Volo, Guide To Monsters, The Perfect Commander for the Casual and the Competitive

Volo, Guide to Monsters is a perfect deck to brew around whatever play style that anyone wishes to play. Join Jacethedeckbuilder as he takes us through different ways you can approach this deck.

Volo, Guide to Monsters is an interesting commander as it has a built-in deck-building restriction. The unique restriction is that Volo can’t make a copy of a creature if there are any common subtypes among creatures you control or creatures in your graveyard. As such, a Volo’s deck should have few or no subtypes in common so that Volo can perform at max efficiency. This restriction however also makes it so that both Humans and Wizards are cut when building the deck and forces Volo players to run more obscure creatures in order to use Volo to their fullest potential. That is not to say that Volo isn’t flexible, there are several different strategies that could be brewed around Volo from a +1/+1 counter deck all the way to a birthing pod deck. Making it a perfect deck to brew around whatever play style that anyone wishes to play.

I often get asked why I build my decks in a certain way when a combo or a specific card would help the deck perform better. My answer always boils down to my deck building philosophy. I usually build my decks to perform in the jankiest way possible. As you can see from my original Volo deck and Manaless dredge deck. However, sometimes my inner spike devil whispers sweet little nothings into my ears tempting me to join the dark side for the cookies. This happened with a Volo semi-competitive Volo deck that I brewed with my friend. I thought I would take the time in this article to compare these two decks and show how you can either power up or weaken your deck. 

Volo, Guide to Monsters is an interesting commander as it has a built-in deck-building restriction. The unique restriction is that Volo can’t make a copy of a creature if there are any common subtypes among creatures you control or creatures in your graveyard. As such, a Volo’s deck should have few or no subtypes in common so that Volo can perform at max efficiency. This restriction however also makes it so that both Humans and Wizards are cut when building the deck and forces Volo players to run more obscure creatures in order to use Volo to their fullest potential. That is not to say that Volo isn’t flexible, there are several different strategies that could be brewed around Volo from a +1/+1 counter deck all the way to a birthing pod deck. Making it a perfect deck to brew around whatever play style that anyone wishes to play.

It’s important to talk about the goals of each deck. The main goal of the janky Volo deck is to find the strange creature types and make it so that every creature type is unique. While the apex was built to win consistently and disrupt the opponents just enough to prevent them from winning the game.

The surprising thing is how similar both decks are despite the different goals of each deck, with the deck sharing 15 non-land, non-commander cards with the creature ramp cards almost exactly the same. Both decks run Birds of Paradise, Maraleaf Pixie, Lotus Cobra and, Kiora’s Follower. Along the same line, both decks also run some of the same card draw creatures such as Fblthp, the Lost, Consecrated Sphinx, and Ohran Frostfang.

These similarities between both decks make sense as Volo rewards having a low amount of creature types, so the pool of good ramp creatures and card draw creatures gets lowered leading to a lot of overlap in these areas. Things get interesting when the differences between the two decks are compared as they share entirely different win conditions.

The semi-competitive deck uses a combo to win the game, with the three-card combo using Volo, Guide of monsters, Peregrine Drake and, Temur Sabertooth to generate infinite mana. This is done with Volo, Guide of monsters and Temur Sabertooth on the battlefield. Then when Peregrine Drake an additional copy is created with Volo which then generates 10 mana. Then with the 10 mana activate Temur Sabertooth two times returning both copies of Peregrine Drake.

After that cast Peregrine Drake again, repeating the process and netting one mana each time the combo is looped. This then creates an infinite amount of mana and with Temur Sabertooth, you get to cast creatures repeatedly gaining infinite amounts of entering the battlefield triggers. Once that happens use cards like Man-o’-War to bounce all of the creatures to the opponent’s hand and then a card draw creature to draw cards until a Craterhoof Behemoth is found. Attack each opponent and deal lethal combat damage.

The more casual version of Volo, on the other hand, uses Spark Double to create non-legendary copies of Volo and uses Equilibrium to return Spark Double to loop the creation of these tokens, creating an army of creatures and, attacking for lethal damage.

Both strategies use Volo but only the semi-competitive deck uses Volo to win the game on the same turn that the combo is pulled off. With the six tutors and the two-combo piece, there is a 45% chance that one or more of the combo pieces or a tutor for one of the combo pieces will be in the opening hand (I’ll talk about the math to find that in a future article). This makes the deck more consistent than the casual deck which has only a 13% chance to have one of the combo pieces in the opening hand.

In the higher-level play, it is crucial that the deck requires consistency to stand a chance of being able to win against other decks on the table. After all, if an opponent can consistently get their combo out or respond to the combo that is being put out, you are going to win the game more consistently. As such, a good competitive deck should be as consistent as possible using whatever means necessary to gain that consistency. Whether that is running more tutors, having more draw cards, or even running the deck through a hypergeometric distribution calculator to tune the deck to be as consistent as it statistically can.

The casual deck, on the other hand, can run cards with more focus on the fun side of magic. With the casual deck being able to run weird cards like Mossbridge Troll, Omnibian and Mesmerizing Benthid and not impacting the main game plan of the deck.

That is the fun thing about commanders! There is no “right” way to build a deck. With anyone being able to look at the same card and brew an entirely different deck, I think that is worth celebrating.

DECKLIST

Volo, Guide to Monsters (Competitve)
Builder: Jacethedeckbuilder
Upload date: 17 February 2022

Commander (1)
1 Volo, Guide to Monsters

Creatures (37)
1 Amphin Mutineer
1 Augur of Autumn
1 Beast Whisperer
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloom Tender
1 Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft
1 Clever Impersonator
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
1 Fblthp, the Lost
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Gilded Drake
1 Ice-Fang Coatl
1 Ilysian Caryatid
1 Keruga, the Macrosage
1 Kiora’s Follower
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Man-o’-War
1 Maraleaf Pixie
1 Mulldrifter
1 Ohran Frostfang
1 Ornithopter of Paradise
1 Pathbreaker Ibex
1 Peregrine Drake
1 Perplexing Chimera
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Sanctum Weaver
1 Spark Double
1 Temur Sabertooth
1 Tendershoot Dryad
1 Tishana, Voice of Thunder
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Wandering Archaic

Planeswalker (1)
1 Oko, Thief of Crowns

Artifacts (7)
1 Arcane Signet
1 Jeweled Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Talisman of Curiosity

Enchantments (6)
1 Kenrith’s Transformation
1 Mystic Remora
1 Rhystic Study
1 Sylvan Library
1 Utopia Sprawl
1 Wild Growth

Instant (11)
1 Chord of Calling
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Fierce Guardianship
1 Force of Negation
1 Force of Will
1 Mana Drain
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Swan Song
1 Worldly Tutor

Sorcery (4)
1 Eldritch Evolution
1 Finale of Devastation
1 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Natural Order

Lands (33)
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Breeding Pool
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Prismatic Vista
1 Rejuvenating Springs
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Scavenger Grounds
7 Snow-Covered Forest
6 Snow-Covered Island
1 Strip Mine
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Waterlogged Grove
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Coast

Volo, Guide to Monsters (Casual)
Builder: Jacethedeckbuilder
Upload date: 17 February 2022

Commander (1)
1 Volo, Guide to Monsters

Creatures (60)
1 Amphin Mutineer
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bladegriff Prototype
1 Body of Knowledge
1 Burnished Hart
1 Callous Oppressor
1 Chasm Skulker
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
1 Elder Gargaroth
1 Esix, Fractal Bloom
1 Fblthp, the Lost
1 Frost Titan
1 Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
1 Heartwood Storyteller
1 Kalonian Hydra
1 Keeper of Fables
1 Kiora’s Follower
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Loyal Guardian
1 Maraleaf Pixie
1 Mesmerizing Benthid
1 Mist-Syndicate Naga
1 Mitotic Slime
1 Mossbridge Troll
1 Murkfiend Liege
1 Nessian Boar
1 Ohran Frostfang
1 Omnibian
1 Ornithopter of Paradise
1 Overgrown Battlement
1 Pathbreaker Ibex
1 Peregrine Drake
1 Perplexing Chimera
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Platinum Angel
1 Primordial Sage
1 Pursued Whale
1 Reef Worm
1 Riddlekeeper
1 Scute Swarm
1 Silver Myr
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Spark Double
1 Sporeweb Weaver
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Stormsurge Kraken
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Terastodon
1 Tidal Barracuda
1 Undead Alchemist
1 Vantress Gargoyle
1 Verdurous Gearhulk
1 Void Winnower
1 Voracious Greatshark
1 Wayward Swordtooth
1 Wildborn Preserver
1 Wurmcoil Engine

Sorcery (1)
1 Second Harvest

Lands (36)
1 Barkchannel Pathway
1 Blighted Woodland
1 Breeding Pool
1 Castle Garenbrig
1 Castle Vantress
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Grove
11 Forest
1 Hinterland Harbor
11 Island
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Vineglimmer Snarl
1 Waterlogged Grove
1 Yavimaya Coast

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Jacethedeckbuilder

Jacethedeckbuilder is an out-of-the-box EDH brewer focusing on unique and sometimes janky decks. If you like decks that are interesting and a lot of fun to play. Follow him here!

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