How to build a Commander

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    A good Commander can make an otherwise mediocre deck become exceptional. A Commander can allow a Crystal deck to do things that ordinarily only a Gold deck would be able to do. An unexpected Commander at the right moment can turn the tide of a battle.

    Unfortunately, building a Commander can also be an exercise in frustration. To help alleviate some of that frustration, here are some tips which will hopefully help you get the Commanders that you want.

    #1: Planning

    The first and easiest way to screw up a Commander is to not have a clear picture of what you want out of them. I strongly recommend that you study up on how much each ability costs for a Commander, and plan accordingly. The complete, up to date list of Commander ability costs can be found in the first post in this thread:

    — The Front Row —

    Ordinarily, your Commander’s Front Row abilities are going to be the most important ones. Try to pick a pair of Front Row abilities that compliment each other and that will provide a valuable boost to one or more of your decks. You can also go for a single ability in your Front Row if that’s all that you really need, and you want to keep the cost of your Commander as low as possible.

    If you already have 2 abilities in the Front Row but you only want to pay for the cost of a single Front Row ability, replace the other ability with something cheaper as soon as possible. Eventually, try to replace it with 1 Toxic, which costs 0 resources, thus costing the same as an empty slot. The same affect can be achieved in the Back Row by replacing one of your Back Row abilities with 1 Protect, which also costs 0 extra resources to hire.

    Once you have chosen your Front Row abilities, make a note of how much your Commander will cost to hire. This will be the price that you must stay under when selecting your Back Row abilities.

    — The Back Row —

    One of the biggest strengths of a Commander is that their Front Row and Back Row abilities can cost equal amounts without raising the cost to hire of your Commander. If the Front Row abilities cost 10, and the Back Row abilities cost 10, you still only pay 10 resources to hire the Commander. Maximize the power and versatility of your Commander by getting your Back Row abilities to cost as close as possible to the same price as the Front Row abilities. Try not to go over budget though, or else you will raise the cost to hire your commander, and you will no longer be getting your Front Row abilities at their cheapest possible price.

    Try to pick Back Row abilities that compliment your deck in some different way than your Commander’s Front Row abilities. If you are using Arrow or Drain on your Front Row, perhaps try to avoid also putting Arrow or Drain on the Back Row, as it will be redundant and won’t usually do you much good. Try to think of a scenario where you would want to move your Commander off of the Front Row and into the Back, and add an ability or a pair of abilities that would help in that situation. For example, if your commander has Bolt in front, you could put AtkSquire in back to help deal with opponents who deliberately minimize their number of units in their front row to avoid taking additional damage from your Bolt.

    Alternatively, sometimes the abilities on your Commander’s Back Row may be more important to you in the strategy of one of your decks. In this case, apply all of the same procedures as have already been listed above, but start with the Back Row as the top priority, and fill in your Front Row abilities afterwards to compliment the Back Row.

    — Types —

    Some Types that you add will increase the cost of your Commander by +1. This cost increase happens regardless of your front or back row costs, and can not be avoided. I recommend that you avoid all Types that increase the cost of your commander unless you absolutely need that specific Type to make your Commander work properly. If you need your Commander to receive double buffs from AtkSquire, you must make them a Knight. If you want your Commander to buff your Acolytes Zealot ability, you must make your Commander a Wizard. But in general, it’s usually better to stick with the free types. Most Types don’t cost anything, so feel free to add them. You can change them later if you want another Type for some specific reason, but it doesn’t hurt you in any way to have a random free Type on your Commander.

    Some types can bypass the +1 cost while still giving the same effect. For example, Fox Type costs +1 because it triggers the Foxpack ability if your Commander Fox is adjacent to a unit with Foxpack. However, the Thief Type also triggers Foxpack, and having the Type ‘Thief’ on your Commander does not increase the cost of your Commander.

    #2: Contingencies

    Planning your Commander is half the battle. But to maximize the investment of your time spent planning and leveling up your Commander, you need more than just a good build.

    — Versatility —

    Making a Commander that fits perfectly into 1 deck is good. However if that specialization comes at the cost of that Commander being nearly useless in most other decks, then it’s a bit of a one trick pony, and it will also be more likely to get ruined by any balance tweaks that throw off the rhythm of that deck.

    Instead, when possible, try to design Commanders that can be used in a few different kinds of deck. Think about what units and decks you currently have, and try to come up with at least 2 different decks that you could put that Commander into. Additionally, try to think about what kinds of units and decks you’d like to have in the future, or what decks you are very close to being able to make if you just had that one missing unit to tie it all together, and think about how your Commander would fit into one of those.

    One of the quickest ways to pigeonhole your Commander into a limited number of decks is to add resource production to it. If your Commander produces Gold, it probably won’t be much use in a Wood or Crystal deck. If you do produce a resource with your Commander, try to avoid putting it in the Front Row unless absolutely necessary, or unless your Back Row is more important to you on that Commander.

    Sometimes, you just can’t help but specialize a Commander into a very specific role. But in general, it’s best to have most of your Commanders be useful in several decks.

    — Multiple Plans —

    So you’ve got your dream Commander all planned out. Great. But with your luck, you may never get the right abilities to appear, and you’ll be stuck declining upgrades constantly, waiting for the ones you actually want. On a single Commander, you may not get the exact abilities you want even after a couple of Respec’s.

    Just as you should never start a Commander without a plan, you should also never start a Commander without MULTIPLE plans.

    I recommend that you come up with at least 4 different Commanders, preferably more. I currently have 8 planned Commanders, but the more the better. Try to make them diverse as well, with as many different combinations of abilities as you can think of a use for. That way, if you see an ability that’s needed for one of your builds early on in your leveling, you can snap it up and have much higher odds of actually completing that Commander quickly.

    As with the planning stages, make sure to focus on getting your Front Row abilities first (or your Back Row, if that’s your higher priority). It’s better to perfect your Front Row and have a mediocre Back row, than to have a totally worthless Commander all around. If you do add anything to the Back Row early on, try to make it something cheap, such as Recruit, which can also be somewhat useful to any deck. It can also be valuable to have a lot of your commanders use similar types of Back Row abilities, such as Defense, or Heal. That way, you can add those abilities to your Back Row without as much worry that they’ll mess up your Front Row build. But remember to keep your Back Row price low enough that it won’t interfere with your Front Row cost to hire.

    #3: The Follow Through

    Once you’ve got several Commanders planned out, it’s time to start leveling up. Ideally, you are starting with a brand new Level 1 Commander.

    — Grinding the Early Levels —

    I recommend sticking your new Commander in whichever deck you can beat that days Ghost Match the quickest and most consistently with. Grind as many games as you feel able to, or until you are starting to feel confident in using the Commander in one of your decks (it doesn’t have to be the deck that you grinded him up with).

    If you have multiple planned Commanders, you should start to get some of the abilities you want within the first few levels. After that, the biggest trick is to get the other abilities on their as well, as increasing the quantity of an ability that you’ve already received is generally fairly easy.

    — Order of Abilities —

    Remember that the top ability activates first, followed by the bottom ability. For most ability combinations, this doesn’t really matter, but for some abilities it makes all of the difference in the world.

    If you have Attack and Wound, always place Attack in the top slot, and Wound in the bottom slot. Attack will lower any Defense on the unit across from them, and then Wound can get through unimpeded. Similarly, you must NEVER place Wound above Honor, because if your opponent is wounded, the Honor will do no damage.

    A few Back Row abilities may also warrant such consideration, such as using Fireball or Arrow in the top slot and Drain the in bottom slot, to maximize your potential of getting the Heal effect from the Drain (Drain gets a heal from hitting units who are already wounded, but not from hitting a unit who still has active Defense up). But in general, most back row, and many front row abilities don’t matter what order they happen in. For example, Defense always works the same regardless of which position it is in.

    As a general, rule, if you’re going to have Attack or Honor, try to put it in the top spot. If you’re going to have Wound, try to have it in the bottom slot. It won’t matter for some builds, but you may save yourself some headaches in the future if you decide to change your Commander later and you suddenly DO need your abilities to be in a certain order. But if you’re very confident that it won’t matter, don’t pass up on putting that Wound in the top slot if you’re worried that you won’t get it again for a long time.

    — To Infinity and Beyond (or at least to 15) —

    Currently there are a maximum of 15 Commanders that a player can have. If you plan ahead well, hopefully you can go from leveling up one Commander to the next, to the next, etc etc. If you have enough contingency plans, you should be able to start making a decent Commander of some sort within it’s first 10 levels or so, and have it be a valuable part of some deck by level 20 or so.

    Once you have a Commander that can help your decks win games, keep using that Commander. Keep leveling it up as much as possible, to at least 70% of it’s maximum level. Once you reach 70%, you unlock your next Commander and can start the whole process all over again.

    And if you get hung up somewhere along the way, you can always try Respecing your Commander to try another shot at getting the abilities you want, or spend the full 900 gems to unlock the next slot early. Hopefully, with a good amount of planning, you shouldn’t need to resort to these extreme measures very often.

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