWEET deck to goldfish because it really plays out smoothly and doesn’t have to mulligan too often.
I like choosing a B tier Commander because it gives me room to develop and build my own version of the deck based on what I want and like to play. It’s basically a UW greatest hits of my favorite cards from my tournament years with a few spicy new cards peppered in. If I’m going to win a game with powerful cards, it’s going to be in my own style. I’d rather lose than build somebody else’s deck. My hope in you reading my article today isn’t that you’d copy my 99 (I don’t advise it) but rather to show how sweet and exciting it is to build decks with friends from the top down and how to do it with one’s own personal flair.