Breaking Belittle: Commoner's Most Innocuous Powerhouse

by Ian Holland 24th May 2022 5 : 51

A long-time Magic: The Gathering player once demonstrated their deckbuilding ethos as:

“Step 1: Find a card/interaction you think should be banned. Step 2: Prove it.”

This was the methodology myself and my traveling companion took into the Commoner event on day three of Pro Tour: New Jersey. With a lore book on the line, it seemed like an ideal way to spend our Sunday, with only one problem: neither of us had a commoner deck, or even played the format.

While a friend went to explore New York City (after all, we had flown eight hours to attend the event), we were in the lab refining a list, testing and iterating with whatever commons we could scrounge up. I had previously put together a Chane list for a friend who was new to the game, with the idea of leveraging his hero ability to generate value; going wide and putting out split damage seemed like an ideal strategy, combined with renewed access to Seeds of Agony to set up a large Rift Bind in case the games went long.

The initial deck we ran in the event was... okay. Both of us clocking in a respectable 4-4, showcasing at times a potential to end the game on turn 2 (or turn 1.5 if you happened to go first and draw well).

What came next was a concerted effort to refine the deck, so that it ran as clean and lean as possible while retaining the ethos I mentioned originally. The goal now, cycling back to the deckbuilding ethos, was to demonstrate the need for a card to be banned.

Belittle and Chane

There are two main interactions to exploit in this deck:

  • Rift Bind and Seeds of Agony is a powerful combo – especially if pitched into a fatigue match up.
  • Belittle allows you to search up Minnowism to use as either a pump spell or resources, depending on your situation.

23 of the 40 cards in our deck will proc Belittle to search Minnowism, providing ample resources or damage output – especially with a full set of rainbow Belittle in the deck and 4 Minnowism.

There are also 19 total blood debt cards, giving a good chance to Shackle one on turn 2, maybe even on turn 3 if the games go that long.

Flock of the Feather Walkers can help you set up a turn one Quicken for your combo turn, while Lead the Charge (both red and yellow) will provide the action points needed to go wide enough to shred your opponent’s life total.

Effectively, if your opponent can’t kill you with the damage they present, you’ll take it if you can set up lethal on the crack back, which you nearly always can or at least strip them of all their resources.

You will mainly generate advantage from blood debt via Ebon Fold, banishing a Bounding Demigon or Rift Bind to turn the ability into effectively a draw 2 at instant speed.

Aether Ironweave is your best chestpiece, providing a free two resources and a little bit of defense in a pinch. The go-off turns in this deck will want you to utilize every card possible to attack, so getting some resources effectively for free is crucial.

Stubby Hammerers is the real secret to maximizing damage. If popping it either presents the opportunity to strip an extra resource from the opponent or will pump 3+ of your attacks to a break point, I highly recommend going all in and seeing if there’s anything left in the aftermath.

The humble Snapdragon Scalers, consistently found in even the best Classic Constructed decks, has an obvious home here. Barring Shrill of Skullform, everything in the deck can be snapped to extend your combo chain.

We don’t really want to utilize our resources on AB, hoping to kill our Kano opponent before that becomes an issue. So I have opted to run Spellfray Gloves and Spellfray Cloak, along with Ebon Fold, to force an extra 3 life in the matchup and fudge their math a little.

All of the equipment listed above, combined with the Belittle package, can assist you in presenting absurd amounts of damage for a pile of commons. Off of one blue, for example, you can banish a blood debt card to draw (using Ebon Fold), combining this with reveals off of Belittle to gather resources or pumps (as well as the pump off of Stubbys) and any method of gaining action points (including your convenient hero ability). With this, the deck can consistently present 19-25 damage minimum- which you may notice is far above the life total of Commoner.

It is simply a matter of goldfishing to practice the deck in order to maximize the impact of each card. As the format is so short and aggressive, sequencing is important as you may end up using every ability of your armor and every card in your hand/banish to present as much damage as you can. 

When going first, I have often created a soul shackle, placed a card in arsenal, and passed, comfortable in the knowledge I can present lethal on turn two. If my opponent plays first and takes the same tack, I can use Ebon Fold to set up a Rift Bind/Bounding Demigon in banish, eliminating the downside of going second (in terms of a shackle) while also drawing up to 4 cards- effectively starting the game with 5 in hand.

Commoner Chane is an extremely powerful, fast, linear aggro/combo deck. Your hero ability to provide go again to the bulk of your deck, combined with a suite of equipment that provides both card and resource advantage, leads to very explosive turns that can result in presenting well over lethal by your second turn. This seems consistent with the rest of the Commoner metagame, with the most represented decks being a combination of Chane, Briar, Aggro Dash, and Kassai among a handful of more controlling builds.

Belittle and Beyond

But this article isn't simply about a good combo in a great deck. Belittle is a powerhouse card, and it's only a matter of time before Commoner begins to consider it a cornerstone of the format, if not a card of concern.

To illustrate the point, I went looking for another hero who could take advantage of a small attack with go again and the ability to search out a 0-cost card.

As the overlooked Ninja in the Commoner format (with Blitz mainstay Ira demonstrating her consistency as the Ninja of choice), I felt Katsu could make unique use of the Belittle package. His hero ability allows you to, when your first attack hits each turn, discard a 0-cost card to search your deck for a card with combo.

An often underappreciated skill of combo players in card games is the forethought to chain tutors to get to your end point. In this vein, and with a plethora of class cards that both proc Belittle’s search ability or can be buffed by Minnowism and Stubby Hammerers, being able to search the second half of your combo line provides a level of consistency and card advantage very few decks have access to in Commoner. Additionally, you can search out a 0-cost blue or yellow to power the go again on your Harmonized Kodachi.

Combo lines in this deck rotate around using Belittle to start your tutor chains. Open the Center is obviously the more powerful line, as it gains both dominate and go again, but any of them can present a significant amount of damage. Following your tutoring, you may be left with a Minnowism in hand, which is a great buff to cards such as your Head Jab or Whelming Gustwave combo line, which can further generate card advantage through draw.

This deck still needs some testing, and I will be running it at a weekly Commoner event to further refine the list. For now, I believe the best go wide aggro decks in the metagame should be leveraging the flexibility of the Belittle package as an engine to generate value, damage, resources, or in the case of Katsu, card advantage. 

Beyond that, please join me in proving that the Belittle package needs to be removed for format health, and remember: sometimes the victory condition is getting your cards banned!

Ian Holland

Ian is a competitive minded TCG player, looking to boost the Flesh and Blood scene at home in Ireland. Starting the game with of Tales of Aria, Ian has immersed himself in the competitive side of the game, traveling to events at home and abroad, wherever he can to improve as a player.

Discussion (5)

8 months ago

Great article. Going to try both decklists. Commoner is my favorite format.

8 months ago

With Katsu you can't pitch the combo card you fetch for - it gets banished

Ian Holland
8 months ago

You can pitch the Minnowism though if you need resources or you discard to Katsu

Kirk Bushell
8 months ago

Love the concept of finding a card you feel is bannable, then proving it. What an interesting mentality to deck building :)

17 hours ago

Sorry for the necro, but I just don't see how this chane build is supposed to hit for 19-25 consistently. I am playing a similar list (I don't have Shrill) and capping out at around 15 damage, which is still too blockable for the extreme fast pace Chane needs.

Can you recommend me a specific combo to start with so I understand how you're achieving that kind of damage output?

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