Cassie LaBelle is a freelance writer. When she"s not at her key-board dreaming up stories, you can find her playing with his cats, listening to records, or structure yet one more deck.

Whether I"m sitting next to a crackling campfire or inputting words into my laptop, I feel like I"m at my finest whenever I"m informing a story. There"s something both amazing and fun around the act of structure human beings, inventing personalities, and keeping world in suspense as the action begins to unfold.

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Believe it or not, is a fantastic storyinforming tool. The game is erupting via narrative opportunity. Ever played one of those games wbelow your tiniest Treeindividual ended up winning the game for you at the last second? Ever watched, open-mouthed, as your enemy continued to get more powerful and more powerful...just to die many thanks to her Demonic Pact? Then you recognize what I"m talking around.

Now that Commander (2016 Edition) is right here, I"m excited to begin structure some Commander decks that will assist me unlock even more of Magic"s large storyinforming potential. Commander is the appropriate format for telling a story—shifting multiplayer alliances, splashy plays, huge deck sizes, and also the command zone are all valuable devices for encouraging narrative play.

Telling a story through your Commander deck could sound daunting, however it"s sensibly straightforward when you understand the basics. This week, I"ll be walking you with some fun actions you have the right to take—both during deck building and gameplay—that will help you rotate all your Commander games into epic tales.

Want to gain started? Say the words with me now: Once upon a time...

Character Creation

If you desire to tell a story, you need to begin by developing some amazing characters. Not only execute characters drive the activity, they allow us to have actually an emotional connection with the events that unfold. In reality, if all you perform is fill your Commander deck with personalities, stories will certainly normally begin to burst forth as you play.

I choose to think of eincredibly creature and also planeswalker in my deck—from the silliest Kobold to the cleveremainder Artificer—as its own distinctive character. The very same goes for every one of my opponents" creatures. If you offer them villainous motivations, beating them becomes also even more satisfying.

When you select to create your characters is as much as you. I tfinish to develop a few in the time of deck building—frequently, it"s the creation of a character for my commander that inspires my deck in the initially place—but I favor to keep many kind of of my personalities a secret until they come into play. That method, I have the right to tailor their personality about whatever before exciting instance is currently happening on the battlefield.

How have the right to you produce so many kind of characters so quickly? Well, a great character just really requirements two things:

Traits. These tell us in broad terms what our character is choose. When in doubt, the color pie is a great source of potential traits. Red personalities tend to be impulsive, for instance, while blue characters choose to think things with.A goal. In, the apparent goal is "win the game." Not every one of your characters will certainly share this goal, though. Some may have a vendetta against a particular foe. Others might be agents of chaos, neutral parties, or spies. Don"t be afrassist to gain imaginative here!

The trick to stop being overwhelmed by complicated personalities is to accept that most of your creatures aren"t going to be more than bit players in your story. For eextremely Servo that manperiods to wield a Sword of Fire and also Ice (a compelling character for sure!), there will be dozens of Beasts and also Thopters that will enter the battlearea, strike a few times, and also die. These minor personalities perform not need super complex traits or purposes. For example, here are some potential traits and objectives that among your Soldier tokens can have:

Traits: Well-trained. Follows orders. Wants to be on the simply side of the battle.Goal: Think tactically, fight via valor, execute what it takes to win the battle.

And here"s a Goblin:

Traits: Always fight! Not care if opponent too huge. Bring lots of friends. Blargitty argh!Goal: Attack!

As the game progresses, yet, some of your characters will normally begin to take on even more important functions in your story. This is wbelow imagining new traits or creating even more exciting objectives will help you take your story to the next level.

Goblin Token | Art by Wayne Reynolds

When that happens, attempt to number out what interesting traits your character can have that sepaprice him or her from their brethren. Is your Solemn Simulacrum progressively arising humale emotions? Is your Elf worn down of the forest currently that she"s had actually a taste of the city life on Ravnica? Is your Warrior secretly a Coward?

The many vital story informing dominance in is this: you cannot betray your characters" purposes or traits to even more your board place. If your commander has sworn never to wield a sword, don"t hand him a item of equipment and also then produce some flimsy excuse that allows you to obtain closer to a win. The integrity of your personalities constantly has to come first.

Commanding Your Protagonist

Most good tales have a single character at the facility of the narrative: the protagonist. It"s the protagonist whose eyes we check out the story through, and it"s the protagonist whose actions press the activity forward. What would Star Wars be without Luke Skywalker? What would certainly Spider-Man be without, uh, Spider-Man?

I like structure my story-based Commander decks through a protagonist in mind. In fact, most of the moment my commander is the protagonist. Since the rules permit you to rerevolve your commander to the command also zone each time it dies, your protagonist will certainly never before be much from returning to the activity. And because you were more than likely going to develop the rest of your deck around your commander"s abilities anymeans, there have to always be the majority of flavorful actions for your protagonist to take.

But that isn"t the just means to produce a protagonist in Commander. One of the many fun means to play is to make yourself the protagonist and treat your commander as your a lot of essential ally. This gives you a tiny even more leeway to produce changes in the story between one game and the next without swapping out any of the cards in your deck. Gisa and also Geralf are going to behave more or less the very same method each time, but you can be a power-mad necromancer today and also a delirium-addled madman tomorrow. Either character might conceivably ally themselves via Gisa and Geralf, however the outcomes of each story are likely to be rather different.

It"s harder to pull off, yet you have the right to also develop your deck approximately a protagonist who cannot be your Commander—one of the non-Origins planeswalkers, say, or a non-legendary creature. The trick right here is to try and reexisting the essence of your protagonist through as many kind of of the cards in your deck as feasible. If your protagonist is Fblthp—the frightened Homunculus shown on the card Totally Lost—you might desire to run stand-ins favor Curious Homunculus or Doorkeeper as well as cards that give the feeling of being lost in a large city. If your protagonist is Ajani Goldmane, having actually multiple Ajani planeswalker cards in your deck (as well as various other cards that depict Ajani) will allow you the majority of leemethod through which to tell his story.

Whoever your protagonist ends up being, it"s necessary that you recognize as much around what renders them tick as you deserve to. Feel stuck? Art and also flavor message are good at offering inspiration, as are the pieces of the official story. You have the right to even use occasions from previous games you"ve played as backstory that could assist define your characters" actions—has your Rashmi, Eternities Crafter been eliminated by your friend"s Sorin, Grim Nemesis as well many type of times? Well, she can not be rather so open to an alliance with him later on.

You need to probably also have actually an principle of what your main character desires to attain before the game starts. And if you want your story to be excellent, that goal must be more crucial to you than anypoint else—even winning. If your protagonist is in the Gatewatch, for instance, they might be satisfied simply by ridding the game of any kind of Eldrazi they view. Other protagonists could not be okay unmuch less their win is overwhelming—to them, a tight victory could be as poor as a loss. Still others can define victory as producing chaos in between everyone else at the table. These objectives deserve to change over the course of the game, but you need to have some sense of wbelow to start prior to you sit dvery own to play.

Collective Voyage | Art by Charles Urbach
Causal Friday

Great storytellers understand that narrative is all about reason and result. Important story occasions do not happen in isolation—they occur because of previous plot points. "You assaulted me, therefore I am going to attack you back" is part of a great story. "You assaulted me. On an unassociated note, I am attacking my other opponent" is not.

Lucky for us, causality is something that naturally happens in the circulation of a game. You are even more likely to strike civilization that attacked you, and you will probably usage your removal spells on whatever before creatures are resulting in you the a lot of harm. But tbelow are still plenty of things that have the right to occur thanks to luck or whimsy. In some games, you"ll rip the creature you require off the peak, for instance, yet in others you"ll attract ten lands in a row.

The trick to informing an exciting story is to emphasis on the amazing chains of causality while ignoring or repurposing occasions that do not fit your narrative. If something happens that does not make feeling, either come up through a fun reason for it (after I ruined your Island, you put my family members under a curse that prevents me from connecting via the land—so of course I can not attract any even more Mountains!) or simply disregard it and also emphasis on something even more amazing. There"s no shame in abandoning minor characters or chains of events if you need to.

You can help encourage causality by filling your Commander deck through the sorts of cards that lfinish themselves to fun cause and also result chains. Auras are excellent at this because they directly impact creatures (and also, therefore, your characters). Will your Dwarf embrace her Angelic Destiny, or could she revolve to Pacifism instead? Equipment and Vehicles are good as well—they can be used by multiple creatures as the game progresses, so they might finish up taking on amazing characteristics of their own.

One of the deck-building hurdles I run right into once building a story-centric deck is that some of the many flavorful cards are tied to specific events in the better story. This have the right to create some awkward instances. For instance, have the right to you play Fateful Showdown however not Pia Nalaar? What about playing the card while Pia is still stuck in your command also zone? Or if your foe does not manage Tezzeret?

Because isn"t fun if you can"t play your spells, my favorite cards are those that have the adaptability to be played in both a "correct" flavor instance and in an extra freeform one. Fateful Showdvery own is a good example of this—when in a really good while, you will draw it at the absolute perfect time and also Pia Nalaar will certainly get her epic showdvery own through Tezzeret. Your friends will certainly applaud, and also you will feel favor a storytelling champion. The idea of a "fateful showdown" can apply to many various cases, though, and also you will certainly hardly ever uncover yourself in a game of wright here you do not want to shout "THIS ENDS NOW" at some opposing creature.

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Phew—this has actually been a pretty lengthy story! Until next time, might all your personalities be fascinating and every one of your Commander tales finish through an epic victory.