In this week’s episode, we’re going to be exploring the ideas of resources and resource conversion in Commander. Resources, in the general sense, are a stock or supply of assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively.

What kind of resources do we have access to?

In Commander, each player starts with the same set of resources – 7 cards in hand, their commander (or commanders) in the command zone, 92 (or 91) cards in their library, and 40 life. Over the course of the game, it is each player’s job to amass the right amount of different types of resources to allow their deck to function effectively.

You might be thinking “those aren’t the only types of resources in Commander!”, and you’d be right. Throughout the course of any given game – in addition to the resources they start with – players are working to amass resources such as:

  • Cards in graveyard
  • Permanents on the battlefield
  • Large amounts of mana and even
  • Cards in exile

How do we turn one resource into another?

Most people don’t even realize it, but they’re constantly converting one resource into another. Let’s look at a play you’re likely to see in almost any game of Commander.

When you cast Cultivate, you are taking 3 mana and a card in hand and converting it into a card in graveyard, a card in hand, and a permanent on the battlefield.

That is considerably different than something like Crop Rotation, which takes 1 mana, a card in hand, and a permanent on the battlefield and converts it into 2 cards in the graveyard and 1 permanent on the battlefield.

Framed in this light, it’s fairly easy to see why some cards become Commander staples. Some of the best commanders in Magic can increase the effect or reduce the cost of each conversion transaction to great effect. Today we’re going to look at a personal favourite of mine – Karametra, God of Harvests. user pzlob wrote to me with a copy of the Karametra list he’s running right now:

Pzlob built this list so he would have a casual deck to play in casual metas. He likes “drawing cards, playing lots of big stupid idiots, and turning them sideways”. He likes that the deck feels very responsive to a variety of threats. After playing the list for a couple months, he’s realised that the list in its current form has a couple weaknesses:

  • It has trouble landing Karametra on turn 4
  • Creature-based ramp reduces the number of big creatures he can run
  • If Karametra is unavailable, the deck does a whole lot of nothing.

So Lets Answer Those Weaknesses!

     1) How do we stick Karametra on turn 4?

Pzlob touches on a very interesting problem with this deck – what is the most appropriate form of ramp? At the moment, he is running the following suite:

Noncreature (4)

Creature (5)

In all honesty, I think this deck is one of the best candidates I’ve seen to run a big creature-based ramp package. Creature-based ramp is pretty great to begin with, and Karametra doubles their efficacy. I know this seems to directly conflict with #2 above, but we’re going to use our resource conversion skills to handle that issue. Here’s how I would rework the ramp package:

Cuts (7)

Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach are both good if you don’t have access to your commander, but increasing the number of mana dorks in the list increases availability of the Commander, so I feel like it’s a good move. We’re also shaving a little bit off the top-end of the curve, cutting Blazing Archon and Ghostly Prison (because this deck is the beatdown more often than it’s not). Stoneforge Mystic is in here to give evasion, but I think we can get around that and cut the equipment package as well.

Adds (6)

Amulet of Vigor isn’t technically ramp, but with how many lands are coming into play tapped, it does serve the purpose of making mana available a turn earlier than it would normally be, so I feel comfortable putting it in a ramp slot in this deck. Earthcraft plays a fairly similar role, and it interacts with a couple of my other recommendations later on.

2) How do we play fatties AND mana dorks?

This is where resource conversion is really going to shine. A Llanowar Elf on turn 1 represents a fairly significant acceleration, but in general it isn’t great to draw into one on turn 20 when you have 30 lands in play. What do we do with all these dorks in the late game? Let’s include a package to take advantage of a cluttered, late-game board.

Devour Package (3)

Devour is one of my favourite resource conversion mechanics. It lets you turn your early game acceleration into late game beaters. Even though Ulvenwald Hydra is right where we want to be, synergy-wise, I feel like Bloodspore Thrinax poses a much bigger threat as it allows us to play any dorks we draw into as serious threats.

Cuts (3)

3) How do we play sans-Karametra?

Adds (3)

These are here simply to grease the wheels a little bit if you can’t get Karametra to stickWrap in Vigor just provides a little insurance against boardwipes (which have the potentially to totally shut this deck down in the mid-late game). Fecundity could also fit in this slot, but it’s a meta-call. If you’re playing against token strategies you generally don’t want to give them gas following a boardwipe.

Survival of the Fittest allows us to pitch dorks in the late game for specific beaters or situational responses like Qasali Pridemage or Scavenging Ooze, increasing our ability to respond to anything that might prevent us from turning things sideways.

Note: I also considered Second Sunrise or Faith’s Reward for this slot, but ultimately decided that they’re a non-bo with our devour package, so I landed on regenerate.

Cuts (2)

Ulamog is a tough cut, but I feel like we get better payoff out of Kozilek because Annihilator clears the board. Genesis Hydra – although good – is nowhere near as good as Genesis Wave, by the time we’re ready to pump 8+ mana into it we’ve got more threatening things that could be in this slot.

What are we left with?

Wrath Insurance

Early Ramp

Mid-Game Ramp


Creature Bounce



We’re left with a list that I feel does a pretty good job of converting resources. In the early game, we’re converting cards in hand to permanents on the battlefield (and amplifying that effect once Karametra comes out). In the mid game, we’re looking to draw cards and further amplify the advantage we’ve gained by playing mid-game ramp. In the late game, a carefully chosen suite of game enders take advantage of whatever’s left over from the early game, using Devour and Overrun effects to go wide in the red zone.

That’s it for this week! In the next article we’re going to talk a little more about resource conversion efficiency and what can go wrong when a stax deck enters your meta. In the meantime, feel free to chime in with your favourite or most unique resource conversion engines. I have a serious soft spot in my heart for janky combos. Do you turn cards in your graveyard into tokens? Spells on the stack into damage? How about cards in hand into more cards in hand?

If you are struggling with a problem in your local meta, send an e-mail to with a detailed description of the dominant threats in your meta. Be sure to include the commander (and archetype if applicable) as well as the pilot’s preferred ways of closing out the game. Also include your decklist, budget, and any deckbuilding restrictions you’ve imposed on yourself (themes, house rules/banlist, and overall spikiness of your playgroup). Your situation may be solved in a future installment of The Metaworker.




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