The Buzz on Buzzbark
- Legends Warehouse News
- 12 Dec, 2017
Recently I was tasked by a friend to build a budget Commander deck centered around one of the new Unstable Commanders. It had to be fun and exciting, and not terribly expensive, as they were just getting into the format. After much deliberation over what would be deeming the most fun for them, it was determined that the dice rolling mechanic of Ol’ Buzzbark had the most variance and therefore the most exciting game play. So what do we get when we’re tossing dice like a prohibition-era backgammon addict? We get Ol’ Buzzbark’s Dexterity Check!
Ol’ Buzzbark is a unique card in that it acts as a dice rolling challenge, a mana sink, an anthem effect, and a board wipe all at once. By rolling X dice from a height of X inches off the table, we can either boost our creatures or damage our opponent’s creatures, depending on where the dice land. All of the dice being rolled have to leave your hand at the same time, so with enough mana you get to turn your games into a cascading waterfall of dice bouncing all over the table. It’s also worth noting that this only counts where they finally rest and not any creatures that get touched by bouncing dice, and while in most situations any sized dice would suffice for a die roll, with Ol’ Buzzbark they can’t exceed one inch in width. This means you can’t go down to your local car wash and grab a pair of giant novelty fuzzy dice for your Commander deck.
While the core of the deck is centred around dice rolling, that unfortunately wasn’t enough cards to have a full deck. As such, I opted to include the various dexterity-based cards in Un-set history, such as Clay Pigeon and Slaying Mantis. This gives the deck a theme of throwing and tossing objects which increases not only the variance in the games but the entertainment factor as well. After all, what’s the point of playing Un-Commander if you don’t get to tell a funny story afterwards. However, due to budget restraints the two black-border cards, Chaos Orb and Falling Star, were left off the list since they would cost more the rest of the deck combined.
I also gave the deck a subtheme of assembling contraptions since so many of the dice rolling goblins in Unstable care about assembling. This also allows the deck to branch out in a direction that I’ve never gotten to explore. Contraptions give the deck angles of attack that it otherwise wouldn’t have access to, such as untapping effects or card draw, and to get these effects for free makes it even more intriguing of a mechanic. I elected to stick to fifteen contraptions for the deck for both simplicity’s sake and to treat it like a sideboard. This is all up to personal preference, and you may end up using different contraptions for your builds or even going so far as to include a copy of all of them, but I find curating the list gives it a bit more flavour and increases the likelihood of assembling the contraptions you want.
While Green and Red get the lion’s share of dice rolling effects in Unstable, there are several cards that I wish we could have included. For example, it’s unfortunate that because we’re in Gruul we don’t get access to powerhouses like Squirrel-Powered Scheme, Inhumaniac, Snickering Squirrel, or Big Boa Constrictor, but I did make one exception for off-colour splashing. Typically, the hybrid mana in The Big Idea’s activated ability would make it Rakdos, but I think in the spirit of having fun, the mono-Red mana cost should allow for inclusion in the deck. Of course, this is all up to your play group’s discretion, but in the spirit of hilarity the sheer amount of dice you can roll should be all the argument you need to let you play it.
The rest of the deck is just ramp and utility so we can use our bigger effects to their full potential. The ramp package is necessary for making Ol’ Buzzbark massive while giving us more and more dice to roll when he enters the battlefield. Hammerfest Boomtacular gives us additional damage when we cast our Goblin Explosioneers cards as well as having the greatest card name ever printed. Panharmonicon doubles up Ol’ Buzzbark’s EtB ability, so if you thought we were rolling enough dice before, you haven’t seen anything yet. Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! gives us even more cranking and contraption shenanigans while Contagion Clasp allows us to proliferate all the +1/+1 counters we get with Ol’ Buzzbark. Since we need some manner of interaction, I included Destructive Revelry and Artifact Mutation to destroy some of the more pesky artifacts that plague Commander games. Finally, since we have so many dice at our disposal, Goblin Game gives us even more things to do with them. We will almost always have more objects to bid, so we can almost always get our opponents to lose half their life.
Ol’ Buzzbark is a Commander that takes variance to the nth degree, with no player ever truly being sure what will happen when he comes into play. While a lot of Gruul Commanders have a very straight forward play style, no two games ever play out the same way with this deck, so you don’t get that fatigue the way you normally would with a regular Commander deck. Ol’ Buzzbark keeps games interesting, so if you’re looking for a deck with a ton of replay value you won’t be disappointed.