Practice games are not always easy to come by and even with those, the nature of Commander games is that you won't see many of your cards. What to do? Goldfish the hell out of that deck during Sunday's football matchups.
Shuffle, shuffle, cut, deal. Over and over. You do this for six hours and some trends start to appear.
First: I tend to forget that I can cast a Commander on turn five. I kept Gahiji out of sight while I focused on the opening 7-10 cards I got. Sometimes that meant being a little frustrated.
Second: at twenty five creatures, the deck felt a little creature light. This felt especially notable when I had something like Sarkhan Vol or Behemoth Sledge out.
Third: Mana is still king.
Fourth: some cards are just difficult to evaluate in a vacuum. Tempt With Discovery is a pretty cool card but I considered cutting it until I remembered it could get Contested Cliffs for me but even then: how do I evaluate that against a deck that gets Maze of Ith, or chooses not to get a land at all? How long should I hold on to Oxidda Scrapmelter against an opponent who is doing nothing?
So, what to do?
One obvious thing was to replace Oxidda Scrapmelter with Indrik Stomphowler. The versatility and p/t boost is worth the extra mana. I also cut a couple cards to add in a Weathered Wayfarer and a Druid of the Anima. Despite not being beasts I feel like I can still benefit from their ramp potential and if they do attack they still get the Gahiji bonus. Plus they give me more targets for Sarkhan and the new addition of Ajani Steadfast. That helps shore up both the second and third issues.
Ajani is a choice I'm uncertain about. Planeswalkers are always a big deal and Ajani's ultimate could make me a huge target. But the effect fits well. Garruk, Primal Hunter might also be worth adding but I don't want to put the horse ahead of the cart.
As for the fourth point, well, there are some things you just cannot fix. I don't doubt there will be targets for cards like Slice in Twain but I can't just pretend 'em up when I'm goldfishing.
Still, I think these small tweaks have been good ones and the deck has felt like it flows better now. Just have to figure out how to get that Primal Hunter in...