Category: Commanding Opinion


animar

Being as fond as I am of Animar, Soul of Elements, it shouldn’t be surprising that my first ever Commanding Opinion would center around one of my favorite Legendary Creatures created specifically for the Commander format. He remains one of the very few Legendary Creatures in the RUG color combination. As of right now, he is joined only by Intet the Dreamer, Maelstrom Wanderer, and Riku of Two Reflections as potential Commanders for those colors. He will soon be joined by Surrac Dragonclaw from Khans of Tarkir.

Animar has got some cool things going on for a 3 mana creature. He is only a 1/1, which can mean that when he first hits the board, he’s rather fragile. However, right away, you can see that he has protection from white and from black, which protects him from a good chunk of removal spells, including things such as Dreadbore, Path to Exile, Utter End, Vindicate, or any other white and/or black removal spells. What makes Animar truly awesome is his next two abilities. Whenever you cast a creature spell – even if it becomes countered, you put a +1/+1 counter on Animar. It’s an on-cast trigger, so the creature need not even resolve. Plus, for each +1/+1 counter on Animar, creature spells you cast cost 1 colorless mana less to cast.

The most obvious recent development that benefits a deck commanded by Animar is the influx of new Morph creatures with Khans of Tarkir. While his ability does not affect Morph costs, you can play creatures with Morph for much less with his ability. As soon as Animar has three +1/+1 counters on him, you get to cast Morph creatures for free instead of their usual 3 colorless mana casting cost. It makes their Morph abilities much more potent as you’re playing them for only 2 mana, 1 mana, or even free. There are actually quite a few older Morph creatures that see play with Animar, such as the potent Akroma, Angel of Fury, the clone Vesuvan Shapeshifter, or the tricky Willbender. But Morph creatures aren’t the only ones that benefit from having their colorless casting cost requirements lowered. Let’s take a look at the friends that Animar makes through his astounding abilities.

CREATURES 

Red, Blue, and Green have some of the most powerful creatures in Magic. However, many of them have high mana costs that make them more high-end bombs in most decks. Animar makes those sorts of creatures available to you much earlier in games and at much lower mana investments. This sort of mana-curve bending is one reason that Animar has over time become one of the most feared Commanders in the format and why he is so quickly targeted at any given table he is played upon.

The most common creatures seen hanging out with Animar are actually fairly staple cards in the Commander format: Eternal Witness, Acidic Slime, and Solemn Simulacrum.

eternal-witnessacidic-slimesolemn-simulacrum

Of all the creatures that are played alongside Animar, Eternal Witness probably gains the least benefit. However, her casting does give Animar one of those nifty +1/+1 counters. Being able to get any card back from your graveyard is good at pretty much any point in the game, however.

Acidic Slime is already very good at 5 mana, and saw Standard play for quite a long time in decks that could play it on turn 3 or 4. In Animar, he can cost as little as 2 Green Mana. Being able to destroy a mana rock, pesky Enchantment, or utility land can really set opponents back. As Animar decks tend to ramp quite a bit themselves, you may not even need the benefit of Animar’s ability to cast him on turn three or four.

One of the fathers of Commander, Sheldon Menery, has said time and time again that Solemn Simulacrum is one of the staples of the format. For 4 mana, he is a 2/2 that searches out a basic land from your deck and puts it onto the battlefield tapped. When he dies, you get to draw a card. That’s a lot of value for 4 mana on a body that can be played in any Commander deck around. Add to the fact that he’s rarely going to be cast for 4 mana in this deck, and he only gets better. He’s one of the creatures in this deck that can regularly be played for free. A Rampant Growth effect that could end up drawing you a card for free is extremely good.

Speaking of ramp, let’s look at some carsd that do just that:

birds-of-paradisesakura-tribe-elderoracle-of-mul-daya

Birds of Paradise is a card that doesn’t typically see a ton of Commander play due to the fact that it’s so fragile. But it can be a turn one play that instantly gives you access to all three of your colors and it’s a creature that can give Animar a counter at any point in the game.

Sakura-Tribe Elder is pretty much a Commander staple, but with Animar he could cost only a single Green mana, and is yet another cheap creature to ramp up the counters on Animar. Plus, his availability in the Conspiracy set makes him even easier to get than he’s ever been.

Oracle of Mul Daya is one of the best cards in this deck. Many people hate revealing the top card of their deck, as it gives away information about draws, but playing land from the top of your deck up to twice per turn is extremely advantageous. If you have Exploration on the field (not required in this deck, but possible), you could even play three lands off of the top of the deck. While Courser of Kruphix has become sexier in competitive play despite being a similar card, the Courser doesn’t give you the extra land drop and its 1GG casting cost isn’t as friendly as 3G for Animar. Playing this for a single Green mana feels very good.

coiling-oraclemulldrifter

Some people consider Coiling Oracle to be a Blue/Green staple in Commander for any deck running that color combination. For 2 mana, you can get a land from the top of your card right into play untapped. If that top card isn’t a land card, you reveal it and add it to your hand. It obviously combos very well with Oracle of Mul Daya. While it costs GU (Green/Blue) and doesn’t have any colorless mana symbols in its cost, it still is yet another cheap trigger for Animar.

Speaking of card advantage, Mulldrifter has been a popular card since the days of Lorwyn, when it was first released. Evoking it for a Divination (draw 2 cards for 3 mana) always feels good. But with Animar, its Evoke cost could be as low as a single Blue mana, and with 4 counters on Animar, you get the 2 cards and a 2/2 flying body for a single Blue mana. Mulldrifter’s value is at a maximum alongside the Soul of Elements.

farhaven-elfyavimaya-elderwood-elves

Farhaven Elf, Yavimaya Elder, and Wood Elves are all pretty standard ramp cards. The Elves have the advantage of possibly costing only a single Green mana each, but the Elder, despite having a double-Green mana cost is just too valuable to not play. Farhaven (often mistakenly called “Fairhaven”) Elf can grab any of your basic Forests, Islands and Mountains and put them into play tapped. The Wood Elves have the advantage of grabbing basic Forests or your Breeding Pool or Stomping Ground and putting it into play untapped (you still have to pay the 2 life for the “shock” lands, though, if you decide to have them come into play untapped). The Elder is just pure value if you sacrifice him to cycle him and grab two basic lands.

fierce-empathsages-of-the-anima

Speaking of tutor effects, Fierce Empath helps you to grab any of your creature cards with converted mana cost 6 or greater. We haven’t quite gotten to them yet, but there are some very powerful ones higher on the mana curve.

Sages of the Anima is one creature that’s often played in Animar that is a bit tricky. The ability of the Sages is that whenever you would draw a card, you instead reveal the top three cards of your library. You put all creature cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order. Being able to consistently add two or three creatures to your hand is nifty, especially as you don’t run a ton of non-creature spells in Animar. But personally, I think you have to be careful when you play it.

momir-vig

While often played in tandem with the Sages, I would prefer to just play Momir Vig, Simic Visionary by himself. Not only is he famous for being the Avatar of Momir Basic, an extremely popular Magic Online format, but he’s a fantastic commander of his own. While his ability is only effected by green and blue creatures, the majority of your deck will in fact be blue and green creatures.

Here’s what he does:

Whenever you cast a green creature spell, you may search your library for a creature card and reveal it. If you do, shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.

Whenever you cast a blue creature spell, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card, put that card into your hand.

Talk about some sweet card advantage. You cast a green creature spell and you get a Worldly Tutor effect, and if you cast a blue creature spell you get the top card of your deck if it’s a creature. If that creature is both blue and green, you get both effects. Personally, while the Sages can be better, I think Momir Vig is a better way to get exactly what you need at the time rather than just adding a bunch of creatures to your hand. But that’s my personal opinion. Running both is perfectly fine.

Speaking of card draw…

garruks-packleaderprime-speaker-zegana

Garruk’s Packleader is actually a really good card. Not only is he a great Pauper EDH Commander, but he’s really good in a creature-heavy deck. There are a good amount of power 3 or higher creatures in this deck that we’ll be getting to soon. There’s actually another card in Khans of Tarkir very similar to this, Temur Ascendancy, but it’s an Enchantment that grants you a card for a creature entering with power 4 or greater. This is a creature and the floor is only power 3.

Prime Speaker Zegana is a really good Commander and a key component to Vorel of the Hull Clade decks. Since you have creatures in this deck with high levels of power, she’ll often enter with a good number of +1/+1 counters, and you’ll be drawing a number of cards equal to those counters. Add to the fact that her casting cost of 2GGUU is often going to look like GGUU with Animar on board, and you’re talking about solid value.

clone-m14phantasmal-image

Clone was actually one of the first cards ever printed for Magic: the Gathering, beginning all the way back in Alpha. It dosen’t see quite the play that it used to in Commander after the Legendary rule was changed to every player being able to control a Legendary permanent with the same name. However, in Animar, with all of the powerful creatures it can copy, it makes sense.

Phantasmal Image is the Clone that’s most often used in Constructed, in Modern, Legacy, and Commander. Being only 2 mana makes its downside as an Illusion not really that important. He always provides a lot of value when he hits the board.

duplicant-archenemyvesuvan-shapeshifter

Duplicant sees play in a wide variety of Commander decks due to its completely colorless mana cost. Not only does it serve as removal by exiling the nontoken creature in question, but it also copies that creature’s stats and creature types while also remaining a Shapeshifter. It’s not a true Clone, per se, as it doesn’t copy enter the battlefield abilities, but it has the potential to be cast for free with 6 counters on Animar. Overall, it’s just a solid card in many Commander decks.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter is a repeatable Clone. Not only that, it’s a Morph creature, meaning that its usual casting cost of 3 colorless mana to be played face-down as a Morph creature can usually be free. The idea that it can be flipped face up for only 1U and then be turned face-down again at the beginning of your upkeep in order to then Clone something else is quite extraordinary. Do keep in mind, however, that you only get to Clone the enter the battlefield effects if you pay its regular casting cost. But it’s well worth that initial investment. It may be one of the best Morph cards ever printed.

phyrexian-metamorphclever-impersonator

Phyrexian Metamorph is one of the more versatile Clones in the game, in that it can be cast for 3 colorless mana and 2 life. It can also copy artifacts as well as creatures. Much of the time, he’ll only cost 1 or 2 mana at most, and paying 2 life in Commander isn’t a big deal.

But now the Metamorph has competition from Clever Impersonator from Khans of Tarkir. It costs 2UU, but it can copy any nonland permanent on the board, including Enchantments and Planeswalkers. You can definitely add the Impersonator to any Blue deck, Animar included.

draining-whelkmystic-snakeglen-elendra-archmage

Draining Whelk and Mystic Snake are both creatures with Flash that are essentially counterspells on a body. Draining Whelk is the more expensive of the two, but Animar can make it costs as little as UU. Also, the Whelk gains X +1/+1 counters where X is the countered spell’s converted mana cost. Counterspells that gain value as the game progresses are always quite good.

Mystic Snake requires two colors in its casting cost, but is simply a hard counter for as little as GUU on a 2/2 body. It sees a lot of play in a wide variety of Commander decks, and while it doesn’t have quite the synergy with Animar that Draining Whelk does, it’s still good enough to play.

Glen Elandra Archmage is very good in that she can usually counter two noncreature spells, due to the fact that she has Persist. Having that ability open to you for a potential cost of only U to cast is very strong.

Another major component to Animar is the Cascade creatures, one of which is its own potential Commander.

bloodbraid-elfetherium-horn-sorcerer maelstrom-wanderer

Bloodbraid Elf is one of my favorite cards in Magic: the Gathering, and for good reason – it’s very powerful. Not only is it a 3/2 Elf with Haste, but she also has Cascade. Considering that she is regularly a 4-drop (2RG) that can be played for as little as RG you can get some serious value out of her. For those unfamiliar with the Cascade mechanic, you reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal a nonland card with a lower converted mana cost than the card with Cascade, in this case, anything with converted mana cost 3 or less. There are enough such cards in this deck that it’s worth playing the Bloodbraid Elf. Plus, with Cascade, those cards are counted as cast, meaning that they activate Animar’s counter ability.

Etherium-Horn Sorcerer, which was only printed as a Planechase exclusive in the same deck as Maelstrom Wanderer, While the Sorcerer is technically a 6-drop, it can cost as little as UR with Animar on the board, meaning you’re getting the chance to cast something as high as a 5-drop for free for only 2 mana. Plus the Sorcerer can also be returned to hand for 1UR, allowing to dodge removal and be able to Cascade once again.

Maelstrom Wanderer is a mighty good Commander on his own, but in Animar, if you can cast him for only URG, you’re getting some ridiculous value. Not only does the Wanderer give all of your creatures haste – itself included – but it also Cascades twice. To hit something as high as a 7-drop twice is just an absurd amount of value. He’s worth casting for the full 8 mana, but the cheaper he becomes, the better he gets.

You could run Shardless Agent which is a Cascade creature for 1UG. However, she tends to not hit very much in this deck, so she’ll often send a lot of cards you’d want to have to the bottom.

Speaking of Commanders, two of the other potential RUG commanders are often played alongside Animar…

intet-the-dreamerriku-of-two-reflections

Intet the Dreamer provides an interesting sort of card advantage engine. Whenever she deals combat damage to a player, you may pay 2U. You get to exile the top card of your library face down. As long as Intet remains on the battlefield, you may cast that card for free. Obviously if Intet leaves the battlefield you lose that card forever. More often than not, you’re probably going to cast it right away.

Riku of Two Reflections is a pretty tricky Commander himself, or himselves… In this deck, you’re basically only ever going to use him to clone creatures for GU. The instant or sorcery spell copy isn’t so necessary in this deck, as you’re only running a few in this deck anyway. Repeatable clone effects are very good, especially with the power level of creatures we’re dealing with.

Before we get to the heavy hitters in the deck, let’s take a look at a couple of other creatures that are well at home in this deck.

consecrated-sphinxurabrask-the-hiddenvorinclex

Consecrated Sphinx is one of the most powerful cards in Commander, and for good reason – he can draw you a ton of cards. In a deck that can always use the draw power, the Sphinx is a valuable card. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a 4/6 flyer that can cost you as little as UU to cast.

Urabrask the Hidden is not only a Haste enabler but he also forces opponents’ creatures to enter the battlefield tapped. He’s an extremely popular card in the format for that reason, but he’s probably best at home in Animar, where he can cost as little as RR to play. He’s also a 4/4.

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger could probably fit into the “heavy hitter” category but you don’t play him for that reason. Any 8-drop that can be played for as little as GG with the kind of effects that he has is magnificent. He’s a 7/6 with trample to begin with. Also, whenever you tap a land for mana, add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced – meaning that it’s essentially a mana doubler. This is great for Animar, since you don’t have access to a card like Mirari’s Wake, as it’s green & white. But not only does it double your mana – it also makes it so that when opponent’s tap lands for mana, they don’t untap for another turn. Ouch.

We should now also talk about the combo pieces in the deck.

deadeyenavigatorpalinchron

The infinite mana combo between Deadeye Navigator and Palinchron is well known in Commander. But infinite mana is not quite as important in Animar as it is in a lot of other decks. The Navigator typically will combo with a lot of other cards in the deck, and considering that it can be cast for as low as UU, it allows for combo potential far more early than most non-Blue Commander decks. Palinchron is more in the deck because of its interaction with Animar’s counters. Once there are four counters on Animar, you can cast Palinchron for 1UU and return it to hand for 2UU after untapping seven lands. On the next cast, Animar will have a 5th counter, allowing you to start an infinite loop for infinite mana. It’s a crazy way to mana fix, but it means that once you have this combination in place, you’ll always have the mana you need.

kiki-jikizealous-conscripts

The other major combo piece in the deck is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts. Kiki-Jiki can combo with a good many creatures in the deck, so he’s rarely a dead draw. The triple-Red mana cost is a bit restrictive in a three color deck, but his presence is worth it, especially when he combos off with Zealous Conscripts. The Conscripts targets Kiki-Jiki, which then untaps. You can then make an infinite number of Conscripts, until the last one, with which you can then steal a problem permanent. It also is incredibly nice that Conscripts can be cost for as low as R.

You could also play Deceiver Exarch, of course, which can tap things down, but Zealous Conscripts is typically the better play as it’s incredibly useful on its own.

Now onto the heavy hitters…

artisan-of-kozilek

Artisan of Kozilek is the most common heavy hitter you’ll find in Animar. It does cost 9 colorless mana to cast, but you’re usually going to be casting it for far less. It’s a 10/9 with Annihilator 2, meaning that the defending player that it attacks must sacrifice two permanents! Also, when it’s cast, you may return a target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It’s obviously the cheapest of all Eldrazi cards, and if you can’t afford Ulamog or Kozilek, you definitely want to at least include this one.

terastodon

Terastodon can be a devastating card, but it’s even more devastating when you consider how cheaply it can be cast for (GG). While it’s perhaps rare that you’ll be only able to cast it for only 2 mana, the value it provides is worth any amount of reduced cost. It’s a 9/9 for 6GG and when it enters the battlefield, you may destroy up to three target noncreature permanents. For each permanent put into a graveyard this way, its controller puts a 3/3 green Elephant creature token onto the battlefield. Giving away Elephants isn’t all that relevant if you’re destroying powerful enough permanents.

Woodfall Primus fills this role in many decks, but the triple Green in that creature’s mana cost make it a bit clunky for Animar decks.

surrak-dragonclaw

Khans of Tarkir gave Animar a very strong ally, the Temur Clan Khan, Surrak Dragonclaw. He costs 2GUR to cast, and he’s a 6/6 Human Warrior with Flash that can’t be countered. Not only that, but other creature spells you control can’t be countered either as long as he’s on the board. Also, other creatures you control gain trample. Making sure your creatures stick, especially Animar, is very important. He doesn’t gain trample himself, but most of the other creatures in this deck are big enough to make that element worth it. He provides two elements that this deck was missing – a way to keep creatures from being countered and a way to give creatures trample on a consistent basis. Having a 6/6 with Flash at your disposal is likewise rather handy.

jin-gitaxias

While I’m personally not the biggest fan of Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur in Animar, he does make some sense. It’s 8UU, making it a dead draw for most of the game. He does have Flash, however, and you get to draw 7 cards at the end of each of your end steps. Having something like Reliquary Tower is very helpful in this case. But you really play him for the fact that he reduces your opponents’ hand sizes by seven – so if they don’t have a Venser’s Journal, Spellbook, or Reliquary Tower out, your opponents will be discarding their hands at the end of every turn. He’s not going to consistently make an appearance, but once he does, he can be incredibly crippling.

avenger-of-zendikartidespout-tyrant

Avenger of Zendikar is a very powerful card in Commander just for the number of Plant creature tokens he can pump out. For each land you then drop after that, those Plant creatures gain +1/+1. His army of Plant tokens can get rather out of control, and that 7 mana cost is not nearly as imposing with Animar in play.

Tidespout Tyrant might have that cumbersome triple-Blue mana cost, but for 5UUU for a 5/5 flyer that returns permanents to its owner’s hand whenever you play a spell… yeah, it’s worth it. Once the Tyrant hits the board, the game could well be over.

xenagos-god-of-revels

While typically best deployed as Commander of his own deck, Xenagos, God of Revels is actually quite helpful in Animar, especially for giving your larger creatures Haste and doubling its power and toughness for one combat phase. While not a part of many Animar lists, he’s one that I highly recommend as he’s very hard to remove because of its indestructibility. You don’t really care about him ever becoming active as his static ability is enough to play him.

Nylea, God of the Hunt, Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Thassa, God of the Sea are all playable in Animar, but not necessarily incredibly synergistic. Purphoros makes the most sense as he deals 2 damage to each opponent whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control – a great combination with a card like Avenger of Zendikar.

Now, if you can afford them – here are the two major players in the deck:

kozilek-butcher-of-truthulamog-the-infinite-gyre

While their big brother Emrakul won’t be joining in any time soon in the Commander format, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre are both mighty enough on their own to flank Animar in the endgame. Kozilek draws you four cards and has Annihilator 4. Ulamog destroys a target permanent upon entering and has Annihilator 4, plus indestructibility. If either is put into a graveyard from anywhere, it and the rest of the graveyard is shuffled back into the deck.

If you can’t afford either of these cards, there are the less expensive uncommon Eldrazi: Pathrazer of Ulamog, Spawnsire of Ulamog, and Ulamog’s Crusher. The Spawnsire’s second ability isn’t much use in this case, however. The point is to have some big finishers.

Alternatively, you could use Darksteel Colossus, Blightsteel Colossus or both. They are also quite appropriate in this deck.

Other creatures you would or could run in Animar:

  • Anger (3R) – yet another Haste enabler, as long as you control a Mountain and Anger is in your graveyard
  • Edric, Spymaster of Trest (1UG) – a great card draw outlet that I’ve had varied success with in the deck
  • Fauna Shaman (1G) – discard a creature card you don’t want to get one that you do from your deck
  • Forgotten Ancient (3G) – stockpiles +1/+1 counters that you can move to Animar
  • Indrik Stomphowler (4G) – artifact/enchantment destruction
  • Inferno Titan (4RR) – he can provide amazing value if cast for cheap and given haste
  • Man-O-War (2U) – simple bounce a creature to its owner’s hand
  • Phyrexian Ingester (6U) – a bit high on the mana curve for most decks, but he’s useful removal that gains that creature’s power and toughness
  • Primordial Sage (4GG) – draw a card every time you cast a creature spell, on a 4/5 body
  • Prophet of Kruphix (3UG) – giving your creatures flash and untapping all your creatures and lands during each upkeep
  • Soul of the Harvest (4GG) – draw a card each time a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control
  • Wonder (3U) – giving all of your creatures flying works wonders
  • Wurmcoil Engine (6) – lifelink, deathtouch, 6/6 for 6 colorless mana, and it replaces itself with two 3/3 tokens – just solid value

Some other cards you could use:

  • Cloudstone Curio – reuse enter the battlefield effects of your utility creatures
  • Domri Rade – can get you some card advantage by adding creatures to your hand
  • Garruk Wildspeaker – untapping lands is fun and overrun is even more fun
  • Worldly Tutor – because tutoring is awesome

I hope that this primer helps you to be able to construct your own Animar, Soul of Elements Commander deck. There are many ways to build it, with many other combo options that can be added in. Soon, we will be discussing a very different build of Animar, one that will center around the Morph creatures of Khans of Tarkir. Stay tuned for that.

Until next time,

– Elspeth for the Win

 

 

You can find part 1 here.
You can find part 2 here.

ghoulcaller-gisa-commander-2014

Ghoulcaller Gisa is definitely the better of the two zombie masters.

To recap what she does:

Ghoulcaller Gisa
3BB
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
B, tap, Sacrifice another creature: Put X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power.
3/4

I’m also a fan of her flavor text; it’s actually a quote straight from the Uncharted Realms talking about her and her brother.

“Geralf, must you always whine? I agreed to nothing. I’ll raise ghouls anytime I wish.”

It’s pretty obvious that she wants to be surrounded by a horde of zombies – the flavor of throwing a monster to the zombies to call forth more zombies is pretty solid in my books. Mechanically, mono-black doesn’t mind getting a swarm of monsters – black is used to getting tokens at the cost of lives. The only real downside to her ability is having to tap along with having a mana cost. She’s also rather high on the curve at 3BB – meaning she’ll get expensive fast if she gets killed a lot.

As far as mono-black zombies in Commander are concerned, however, Ghoulcaller Gisa is probably going to be our best bet when she comes out. Geth, Lord of the Vault and  Mikaeus, the Unhallowed are probably our best bets aside from her – but we’ll be playing them too.

gethlordofthevault

Geth, Lord of the Vault is a solid zombie. A 5/5 Legendary Zombie with intimidate for 4BB is pretty decent, and his ability is pretty solid.

XB: Put target artifact or creature card with converted mana cost X from an opponent’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control tapped. Then that player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

As Gisa won’t always be in play, we’ll need a way to get cool cards into play. By hitting an opponent to grab something small, we get to start filling up their graveyard for other shenanigans that we’ll be doing soon.

mikaeustheunhallowed

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is the first lord our deck gets to see – it gives all of our non-humans (so not our Commander, but everything else) +1/+1 and undying. While undying doesn’t effect our zombie tokens, it gives the majority of our creatures another layer of protection.

Before that, we need to make our little zombie tokens as strong as possible – and why not play all of the zombie lords?

cemeteryreaper

Cemetery Reaper is a 2/2 Zombie lord for 1BB that gives our other zombies +1/+1; but he’s cool and has another ability, too. For 2B, tap, and exile a creature from a graveyard, we can make a 2/2 black zombie creature token. Geth, Lord of the Vault, while he wants to be able to pull stuff out of the graveyard, can help fill the graveyard in order to make creatures for Cemetery Reaper to animate. But that’s only the beginning of the lords.

deathbaron

Death Baron is one of the more expensive zombie lords, sitting around 12 dollars. But he’s solid. At 1BB for a 2/2, he doesn’t differ too much from Cemetery Reaper. He gives both Zombies and Skeletons +1/+1, which also makes him the only skeleton lords in the game, too. But he also gives each of those creatures deathtouch, which is fantastic due to the smaller size of his zombie companions.

lordoftheundead

Lord of the Undead is one of the strongest zombie lords by far – and is also pretty pricey around 9 dollars. Yet again a 2/2 for 1BB that gives other zombies +1/+1, he also has a pretty cool ability. For 1B tap, you can return a zombie card from your graveyard to your hand. Sadly there’s no zombie tribal spells, so he’s only going to be grabbing creatures back – or changeling cards, but they’re not prominent in black.

undeadwarchief

Undead Warchief is probably the coolest of the lords. For 2BB, we get a 1/1. Pretty lame for 4 mana. But he also makes your zombie spells cost 1 less to cast, which is pretty cool. The only real downside is that our Commander is a Human Wizard rather than a zombie. He also gives all of our zombies, himself included, +2/+1, which is pretty solid. That at least brings him up to a 3/2 for 2BB, which is much more reasonable.

zombiemasterfilth

Lastly, Zombie Master is the first zombie lord – at 1BB for a 2/3 rather than a 2/2. Instead of giving a power boost, he gives all zombies swampwalk and Regenerate for B. The only real downside with this is that it works for all zombies, not just yours. If you’re facing something like Thraximundar, you should probably avoid casting your Zombie MasterFilth, on the other hand, gives just your creatures swampwalk. We’ll explain later why this swampwalk is important, but it’s also nice to have a horde of unblockable zombies.

In addition to the lords, we’ve got a few more things that give us boosts.

cagedsun gauntlet of power

In addition to being mana doublers, Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power also give all creatures of the chosen color +1/+1. As all of our zombies are black, this easily gives us even more power on our zombies.

obeliskofurdhalloftriumphcoatofarms

Obelisk of Urd on the other hand takes advantage of having a lot of tokens by having convoke and giving the chosen creature type +2/+2 – easily making our zombies twice their original size. Hall of Triumph is for all of your black creatures and is pretty solid too at only a 3 drop. Coat of Arms is the classic tribal support card, but it’s a risky play against other tribal decks.

Between all of these lords and buffs, the 2/2 zombie tokens that Gisa makes get much larger- but how are we going to get those tokens when we have to sacrifice creatures?

Well, Gravecrawler is probably the best possible option.

gravecrawler

As a constantly recastable 2/1 zombie, he’s perfect for Gisa’s goals. You can play him for B, sacrifice him for another B to get 2 or more 2/2 zombies to replace him, and then you can just replay him for another B. But the fantastic thing is that our zombie lords significantly increase the number of creatures we get, as it changes how big our sacrificed zombie is. The rest of the time, however, it’s generally fine to sacrifice other zombie tokens to increase the general number of zombie tokens you have.

But what else makes tokens?

armyofthedamned endlessranksofthedead gravetitan

Army of the Damned and Endless Ranks of the Dead were both really cool zombie token cards from Innistrad block that never saw standard play – but I think have a place here. Army of the Damned already sees play due to 5BBB not being as hard to hit in Commander, and being a win condition on it’s own. Endless Ranks of the Dead is less played due to not doing anything the turn it comes into play – but here it can do a little bit more due to how slow the format is and how many zombies you’ll have on board. Grave Titan is a cool dude, though – even though he isn’t a zombie himself, he brings 2 2/2s with him, and every time he swings he makes two more.

tombstone stairwell

Tombstone Stairwell is one of the few “Enchant World” cards in the game, and it’s fairly playable. At 2BB, during each upkeep, each player gets a 2/2 “Tombspawn” black zombie token with haste for each creature in their graveyard. However, it has a cumulative upkeep of 1B.

As a reminder of cumulative upkeep:

At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.

Now, whenever Tombstone Stairwell is destroyed or the turn ends, all the tokens are destroyed and cannot be regenerated. The only real downside is that everyone gets these tokens – but you’re likely going to have a larger graveyard than most of the other players, and your zombies are going to be larger than theirs. One fun trick is that you can also keep the zombies if they’re indestructible – though black doesn’t have much to do so with.

Now, what else does black like doing? Well, encouraging us to play more black!

cryptghast nirkanarevenant

These two are additional mana doublers in the form of creatures. Crypt Ghast gives us a pretty relevant Extort trigger, too – when we’re recasting Gravecrawler a ton of times, being able to drain people out and keep your life total up. Nirkana Revenant does the same thing as Crypt Ghast, but also has the ability to pump itself +1/+1 per black you pay into it. With Filth in the graveyard and a swamp under an opponent’s control, you can completely blow a player out of the game.

extraplanarlens

Extraplanar Lens is another mana doubler, but it does come at the cost of exiling one of your basic lands to imprint onto it. I wouldn’t say this is an auto-include, but it’s a strong option for this deck.

nykthoscabalcoffers

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Cabal Coffers are the two big mana producers of this deck. Each of them have you tap 2 mana into them to get a larger amount of mana out.  Nykthos pulls a ton of mana equal to your devotion to black (in the case of this deck at least), while Cabal Coffers gives you mana equal to the number of swamps you control.

urborgtombofyawgmoth

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth serves a few purposes here. One, it allows Cabal Coffers to tap for black equal to the lands you control rather than just the swamps. Two, it makes all of your opponent’s lands swamps – so you can hit any player with swampwalk – at least, as long as they control at least one land.

phyrexianaltargravecrawler

 

Phyrexian Altar is one of the biggest combo cards in all of Commander. There’s very few things that don’t combo with this card. The main thing for this deck is this and Gravecrawler.

As Gravecrawler only costs B and can be sacrificed to Phyrexian Altar for B, meaning you can sacrifice it to recast itself as long as you control another zombie, giving you an infinite sacrifice outlet. Meaning, cards like Blood Artist turn into win conditions.

bloodartist

 

Those and a few other cards create the skeleton list we see below:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]
Creatures:
Ghoulcaller Gisa
Blood Artist
Bone Dancer
Cemetery Reaper
Crypt Ghast
Death Baron
Filth
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Gravecrawler
Grave Titan
Lord of the Undead
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Nirkana Revenant
Undead Warchief
Zombie Master

Planeswalkers:
Liliana of Dark Realms
Liliana Vess
Sorin Markov

Sorceries:
Army of the Damned
Buried Alive
Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Intent
Reanimate
Zombie Apocalypse

Instants:
Buried Alive
Entomb
Victim of Night

Enchantments:
Black Market
Dictate of Erebos
Endless Ranks of the Dead
Grave Pact

Artifacts:
Caged Sun
Coat of Arms
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Hall of Triumph
Obelisk of Urd
Phyrexian Altar
Whip of Erebos

Lands:
Cabal Coffers
Cavern of Souls
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Unholy Grotto
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
[/column]
[end_columns]

What do you guys anticipate seeing with Gisa? And of course, if I forgot anything, feel free to mention it! I’m always open to ideas.

Until next time,

– SolemnParty

Hey gang,

So I wanted to start my first post by talking about an EDH deck that is near and dear to my heart: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. It uses the three color combination of Jund (BRG). This deck was my second deck, but is the one I’ve played and tweaked the most. So without further ado, let’s look at the commander:

prossh

Look at that majesty! Look at those consummate V’s! For only six mana (3BRG), you get an awesome 5/5 dragon with flying. But wait, there’s more! He even comes with abilities:

When you cast Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, put X 0/1 red Kobold creature tokens named Kobolds of Kher Keep onto the battlefield, where X is the amount of mana spent to cast Prossh.

Sacrifice another creature: Prossh gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Pretty nifty, eh? You’ll note that his ability will always consider the amount paid for casting – an excellent ability for a format where you can repeatedly cast the creature. Prossh, like his contemporary, Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge, gains increasing value for each time he’s killed. So what does that mean? Your opponents have two options:

  1. Kill Prossh, knowing that he’ll be back, bigger and meaner.
  2. Don’t kill Prossh, in which case Prossh kills you.

I’ve seen a couple variations of Prossh online, but when building my deck, I wanted to go the obvious route of tokens. Therefore, nearly all the cards you’ll find in the deck relate in some way to gaining benefits from massive amounts of creatures coming in or leaving. Cards I would recommend for a token deck based in Jund colors are (in no particular order):

purphoros

Purphoros, God of the Forge – He turns those little 0/1’s into mini shocks. He also doubles as a pump! Valuetown.

doublingseason

Doubling Season – This little guy nets you some extra tokens and lets Planewalkers ultimate (or almost) the turn they come in.

parallellives

Parallel Lives – For when just one token isn’t enough.

sarkhanvologrebattledriverinthewebofwarfiresofyavimaya

Sarkhan Vol, Ogre Battledriver, In the Web of War, Fires of Yavimaya – Most of the time people won’t let you untap with an active Prossh on the board. These guys let you swing as soon as he hits the board (with the first three providing additional power to your Kobolds).

essencewarden

  • Essence Warden – I’ve become a huge fan of this card lately. She can provide noticeable amounts of health whenever you cast Prossh, and you’d be surprised at how much the odd life gain can add up over time. It is important to note that she doesn’t care on whose side the creature enters.

garascradle xenagosthereveler

  • Gaea’s Cradle & Xenagos, The Reveler – I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain these cards, but just in case: they provide serious ramp in a deck that is looking to make as many little creatures as possible.

beastmasterascension

  • Beastmaster Ascension – This is a huge threat and needs to be dealt with whenever it hits the board. It becomes active the turn you get to swing with Prossh and his little minions.

foodchain phyrexianaltar ashnodsaltar

  • Food Chain, Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar – These can be a huge boon when you have no Prossh and a handful of Kobolds. Turn those unhelpful 0/1’s in to extra mana to recast Prossh. These also provide an infinite mana combo when used in conjunction with sacrificing Prossh and his tokens. Be cautious with these as they are easily interrupted and can leave you with an unaffordable Prossh.

championoflambholt

  • Champion of Lambholt – She can be a huge beater and doubles by granting evasion to all your other creatures.

skyshroudclaim

Let’s talk about ramp. Since we’re in green, there is an abundance of land ramp available through spells like Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Skyshroud Claim and Farseek. I’m a little biased when it comes to ramping in green; I almost always prefer a Mountain to a mana rock, though it leaves you vulnerable to land destruction rather than artifact destruction.

phyrexiantower

Next, you’ll want a decent amount of sacrifice outlets to prevent creatures from being stolen or exiled. As I mentioned before, cards like Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Tower fill this role quite nicely, while Goblin Bombardment can give your deck a bit of reach.

skullmulcher

For card draw I would recommend Skullmulcher. He can become a massive threat by devouring all your little tokens can create a huge threat and give you some much needed card draw.

garrukprimalhunter

Garruk, Primal Hunter can also help you refill your hand with his second ability. There’s no better feeling than drawing a handful of cards before swinging with a massive Prossh.

darkprophecyfecundity

Lastly, Dark Prophecy can hurt you, but with this many little guys dying it can provide you some valuable digging. If you’d rather trade loss of life to helping everyone, Fecundity is also a good option.

toothandnail

Now comes the dicey part: tutors. Since Prossh has access to green, Tooth and Nail is an easy inclusion with no drawback. Fetching an Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth is a game ender.

diabolicintentskullclamp

If your group doesn’t like that then I would suggest something like Diabolic Intent in addition to its cousin, Demonic Tutor. While you have to sacrifice a creature, you won’t really mind killing off a 1/1 to draw whatever answer you need, especially if that creature is wearing a Skullclamp.

chordofcalling

Additionally, with M15 we saw the reprinting of a fantastic creature tutor: Chord of Calling.

So, we’ve covered the basics. I realize some of these cards are a little expensive (I’m looking at you, Gaea’s Cradle) but for the most part they act as extra copies of pre-existing effects for deck consistency. You will want to run mostly creatures that either pump or generate their own tokens.

avengerofzendikar craterhoofbehemoth antqueen

Things like Avenger of Zendikar, Craterhoof Behemoth and Ant Queen, can all easily find homes in a deck like this.

kherkeep

Thematically, you’ll want to include Kher Keep, because, well… you know… Skyraider of Kher.

purphoros

There are numerous ways that the deck can win outside of going infinite with Prossh (which is arguably my least favorite way of winning). Resolving an Avenger of Zendikar with Purphoros, God of the Forge on the field will quickly either kill the table or paint an enormous target on you.

viciousshadows

Having a sacrifice outlet such as Goblin Bombardment, some tokens and Vicious Shadows can get through even the most impassable of board presences.

overwhelmingstampede

There’s also just the good old fashioned Overwhelming Stampede or Craterhoof Behemoth (or both!) to turn even the weakest of tokens in to a game ending threat.

kessig-wolf-run-innistrad

Heck, you can even just pump a 0/1 Kobold token to do lethal with Kessig Wolf Run!

Skeleton List:

Commander:

  • Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Lands: 

  • Gaea’s Cradle
  • Kessig Wolf Run
  • Kher Keep
  • Phyrexian Tower

Artifacts:

  • Ashnod’s Altar
  • Phyrexian Altar
  • Skullclamp

Creatures:

  • Ant Queen
  • Avenger of Zendikar
  • Champion of Lambholt
  • Craterhoof Behemoth
  • Essence Warden
  • Ogre Battledriver
  • PurphorosGod of the Forge
  • Skullmulcher

Enchantments:

  • Beastmaster Ascension
  • Dark Prophecy
  • Doubling Season
  • Fires of Yavimaya
  • Food Chain
  • Goblin Bombardment
  • In the Web of War
  • Parallel Lives
  • Vicious Shadows

Instants/Sorceries:

  • Chord of Calling
  • Cultivate
  • Diabolic Intent
  • Farseek
  • Kodama’s Reach
  • Overwhelming Stampede
  • Skyshroud Claim
  • Tooth and Nail

Planeswalkers:

  • Garruk, Primal Hunter
  • Sarkhan Vol
  • Xenagos, the Reveler

– reddit /u/MagicMuddie

Commanding Opinion – Toshiro Umezawa Commander/EDH

Does anyone else out there remember when every Magic set got a novel? I used to love that, I collected those little paperback bastards and would always have a dogeared copy of one of them in my backpack next to my books for English class. While Kamigawa block had some gameplay issues, its novels were stellar. I recently reread them and in doing so reacquainted myself with Toshiro Umezawa.

Last time I read through the Kamigawa trilogy, EDH was not a thing, now I had the ability to bring my favourite character from the books to life on the tabletop. This is how my Mono-Black KILL ALL THE THINGS deck was born.

toshiroumezawa

Having played him for a while now, I have discovered that Toshiro is a very cool card and he possesses exceptional potential – but he comes with some serious pros and cons.

Pros:
He Is Cheap – A mono-color Commander with CMC 3 is exceptionally easy to cast and re-cast. You can reliably count on Toshiro to be present for the majority of the time you’re playing the deck.
He Is Unassuming – Commander players take the phrase “fear the unknown” and turn it on its head. When you sit down for a game of Commander, the table is far more likely to attack the deck that has slaughtered them before than the deck they have never seen. There is almost no one out there that has seen a Toshiro Commander deck which is a massive advantage for you.
His Ability Is Powerful – Once you have figured out how to make Toshiro tick, he is an absolutely devastating Commander.

Cons:

He Is Tricky To Master – Figuring out what makes Toshiro tick will take some time. I have been playing him consistently for 3.5 months, with solid success, and there are still micro-interactions in my deck that I don’t notice until it is too late.
Indestructible and Hexproof Ruin Your Day – You will have to play some niche answers to these keywords because an Avacyn or an Uril will shred your face if you’re just relying on Black “good stuff” to carry the day.

Toshiro is an odd duck because he is both linear and flexible.

In order for it to make sense to play him as your Commander, you have to have lots of Instants and you have to make sure that there are a lot of things dying on your opponents’ side of the board. A Commander with so many caveats to success definitely falls into the “linear” camp.

Toshi’s flexibility comes from his colour identity. Mono-Black loves playing Instants that also happen to kill things. There is a surprisingly deep card pool of viable options to choose from with Toshi and there are many viable lists that can be drawn from such a “linear” Commander.

The wide variety of options aside, here are some things most Toshi lists should play:

A Quick Disclaimer: Before you die-hard Elder Dragons out there tear apart some of my suggestions, I need you to breathe deeply and remember the lesson that Necropotence taught us all those years ago: It doesn’t matter what your life total is if you’ve already won the game.

  • Black Market
  • Cabal Ritual
  • Crypt Ghast
  • Dark Ritual
  • Entomb
  • Imp’s Mischief
  • Lethal Vapors
  • Liliana of the Veil
  • Nirkana Revenant
  • Null Profusion
  • Silence the Believers
  • Spoils of Evil
  • Vampiric Tutor
  • Vendetta
  • Withering Boon 

blackmarket cryptghast nirkanarevenant

Black Market, Crypt Ghast, and Nirkana Revenant are all-stars in most Black decks. Toshi can get a little mana-hungry, especially if your graveyard is very full and lots of things are dying, and having any combination of these three on the battlefield ensures that you will never be at a loss for options. Toshi decks tend towards being controlling, and the Extort from the Crypt Ghast can get some surprising mileage in longer games.

cabalritual darkritual spoilsofevil

Cabal Ritual, Dark Ritual, and Spoils of Evil also address the issue of mana, but do so in a very different way. Playing Toshiro is all about learning how to chain the spells from your hand and the spells in your graveyard together in order to properly manipulate the state of the board. While “ritual” effects are not always very good in Commander, they are excellent in a deck that can use them to establish a presence early in the game and then be guaranteed to use them later to maintain advantage.

entomb vampirictutor

Entomb and Vampiric Tutor are both instants and tutors, which is important to Toshiro. Toshiro is a deck that is very much about setting up your dominoes and then knocking them down just right. The ability to tutor twice with one card is instrumental in executing a victory with Toshi.

silencethebelievers

Silence the Believers is currently the best Black answer to Indestructible creatures. It sucks that Toshi won’t see them die, but sometimes Avacyn has just gotta go.

vendetta

Vendetta is generally considered bad in Commander. In a format where mana is rarely a problem and creatures tend to be BIG, a removal spell that trades its casting cost for a penalty directly influenced by the size of its target seems bad. Trust me on this one though – after many games with Toshi, having a 1-mana removal spell is amazing.

lilianaoftheveil

Speaking of generally considered bad in Commander, Liliana of the Veil is right at home here. Her +1 has synergy with Toshiro’s graveyard manipulation, and her repeatable edict that costs no mana is insane in this deck. When anything dying lets you cast a potentially powerful spell from your graveyard, your opponent sacrificing a token to her ability seems a little less heartbreaking.

witheringboon impsmischief

Withering Boon and Imp’s Mischief don’t seem very good. Both of them are worse versions of cards in other colours, but this doesn’t mean you can write them off. Both of these cards allow Toshi, and Mono-Black in general, to catch opponents off-guard. It’s amazing to witness how powerful people’s assumptions are, even if you have these lying in your graveyard, plain to see, people will still be surprised when the Black deck counters their Sigarda after casting Doom Blade on their Wurm token.

lethalvapors

At its very worst, Lethal Vapors reads “target player loses a turn”; at its best, no one is quite sure how to react to this card and you get to harvest substantial advantage from it. If you have cast a lot of utility instants in the first few turns, this card will let you maximize their impact and set you up for the mid-game. If the momentum of others players has been out of your ability to control, this card will let you curtail that momentum for a bit so that you can stabilize.

nullprofusion

I have saved the very best for last: Null Profusion. If there is one thing that this deck is going to be doing a lot of, it is casting spells. Null Profusion is the perfect card advantage engine for this deck, because while you’re going to be getting more than one use out of most of your spells, you’re still going to be burning through them. Null Profusion ensures you never run out of fuel for your Mono-Black Murder Fire.

The cards listed above are things that I would recommend for anyone thinking of building a deck around Toshiro Umezawa. To fill in the rest of the deck, I would suggest the following categories of cards:

  • Creatures that kill things when they enter the battlefield (eg. Shriekmaw)
  • Things that let you pilfer from opponents’ graveyards (eg. Fated Return)
  • Things that let you profit when lots of creatures are dying (eg. Blood Artist)
  • Answers to Hexproof and Indestructible

Lastly, you should settle on a consistent way to win the game. My Toshiro deck is what I would call Attrition-Combo: I chip away at the life total in the early game using opportunistic attacks and creatures taken from the graveyards of my enemies, I then close out the game with repeated castings of Tendrils of Agony thanks to Yawgmoth’s Will or a powerful creature buffed with Hatred and Tainted Strike.

I have seen Toshi builds that hew much closer to traditional Mono-Black control and I have seen hyper-aggressive Toshi strategies that try and clear a path to the red zone as quickly as possible. There are a lot of ways to play Mr. Umezawa and the best approach is to play and tweak until you find something that works for you.

Good Luck and Happy Building!

PS: Toshiro makes a cool addition to the 99 if you’re playing a graveyard-centric Black deck. Since I started using him as a commander, he has popped up in my playgroup outside of the command zone. Jarad Dredge, Marchesa Board Wipes.dec, and Skeleton Ship Control have all made use of Toshi. If you’re planning on having a full graveyard, you are going get your money’s worth out of a three-mana permanent that does a good impression of Yawgmoth’s Will.

-/u/JackSonor

Commanding Opinion – Myojin of Seeing Winds

“Fun” in EDH is pretty subjective.  There are so many ways to have fun in this game:  Combos, hugging the group, turning creatures sideways, complaining about degenerate strategies, etc.  Some ways that are MOST fun for me: If I can do it cheaply, if I do one thing really well, and if my opponents remind me my commander doesn’t work.

myojin-of-seeing-winds

Recently, I came across the purest form of Fun for me:  Myojin of Seeing Winds.  Mono-color land bases are crazy cheap, we will draw absolutely insane amounts of cards, and all your first-time opponents will remind you that he doesn’t get the Divinity counter, as they can’t comprehend why you’d play him otherwise.

Yes, this mono-blue monstrosity is basically a 3/3 for 7UUU that does absolutely nothing when you play it from the command zone.  You have to cast a Myojin (deliberate wording here) from your hand to get the Divinity counter.  Jumpin’ Johnnies, Batman! Now, due to this interesting limitation, any Myojin game plan will have to consist of:

1) Getting a divinity counter on a Myojin somehow

2) Figuring out how to win with 20+ cards in your hand

hedron-matrixfireshrieker

swiftfoot-bootsthassa-god-of-the-sea

There are, surprisingly, a few ways to build a Myojin deck.  The hardest way involves a Hedron Matrix, a Fireshrieker, a Swiftfoot Boots, and a Thassa, God of the Sea.  I will be your best friend forever if you ever pull off a win with Myojin Voltron – just kidding…

The actual “hard” way involves casting him, bouncing to hand, and then casting him again.  This is typically a heavily control-oriented shell (think very close to an Azami, Lady of Scrolls deck), with mono-blue “good stuff” filling things out.  Cards like Glen Elendra Archmage and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage will slow the game to a crawl, allowing the Myojin to eventually be cast, bounced, and cast again quite comfortably.  Omniscience lets you cast him multiple times a turn.  The Myojin player eventually wins through crushing card advantage.

glen-elendra-archmagetamiyo-the-moon-sageomniscience

Now, the “hard” way runs you about 25 mana.  The “easy” way involves a nice little shortcut.  Cast Myojin and then cast a Clone, for only 12-14 mana!  While the Myojin comes from the command zone and doesn’t get a counter, cards such as Clone, Phyrexian Metamorph, and Phantasmal Image are cast from your hand and DO get a counter when they become Myojins themselves.  The beauty of the clone is its versatility: Early game, you can copy your stuff or your opponents’ stuff and build up a board state, and in the late game you copy your commander and go off.  Clones also work really well with bounce spells, which you will coincidentally run a few of.  Take a guess which strategy I prefer.

clone-magic-2014phyrexian-metamorphphantasmal-image

***

No matter the build, every Myojin of Seeing Winds deck has a few cards which, in my opinion, are important:

Lands:

nythkos-shrine-to-nyx

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx:  A mono-color deck wants one of these.  That’s basically just Truth.  Your commander and a lot of your other cards coincidentally have many blue mana symbols in them, which is quite handy.

tolaria-westminamo-school-at-waters-

deserted-templepetrified-field

– “Nykthos” package:  Tolaria West to tutor, Minamo, School at Water’s Edge and Deserted Temple to pull double duty, Petrified Field for recursion.

reliquary-tower

Reliquary Tower:  You need to hold onto those cards after you draw them.

Artifacts:

that-which-was-taken

That Which Was Taken:  This one is obvious.  Also a handy way to give other important permanents some needed evasion.

caged-sungauntlet-of-powerdoubling-cube

Caged Sun, Gauntlet of Power, and Doubling Cube:  Your commander is a 10 drop in mono-blue.  You need all the help you can get.

vedalken-orrery

Vedalken Orrery:  Blue gets flash.  Flash is good.  You use flash.

vensers-journalspellbook

Venser’s Journal or Spellbook: You want a lot of these effects in here.

Creatures:

psychosis-crawler

Psychosis Crawler:  If our whole deck revolves around drawing as many cards as possible, we might as well make those cards do something before we even play them.  Interesting…if we play some Clones on our Crawler we can multiply the damage we do per card drawn!  How about that?  This is also a 2-card combo with Enter the Infinite, if you like being flashy.

laboratory-maniac

Laboratory Maniac:  If you don’t like the Crawler, this is the “easy” win-con.

dreamscape-artist

Dreamscape Artist:  Yeah, you’re going to want Harrow on a stick.  He’s not impactful enough to draw hate, he ramps, and he ramps very well if you have mana-doublers out.  No drawback here.

Enchantments:

leyline-of-anticipation

Leyline of Anticipation: Flaaaaaash.

mind-over-matter

Mind Over Matter:  Only if you don’t feel guilty using it.  It will win you the game very easily with a locked and loaded Myojin, an Arcanis the Omnipotent, or pretty much anything.  People hate it for a reason.

omniscience

Omniscience:  Only if you don’t feel guilty using it.  Will win you the game multiple times over.  People hate it for a reason.

Instants/Sorceries:

snap-urzas-legacy

Snap:  It does everything you want a spell to do in this deck.

turnabout-urzas-saga

Turnabout:  I still don’t know how this card got printed.  I had an opponent scoop to this once.

high-tide

High Tide:  It’s only for one turn but a Gauntlet of Power for 1 mana is insane.

forbidrewind-magic

– Counterspells:  Your commander costs 10 mana, so  you’re simply going to need to do what blue does best to make him stick.  Two of my favorites for this build are Forbid and Rewind.

Planeswalkers

tezzeret-the-seeker

Tezzeret, the Seeker:  I am appalled at how good he is in artifact heavy mono-blue builds.

 

Skeleton List:

Commander:

  • Myojin of Seeing Winds

Lands:

  • Deserted Tower
  • Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
  • Nythkos, Shrine to Nyx
  • Petrified Field
  • Reliquary Tower
  • Tolaria West

Creatures:

  • Clone
  • Laboratory Maniac
  • Phantasmal Image
  • Phyrexian Metamorph
  • Psychosis Crawler
  • Thassa, God of the Sea

Artifacts:

  • Caged Sun
  • Doubling Cube
  • Gauntlet of Power
  • Spellbook
  • Swiftfoot Boots
  • That Which Was Taken
  • Vedalken Orrery
  • Venser’s Journal

Enchantments:

  • Leyline of Anticipation
  • Mind Over Matter
  • Omniscience

Instants/Sorceries:

  • Forbid
  • High Tide
  • Rewind
  • Snap
  • Turnabout

Planeswalkers:

  • Tezzeret the Seeker

And that’s really about it!  Myojin of Seeing Winds is surprisingly versatile:  Your build is only restricted by your imagination, how much you want to utilize the Myojin, how much money you want to spend, and how shameless you want to be about utilizing Blue’s insane resources.  You can throw in Palinchron combos, Power Artifact, and Omniscience, take extra turns everywhere, play a bunch of clones, or run theft effects and play everyone else’s cards.  Blue is such a powerful color that even a “vanilla” 10 drop can do something amazing.

Sounds like fun to me!

– /u/martin_gary

This is a guest post from a fantastic magic writer from Tumblr, Shawn from CommanDollar.

Enjoy the article!

-SolemnParty

Rejoice! For Xenagos, the God of Revels is now in command.

xenagod

The gods of Theros create a very unique playstyle as commanders; when they come out on the field, they usually aren’t creatures – which makes their other abilities far more dangerous. Removal is now a major issue, as the only way to get rid of a god is to exile it (cards like Revoke Existence and Deicide come to mind) or return it to it’s owner’s hand.

Xenagos, God of Revels (or Xenagod) functions as a great addition to the voltron style, even if he doesn’t have enough devotion to be a creature, as well as aggro. His final ability, which doubles the power of a creature and gives it haste for a turn, can turn your threats into even more potent threats, giving you the advantage in combat every turn. Your goal with Xenagod as your commander is to ramp for more mana as quickly as you can manage, cast your commander, and then start attacking with creatures every turn after that. Creatures with trample will make the Gruul beatdown you delve out more efficient.
So now you have an idea of how Xenagod should play-but no idea as to which cards belong in the deck. Here’s a helpful breakdown of some cards that can help you win target game:

Mana Ramp/Land Ramp:

These cards are meant to get you mana and get it fast.

harrow

  • Harrow
  • Rites of Flourishing
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder
  • Sol Ring
  • Sylvan Caryatid
  • Yavimaya Elder

These are for the first few turns of the game, to speed you right into cards like:

oracleofmuldaya

  • Oracle of Mul Daya
  • Caged Sun
  • Gauntlet of Power
  • Boundless Realms

The more lands you have, the easier it will be to cast those creatures you want to play, and the better of a chance to draw creatures rather than land!

Ways to Cheat Creatures out:

Even though you have all that mana to work with, you still want to cheat out your higher-costing creatures.

deathrender quicksilveramulet

Deathrender and Quicksilver Amulet let you do so with a small bit of effort on your part, though your opponent(s) will see it coming.

defenseoftheheart

Defense of the Heart is great if someone is trying to build up their defenses against your board – every upkeep when an opponent has at least three creatures, you can sacrifice Defense of the Heart to get any two creatures and put them into play.

garrukshorde guildfeud lurking predators

Garruk’s Horde, Guild Feud, and Lurking Predators, all build your board straight from your deck.

genesiswave

Genesis Wave puts all that mana you have to good use, letting you drop a massive amounts of cards directly from your deck onto the field.

Help Connecting for Damage:

Once you have that aggressive board state, you need to make sure you connect.

archetype of aggressionnylea

Archetype of Aggression and Nylea, God of the Hunt are enchantment creatures that both grant trample by just being in play, and Archetype of Aggression has the added bonus of removing trample from your opponent’s creatures as well. Of the two, however, Nylea is much more powerful, at a more managable mana cost. 1RR is harder to pay for than 3G, and she also becomes a 6/6 (though without trample) that can easily hit people hard, and can also pump a creature +2/+2 until end of turn for 3G.

rancor skarrg guildmage triumph of the hordes

Rancor, Skarrg Guildmage, and Triumph of the Hordes also give trample to help punch a hole through their life (seeing as the quickest way to a person’s heart is through their chest). Triumph of the Hordes is also a win condition in the right situation – especially with the card below.

mageslayer

Mage Slayer is an absolute must in this deck; being able to hit someone for damage even before blockers are declared with this can mean the end of the game for someone. If that creature has infect, it poisons them before they can even try to block you – and if you connect it’s basically game over.

warstormsurge

Warstorm Surge is also huge – every time you drop a large creature, take a chunk out of your opponent. Then if Xenagod is on the field, take some more. It’s important to note that it also hits creatures as well, so removing annoyances like Magus of the Moat that would usually be a problem is easy with this card.

Creatures that Bring the Pain:

Now you have an aggressive board state. You just need a hammer to nail it all down.

infernotitan

Inferno Titan is one of the biggest red “good stuff” cards. It can toss 3 damage per swing and when it comes into play, wiping out small creatures and smashing face.

vorinclex

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, is probably the meanest of the Praetors. Mana doubling and denial on a 7/6 beater with trample is awesome.

worldspinewurmborborygmousenraged

Worldspine Wurm and Borborygmos Enraged are big and come equipped with trample and more.

balefiredragon hellkitetyrant

Balefire Dragon and Hellkite Tyrant fly, making things even more difficult when your opponent expects you to stay on the ground. Balefire with a Xenagod trigger can blow out an opponent’s boardstate, while Hellkite takes advantage of the huge amount of artifacts in Commander.

rubblehulkmistcutterhydra

Rubblehulk is just as big as all those lands you’ve been putting out, and Mistcutter Hydra can be too!

malignus

The killer is Malignus – if an opponent has more life than you, team that up with Xenagos and Mage Slayer for a one-hit KO!

So, overall, here’s a skeleton list:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]
Creatures:
Xenagos, God of Revels
Archetype of Aggression
Balefire Dragon
Borborgymous Enraged
Brawn
Garruk’s Horde
Hellkite Tyrant
Malignus
Mistcutter Hydra
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Oracle of Mul Daya
Rubblehulk
Sakura Tribe-Elder
Skarrg Guildmage
Sylvan Caryatid
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Worldspine Wurm
Yavimaya Elder

Sorceries:
Boundless Realms
Triumph of the Horde

Instants:
Harrow
Worldly Tutor

Enchantments:
Defense of the Heart
Guild Feud
Lurking Predators
Rancor
Rites of Flourishing
Warstorm Surge

Planeswalkers:
Xenagos, the Reveler

Artifacts:
Caged Sun
Deathrender
Gauntlet of Power
Mage Slayer
Sol Ring
Quicksilver Amulet
[/column]
[end_columns]

The idea of this deck is very forward; ramp quickly, play Xenagod, then start hitting your opponents until they have no life left. You should also make sure to bring some removal for artifacts, enchantments, and deathtouch. Fortunately Gruul has so much available for that kind of removal. Also keep in mind that once you cast Xenagod, your creatures will have a much bigger impact during your combat phase-even 1/1 tokens! The deck is more fast paced, but can hold out for a while, so long as you prepare for such. The strength of this deck, however, is to be attacking almost every chance you get, so you can revel in victory over your fallen opponents.

-Shawn from CommanDollar

This is a guest post from /u/Jacksonor, and is the first guest post on the site! He mentioned a few unique decks and I wanted him to talk about Rakdos, Lord of Riots. Anyway, on with the article.

-SolemnParty

Ladies, gentlemen, and everything in between – the party has arrived. Please allow me to introduce the big man himself:

rakdos

Much like the always stylish mullet, Rakdos is all business up front, with a party in the back. Before we get to the fun, let’s take care of brass tacks, shall we?

Rakdos, Lord of Riots is a 6/6 Legendary Demon with an unusual limitation.

Even without his main attraction, Rakdos has a lot going for him. He is (very) aggressively costed and comes with evasion AND trample – because there is no kill like overkill. However, all great things come at a steep price and Rakdos negotiates up front. If you’re just sitting around sipping cocktails and indulging in “conversation” Rakdos won’t come to your party. The big bad demon only attends “fun” parties.

A “fun” B/R party means that players are taking damage and are very likely to take more.

If you want to play Rakdos, you have to also play things that can deliver pain to your opponents early. If you’ve gotten in the red zone early enough, the big man can arrive right on turn 4. If Rakdos arrives on the scene in time, things are going to get out of hand fast.

While kicking things off with a bang is great, you need to sustain that momentum if you want to have a chance of recovering if Rakdos is tossed off the board early.

Here’s a few cards that bring pain, enough pain to share lots with your friends:

  • Blind Zealot
  • Bloodgift Demon
  • Cunning Sparkmage
  • Hellrider
  • Mogis’s Marauder
  • Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
  • Pestilence/Pyrohemia
  • Pulse Tracker
  • Punishing Fire
  • Purphoros, God of the Forge
  • Spiteful Returned
  • Stuffy Doll
  • Vampire Nighthawk

blindzealot

Blind Zealot, is one of our creatures that populates the curve that leads into Rakdos. A 2/2 for 1BB, he can easily get in for damage due to having Intimidate. And if they had a potential blocker, he can also kill off that creature by sacrificing himself.

mogis

Mogis’s Marauder gives at least one of your creatures intimidate and haste when it comes into play, and maybe even more.

spitefulreturned pulsetracker

Pulse Tracker and Spiteful Returned both make opponents lose life without actually hitting anyone.

vampirenighthawk

Vampire Nighthawk, as always, is a really fantastic creature with 3 abilities for 1BB.

bloodgiftdemon purphoros

Bloodgift Demon, Cunning Sparkmage, Hellrider, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen,  Purphoros, God of the Forge and Stuffy Doll all get to deal damage right to people’s faces without going through all the obnoxious effort of attacking. They can be counted on to allow repeated castings of Rakdos without having to risk themselves by attacking.

stuffydoll

Stuffy Doll also has some sadistic synergies with two of this deck’s favourite enchantments: Pestilence and Pyrohemia along with Punishing Fire are even more reliable than the last group of threats because they are obnoxiously hard for opponents to get rid of. The twin enchantments also act as excellent doormen for your little celebration, keeping out unwelcome guests until the time is right to deal with them properly.

pestilence punishingfire pyrohemia

Now that we have squared away the business end of things and covered how to convince Rakdos to attend your party; it’s time for things to get rambunctious.

Rakdos doesn’t like to party alone – he wants his giant friends to come along as well. To make it easier to fit his favorite fatties on the guest list, Rakdos ensures that every point of damage that is dished out to opponents makes your giant creatures cheaper.

Fun Fact of the Day: Giant creatures are great in EDH.

  • Abhorrent Overlord
  • Artisan of Kozilek
  • Bogardan Hellkite
  • Inferno Titan
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
  • Massacre Wurm
  • Myr Battlesphere
  • Rune-Scarred Demon
  • Sepulchral Primordial
  • Soul of New Phyrexia
  • Wurmcoil Engine

Kozilek, his Artisan, Myr Battlesphere, Soul of New Phyrexia, and Wurmcoil Engine are all excellent because they come down for free with enough damage and all help stabilize your board position in one way or another.

Rune-Scarred Demon, Sepulchral Primordial, Massacre Wurm, Inferno Titan, Bogardan Hellkite, and Abhorrent Overlord are also excellent fatties that help you stabilize and, more importantly, impact the board immediately; even if your opponents boot these guys from the party early, they get their chance to leave a lasting impression.

Abhorrent Overlord and Myr Battlesphere deserve special mention for the times they show up right after their main-man Purphoros. Dealing 10 to each opponent’s dome at once is brutal, but effective.

Lastly, when you’re throwing a kick-ass box social like this one, you need some sweet decorations:

  • Exquisite Blood
  • Wound Reflection
  • Pandemonium
  • Vedalken Orrery

exquisiteblood pandemonium woundreflection

Exquisite Blood, Wound Reflection, and Pandemonium are all ways to make sure you trash the board before anyone else has a chance to enjoy themselves. Any of these three enchantments can let you run away with the game if they are left alone.

vedalkenorrery

Vedalken Orrery is an all-star. No matter who is beating on who, you get the chance to show off the beef hiding in your deck. “End of turn, cast Kozilek” is one of the sweetest sentences you can say while playing Magic.

So, that leaves us with this lovely skeleton list:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]
Creatures:
Abhorrent Overlord
Artisan of Kozilek
Blind Zealot
Bloodgift Demon
Bogardan Hellkite
Cunning Sparkmage
Hellrider
Inferno Titan
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Massacre Wurm
Mogis’s Marauder
Myr Battlesphere
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Pulse Tracker
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Rune-Scarred Demon
Sepulchral Primordial
Soul of New Phyrexia
Spiteful Returned
Stuffy Doll
Vampire Nighthawk
Wurmcoil Engine

Enchantments:
Exquisite Blood
Pandemonium
Pestilence
Pyrohemia
Wound Reflection

Artifacts:
Lightning Greaves
Vedalken Orrery

Instants:
Punishing Fire
[/column]
[end_columns]

Take this list, add in your favourite removal, tutors, and good stuff, and you will have the recipe for one hell of party. Rakdos is here and it’s time you got down with the clown.

-/u/JackSonor

stitchergeralf

As per WUBRG order, I’ll be talking about Stitcher Geralf before talking about Ghoulcaller Gisa – but before I get to that, I need to apologize about this article, as Stitcher Geralf is kinda lame as a mono-blue Commander. But anyway, moving on.

I’ll go over him once over just for recollection’s sake.

For this deck, our Commander is a 5 drop – 3UU for a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard. Not fantastic stats, but not bad either. His ability reads as follows:

2U, tap: Each play puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.Exile up to two creature cards put into graveyards this way. Put an X/X blue zombie creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the total power of the cards exiled this way.

As I said before, having the effect of hitting all players gives him a lot more versatility than Ambassador Laquatus, though one thing I forgot to mention is that Laquatus has more range than Geralf does due to the fact that Ambassador Laquatus doesn’t have to tap for his ability.

As far as his ability is concerned, he fits flavorfully with the rest of his Skaabs from Innistrad – putting your deck in the graveyard to feed your other Skaabs, Essentially the same as his mono-blue creations, which all either mill you to make it easier to cast some of your other Skaabs, or they require creatures to be exiled from your graveyard as additional casting costs.

stitcheddrake  skaabruinator

Based on flavor reasons, the blue Zombies in Innistrad block have to interact with your graveyard, which does conflict with our new Geralf – but that was probably due to Limited reasons that would have pushed a different archetype in draft. These creatures are well costed, especially for mono-blue not caring about that double blue cost all that much. I think the flying is really important, especially with Skaab Ruinator being recastable out of the graveyard as a 5/6 flyer for 1UU.

geralfsmindcrusherarmoredskaab

As for self-mill, the lower costed 1/4 for 2U on Armored Skaab for self-mill 4 is solid. and Geralf’s Mindcrusher is a 5/5 for 4UU that mills target player 5, and has undying so he can do twice. The self-mill is generally just to cast the above creatures.

The main problem with creating a Geralf deck is that it’s very difficult to build it as zombie tribal – there’s very few in just blue.

undeadalchemist

Undead Alchemist is probably one of the best of these mono-Blue zombies for this deck. At 3U for a 4/2 zombie, he’s well costed for his 4/2 stats, and his ability is impressive. Any time one of your Zombies would deal combat damage to a player, that player mills that many cards from the top of their library instead. In addition, any time a creature is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, you get a 2/2 black Zombie creature token onto the battlefield. It synergizes well with other mill that you’ll be doing, giving you more Zombies to do more damage with. It also turns the zombies made by Stitcher Geralf into gigantic milling machines if your opponents don’t have anything to block with.

These are more are what I recommend for the list, and I’ll post the rest of my recommendations in the Skeleton List below.

Skeleton List:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]Commander:
Stitcher Geralf

Creatures:
Armored Skaab
Deadeye Navigator
Deranged Assistant
Fatestitcher
Havengul Skaab
Laboratory Maniac
Palinchron
Peregrine Drake
Rotcrown Ghoul
Screeching Skaab
Skaab Ruinator
Snapcaster Mage
Stitched Drake
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Trinket Mage
Undead Alchemist
Wonder

Instants:
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Cyclonic Rift
Evacuation
Long-Term Plans
Mystic Tutor
Pongify
Spin into Myth
Rapid Hybridization

Enchantments:
Intruder Alarm
Rooftop Storm

Artifacts:
Caged Sun
Elixir of Immortality
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Sensei’s Divining Top

Planeswalkers:
Jace Beleren
Jace, Memory Adept
Jace, the Living Guildpact
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Lands:
Cavern of Souls
Nythos, Shrine to Nyx
Rogue’s Passage
Snow-Covered Islands
Terrain Generator
[/column]

[end_columns]

The majority of this list is flavorful, but focuses on a few combos. As a Johnny, I have no choice but to play mono-blue with a few combos that I just can’t help but love. The main problem I had in building this deck was trying to find a niche for him that I liked – he doesn’t do a whole lot as a commander, and he is a terrible Zombie commander due to the fact that there are very few mono-blue zombies. Most of the good blue Zombies are black and blue. We’ll get to a list for that soon, though.

stitchergeralf

Stitcher Geralf is the center of the deck. His abilities are what the deck is mostly built around, from both a flavor and mechanic point of view. His army of skaabs are built from the corpses he can rummage together – stitched together to create monstrosities. The ones he makes on his own card, however, is from any graveyard, when things are being exiled from the top of all player’s libraries. The skeleton list I have here doesn’t play a lot of creatures – mainly because it’s a skeleton list. The “big stuff” that you would play is up to you, whether it be eldrazi or krakens.

The main combo for this deck is Palinchron with any of the mana doublers in the deck, or Peregrine Drake with Deadeye Navigator, to get infinite mana. You can find these combos here, as it’s a very common combo in Commander.

This combo enables us to use Deadeye Navigator with any of our zombies that make us mill cards from the top of our library to completely empty our decks.

deadeyenavigatorscreechinskaabarmoredskaab

Then, we win the game by attempting to draw a card with an empty library with Laboratory Maniac in play. Laboratory Maniac replaces the state-based action of losing with winning, instead – which is always fun, and it’s difficult to prevent without killing Laboratory Maniac. You can help prevent that by playing Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir to prevent your opponent from interfering during your turn., or to play Laboratory Maniac at instant speed to help sneak him in.

labmaniacteferi

 

Aside from the combo, having infinite mana lets you play every card in your deck regardless and find a way to win that way.

intruderalarmfatestitcher

With infinite mana and Intruder Alarm in play, we can continuously make zombies with Geralf’s ability, as long as we hit at least one creature per mill from Geralf. As a creature enters off of Geralf’s ability, the Intruder Alarm will trigger and untap all creatures in play. Fatestitcher with this combo also lets you tap every permanent your opponent’s control, which is always a good option. The rest of the time, Fatestitcher gives you the ability to untap Stitcher Geralf, or to tap down an opposing blocker for any reason.

The next article will be much easier to write, seeing as black has much, much better Zombie support, and Gisa will be a lot of fun to mess around with.

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

 Find all the Zombie cards you need for your Magic: the Gathering deck in the Win Target Game aStore!

stitcher-geralf-commander-2014ghoulcaller-gisa-commander-2014

As soon as Gisa was announced, I knew to expect this guy in blue – so today, I’ll be doing double duty and talking about both Stitcher Geralf and Ghoulcaller Gisa – but I’ll be starting with their story.

Little is known of their actual origins – Geralf and Gisa are brother and sister, and are cousins to Mikaeus, the Lunarch.

They were essentially two sides of a coin – Geralf embodied the blue aspect of Innistrad’s zombies by being a mad scientist, stitching corpses together to his own ends, while Gisa was a necromancer, just animating the bodies to torment the living.

The flavor of the UB zombie tribe was the flavor of all kind of zombies. The blue aspect was that of Frankenstein – beings stitched together from corpses and given life through lightning or magic. These zombies tend to be stronger and more intelligent as the stitcher can stitch together only the best materials if they so wish. The black aspect was that of the more modern zombies – the slow, shambling zombies of Dawn of the Dead that just exist to kill the living and wipe out the living.

In fact, before the siege of Thraben, they simply played games, called the Moorland Necrowars. They waged their necromantic armies against each other to see who the better ruler of undead was. Seeing as there were no deaths (well, aside from necessity to make the zombies and skaabs) these really were practically games. Of course, any living humans in the way would be turned into more corpses for their games, and these corpses wouldn’t just be a part of these games,

Together, they agreed to take down one of the few sanctuaries for living human kind – Thraben. They created Grimgrin, a giant zombie the height of two men that easily took down the gates of Thraben himself. Their goal was to conquer the city and to kill Mikaeus, the Lunarch – so that Geralf could become the ruler of Thraben itself.

Granted, this plan failed. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben managed to rally her forces and fight back the undead overcoming the city. Sadly, Mikaeus, the Lunarch was still killed by Geralf – but the city was in no state for him to take for himself. At this point, he met Liliana Vess, who showed great interest in the corpse of the Lunarch. Being a necromancer, we can already assume where that led.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the cards.

Stitcher Geralf is a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard for 3UU. Solid typing, stats, and costing.  3UU is a little on the high side for a commander, but his deck doesn’t need to revolve around him. His ability is unique, but similar to Gisa’s. for 2U and tap,  everyone mills 3, and then you can exile up to two creature cards milled this way to stitch together a zombie, whose power and toughness are X, where X is the total power exiled this way.

One advantage to this ability is due to the nature of the ability, you can exile Eldrazi with the ability before they are able to shuffle back into the library.  Over all, Geralf is a pretty solid mill commander – I’d say he’s strictly better than Ambassador Laquatus as he hits all players (though it includes you, so it isn’t always fantastic) and he gives you a zombie theme, too.

From a flavor standpoint, I really like the fact he literally stitches the Zombie tokens together from the creatures that are milled with his ability. It captures his Frankenstein vibe really well. The only problem I have is that he is mono-blue – there are so few mono-blue zombies that a zombie tribal deck with him as a Commander isn’t very good – he works well alongside his sister, though.

Ghoulcaller Gisa was announced before her brother, and I like her a little bit more.

For 3BB, you get a 3/4 Legendary Human Wizard – same stats as her brother, she’s just black instead of blue. Her ability is also pretty decent, like her brothers. For B, tap, sacrifice a creature, you get X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens each to the power of the sacrificed creature.

Again, I love the flavor of this card. She just wants as many zombies as possible to overwhelm humanity, rather than stitching less, stronger zombies together.

She actually works very well with her brother – he makes a huge zombie with his ability, and then Gisa breaks his huge zombie down into a ton of 2/2 zombies. I’m not exactly sure how two things stitched together give rise to a whole ton of things not stitched together, but I”m not going to complain about synergy.

Next time, I’ll be talking about their own decks – Geralf is first due to WUBRG order. Then, Gisa, and then I’ll be talking about using the two of them together in a third deck, which you can probably guess the commander of.

Until next time,

-SolemnParty

 

angus-mackenzie

Angus Mackenzie is one of the Legendary Creatures that are simultaneously exclusive to Legends and on the Reserved List – making it extremely expensive now. At the time of writing, it is upwards of 70 or 80 dollars now.

So what does he do?

Well, for WUG, you get a 2/2 Legendary creature. Nothing too impressive, but he’s at least playable as soon as turn 2 or 3 with the right mana fixing. His ability is the real reason he is powerful – for WUG and tap, you prevent all combat damage this turn, as long as it is done before combat damage.

Due to the fact his activated ability is Fog, his deck tend to play more defensively – preventing the damage makes you basically invincible to damage as long as you leave 3 mana open. The most common strategy for this is for Superfriends – Bant gives you a lot of fantastic planeswalkers combined with Doubling Season. However, due to the amount of strategies available to him, we’ll be breaking this up into a couple of articles.

Cards for the Planeswalker “Superfriends” build:

Obviously, the main thing for a Superfriends deck is to play a ton of planeswalkers and ways to add loyalty without necessarily just using abilities.

141

Essentially every Planeswalker in this deck (other than Venser, the Sojourner) can immediately use its ultimate if it comes into play after Doubling Season. As a quick reminder, Doubling Season only modifies the loyalty that the Planeswalkers enter with. They’re placed when a planeswalker enters play, but adding loyalty is a cost to use the activated ability of the planeswalker. Doubling Season only causes twice as many counters to be “placed” when counters are “placed,” not added as a cost.

53

Clockspinning is a more narrow card. For U, you can take a counter from any permanent or suspended card and either remove it, or add another counter of that kind to that card. As this includes loyalty counters, it’s already pretty good. It wouldn’t be worth playing if you only used it once, though – it has Buyback for 3 colorless mana, which lets you cast it and then return it to your hand if you pay the buyback cost.

152

Gilder Bairn is the only way we really have to double our Planeswalkers after they’re already in play – for 2{G/U} and an untap (not a tap) you double all of the counters on target permanent. Fairly self explanatory.

M15 has given us quite a few new tools for this deck, in fact.

thechainveil259

The Chain Veil is the newest Superfriends support card. The downside is mostly non-existent in a Superfriends deck as you should always have at least 1 planeswalker in play that you’re using. By paying 4 mana and tapping it, you get to use each planeswalker you control an additional time this turn. This can easily push certain Planeswalkers over the amount of counters that they would need to activate their final abilities. Combined with Rings of Brighthearth, you can then double the Chain Veil activation to get an additional two planeswalker abilities per planeswalker you control. Even when you don’t have the Chain Veil in play, you can use the Rings to get additional planeswalker abilities.

ajanisteadfastEN_huddvvv39d

We also got two new Planeswalkers from Magic 2015 that feel almost exclusively for Superfriends. Ajani Steadfast has a powerful -2 that helps out your other Planeswalkers, but his ultimate combined with Doubling Season gives you an emblem that causes all damage that you or your Planeswalkers would take from a source to 1 – making it much easier to survive an onslaught even if Angus isn’t in play. Jace, the Living Guildpact is fairly strong in this deck. His +1 isn’t as bad in Commander as it is in Constructed due to the size of the decks, but his ultimate at -8 is just ridiculous and it can automatically go off with Doubling Season.

Our newest addition won’t be out for a little while, however.

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While Teferi, Temporal Archmage is allowed as a commander, he serves a much better purpose in a Superfriends deck like this. His -10 is the most notable aspect when it comes to this deck. The emblem he gives you lets you use your planeswalkers every turn, not just on your own turns – this ruling was confirmed by Matt Tabak earlier this week. Aside from that, his +1 is solid card filtering, and his -1 is very powerful as well, untapping important artifacts like The Chain Veil, and mana rocks like Mana Vault and Grim Monolith.

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Seedborn Muse is already a fantastic card in Commander, and Teferi just makes it even better. It essentially lets you use each of your planeswalker’s abilities twice every turn, including your opponent’s turns.

The rest of the Planeswalkers in the deck are simply there to have their ultimates able to be activated with Doubling Season on board, mostly.

The next article, which will be out tomorrow, will be about a turbo fog build of the deck.

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

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