This is another new section from another writer, Anycolorbutblack. This is the first in a series of EDH Theme Decks – the first one being 5-color spirit tribal.
The Great Serpent
Hello everybody, I’m Anycolorbutblack, and today I’d like to bring to your attention my favorite part of the Commander format (and truth be told, all of Magic), building thematic decks.
Commander is (in my opinion at least) the best format for making playable decks of this nature, partly due to the fact that the games last longer, and cards that cannot be played in other formats make an appearance, and partly because the Commander (or General) of the deck makes it really easy to have a concrete base a theme off of them.
Although using the commander as a starting point for the theme isn’t really necessary, sometimes it’s not even possible to find a commander who fits the colors and theme of the deck you want. Sometimes sacrifices must be made for the good of the theme. Be warned that thematic decks are not for the hyper competitive player that wants to win 95% of his games (this doesn’t mean that you should expect to lose either). You’re going to be in it for the long haul with a theme deck (or at least the ones I make always turn out that way), so don’t expect to combo out turn 2, but longer games mean more time to show off the beautiful interactions (both mechanically and flavourfully) in your deck.
Anyways. Without further ado, I give you the first Common Thread.
Progenitus. Kamigawa. Spiritcraft. This might seem like an odd way to start a series on Commander theme decks, with the commander not matching the theme of the deck, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way you want them to (and sometimes if you squint hard enough, they just might).
This deck originally started as a five color good stuff deck after receiving Progenitus as a Christmas gift, just without the good stuff. I don’t really remember the exact list, but I can clearly recall it running a Master of Diversion as the only card that tapped peoples stuff, or even had a trigger on attack (it was my first EDH deck okay?), so not really a theme deck (mechanical or otherwise). I realized that this was incredibly boring and, well, complete garbage. So I decided to make a change, and that change pretty much determined what the rest of my EDH decks would look like. Kamigawa was always my favourite block, and I’ve always liked tribal decks, so I decided to put two and two together and get something resembling a four. A five color good stuff/spiritcraft deck (for the uninitiated, spiritcraft is the name given to “Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, do [insert mediocre effect here.]”)
You can find my decklist of it here.
In the final incarnation of this deck, there are a number of minor themes that unite to create the overarching theme of The Great Serpent. First, we have as mentioned previously spiritcraft, spirit tokens, Legendary matters, tribal pumping and five color good stuff (FCGS). Of these themes FCGS quite clearly doesn’t seem to mesh that well with the others, this was a small(ish) sacrifice that was needed to make the deck more playable. Of course another theme in this deck is that a lot of the cards are from the Kamigawa block, mostly because that’s where the tribe got a lot of its 5 color support.
- Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens/Sekki, Season’s Guide
- Coat of Arms
- Time of Need
Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens is a fantastic example of the kind of spiritcraft effects that are found in this Tribal themed deck. Play a spirit; get an effect, in this case another spirit. Oyobi fits the deck really well thematically, because 1) she’s a spirit, 2) is legendary, 3) creates spirit tokens, and 4) is from Kamigawa. The fact that she makes tokens that large are pretty solid, too. Sekki, Seasons’ Guide also makes tokens, but also has some recursion built in – by sacrificing 8 spirits, you can return him to play. If Sekki takes 8 damage and gets you 8 1/1s, you can just sacrifice them to bring him back and get even more tokens.
This card is a must have in any tribal deck, and five color spirits is no exception. It showcases the power of token power possible in this deck, because it makes your tokens gained from Oyobi and Sekki (as well as others) into massive beaters.
This card is really quite useful in the deck, due to the fact you can tutor an answer for pretty much anything with it. Someone just get 100 Tokens with Empty the Warrens? Grab the Myojin of Cleansing Fire. Did the mono Blue player Zenith for 18? Get the Myojin of Night’s Reach. Someone just play a land? Better punish them with the Myojin of Infinite Rage. It also represents a great moment in the Kami war, which you can find on Wizards website. (The most flavourful pull is always Jugan).
In this final section of Common Threads we’re going to discussing what would happen to this deck, if we could change a few things about the reality of Magic: The Gathering. We first start off at the edge of our reality in a world where we have an unlimited budget, and what changes that would entail in the deck. We then dip our toes into a world where some cards are altered just slightly to fit the theme of the deck a little bit better. From there, we go straight off the deep end and look at a card specially crafted for our theme, and discuss some very thin threads.
“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
If we had no limit on what we could spend on this deck, the first thing we’d do would be to fix up the mana base. Right now it’s a bit hobbled together by the cards I already owned, but without a budget, it could become a lot more consistent. Of course we’d keep Cavern of Souls, and then for starters we’d pick up a set of shock lands, then a set of duals (beta of course), ten fetches, and finally round it out with some check lands (which might not be the best choice, but there are my personal favourite and work well with the duals and shocks.) A Geist of Saint Traft would be another solid addition to the list, and after that who knows. (There aren’t that many expensive spirits)
With some wet feet, we proceed into the world of complete fantasy (impossible instead of improbable). If I could change one card in the deck slightly to fit with the theme, it would of course be the Commander himself. He’d become a Spirit Hydra, which would allow him to be pumped more easily, add to the impact when he hits that field by triggering spirit craft (not that he isn’t already a huge impact) and by making him uncounterable with the Cavern without sacrificing its usefulness in mana fixing for the rest of the deck.
If I had the chance to make one card specifically for this deck, it would have to include the spiritcraft ability, involve all five colors, be mindful of the Kamigawa block and the cards printed in it, and interact somehow with legendary cards. With that in mind, I give you Kakuriyo, named for the spirit world of Kamigawa.
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast legendary spells. Kakuriyo doesn’t untap during your next untap step.
Spiritcraft—whenever you cast a spirit or arcane spell, put a 1/1 spirit token with colors the same as that spell on to the battlefield.
If you really squint hard enough, you can see a reason why I chose Progenitus to be the Commander of this deck other than his colors and the fact I got him as a gift. There’s a theory that’s floating around on the net (that I did not come up with) that the Great Serpent, O-Kagachi and Progenitus are actually the same entity. This is supported (very loosely) by the shared appearance between the great creatures, the fact that they both serve as an avatar or “Soul” for their respective planes. At least that’s what I like to believe. One can always dream and grasp at the threads.