Everyone has their thing when it comes to Commander decks. Josh Lee Kwai (@JoshLeeKwai) from The Command Zone often talks about how he takes a three color deck and makes it into a five color deck. Gen Con regular Andrew Magrini (@A_Magrini) subscribes to something he calls “Splash Theory.” Finding what you enjoy can help you make smarter choices with your Magic budget and have more fun in your games. I like mono-colored Commander decks. There, I said it. I know that mono-colored decks can straight lose to something like Iona, Shield of Emeria or have inherent weaknesses related to their place in the color pie. I even own a few ABUR duals, some expedition multi-colored lands, and have traded for lands for years. Despite all of this, I often prefer my mono-colored decks. The real question is why?
The first reason can be seen in different parts of the deck building process. I honestly do not like physically building decks and almost all of my distaste comes from the time investment. I love to talk about Commander lists. I like the theory of crafting decks. I even enjoy reviewing other people’s lists for suggestions, but I don’t actually enjoy building them.
Deck building takes a substantial amount of time. I need to sift through my collection, which is likely too large right now, pull everything out, cut down to 100 cards, and should then probably put everything away properly at some point. This is easier and faster for me with mono-colored decks. There’s fewer cards that I need to look through, fewer cuts to make, and less to put away when I’m done. I have two little kids, work both full-time and part-time, and help my wife with running her new dance studio. You combine all of this with a love of sleep and I have to be choosy with how my personal time is spent. Spending an entire Saturday afternoon or staying up late two nights in a row, just isn’t the way I like to spend my time.
Building a mono-colored can lead to a more consistent and cohesive deck. Otherwise, I can end up being an erratic deck builder. Maybe you are very disciplined, but I’m just not. Anyone who has looked at an early deck list of mine, let alone early theory crafting, can see that I have a problem with themes in a deck. I try to force so many moving themes and sub-themes into a deck (because just building another deck or not playing a set of cards would just be ludicrous). On top of all of that is the number of pet cards that I just want to see get played. Boiling the deck down to a single color can streamline the themes and help the deck look more polished in the early iterations.
The second reason that I think I prefer mono-colored decks can be seen in gameplay. Mono-colored decks normally don’t have to worry about color screw (not drawing enough of each color in your deck). If you have access to all of your colors (the whole one) you remove one of the variances in Magic. You still have to worry about mana screw, mana flood, or drawing the wrong cards. The consistency in themes you built in during the deck building process should also shine in gameplay. The greater consistency will help the deck play out the way it was envisioned to. If your deck plays the way you want it to and you don’t have to worry about color screw (as often), you can have more fun in each game.
I don’t give my decks much of a chance. If the deck goes flat for 2-3 games I’m ready to take it apart. There have been times with a new deck, one that I’ve spent hours crafting, doesn’t play well its first game and it never gets played again. That’s a huge sunk cost, especially if I’ve picked up any amount of singles for the deck. Is this fair to my decks? Probably not, but it’s a pattern I’ve seen in myself for years. All of that consistency in gameplay helps keep my decks alive and prevent me from going back to the deck building process and ultimately saves me time.
I love mono-colored decks. My favorite three decks right now are Lorthos, the TIdemaker (my signature deck), Kozilek, the Great Distortion (New Year New Deck) with heavy inspiration from Roberto Moser (@RobertoMoser), and Yahenni, Undying Partisan. They all have inherent weaknesses, but I’m okay with that. They’re just fun to play. I hope you try mono-colored decks out the next time you build a deck. It can save you time and give you a more consistent deck. Even more than trying more mono-colored decks, I hope you can find your niche in Commander deck building. If you know what it is, let me know e
Until next time, happy brewing.
– Cowboy Kyle