Statistics for my Commander League Decks in 2019 [Article]


The Tentacled One
Back in February of 2019, West Coast Sports Cards in Federal Way, Washington began organizing test runs for a new weekly casual commander event, which would become the West Coast Commander League. The league officially opened in March and while participation has been inconsistent, it’s looking like we should have strong turnout going into 2020. In 2019, the League met 42 times. I was the most active participant, playing in 39 of those. I also hold the record for most points in a calendar month and for most points in a single game, and briefly held the record for most points earned in a day, but lost it just two weeks later.

Early on, I had the notion of writing an article with statistics for the West Coast Commander League. I thought it might be fun to see which commanders were most popular, which ones averaged best on point gains, etc. Alas, too many people were lax in filling out their point sheets, and the data is far too incomplete to work with. So I came up with something even better. I may not have good data for the league as a whole, but I do have complete records of every single deck I played. So I can present a statistical breakdown of much of my casual commander deck usage for 2019. As a bonus, I’ll throw in my decks for the three “South Sound Magic” events of 2019. The rules for those are a bit different from the rules for the West Coast Commander League, but I’m going to count them anyway.

Some preliminary information…
  • I didn’t establish my policy of playing a different deck every week until midway through the year. So I played Merieke Ri Berit three times (two of those with an identical list and a third time later on with an updated version). I played God-Eternal Oketra twice (but the lists were not completely identical).
  • South Sound Magic, formerly known as Magic of Browns Point, held three events in the same venue, on the same day of the week, at the same time that the West Coast Commander League was normally scheduled to operate. The first two times, I played in their events and skipped out on the League. The third time, the whole League shut down for the South Sound Magic event. I’m including my South Sound Magic (abbreviated below as SSM) decks in my statistics. Their first event was a Brawl event, the second was a $200 Budget Commander event, and the third was a $150 Budget “Chaos” event in which players were randomly assigned decks built by each other. For two of those events, I did use a commander I’d also use in the League, but the lists were highly divergent in those cases.
  • The League shut down for the Throne of Eldraine prerelease. I was happy with this as my default had been to attend prereleases on Sundays, but the League was running on Sundays too.
  • I did skip a single League meetup for non-Magic reasons, and I’ve marked that as “DNP” for “Did Not Play.”
  • In June I began a silly effort to get the League to include every single one of the 55 original legendary creatures. The League organizer liked this so much that, starting in August, he made it part of our points system. Another player started building his decks with these commanders even more frequently than I did and almost caught up to me in this bizarre challenge, despite my head-start. He’ll likely surpass me in 2020. Anyway, you’ll see a lot of bad commanders from Legends and this is why.
  • For the release of the Commander 2019 precons, everyone in the league played an unmodified precon. I chose the “Primal Genesis” deck.
  • I thought of trying to note the points for the individual months or weeks, but it seemed too cumbersome. I can provide such information if you’re curious, but I won’t include it in this article.
Anyway, here are the commanders I played each week for 2019. And because I’m so proud of my stupid deck names, I’ll throw those in too…

3/3: SSM: Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain “Captain Lady” (This was a Brawl Event)
3/10: Merieke Ri Berit “The Notorious M.R.B.”
3/17: DNP (I didn't play this week)
3/24: Merieke Ri Berit “The Notorious M.R.B.”
3/31: Phelddagrif “Epic”
4/7: Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain “By Your Powers Combined, I am Captain Jhoira”
4/14: Savra, Queen of the Golgari “If You Wanna Fight That’s Fine With Me”
4/21: Olivia Voldaren “Haters Gonna Hate”
4/28: Ramses Overdark “Is It Dark In Here Or Is It Just Me?”
5/5: God-Eternal Oketra “The End of Eternity”
5/12: Teferi, Temporal Archmage “Slow CVT”
5/19: God-Eternal Oketra “The End of Eternity”
5/26: Nicol Bolas, the Ravager “Hastily Constructed Bolas WCCL Deck”
6/2: Merieke Ri Berit “The Notorious MRB”
6/9: Thrasios, Triton Hero & Vial Smasher the Fierce “Bonus Spite”
6/16: Boris Devilboon “Little Friends”
6/23: Rubinia Soulsinger “Notice of Proposed Land Use Action”
6/30: SSM: Godo, Bandit Warlord “I Can Count To Eleven” (This was a Budget EDH Event)
7/7: Pashalik Mons “Goblin Lives Matter”
7/14: Reyhan, Last of the Abzan & Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix “Bearadise Lost”
7/21: Livonya Silone “Please Sir, Play a Legendary Land”
7/28: The Mimeoplasm “Splice World”
8/4: Ur-Drago “Not to be confused with The Ur-Dragon”
8/11: Progenitus “Uncle Stephen’s Tub-’o-Lard”
8/18: Gabriel Angelfire “Gabriel Voltron”
8/25: Ghired, Conclave Exile “Primal Genesis”
9/1: Gwendlyn Di Corci “Waste Not and Gwenny D Had to Regulate”
9/8: Atla Palani, Nest Tender “Breaking a Few Eggs”
9/15: Volrath, the Shapestealer “Volrath’s Too Many Themes”
9/22: Rasputin Dreamweaver “Loomsday Device”
9/29: Prerelease: ELD (After discussion with the organizer, we did not hold a League meetup on this day due to schedule conflict with the prerelease)
10/6: Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale “Knights’ Charge with Good Cards (also bad cards)”
10/13: Kenrith, the Returned King “King’s Feast”
10/20: Sir Shandlar of Eberyn “Eberyn’s Finest Omelettes”
10/27: SSM: Rasputin Dreamweaver “Hit 1975 Single by Gary Wright” (This was a Budget 'Chaos' Event, in which I built a deck for someone else to use)
11/3: Yarok, the Desecrated “Ever Eat a Pine Tree”
11/10: Palladia-Mors “Needs Mor Beatdown”
11/17: Sunastian Falconer “Sunastian’s Magic Ramp”
11/24: Arcades Sabboth “Bant From the Loam”
12/1: Stangg “Stangg’s Brothers and Sisters”
12/8: Prime Speaker Vannifar “We Are Vannifar’s Elves”
12/15: Barktooth Warbeard “Not-So-Mysterious Santa”
12/22: Chulane, Teller of Tales “Caribou Tribal”
12/29: Gosta Dirk “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!”

That adds up to 41 Commander decks and 1 Brawl deck, for a grand total of 4,160 card slots. And I used 1,360 unique Magic cards across these events. While 1,360 seemed like a lot before I did the math, I know that the size is a bit deceptive: I used many of the same staples repeatedly, so the number could have been much higher.

Since it’s obvious and easy thing, let’s quickly go over color identity. Historically, the 32 possible color combinations have not been balanced for commander options, so I don’t know how meaningful this is. For instance, I’ll readily admit a bias toward blue/black/green or “Sultai” as one of my favorites for any Magic format, but it used to get no legendary creatures at all and I even used “Partner” commanders to access the color combination at one point. I’m not nearly as fond of white/blue/green or “Bant.” But it has some nice choices among the original 55 legends. In the end, I used those two color identities equally in this dataset. I do think that for 2020 I’ll keep this in mind and try to employ some of the color identities that I neglected in 2019. We’ll see…

WUG: 4
UBG: 4
WU: 3
BR: 3
RG: 3
WUB: 3
WRG: 3
W: 2
R: 2
WG: 2
UB: 2
UR: 2
UBR: 2
U: 1
UG: 1
BG: 1
WBR: 1
B: 0
G: 0
WB: 0
WR: 0
WUR: 0
WBG: 0
URG: 0
BRG: 0
Colorless: 0
Total: 42

More telling, I think, than the color identities of my decks are the card choices themselves. So let’s look at lands…

Basic lands
Island: 122
Plains: 117
Mountain: 86
Swamp: 82
Snow-Covered Forest: 72
Snow-Covered Mountain: 68
Snow-Covered Island: 65
Forest: 50
Snow-Covered Plains: 39
Snow-Covered Swamp: 36
Wastes: 2


The Tentacled One
Non-basic lands (not shown for reasons of space are non-basic lands I used fewer than three times)
Strip Mine: 34
Maze of Ith: 31
Wasteland: 28
Polluted Delta: 22
Flooded Strand: 21
Misty Rainforest: 21
Command Tower: 20
Scalding Tarn: 18
Windswept Heath: 18
Marsh Flats: 17
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: 17
Verdant Catacombs: 17
Wooded Foothills: 17
Bloodstained Mire: 15
Arid Mesa: 14
Prismatic Vista: 13
Underground Sea: 12
Gaea's Cradle: 11
Watery Grave: 11
Scrying Sheets: 10
Tropical Island: 10
Tundra: 10
Breeding Pool: 9
Hallowed Fountain: 9
Savannah: 8
Ancient Tomb: 7
Badlands: 7
Blood Crypt: 7
Temple Garden: 7
Forbidden Orchard: 6
Minamo, School at Water's Edge: 6
Steam Vents: 6
Taiga: 6
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale: 6
Arcane Lighthouse: 5
Bayou: 5
Cabal Coffers: 5
Godless Shrine: 5
Homeward Path: 5
Overgrown Tomb: 5
Rainbow Vale: 5
Rogue's Passage: 5
Scrubland: 5
Volcanic Island: 5
City of Traitors: 4
Crystal Vein: 4
Drowned Catacomb: 4
Exotic Orchard: 4
Fabled Passage: 4
Glacial Fortress: 4
Morphic Pool: 4
Plateau: 4
Stomping Ground: 4
Tranquil Thicket: 4
Buried Ruin: 3
Eiganjo Castle: 3
Esper Panorama: 3
Glacial Chasm: 3
Inventors' Fair: 3
Mana Confluence: 3
Mutavault: 3
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers: 3
Path of Ancestry: 3
Phyrexian Tower: 3
Reflecting Pool: 3
Sacred Foundry: 3
Sulfur Falls: 3
Thawing Glaciers: 3
Yavimaya Coast: 3
Yavimaya Hollow: 3
Zoetic Cavern: 3

Mostly we see the curve of duals, fetches, shocks, and other mana-fixing lands depending on how much I needed them, but this does reveal some of my other preferences as well.

Looking at my usage of artifacts, there are increasingly more tiebreakers the further down the list I go, so for all of these Top 10 lists, I’ll include all cards that tie until doing so has already pushed a list above 10 (if I’ve counted 9 cards, then I go to the next most frequent cards and list everything that ties it). For artifacts, I am able to conveniently provide a Top 10 list without worrying about ties.

Sol Ring: 40
Mana Vault: 29
Mox Diamond: 18
Mana Crypt: 15
Gilded Lotus: 11
Mox Opal: 11
Lightning Greaves: 9
Arcum's Astrolabe: 7
Sword of Fire and Ice: 7
Talisman of Dominance: 7

Following the same procedure for white cards, here are my top 10 for the year.

Swords to Plowshares: 15
Enlightened Tutor: 12
Wrath of God: 11
Council's Judgment: 8
Path to Exile: 8
Rout: 8
Teferi's Protection: 7
Oblivion Ring: 6
Terminus: 6
Winds of Abandon: 6

For blue cards, we do have a tie getting into tenth place, so this is a top 11 instead of top 10. Notably, there are some higher numbers here, which shouldn’t be surprising.

Mana Drain: 21
Arcane Denial: 20
Rhystic Study: 20
Brainstorm: 19
Force of Will: 19
Cyclonic Rift: 18
Counterspell: 17
Mystical Tutor: 16
Ponder: 12
Gilded Drake: 8
Snapcaster Mage: 8

Black has another tie going into tenth place, so this’ll be a top 12.

Demonic Tutor: 19
Vampiric Tutor: 18
Toxic Deluge: 14
Damnation: 13
Dark Petition: 11
Dark Ritual: 11
Decree of Pain: 7
Grim Tutor: 6
Necromancy: 6
No Mercy: 6
Painful Truths: 6
Reanimate: 6

Red is arguably the worst color in the traditional Commander format, and its lower numbers here might point to that. Or maybe I just used more variety in red? Yeah, that's got to be it!

Wheel of Fortune: 14
Blasphemous Act: 7
Lightning Bolt: 7
Chaos Warp: 6
Faithless Looting: 5
Balefire Dragon: 4
Humble Defector: 4
Insurrection: 4
Rolling Earthquake: 4
Squee, Goblin Nabob: 4

Green did remarkably well here. While blue showed more representation at the top, green was the only color where I could make a top 10 list and not have to dip below 9 copies of anything.

Regrowth: 20
Sylvan Library: 18
Abundance: 14
Seasons Past: 13
Spike Weaver: 13
Kodama's Reach: 10
Survival of the Fittest: 10
Cultivate: 9
Eternal Witness: 9
Harrow: 9

I wouldn’t expect the selection in multicolored cards to be quite as deep, of course. To my surprise, it’s not that different from red. We’ve got a tie here and it’s a Top 12 list.

Lim-Dul's Vault: 13
Supreme Verdict: 7
Assassin's Trophy: 6
Fires of Yavimaya: 5
Daxos of Meletis: 4
Dovin's Veto: 4
Fire Covenant: 4
Growth Spiral: 4
Hostage Taker: 4
Ice-Fang Coatl: 4
Mirari's Wake: 4
Oko, Thief of Crowns: 4


The Tentacled One
Counting by card type, I’m amused and perhaps a bit proud that my most used creature in these decks turned out to be Spike Weaver. Here are the top 11 appearances.

Spike Weaver: 13
Eternal Witness: 9
Genesis: 8
Gilded Drake: 8
Snapcaster Mage: 8
Manakin: 6
Spore Frog: 6
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy: 5
Spark Double: 5
Stoneforge Mystic: 5
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: 5

And here were my top 10 enchantments, and confirmation that I can sometimes resist the lure of the Sylvan Library + Abundance engine.

Rhystic Study: 20
Sylvan Library: 18
Abundance: 14
Survival of the Fittest: 10
Mystic Remora: 7
Necromancy: 6
No Mercy: 6
Oblivion Ring: 6
Animate Dead: 5
Fires of Yavimaya: 5

My usage of planeswalkers has been sporadic and I have to go all the way down to ones I’ve only used twice, for a nine-way tie. So here are my Top 16 planeswalkers.

Narset, Parter of Veils: 7
Oko, Thief of Crowns: 4
Ajani, Caller of the Pride: 3
Ashiok, Dream Render: 3
Domri, Anarch of Bolas: 3
Elspeth, Knight-Errant: 3
Wrenn and Six: 3
Dack Fayden: 2
Domri, Chaos Bringer: 2
Jace, the Mind Sculptor: 2
Karn Liberated: 2
Karn, Scion of Urza: 2
Nahiri, the Lithomancer: 2
Teferi, Time Raveler: 2
Tezzeret the Seeker: 2
Tezzeret, Artifice Master: 2

And here are the sorceries. My favorite card type.

Regrowth: 20
Demonic Tutor: 19
Toxic Deluge: 14
Wheel of Fortune: 14
Damnation: 13
Seasons Past: 13
Ponder: 12
Dark Petition: 11
Kodama's Reach: 10
Cultivate: 9

In the case of instants, I’m not surprised to see a lot of blue. But I am a bit surprised that I can get a Top 10 list without needing to dip below 13 copies of a single card.

Mana Drain: 21
Arcane Denial: 20
Brainstorm: 19
Force of Will: 19
Cyclonic Rift: 19
Vampiric Tutor: 18
Counterspell: 17
Mystical Tutor: 16
Swords to Plowshares: 15
Lim-Dul's Vault: 13

While I don’t have another similar dataset to compare this to, I am interested to see what the curve of card frequency looks like. So the way that this next list works, I’m counting the number of cards that got a certain number of appearances. At the top of the list are large numbers, representing basic lands, fetchlands, and Sol Ring. The card Island would shows up under “122: 1” because it’s the only card that had 122 appearances. And the cards Enlightened Tutor, Ponder, and Underground Sea each had 12 appearances, so that shows up as “12: 3.” The curve is a bit odd, dropping multiple times and then going back up.

122: 1
117: 1
86: 1
82: 1
72: 1
68: 1
65: 1
50: 1
40: 1
39: 1
36: 1
34: 1
31: 1
29: 1
28: 1
22: 1
21: 3
20: 4
19: 3
18: 6
17: 5
16: 1
15: 3
14: 4
13: 5
12: 3
11: 8
10: 5
9: 7
8: 7
7: 19
6: 33
5: 30
4: 67
3: 111
2: 269
1: 751

There are all sorts of other quantities to look at, questions I haven’t even thought to ask. So if any of this is of any interest to you, feel free to ask me all about it. This is, by far, the most I’ve ever tracked my own deckbuilding, and I’m still getting used to the potential for analysis that this opportunity offers.

I’ll close this with one more list. While a raw frequency list turns up boring, expected results like “basic lands show up more than other cards” and “Sol Ring is in a lot of decks”, a simple ranking that removes those cards should be more unique. Or something. So, here are the 27 cards I used at least 10 times, discounting all lands and all mana rocks (artifacts that tap to generate mana).

Favorite cards for casual EDH?
Mana Drain: 21
Arcane Denial: 20
Regrowth: 20
Rhystic Study: 20
Brainstorm: 19
Demonic Tutor: 19
Force of Will: 19
Cyclonic Rift: 18
Sylvan Library: 18
Vampiric Tutor: 18
Counterspell: 17
Mystical Tutor: 16
Swords to Plowshares: 15
Abundance: 14
Toxic Deluge: 14
Wheel of Fortune: 14
Damnation: 13
Lim-Dul's Vault: 13
Seasons Past: 13
Spike Weaver: 13
Enlightened Tutor: 12
Ponder: 12
Dark Petition: 11
Dark Ritual: 11
Wrath of God: 11
Kodama's Reach: 10
Survival of the Fittest: 10


I would argue, that, most of the "favorite cards" list is more likely "the most cost effective answers" list. One thing I see from most players is that they always play the most cost effective answer and staple cards. I much prefer, if my commander's theme allows it, running slightly subpar versions for theme and synergy's sake. For example, instead of cultivate in a token deck, run growth spasm. Your league sounds amazing. I'm almost tempted to show up, even though I live east of Redmond so it would be a long drive