Partners without a Partner - Vial Smasher


Are you excited about brewing a deck around the new partners, but can't decide which pair to pick? I'm here to help with at least half of it!

I've decided to dive deep on the new Partners as Commanders in a new article series: Partners without a Partner. I'll be focusing on one of each guild, and coming up with exactly half of a deck to go into it. The idea is that you could take any two of these half-deck lists and jam them together for a full deck. No thinking required! I'll make sure all the bases are covered so that in the spirit of Partners, each half-deck can be jammed together to make one fully playable deck.

For the first one, I thought I'd pick one of the more popular of the new Partners, representing Rakdos, Vial Smasher the Fierce.

Before we go any futher. here's my thinking behind all these half-decks:

We will end up with 98 cards in each final deck. 40 of those will be lands, and another six spots will be taken up by staple artifacts that would go in each brew. That leaves us with 52 left to work with for each pair, therefore each Partner is responsible for bringing 26 cards. That's hardly anything, when you think about it! This should be easy! And the last thing to keep in mind: no repeats! If I use a card in one list, I won't use it in another, since we might accidentally end up with two copies of one card in there.

Colourless Staples:

Now for the fun part! Vial Smasher is responsible for 26 cards. We're going to try to balance the colours fairly closely so no end result is too heavily weighted on one colour. We will, however look for cards that are both black and red since this list has exclusive access to them.

Let's get started, shall we?

The overall strategy for this half of the deck is to have spells that normally cost a lot, but we can save on the casting cost to maximize Vial smasher's random damage ability. We want a few good instants as well so we can trigger it on other people's turns!

Army of the Damned is a spell that Vial Smasher flings around for a hearty eight damage, twice if we get to cast it for it's flashback cost. Just keep in mind that the rules say that the converted mana cost is still eight. A red instant we can get a beefy discount on is Runeflare Trap. All of the traps have a discounted cost, but this one might be the most easily achieved one in Commander. An opponent drawing three cards? That's it? I'll be casting this for a single red all the time! Six random damage not to mention the trap's damage. I bet we'll get in for about twelve. Not to let instants and sorceries have all the fun, Avatar of Fury will likely be cast for super cheap while jamming eight to an opponent's face!

Every half-deck will include some utility cards, so the wrath that suits the strategy the best is Blasphemous Act. Usually a single red to wipe the board and snag a free nine points of damage somewhere. Is there a pesky artifact bugging you? Just evoke Ingot Chewer for a single red and sneak in another five points. We'll want at least one way to deal with enchantments, and Unstable Obelisk fits perfectly since it ramps us up to casting our bigger spells, and can take out any permanent in an emergency.

Each of these solo-partner brews will single out a few multicoloured cards we only have access to here in these 26 cards. The deck gets more robust with even more utility in Wrecking Ball to take out a creature or land, Deepfire Elemental to take care of our opponents' little stuff, and last but not least, Kaervek the Merciless, who acts like Vial Smasher's big brother handing out even more damage, except his can be aimed wherever we want!

There you have it! A quick overview of the Rakdos brew. I haven't written about each card in it, but please have a look at the deck-list for this 26. If there's any glaring omissions, please let me know in the comments!

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